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Bill Kelliher’s Quest for the World’s Smallest Fly Rig

Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher is on a quest to “build the world’s smallest fly rig” for when he’s on the road.

Bill Kelliher’s Quest for the World’s Smallest Fly Rig. In the world of professional guitarists, the journey towards the perfect rig is a perpetual quest. For Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher, this pursuit has taken a unique turn as he aspires to create the world’s smallest fly rig for his travels. 

Bill Kelliher’s Quest for the World’s Smallest Fly Rig

In a recent interview with Thomann’s Guitars & Basses, Kelliher discussed the transition to digital rigs and his love for compact solutions.

Thomann's Guitars & Basses

Weight & Logistics

As the saying goes, “The show must go on,” but when you’re lugging around a full-stack guitar setup from one tour stop to another, the glamour quickly fades. The weight and logistics of traditional amps have prompted many artists to explore the world of digital rigs, and Kelliher is no exception. He’s on a mission to streamline his gear while retaining the signature Mastodon sound.

When asked if he would ever consider going fully digital, Kelliher responded with a chuckle, “Honestly, I’ve been trying to build the world’s smallest fly rig. [Laughs] Like, really small.” It’s clear that he’s looking for the perfect balance between portability and exceptional tone.

Bill Kelliher


Kelliher’s journey into the realm of digital gear has led him to Synergy, a brand he genuinely loves. He notes that the sound quality keeps improving with every new module they release. While he has a deep-seated affection for his classic tube-driven amps, he acknowledges that they can be a logistical nightmare when touring.

“I mean, I love my Friedman,” Kelliher admits. “It’s awesome. When I’m at home in the States, I use that; I use a Victory Super Kraken, and the sound of those two things together is… Nothing sounds that good.” However, he quickly points out the challenges of using these beasts while flying to far-flung destinations, like South America, where his band is set to tour in November.

Mastodon Live


Kelliher sheds light on his current guitar rig, a setup designed for maximum portability and flexibility. He explains, “But right now, I’ve got a Victory Dutchess pedal and a Friedman BE-OD pedal, and I’m just plugging those in direct to a Fryette power amp, and using those as the actual amps. They’re controlled in settings in the Line 6 Helix.”

Friedman BE-OD

“So basically, I’m switching between the two – one’s a clean amp, like a preamp, and the other is a dirty amp. If you’re not looking at it, you’d be like, ‘That sounds like a real giant amp.’ They’re now making preamps and little tiny pedals that, I’m like, ‘Man!'” It’s a testament to the innovation happening in the world of guitar gear.


Kelliher sums up his rig by saying, “So those are my amps. Giant amps shrunk down to these little pedals. And then, inside the Helix, I’ve got all my effects. That goes into a little lunchbox, and you’re good to go. That’s great. I just want to show up one day with a little tiny [rig], open up, and like ‘Here’s my stuff!'”

Line 6 Helix Guitar Processor

Full Stacks?

The bottom line, as Kelliher emphasizes, is that you can achieve remarkable sound without the need for massive Marshall full-stacks. The world of guitar gear is evolving, and artists like Bill Kelliher are leading the way in finding more compact, efficient, and travel-friendly solutions for their performances.

Watch Bill Kelliher’s discussion on his journey towards the world’s smallest fly rig.

Read our Best Amp Modelers 2023 – Top 5 Virtual Guitar Rigs roundup.

More Information


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