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.


Fitted and non-fitted risers and frames designed to work with popular effects pedals and pedalboards.

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Week #4 is here! You could WIN pedals from one of SIX great brands... including a whole new pedal lineup from Pigtronix!

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Big sounds abound in this affordable orchestra synth in a box.

Hip string synth tones. Communicates detail in complex chords. Freeze effects included.

High-mid transients can be pronounced in some voices.


Electro-Harmonix S9 String Ensemble


Electro-Harmonix is a giant among pedal builders. What’s inspiring about EHX is that they’ve never let that stature keep them from taking risks. Take the company’s keyboard- and synth-inspired pedals: the B9, KEY9, MEL9, and Synth9. Each has been a success, but none were sure-fire hits. Guitar-based synthesis at accessible consumer prices is not easy. Yet in each case, EHX created something playable and useful to guitarists. And if they didn’t always achieve perfect replication of the keyboard and synth instruments that inspired them, the pedals often prompted new ways of relating to a guitar and new possibilities in performance and composition. The S9 String Ensemble is among the most realized of these pedals. Its sounds are rich and creatively executed. And the pedal is compelling in the truest sense of the word: It makes it virtually impossible to not consider new songs, new arrangements, and new styles as you interact with it.

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