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How To Sound Like Adam Jones: The Gear You’ll Need

How To Sound Like Adam Jones
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Wanna sound like Adam Jones on guitar? Here’s all the gear you’ll need (and tips on how to do it on the cheap)…


Adam Jones is one of the most successful metal / rock guitarists of all time. Over the years, Jones – via his band Tool – has amassed tens of millions of dollars from record sales and touring. 

Tool is kind of its own thing too. It doesn’t really sound like anyone else, although it draws influence from the likes of the Melvins and King Crimson, and a major part of this is Adam Jones’ playing style and approach to tone.

You can learn tabs and, if you’ve got the chops, work out most TOOL riffs with relative ease. Jones plays in Drop D most of the time and his compositions are never too complex, making them an ideal learning tool for aspiring guitarists. 

But to make it sound like Tool, you’ll need a specific set of hardware.

But here’s the twist: you DO NOT need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to sound like Adam Jones. 

You can, of course, if you’ve got deep pockets.

But for the 99.9% of us that don’t, here’s everything Adam Jones currently uses and how you can achieve a similar sound for a fraction of the cost. 

Guitars

Adam Jones Pedalboard

Gibson Les Paul Custom Silverbursts

Adam Jones’ primary guitars are three Gibson Les Paul Custom Silverburst models, and these are HELLA expensive – like $15,000 a pop.

Want something similar for a fraction of the cost, go with his custom Epiphone model: The Epiphone Adam Jones Les Paul Custom Art Collection you can get one of these for $1,299.00.

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Or, if that’s still too much, grab yourself an Epiphone Les Paul Studio – these run from $699.99 and are exceptional guitars for intermediate and even advanced players.

Jones’ iconic Gibson Les Paul Custom Silverburst ain’t stock, either. He’s modded it somewhat to create TOOL’s iconic, heavy sound which he does through the use of a very specific pickup.

For nearly all of Jones’ career, he has used Seymour Duncan’s SH-6B Distortion Humbucker (snag a pair yourself for $99) which is designed for a more aggressive tone, ideal for metal, compared to the Les Paul Custom’s stock pickups.

Gibson SG Standard

Gibson SG Standard

For studio work, Jones has also utilized a Gibson SG Standard, as reported by Guitar World magazine. I’ve seen Tool play around 12 times and I have never seen him use an SG live.

The SG offers a slightly different tonal palette, with a lighter body and a more pronounced mid-range, providing versatility in the studio. It also allows for easier access to the higher notes on the neck.

For this reason, I can see why Jones would use an SG in the studio. It’s a great guitar, both the Gibson and Epiphone models, favored from everybody from Angus Young to Chino Moreno and Tony Iommi.

Gibson EDS-1275 Double-Neck

Gibson EDS-1275 Double-Neck

In live performances, Jones has been seen using a Gibson EDS-1275 Double-Neck, allowing him to switch between 6-string and 12-string configurations seamlessly.

Jimmy Page also used a similar model with Led Zeppelin, likely where Jones got the idea from.

This guitar enables complex layering and textural variety, crucial for replicating Tool’s multi-dimensional studio sound on stage.

Again, though, these Gibson guitars are not cheap. But if you do want a cheap(ish) double-neck guitar, Chris and I really like this Harley Benton model.

Amplifiers

How To Sound Like Adam Jones: The Gear You'll Need

With amps and cabinets, this is where things can get REALLY expensive. TOOL basically play arenas these days, so a solid amp stack is essential.

Here’s a rundown of Adam Jones’ amps and cabinets from TOOL’s last worldwide tour.

Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier

A cornerstone of Jones’ guitar rig is the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier 100-Watt Tube Head.

Known for its high gain and versatility, this amplifier is capable of producing the dense, powerful tones that are a hallmark of Jones’ playing.

Diezel Blueface VH4 Amplifier Head

Another critical piece of Jones’ setup is the Diezel Blueface VH4 amplifier head, renowned for its precise, articulate distortion and wide tonal range.

This amp complements the Dual Rectifier, adding depth and clarity to Jones’ sound.

Marshall Super Bass

Jones’ rig also includes a 1976 Marshall Super Bass, contributing a classic rock tone with its rich, warm overdrive, adding another layer to his diverse sound palette.

Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus

For clean tones and specific effects, Jones incorporates a Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus amplifier.

Known for its pristine, clear sound and distinctive chorus effect, the JC-120 adds a contrasting sonic texture to Jones’ predominantly heavy and distorted tones.

Cheaper Alternatives

STL amphub

If you want to dial in Jones’ tone at home, you do not need to invest thousands in an amp. You can, of course, but you’ll A) need plenty of cash and B) lots of room – amp stacks take up a lot of room.

For most players, you can create pretty much any tone you like with software these days. I really like STL Tones’ AmpHub software. It is brilliant, features every amp and cab you can think of, and it is very inexpensive to run – like $10 a month.

With software like STL Tones AmpHub, you can plug directly into your DAW of choice to record, design and build your own amp and effects stacks, and even use presets created by other users.

If you’re on a budget or you don’t have the cash to buy amps and cabs and multiple pedals, software like AmpHub is a lifesaver.

Another great option would be Positive Grid’s BIAS FX 2.

Effects Pedals

If you’ve seen TOOL live, you know that Jones has a pretty solid pedalboard. I’ve seen them a bunch of times and, while there’s always a few changes, there are always the constants.

The pedals Adam Jones uses the most are as follows. These pedals, used in combination or by themselves, can be used to create all of the tonal effects used in most TOOL songs.

  • MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compressor: This pedal helps even out the dynamics, adding sustain and punch to the guitar signal.
  • Boss BF-2 Flanger and DD-3 Digital Delay: These pedals are key for adding modulation and spatial effects, contributing to the psychedelic and expansive soundscapes in Tool’s music.
  • Dunlop Heil HT1 Talk Box: Used sparingly, the Talk Box adds a vocal-like quality to the guitar, providing a unique effect in specific songs.
  • DOD FX40B Equalizer and Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah: These pedals allow for fine-tuning of the tone and dynamic wah effects, crucial for expressive playing.
  • Gamechanger Audio Plasma Pedal: A recent addition to Jones’ board, this pedal offers a unique, high-voltage distortion effect, adding a new dimension to his sound.

Strings and Picks

With strings and picks, preference is always going to win out. I wouldn’t change the pick I use for all the vintage Les Pauls in America. It took me years to find my perfect pick, so why switch now?

But if you’re interested in what Adam Jones uses, and you’re just starting out and you’d like to develop a style similar to his, here’s a quick breakdown of the guitar pick and strings used by Adam Jones:

TL;DR: Adam Jones of TOOL Gear Essentials 🎸🔊

  • Guitars: 3️⃣ Gibson Les Paul Custom Silverbursts 🎸, Gibson SG for studio 🏠, EDS-1275 Double-Neck for live shows 🎤.
  • Amps: Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier 💪, Diezel Blueface VH4 🎛️, 1976 Marshall Super Bass 📦, Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus for clean effects 🔊.
  • Effects: Seymour Duncan Distortion Humbucker 🌪, MXR Dyna Comp compressor 💨, Boss BF-2 Flanger & DD-3 Digital Delay ⏱, Dunlop Talk Box 🗣, DOD Equalizer & Cry Baby Wah 🎚, Gamechanger Plasma Pedal ⚡.
  • Strings & Picks: Ernie Ball Strings (10-52) 🧵, Dunlop Nylon Picks 0.73mm 🎶.

Adam Jones’ setup: a blend of classic guitars, powerful amps, and diverse effects for TOOL’s iconic sound. 🛠🎼

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