2014 Gibson USA Bill Kelliher “Halcyon” Les Paul

Gibson Says:

You want to talk heavy? Bill Kelliher’s riffs with metal giants Mastodon could just about crush prehistoric beast that gives the band its name. The Bill Kelliher “Halcyon” Les Paul takes its classic mahogany/maple foundation from this savage-riffing guitarist’s longtime favorite singlecut, and blows it through the bedrock with a pair of eviscerating Lace Dissonant Aggressor pickups, with push-pull coil splitting on their individual volume controls for authentic single-coil sounds. With the tone totally covered, this guitar drives home the looks, too, courtesy of a Gold With Blackburst finish, gold-plated hardware, gold speed knobs, a “Halcyon” hot-stamped truss-rod cover, cream binding, and traditional trapezoid inlays. The guitar comes protected in a Vintage Brown Gibson hardshell case.

Lace Pickups:

Bill Kelliher, for the uninitiated, is the lead guitarist from the band Mastodon and he teamed up recently with Lace to design a signature set of high output humbuckers called the ‘Dissonant Aggressors.’ Designed for high gain applications, these humbuckers are said to offer a superb dynamic response and sustain without the usual high end roll off associated with high output pickups. Available in both neck and bridge variants the Dissonant Aggressors are really good looking pickups with a smooth finish, sporting a small Mastodon logo in the bottom right corner and Lace Sensor logo in the upper left. The bridge pickup features a high 17.8k resistance and 1955Hz peak frequency, whilst the neck version has a 13.7k resistance and 2380Hz peak frequency. As such, these are firmly in the modern voiced, high output category and will drive any amp into saturated filth territory with ease.

Normally, as the resistance, and thus output is increased, you lose dynamics and high end response as the tone becomes muddier with less clarity. With the stock pickups in the first Les Paul clone this could be heard and felt quite apparently as the more gain was applied to the amp the less clarity and dynamics could be achieved with even clean tones lacking pick response and high-end sheen. The Dissonant Aggressors have no such problem and offer a huge amount of output with very high levels of clarity and punch, even at high gain levels. String and note separation were a huge improvement over the stock pickups in both the bridge and neck position, making playing more musical and more fun, translating into a more dynamic and responsive playing experience. Rolling the volume down on both pickups results in a surprisingly manageable clean tone with very little high end roll off for such high output designs.

The neck position exhibits a much more responsive character than the average neck humbucker and excelled at mid gain crunch tones where lesser pickups can often become horribly muddy and often useless. Creamy lead tones were easily achieved here too with higher gain setting and the sustain is a marked improvement over the stock pickups. In the bridge position the aggression can be dialled in to insane levels and still be manageable with detuned power chords having lots of punch and decent amounts of top end cut – a sound guy would be much happier with these pickups in a mix than the stock Far East models.

Any Bill Kelliher or Mastodon fans will definitely want to snap these pickups up if they’re trying to achieve that signature sound, but they should appeal to anyone into the Metal genre as well because they’re a very versatile and great sounding set, offering high output, modern tones but without many of the drawbacks that passive high output pickups generally have.

I Say:

Tipping the scales at 9.7lbs, this guitar is not only “heavy” in terms of the sound it creates, but also in its actual mass there’s certainly no weight relief in this baby.

In near perfect condition, I can find no scratches or dents.  

Sperzel locking tuners and a special “Halcyon” truss rod cover.  The neck is to me a 60’s profile, and unmarked, as are the rosewood fingerboard and frets.

The Blackburst and gold lacquer finish is very striking, all complemented with all gold hardware. The Lace Dissonant Aggressor pickups are coil tapped via push/pull on the volume knobs.