Gear Rundown: Mastodon’s Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher

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Gear Rundown: Mastodon’s Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher

Words by Mixdown Staff

A look at Mastodon, the metal heavyweights', expansive rigs.

Mastodon gear

Like the ancient animal that bears their namesake, Mastodon are a band of absolutely gargantuous nature. Hailing from Atlanta, the prog-metal four piece have become one of the most critically acclaimed metal groups of their generation, with a slew of concept albums and intense live shows winning them legions of devoted fans in the process.

Check out their gear rundown below!

Read more features and columns here.

Brent Hinds

Gibson Custom Silverburst Flying V

Speaking to Premier Guitar in 2014, guitarist Brett Hinds mentions he commissioned his Silverburst Flying V from Gibson in 2005, fitted with Gibson Classic ’57 humbuckers and strung with D’Addario XL Nickel Wound 0.60’s to suit the low tunings used by the group.

Electrical Guitar Company Brent Hinds Custom V

Renowned for their meticulously crafted aluminum instruments, Electric Guitar Company crafted Hinds a limited edition Custom V made out of Lucite, widely used for various purposed as a durable acryclic material. Hinds’ Custom V also features the addition of a Lyre tremolo, commonly seen on vintage 60’s Gibsons, and sounds absolutely phenomenal – check it out.

Gibson SG

Hinds is an avid enthusiast of the Gibson SG, telling Guitar Player in 2010 that he favours the model because “If you’ve got a beer belly like I do, the SG is especially comfortable because of the way it’s cut – your pouch goes right in there.” While his favourite model is a Silverburst ’83 Gibson SG bought from The Guess Who’s keyboard player, Hinds owns several other models, including this 1968 model with a Lyrebird Tremolo.

Gibson B.B. King Lucille ES-355

Despite not being a very metal-y guitar, Hinds often manages to wrangle some filthy tones out of a B.B. King Lucille ES 355.


Bill Kelliher

Gibson Signature Bill Kelliher Golden Axe Explorer

Bill Kelliher is a huge fan of Explorers, having played various Korina and Standard models on the road with Mastodon, and was treated to a signature ‘Golden Axe’ Explorer by Gibson in 2013. Decked out with premium gold hardware and a pair of powerful LACE Nitro Hemi Humbuckers, Kelliher’s Explorer is closer to a weapon than a guitar, with the guitarist telling Gibson in 2013 that ” I’ve always been a fan of Explorers. It’s almost like you’re wielding an ax or something – but this one is a blingy ax.”

Gibson Bill Kelliher “Halycon” Les Paul

In addition to his Explorer, Kelliher also has another signature instrument with Gibson – the Halycon Les Paul. Fitted out for brutal tones, the Halcyon features two Lace Dissonant Aggressor Humbuckers with push-pull coil splitting, and like his Explorer, features all gold hardware. The Bill Kelliher Halcyon would be the Mastodon man’s last signature instrument with Gibson before parting ways with the company in favour of ESP, however, Kelliher has continued playing various Les Pauls throughout his career since.

ESP BK-600 Bill Kelliher

Upon jumping ship to ESP in 2015, Kelliher was graced with the ESP BK-600, a signature model based on the specs of an ESP Eclipse. Loaded with his signature Lace Sensor Dissonant Aggressor Pickups, the BK-600 is constructed with solid mahogany and interestingly features no waist cut.

ESP Bill Kelliher Sparrowhawk

For his second signature guitar with ESP, Kelliher collaborated with the metal guitar giants to fathom the incredulous Sparrowhawk, an aesthetically challenging instrument reminiscent of a Gibson Reverse Firebird. Offering a 3 piece mahogany neck, ebony fretboard and Kelliher’s new Lace Sensor Divinator signature pickups, you can see the man himself (Hinds having a go too!) shred on the signature guitar in this studio clip of “Toe to Toes.”

Mastodon Amplifiers

Running an absolutely huge rig, Hinds tends to favour the sound of stacked, overdriven valve heads – and plenty of them.

His 2014 setup was comprised of two Marshall JMP MKII Lead Series heads (one from 1977, the other from 1978) to pull the brunt of his tone, as well as a late 90’s Diezel VH4 for more stacked gain, which feed two custom painted Orange PPC 4×12 cabinets.

Although he used to play through an assortment of Marshall heads, Bill Kelliher has also endorsed the work of  legendary amp modifier Dave Friedman.

After touring with Alice In Chains and falling in love with the sound of guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s signature Friedman, Kelliher collaborated with the tone great to create the Friedman Bill Kelliher Signature head, a 100-watt hand-wired high-gain head with a matching cab to boot.

On the road, Kelliher usually adds an additional Orange PPC 4×12 cabinet to his setup, and often runs two heads simultaneously.

Effects pedals and pedalboards

Relying more on the crushing overdrive supplied by his immense amp stack, Hinds now runs a much more simplified pedal setup compared to his previous delay heavy rigs. Hinds kicks things off with an Ernie Ball Volume Pedal Jr which is plugged straight into an Ibanez Tubescreamer, allowing him to variably control his amp gain.

From there, he runs a MXR GT-OD Overdrive, a MXR Phase 90, a BOSS DD-6 Delay, ISP Decimator, a Dunlop Crybaby Bass Wah for extended filter sweeps, a TC Electronic Polytune and an MXR Custom Audio Systems Buffer to compensate for signal loss.

Despite being an avid pedal enthusiast and previously rocking a whole bank of effects onstage, Kelliher has recently switched to a digital Fractal Axe-FX II system, using the processor for a variety of octave, chorus, delay and rotary speaker effects.

In addition to the Fractal system, Kelliher runs a Digitech Jam Man Looper to create looping textures mid-set, and operates the whole rig with a Fractal MFC101 MIDI Controller.

For more Mastodon, check out Brent Hinds’ official Reverb shop.