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.




  • Develop a better sense of subdivisions.
  • Understand how to play "over the bar line."
  • Learn to target chord tones in a 12-bar blues.
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