Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher is Not Fond of the People at Gibson Guitars
Musicians move around between gear companies they endorse pretty frequently, so the fact that Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher left Gibson for ESP last year didn’t raise much of an eyebrow at the time. But it turns out there was plenty of drama behind the scenes that motivated his decision to switch.
When asked why he changed companies in a recent interview with Ultimate Guitar, Kelliher explained that Gibson, to put it simply, was a shit-show:
It was a lot of reasons.
I never really felt like I was accepted at Gibson. The communication over there is terrible. They kept fucking 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. All the guys I worked with over there – the A&R guys were getting fired left and right and the company just seemed to be falling apart to me. There were new guys who would come in and they didn’t know shit.
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. Kids would get my guitar in the mail and ask me how to tune it because it wasn’t tuned and then I would tell them how to tune it and they would say it still doesn’t sound right and it’s because they’re not putting my gauge strings on there. They weren’t even tuning the guitars to my settings or specifications – just little things like that. Things that make the guitar a Bill Kelliher model, like put it in my tuning so that when it shows up, it’s different.
ESP wanted to know all that stuff. They’re just friendly and nice and they’re interested in me and my band and what they can do for me rather than this company. Gibson just wasn’t… I don’t know, I think they’re on their way downhill honestly. 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 fucking guitar players in our kind of music. It seems like there are a lot of bad decisions being made over there.
But ESP is really great. They treat me really well. I love my Sparrowhawk that I designed. It’s the best playing guitar that I own.
Kelliher has some more nice things to say about ESP, which you can read at Ultimate Guitar.
And that’s how ESP inadvertently received the second best piece of press they’ve gotten this year! As for the first best…