Friday, February 27, 2009

The Heavenly Tone of Pearly Gates...

Billy and Pearly '75 -- Tone made in Heaven, Texas

Just a quick one. Every guitar-player eventually dreams of a '59 Les Paul flame-top. The reason is that this generation of the venerable Gibson is said to have the fattest, sweetest tone of any electric guitar ever. In the world of guitar, the '59 is known as "The Holy Grail". Jimmy Page, Dicky Betts, early Clapton, Peter Green, Gary Rossington, and my favorite, Billy Gibbons all crafted their sound with '58 or '59 'bursts. Gibbon's '59 LP Standard has been called the Holiest Grail of all -- perhaps the best Les Paul tone ever heard. Appropriately, he named his axe Pearly Gates. You can hear Pearly on all of ZZ Top's early recordings. Miss Pearly's loaded, searing, harmonic-laden tone was the stuff of my rock-star dreams as a kid.

So the other day I was looking for info on Seymour Duncan's Pearly Gates guitar pickup, which I want to fit in to my Les Paul, and I came across the above image -- I'm guessing it's circa '75. It's the baddest pic of Reverend Billy and Pearly I've ever seen. The "Rio Grande" amps in the back are simply Marshall 100-watters re-tolexed and re-badged for ZZ Top.

The Story of Pearly Gates

YouTube vid of Billy playing Pearly, 1980

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It's All About The Tone, Baby!