ZZ Top bassist Elwood Francis has now explained why he whipped out a massive 17-string bass guitar onstage with the long-running classic rock band last week.

Francis, formerly a stage technician for ZZ Top, joined the group as their new bass player last year after the death of longtime ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill.

Last Saturday (Nov. 5), when ZZ Top played the Mark C. Smith Concert Hall at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Francis momentarily swapped his regular bass for the bright yellow 17-string bass, as shown in fan-captured footage. The video subsequently went viral thanks to the visual spectacle of the big bass — that's a lot of strings!

Watch the video down toward the bottom of this post.

But what was the reason for debuting the imposing 17-string instrument onstage last week? As it turns out, the members of ZZ Top were having a bit of a laugh after Francis happened upon the bass during a late-night internet search.

ZZ Top
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"I was doing night internet searching [and] turned up a picture of this crazy 17-string bass," Francis told UCR on Nov. 10. "I sent a picture to [ZZ Top guitarist-vocalist] Billy [Gibbons] and we laughed about it and made some jokes about actually trying to use it."

He added, "A few weeks later, after I had forgotten about it, Billy shows up with [the 17-string bass]."

Francis called it "one of those 'hold my beer' moments."

He unveiled the 17-string bass during a performance of "Got Me Under Pressure" from ZZ Top's Eliminator. It's the same album that contains the ZZ Top hits "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Legs." Get ZZ Top concert tickets here.

ZZ Top, "Got Me Under Pressure" (Live With 17-String Bass Guitar; Nov. 5, 2022)

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How do you play THAT?!