Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Rig Rundown: Helmet's Page Hamilton

The alt-metal pioneer talks about his love for ESP guitars and shows off some of his homemade mods.

Premier Guitar’s Perry Bean met with Helmet’s Page Hamilton on his tour bus before the band’s show at Nashville’s famous Exit/In on August 12th, 2014. Hamilton walks us through his trio of ESP guitars, his simple amp setup, and his modest collection of stomps.


Hamilton has been associated with ESP guitars for decades. The love of the ESP Horizon Custom eventually morphed into his own signature model. The current trio of axes on the road are streamlined to a single volume knob, a lone DiMarzio Air Zone (Hamilton removes the neck pickup himself), and either a Wilkinson or Floyd Rose trem. The majority of Helmet’s set is split between a silver 2006 ESP signature model with a Wilkinson trem.
The other main workhorse is a pink 2009 ESP signature model that is relic’d to look like his original ’89 Horizon Custom.
Finally, he brings a black 2004 ESP Horizon Custom that serves as a backup.

Amps and Cabinets

Hamilton plugs into one loud and proud 100-watt Pittbull Ultra-Lead, which runs into a Fryette 4x12 cab with Eminence P-50E speakers.


Hamilton runs all of his pedals in front of the amp and controls the rig with a Custom Audio Electronics RS-5 MIDI Foot Controller designed by Bob Bradshaw. The signal starts with a Hello Kitty-modified Fryette Valvulator before going into an MXR Custom Audio Electronics Boost/Overdrive. From there the signal hits a Real McCoy Custom wah, Eventide TimeFactor, MXR Bass Octave, Boss PS-5 Super Shifter, Boss NS-2 Noise Gate, and finally a Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner.

Special thanks to Helmet guitar tech Paul Smith.


The Return of Johnny Cash—John Carter Cash Interview
The Return of Johnny Cash—John Carter Cash Interview on Johnny’s New Songwriter Album

The Man in Black returns with the unreleased Songwriter album. John Carter Cash tells us the story.

Read MoreShow less

The GibsonES Supreme Collection (L-R) in Seafoam Green, Bourbon Burst, and Blueberry Burst.

The new Gibson ES Supreme offers AAA-grade figured maple tops, Super Split Block inlays, push/pull volume controls, and Burstbucker pickups.

Read MoreShow less

Mdou Moctar has led his Tuareg crew around the world, but their hometown performances in Agadez, Niger, last year were their most treasured.

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

On the Tuareg band’s Funeral for Justice, they light a fiery, mournful pyre of razor-sharp desert-blues riffs and political calls to arms.

Mdou Moctar, the performing moniker of Tuareg guitar icon Mahamadou “Mdou” Souleymane, has played some pretty big gigs. Alongside guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, drummer Souleymane Ibrahim, and bassist Mikey Coltun, Moctar has led his band’s kinetic blend of rock, psych, and Tuareg cultural traditions like assouf and takamba to Newport Folk Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival, and, just this past April, to the luxe fields of Indio, California, for Coachella. Off-kilter indie-rock darlings Parquet Courts brought them across the United States in 2022, after which they hit Europe for a run of headline dates.

Read MoreShow less

How do you capture what is so special about Bill Frisell’s guitar playing in one episode? Is it his melodies, his unique chord voicings, his rhythmic concept, his revolutionary approach to pedals and sounds…? It’s all of that and much more.

Read MoreShow less