Pioneering thrasher brings hell to the stage with signature ESPs, Silver Jubilees, and a few key tone titillators.
If you’re a devoted follower of the Rig Rundown series, you’ve probably noticed our recent rash of thrash. We’ve featured nearly every corner of the genre—heavyweights Megadeth, torchbearers Anthrax, revivalists Municipal Waste, and, now, pioneers Exodus get their (re)visit. Their four-decade reign and 11 gnashing albums are brimming with sinister, trouncing, wood-splitting riffs and vividly vicious narratives. And the blade of this chainsaw collective is its longest-tenured member, fretboard flyer Gary Holt, whose last Rig Rundown appearance was in 2015.
During the afternoon of Exodus’ middle slot for the ongoing The Bay Strikes Back tour—featuring neighbors Testament and Death Angel—at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl, Holt’s tech Steve Brogden invited PG’s Perry Bean onstage to catalog the thrasher’s setup. In this RR, Brogdon details the murderous axes, custom cabs, and more that Holt is packing into the trailer and onto the stage.
Brought to you by D’Addario Nexxus 360 Tuner.
This custom-shop goldtop edition of Gary Holt’s ESP GH-600 signature might look familiar because it spent a lot of time out with him when he filled in for Jeff Hannemann during Slayer’s last tours. His signature model is based on the company’s Eclipse single-cut body shape. In typical fashion for Holt, it’s loaded with EMG 81R/89R active pickups and a Floyd Rose 1000 Series tremolo. The axe has been upgraded with FU-Tone performance hardware components. Holt calls this one “Goldy.”
The model comes stock with a mahogany body, 3-piece mahogany neck, and a Macassar ebony fretboard with 22 extra-jumbo frets. Holt alternates between two sets of signature strings from Von Frankenstein Monster Gear—Toxic Rocks (.009–.052w) and Collateral Damage (.009–.060w)—that are a collaboration with Rig Rundown alumnus Doyle of the Misfits.
Here’s another custom-shop ESP GH-600 signature that has the same specs as Goldy, but is a remarkable single-cut salute to Prince.
Officer Holt, Reporting to Rock
This custom-shop creation from ESP gives Gary Holt the authority to shred your face off. Same specs as before, but this one features a real badge from the police force of Holtville, California. Shotgun shell casings make up the volume and tone knobs.
Bullets on the Board
An impressive build already, the craftsmanship was elevated when the Japanese custom-shop luthiers took the ends of spent shell casings from Gary’s collection and put them into the fretboard, starting at .50 caliber and ranging down .22. Gary mentioned off camera that it was a struggle to get the bullets into Japan—which has strict gun control laws—for the ESP crew to build into his custom order.
Camaraderie with Kirk
To honor his longtime friendship with former Exodus bandmate and fellow ESP endorsee Kirk Hammett, Holt purchased this ESP LTD Kirk Hammett EKH-3 Spider 30th Anniversary single-cut.
This ESP custom-shop endeavor centers around their Arrow model and has all the same specs as the previous guitars. It also has the FU-Tone hardware upgrades, like the others, but features the first FU-Tone add-ons finished in white.
Auctioning an Eclipse
At every show, Gary rips on one of his ESP LTD Gary Holt GH-600 for a few songs and sells it to a lucky fan who gets an all-access reception, including a backstage hang, a peek at soundcheck, and plenty of photo ops with the thrash legend. If you were at the Nashville show and bought a GH-600 from Gary, this is probably your guitar.
Back in 2015, Holt was using a Kemper Profiler that revolved around a replication of his beloved 1980s JCM800 that featured a Langer mod. He’s back plugging into tubes and has landed on the famed Marshall 2555X Silver Jubilee. One is his main and the other a backup.
Creepy Crawly Cabs
Gary’s duo of Silver Jubilee 2555X heads hit a fearsome foursome of signature light-up 4x12s specially built by Arachnid Cabinets out of Sacramento, California. These cabs all rock Celestion Vintage 30s, are constructed with dovetail joints, and use marine-grade Baltic birch. They are illuminated with LEDs and each has a Holt-designed sigil on its center. The cabs are color coordinated with the axes Gary plays on each song.
Racked For Rock
Holt trusts most of his switching to his tech, Steve Brogdon, who triggers everything with a rack-mounted Voodoo Lab GCX Guitar Audio Switcher that coordinates with a Voodoo Lab Ground Control MIDI Switcher. The pedals in the travel case include a Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive, Pro Tone Pedals Gary Holt Mid Boost, Maxon OD-9, MXR Bass Octave Deluxe, Maxon FL-9 Flanger, TC Electronic Corona Chorus, Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor, and a Darta Effects Bonded by Delay. A BBE Supa-Charger Power Supply gives juice to the stomps.
While Brogdon makes the changes for Holts’ rack-living pedals, Holt still stomps these boxes himself. His proper pedalboard is home to a Does It Doom Doomsaw, Mooer Tender Octaver, Mooer Green Mile, and a Dunlop JC95SE Jerry Cantrell Special Edition Crybaby Wah. A Shure GLXD16 Digital Wireless Guitar Pedal System lets him rock untethered.