Mastodon put the ARRR in guitars. As metal bands go, Mastodon is well and truly up there with the greats. But what guitars do Mastodon use? Let’s find out…
Mastodon has been around for over 20 years now. Feel old yet? And during this time, the band has kicked out a bunch of amazing albums, spanning multiple metal sub-genres from grizzly sludge-infused metal on REMISSION to prog-rock on Crack The Skype, and balls to the wall metal on Blood Mountain and Leviathan.
Basically, Mastodon kick ass. And they have done for years. And a big part – like 80% of Mastodon’s appeal – is the guitar work of Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds, Mastodon’s guitarists. Both of these guys are exceptional players, Hinds particularly.
But what guitars do Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher use? Now that Mastodon is kind of a big deal, both Brent and Bill have signature models out and lucrative endorsements in place, as well as their personal collections of rare and custom guitars. But what do they use most when playing with Mastodon?
What Guitar Does Brent Hinds Use?
As a guitar player, Brent Hinds has plenty of chops. The guy is in his element smashing out slow, chuggin’ riffs, playing country music, bluegrass, acoustic numbers, and face-melting solos and lead guitar.
He’s about as accomplished as they come.
But he tends to prefer certain styles of guitar – and they are usually classic cuts.
If you’ve seen Mastodon play live, or caught any of their recording sessions on YouTube, you’ll know that Brent Hinds is a massive fan of Gibson’s Flying V.
He also likes Gibson SG models too. In 2005, Hinds commissioned a Silverburst Flying V from Gibson.
This beast is fitted with Gibson Classic ’57 humbuckers and strung with D’Addario XL Nickel Wound 0.60’s to keep tension on lower tunings.
Hinds also owns an Electric Guitar Company Custom V guitar made from Lucite. This particular guitar features a Lyre tremolo, as seen on many vintage ‘60s Gibson guitars, and because of its unique build materials, the damn thing sounds like a hurricane full of banshees when hooked up to Hinds’ indomitable guitar rig.
Beyond his Flying V guitars, Hinds is also a massive fan of Gibson SG guitars – he owns a bunch.
His personal favorite – and the one he uses most, however – is a Silverburst ’83 Gibson SG which he acquired from the keyboard player in The Guess Who’s. Hinds also owns a cherry 1968 SG too and, like his Custom V, it too runs a Lyrebird Tremolo.
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 thereBrent Hinds
Wrapping up, Brent Hinds mostly uses Flying V and Gibson SG guitars. He has multiple models of each in different colors, and he also uses a Custom V from The Electrical Guitar Company that runs a Lyre tremolo.
Hinds also owns a bunch of Gretsch guitars too.
What Guitar Does Bill Kelliher Use?
Bill Kelliher is a well-known fan of the Gibson Explorer. He is also an outspoken Gibson exile, after moving from Gibson to ESP a few years ago.
Since then, Kelliher has mostly been playing ESP guitars like its signature ESP LTE Sparrowhawk which is his own personal take on what a modern Firebird should look like.
I’ve seen Mastodon numerous times over the years, and Kelliher often plays Les Paul-style guitars. On occasion, it is his Gibson Les Paul.
But most of the time it is his signature ESP Custom Shop model, of which he has a bunch. ESP’s Signature Bill Kelliher Eclipse, as it’s officially known, runs Seymour Duncan Distortion pickups and has a 24.75in scale for dialing in those complex, technical Mastodon riffs.
Mostly, Kelliher plays ESP guitars these days. He can be seen playing his Signature Bill Kelliher Eclipse and his Sparrowhawk in live performances on YouTube as well as tutorial videos. I have also seen Bill playing a Gibson Les Paul on multiple occasions too. Like me, he seems to love the feel of a classic Les Paul-style body.
Why Did Bill Kelliher Leave Gibson?
Bill used to play Gibson guitars back in the day, but he left Gibson years ago. The split wasn’t pleasant and Kelliher doesn’t mind talking about exactly what went down and why he decided to leave:
They kept f**king up my guitars that I was asking for. I didn’t ask for a lot – I just had a few certain things that I would like with my guitar – I told them I didn’t want it chambered and they made my second guitar chambered.
It was a breath of fresh air working with ESP. They were interested and would ask me what gauge strings I played and what tunings I play – Gibson never cared about any of that stuff.
Every guy I talk to – I mean, look at James Hetfield. He was at Gibson, played Gibson stuff and they didn’t want to work with him, so he went to ESP. And he’s one of the biggest f***ing guitar players in our kind of music.Bill Kelliher
And with a new Mastodon album just around the corner, you can bet your ass that all of the guitars listed above have been putting the hours in these past 12 months. Check out the first reviews for Hushed and Grim.
And if you want to go more in depth on Mastodon’s guitar tone, check out our guide on how to sound like Mastodon – it covers everything you need to know.
RichardRichard has been playing guitar for over a decade and is a huge fan of metal, doom, sludge, and rock music in general – though mostly metal. Having played in bands and worked in studios since the early 2000s, Richard is a massive music production geek, a fan of minimalist recording techniques, and he really likes old-school guitars.
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