Here’s why ZZ Top just performed with a massive 17-string bass

Fans who watched ZZ Top during their recent tour stop in Huntsville, Ala. experienced an unusual sight as bassist Elwood Francis made a brief appearance with an oversized 17-string bass.

That mammoth instrument was not just a prop. Francis proved it could actually be played by using the bass for ZZ Top’s first track of the night, 1983 Eliminator tune “Got Me Under Pressure”. In a fan-shot video (see below), the bassist can be seen strumming along on the comically large device, much to the frontman’s delight Billy Gibbons.

No explanation was initially given for the giant instrument, as Francis switched to a more traditional bass for the remainder of the concert.

As it turns out, the giant bass was actually the result of something late on the web. Yes, ZZ Top discovered their newest instrument the same way regular people end up buying weird gadgets and gizmos on Amazon.

“I searched the internet last night [and] showed a picture of this crazy 17-string bass,” Francis explained in response to an inquiry from UCR. “I sent a picture to Billy and we laughed about it and made some jokes about actually trying to use it.”

The story could have ended there… but where’s the fun in that?

“A couple of weeks later, after I had forgotten about it, Billy showed up [the 17 string bass],” Francis explained, describing the situation as “one of those ‘hold my beer’ moments.”

Francis joined ZZ Top last after death by bassist Dusty Hill. Since then, the musician, who had served as the group’s longtime guitar tech, has been a natural fit in the trio.

“He adds a great bit of enthusiasm,” Hill noticed in July. “When I see [drummer] Frank Beard When I smile for the first time in 30 years, I know something good is happening.”

ZZ Top are in the final days of their Raw Whiskey Tour, which ends Dec. 2 in Scottsdale, Ariz. From there, the group heads to Las Vegas for a stay at The Venetian Resort and Casino. No word on whether the 17-string bass will return.

ZZ Top Live 2022

Photos of ZZ Top performing live in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio on July 29, 2022.

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