Adam Jones is one of the most influential guitarists of the last 20 years. Not bad considering TOOL’s rather meager back catalog. But how does Adam Jones ensure his chops stay nice and frosty?
Like everybody else, he practices – he practices a lot. But it is Jones’ approach to how he practices that he says helped him improve the most between the release of 10,000 Days and Fear Inoculum.
Now, 10,000 Days came out in 2006 and TOOL didn’t release and album until 2019’s Fear Inoculum. Jones is not in another band, so he had PLENTY of time on his hands to practice guitar and hone his already impressive skill set.
I mean, 13 years is a very long time. Jimi Hendrix only played guitar for 12 years. He started when he was 15 and he died at 27. That’s 12 years. But Jones had 13 years off between TOOL records, so he had plenty of time to develop his skills.
Adam Jones’ Practice Routine
Most of TOOL’s back-end stuff, its songwriting, how it demos stuff, how the concepts are created, are drenched in mystery. Most people know very little about the internal politics of the band, how it works internally, and who is the driving force between the music and its creation (spoiler: it is almost certainly Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor).
But there are tidbits and slithers of information here and there if you choose to do some digging. As a guitarist myself, I’m always interested in how other, infinitely more talented guitarists practice and develop their playing. I’m a huge TOOL fan, so I was obviously keen to find out how Adam Jones practices guitar during the expanses between TOOL albums.
During an interview with Guitar World, Jones outlined his practice routine and how he has been approaching guitar, following the release of 10,000 Days. Jones says that he spent the following 13 years practicing hard, “more than ever”, and the net result of this is present in TOOL’s exceptional 2019 release, Fear Inoculum.
I’ve definitely been practicing more than ever. Since the last record came out, when I meet a guitarist I like, I’ll ask them what they do to warm-up or what do they do to stay good.
Most of them show me a technique or a stretch – or maybe a practice idea. It’s always really interesting for me to see what they do, and I really try to practice the things these people give me.
The last time I saw [Metallica guitarist] Kirk Hammett, I asked and he sent me a video of this forwards/backwards run going up and down the neck of the guitar, and it really helped my playing a lot.
Instead of doing something like just trying to learn the lead in ‘Master of Puppets,’ I asked what he does to keep himself good, but I think it’s better to learn how someone practices and apply it to your own ideas. I highly recommend it.Adam Jones
Learn From The Best
What’s the moral of the story here? Simple: even the greats like Adam Jones still look up to other guitarists. In this context, Kirk Hammett of Metallica. And because Jones is in a position where he regularly rubs shoulders with some of the greatest guitarists currently working the earth, he likely has loads of additional practice routines he’s picked up while on the road playing shows.
Hammett plays lead in Metallica obviously, so it is interesting that Jones – predominantly known as a rhythm guitarist, although his leads, while simple, are utterly iconic – works a lot on his speed and dexterity. Doing runs up and down the guitar neck, at varying speeds, is a great way of improving your precision and overall technique. Add in some advanced muting techniques and you’ve got yourself one hell of a workout for your hands and mind.
Another key aspect of Jones’ style is his precision. His riffs, often simple and rhythmically focussed, are always incredibly tight – both live and on TOOL’s records. Having an appreciation and deep-rooted skills in playing fast, up and down the neck, is one of the quickest ways to develop more precision in your playing. And if you want your playing to sound tight, you need to be extremely precise.
Interested in sounding more like Adam Jones? Find out what pickups Adam Jones uses to dial in his tone on TOOL records and when the band plays live. We also have a post on Adam Jones’ – potentially incoming – Epiphone Les Paul model. This guitar has been rumored for ages now, but we’re hoping for a release at some point before the end of 2022…