Are Bill Kelliher’s new Mojotone Hellbender pickups the most versatile metal humbuckers ever made?

Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher has teamed up with North Carolina pickup and part manufacturer Mojotone for a new set of signature pickups, the Hellbenders. 

The humbuckers are reportedly named after a “shitty ass car” the guitarist owned prior to his musical success (and also a type of salamander) and are described by the makers as “raw and menacing… with a capacity for the most visceral riffs intertwined with an articulate and open side for lush clean tones.”

This seemingly disparate tonal range is accomplished by some clever design. Firstly, each humbucker uses two different wire gauges, which increase the dynamic range on offer and make for a smoother, more convincingly single-coil style sound when used in a coil-split circuit.

Mojotone Bill Kelliher Hellbender pickup set

(Image credit: Mojotone)

Secondly, there are two different types of magnets used across the set, with the neck unit using Alnico II and the bridge unit using Alnico V, meaning each pickup has a distinctive voice. 

Mojotone has also blended ceramic magnets alongside the Alnico magnets in each unit, which it says creates a tighter attack and a boost in sustain and output when paired with an overdrive.

“Mastodon covers a wide array of sounds and tones,” comments Kelliher. “I needed a pickup that can pull off the gauntlet of tones needed for the band while leaving room to inspire new sounds.”

The Mastodon man already had some history with Mojotone’s Black Magic and Tomahawk pickups and has now has the satisfaction of adding his own set to their catalog.

It’s not Kelliher’s first pickup collaboration though. The Hellbenders will take their place in Kelliher’s rig alongside his two signature Lace humbuckers, the excellently-named Divinator and Dissonant Aggressors

The Mojotone Bill Kelliher humbucker set is available now in uncovered black and aged nickel configurations for a price of $261.95. Head to Mojotone (opens in new tab) for more information.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.