Musikmesse 2013: Gibson unveil Bill Kelliher Golden Axe Explorer

The Mastodon man's new axe
The Mastodon man's new axe

Musikmesse 2013: Gibson has unveiled another signature guitar at Frankfurt, this time in the shape of the Bill Kelliher Golden Axe Explorer.

The Mastodon guitarist's Explorer features a set of super-heavy appointments, including a solid mahogany body and neck and a set of split-coil LACE Nitro Hemi humbuckers, as well as a gorgeous gold burst finish. The Golden Axe Explorer will retail at $2665 (approximately £1740).

For more information, visit the official Gibson website.

Gibson press release

When your tone's as massive as that of Mastodon's Bill Kelliher, you need a guitar with equally mammoth power. For both looks and sound, the iconic Gibson Explorer is a perfect fit: this radically angled electric was light-years ahead of its time when it was introduced in 1958, and it's still the first choice of many of the world's fiercest rockers.

The Bill Kelliher "Golden Axe" Explorer from Gibson USA brews select tonewoods into a timelessly revolutionary body style. With powerful LACE™ Nitro Hemi® humbucking pickups and classic hardware, this is a guitar befitting Kelliher's status in the world of metal. Trapezoid fingerboard inlays, gold-plated hardware, a hot-stamped Golden Axe truss-rod cover, cream pickguard with hot-stamped Mastodon logo, and Bill's choice of Go-Gold Burst finish in high-gloss nitrocellulose lacquer complete this stunning package.

Body and neck

Mahogany has a long history as a tonewood with Gibson, and it provides the perfect core for the Bill Kelliher "Golden Axe" Explorer. Crafted from solid, unchambered mahogany, the Explorer-style body yields plenty of richness and depth, along with excellent sustain. The solid mahogany neck is carved to Bill's preference of slim Explorer profile measuring 0.800" at the 1st fret and 0.850" at the 12th, and topped with a solid rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets and a PLEK-cut Corian™ nut. The body's top and fingerboard are trimmed in elegant cream binding.

Pickups and electronics

Bill Kelliher demands the utmost in power and versatility from his pickups, which is why his "Golden Axe" Explorer is equipped with two powerful LACE™ Nitro Hemi® humbuckers. These extremely powerful contemporary humbuckers excel at high-gain metal tones, with thumping lows and punchy, aggressive mids, yet retain outstanding clarity and sweet, bell-like highs. As a bonus, they are wired for coil-splitting to provide authentic single-coil tones, which can be used individually or in several combinations via a traditional three-way selector switch. A push-pull switch on the master volume control splits the bridge pickup, while the master tone's switching splits the neck pickup.


Ever since their introduction in 1954, Gibson's Tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece have been acclaimed for their perfect marriage of solid sustain and efficient intonation. These classics answer the call perfectly on the Bill Kelliher "Golden Axe" Explorer, along with a set of high-quality Grover™ Mini tuners. All hardware, along with the strap buttons and pickup covers, is plated in gold.

Case and extras

Each guitar comes protected in a plush-lined hardshell Explorer case with black exterior, and includes owner's manual and truss-rod adjustment tool, along with Gibson's Limited Lifetime Warranty and 24/7/365 customer service.