Fandango! by ZZ Top: A Guitarist's Appreciation

"Fandango!", released in 1975, is the fourth album by the American blues-rock band ZZ Top. The album is a unique combination of live recordings captured in the New Orleans nightclub The Warehouse, and new studio tracks.

In this guitar tutorial course, LickLibrary veteran, Danny Gill walks you through the many highlights of each song from this blues-rock masterclass, including all of Billy Gibbons’ driving guitar parts from the tracks; “Tush,” “Heard It On The X” and the epic live cut “Jailhouse Rock.”This article will take you on a journey through the album, providing a detailed analysis of each song from a guitarist's perspective, focusing on guitar scales, solos, and techniques. We'll also explore the lead guitarist's contribution to the album and provide links to various guitar techniques used throughout.


"Thunderbird" kicks off the album with a heavy blues-rock feel. The song is in the key of A and primarily uses the A minor pentatonic scale throughout the riff and the guitar solo. Billy Gibbons, the lead guitarist, employs a variety of techniques, including slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and double stops. The solo also features a tasteful use of vibrato.

Jailhouse Rock

ZZ Top pays tribute to Elvis Presley with their rendition of "Jailhouse Rock." The song is in the key of D and uses a standard 12-bar blues progression. Gibbons' guitar work on this track includes alternate picking, double-stop bends, and unison bends. The solo showcases Gibbons' ability to seamlessly transition between the D major and D minor pentatonic scales.

Backdoor Medley

This medley consists of five distinct parts: "Backdoor Love Affair," "Mellow Down Easy," "Backdoor Love Affair No. 2," "Long Distance Boogie," and "Bar-B-Q." Throughout the medley, Gibbons employs various techniques such as trills, tremolo picking, and chord progressions. The solos in the medley make use of the E minor pentatonic scale and the A major pentatonic scale, showcasing Gibbons' mastery of both major and minor scales.

Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings

In "Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings," ZZ Top delivers a funky, upbeat track. The song is in the key of E and features a catchy riff using the E minor pentatonic scale. Gibbons employs arpeggios and dive bombs using the whammy bar. The solo is a prime example of Gibbons' ability to create memorable melodies while incorporating various techniques such as pinched harmonics and legato.

Blue Jean Blues

"Blue Jean Blues" is a slow, melancholic blues song in the key of C# minor. The song features a hauntingly beautiful guitar melody that showcases Gibbons' mastery of the C# minor pentatonic scale. He employs a variety of techniques, including bends, slides, vibrato, and hammer-ons. The emotive solo makes use of harmonics and sustain to create a powerful, atmospheric feel.


"Balinese" is a lively, upbeat track in the key of G that features a catchy, syncopated riff. Gibbons uses the G major pentatonic scale throughout the song and incorporates syncopated rhythms, open-string riffs, and whammy bar tricks. The solo showcases his ability to blend multiple techniques, such as pre-bends, double stops, and octave melodies.

Mexican Blackbird

"Mexican Blackbird" is a groovy, mid-tempo blues-rock track in the key of E. The song features a driving riff that incorporates the E minor pentatonic scale and a variety of techniques, including palm muting, barre chords, and two-handed tapping. The solo highlights Gibbons' use of sweep picking, rakes, and capo.

Heard It on the X

This high-energy track is in the key of C, featuring a riff that utilizes the C minor pentatonic scale. Gibbons incorporates a variety of techniques, such as finger-picking, hybrid picking, and Travis picking. The solo showcases his ability to create complex, melodic phrases using pick slides, string bending, and galloping rhythms.


"Tush," one of ZZ Top's most well-known songs, is a bluesy rock track in the key of G. The song features a memorable riff that utilizes the G minor pentatonic scale. Gibbons' guitar work on this track includes power chords, slides, and bluesy bends. The solo showcases his ability to create melodic phrases using double stops, hammer-ons, and pull-offs.

"Fandango!" is a testament to ZZ Top's prowess as a blues-rock band and Billy Gibbons' skill as a guitarist. The album showcases a wide range of styles and techniques, from blues and rock to funk and even a touch of country. Gibbons' innovative guitar work and the band's tight rhythm section create an unforgettable listening experience that guitarists will appreciate for its technical expertise and musicality.

In conclusion, "Fandango!" is an essential album for any guitarist looking to study the unique blend of blues, rock, and other styles that define ZZ Top's sound. The techniques employed by Billy Gibbons throughout the album serve as a masterclass in guitar playing, offering valuable insights and inspiration for guitarists of all levels. With its memorable riffs, solos, and diverse range of styles, "Fandango!" remains a timeless classic that continues to captivate and inspire guitarists more than four decades after its release.

About The Tutor

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Danny Gill

Danny Gill is, without a doubt, the most loved tutor by our community. With an incredible array of DVDs and web lessons for LickLibrary covering a wide variety of topics all of which he covers with incredible detail, it's no wonder he carries as much respect as he does. As...

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