Watch ZZ Top gobsmack fans by performing with a 17-string bass

ZZ Top 17-string bass
(Image credit: YouTube)

Over the years, the rock world has seen its fair share of weird customs, such as Lita Ford's steam train guitar, Steve's Vai's 'Heart' guitar, Andrew W.K's beef taco six-string and perhaps most famously, ZZ Top's rotating fluffy guitars made out of sheepskin, as featured in their 1983 Legs video.

Of course, the aforementioned Texan rockers have never been known to do things by halves, particularly when it comes to the length of their wizardly beards or the outlandishness of their instruments. 

In a recent display of eccentricity, during their recent show in Huntsville, bassist Elwood Francis – who joined the band in replacement of the late Dusty Hill – briefly performed using a 17-string bass, while offering no explanation for his choice. 

While it might be assumed that such a beastly instrument could only be used as a prop, Francis actually played it during their performance of 1983's Got Me Under Pressure.

For the rest of the night, sadly, the musician returned to using a conventionally-sized bass, possibly due to the 17-stringer's weight. 

Later, explaining his peculiar choice, he tells Ultimate Classic Rock how he discovered the instrument during some late-night web surfing.

"I was doing night internet searching [and] turned up a picture of this crazy 17 string bass,” Francis explains. “I sent a picture to Billy and we laughed about it and made some jokes about actually trying to use it.”

“A few weeks later, after I had forgotten about it, Billy shows up with [the 17 string bass]" he adds, while describing the moment he used the bass as a "hold my beer" moment.

You can buy the same 17-string bass at DHGate (opens in new tab). Watch fan-filmed footage of the performance below.

ZZ Top will wrap up their Raw Whiskey tour on December 2 in Scottsdale, Arizona, following which the band will head to Las Vegas for a residency at The Venetian Resort and Casino. 

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music. '10 bands that rip off Black Sabbath but get away with it' is her favourite article she's written with Louder so far. When not writing, Liz enjoys various creative endeavours such as graphic design, as well as reading about rock’n’roll history, art and magic.