Adam Jones of TOOL has one of the most instantly recognizable guitar tones in the business. But what pickups does Adam Jones use?
TOOL is one of the biggest metal bands on the planet. I say, metal, but TOOL is much more than just a metal band; it has elements of prog, arthouse, rock music, and electronica. TOOL is TOOL, basically. And one of the key elements of TOOL is the sound of Adam Jones’ guitar.
Adam Jones uses a Gibson Les Paul Custom, a 1979 model in Silverburst. Jones also released his own signature model with Gibson in 2020, the Adam Jones Gibson 1979 Les Paul Custom in Antique Silverburst. And Jones is also said to be working on a cheaper Epiphone variant which is very exciting.
But the guitar is just one component of Jones’ sound. His style of playing and choice of tuning – he plays predominantly in Drop D – also adds to that distinctive, unmissable TOOL sound. But what pickups does Adam Jones use in his guitars? The story behind his choice is almost as interesting as TOOL’s music – let’s dig in, shall will?
What Pickups Does Adam Jones Use?
Like most things related to TOOL and Adam Jones, nothing about Jones’ pickups are standard. Jones took advice from Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins about how to get a killer tone from his rather unique pickup choice and installation.
Adam Jones uses a Seymour Duncan DDL humbucker in the bridge and a Gibson Custombucker in the neck of his 1979 Gibson Les Paul. But the twist here is that the pickups are reverse-mounted, again, this was done on the advice of King Buzzo of the Melvins. And the reason? It gives you a different polarity, according to Jones.
The Seymour Duncan DDL humbucker that Jones uses in the bridge is a high-output ceramic humbucker that was first introduced in the 1990s. Seymour Duncan then discontinued the pickup. But because Adam Jones is Adam Jones, and his signature guitar with Gibson was such a big deal, Seymour Duncan re-released the Seymour Duncan DDL humbucker for use inside the Adam Jones 1979 Custom release.
But that’s just the beginning. Jones wanted the EXACT same pickup and he even requested the original engineer of the Seymour Duncan DDL humbucker ($89) to come back to recreate the pickup for use inside his signature Gibson model. Talk about attention to detail.
Jones wanted his custom Les Paul to be as close to his actual guitar as possible but, as reports have noted, this created quite a few problems when setting up to manufacture the limited run of his custom models.
For instance, Jones modded his own guitar by adding a DiMarzio pot to control the DDL humbucker. He wanted this to be included in the production model of his Gibson guitar, so Gibson had to go away and talk to DiMarzio in order to source enough parts for Jones’ signature Les Paul.
Will There Be An Epiphone Version?
There are rumors that Jones is working on an Epiphone version of his 1979 Les Paul in Antique Silverburst, but so far not too much is known about this guitar. I had assumed it would land at some point during 2021, but it is now looking more likely to land in 2022.
Gibson owns Epiphone, after all, and dropping $5000 on Jones’ signature Les Paul from Gibson just isn’t feasible for 99.9% of guitarists. An Epiphone model that retailed for around $800 to $1000, however, would be much more palatable.
And given the popularity of TOOL and Jones as a player, it would almost certainly go on to be one of Epiphone’s most popular signature models. I know I’d snap one up as soon as they went up for pre-order.
Epiphone has been a brilliant run these past 24 months, dropping amazing guitars left, right, and center. My current daily driver, the Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy, complete with Fishman Fluence pickups, is one of the best guitars I have ever played and owned. And it is around 80% cheaper than a Gibson Les Paul Custom.
Learn More About Epiphone Guitars: Best New Models, Buying Guides & Tone Tips
The latest and best gear we recommend right now…
Spark Amp – The amp itself is brilliant, coming with a bunch of great tones and plenty of power with its 50W speaker. But the real magic happens when it is paired with your phone, opening up access to thousands of effects and tones that you can customize to your exact specifications. And best of all? It’s not even that expensive either.
BIAS FX 2 – If you want to run your guitar through your PC or Mac, BIAS FX 2 is one of the best ways to develop and create amazing-sounding tones. BIAS FX is an amp and effects simulator and it is one of the best in the business. Inexpensive and perfect for jamming and recording, BIAS FX 2 is one of my favorite amp sims for Mac and PC.
Fender Mustang Micro – The Fender Mustang Micro is a small gizmo that plugs directly into your guitar’s jack. You then plug in some headphones and can switch between 12 of Fender’s Mustang amp, complete with effects and modification options. It doesn’t have any wires, it will fit in your pocket, and it even doubles as a USB audio interface too. It is one of the coolest things I’ve tested all year.
Fender Play – Learning guitar can be hard. It takes forever, seemingly, and progress is slow. But if you take a focussed approach with learning the basics and even more advanced stuff, you’ll develop much quicker. That’s why we love Fender Play; it has over 3,000 lessons and everything a beginner player needs. You can also get a free trial right now too – so you have literally nothing to lose!
RichardRichard has been playing guitar for over a decade and is a huge fan of metal, doom, sludge, and rock music in general – though mostly metal. Having played in bands and worked in studios since the early 2000s, Richard is a massive music production geek, a fan of minimalist recording techniques, and he really likes old-school guitars.
Jimmy Page’s Favourite Guitar is Exactly What You’d Expect It To Be…
Jimmy Page owns and has used many, many guitars over the years, but only one of his guitars has the status of “number 1” – here's the history of Page's favorite guitar
Gibson Les Paul Standard vs. Gibson Les Paul Custom: What’s The Difference?
What is the difference between the Gibson Les Paul Standard and the Gibson Les Paul Custom besides the price? Let’s find out once and for all, shall we?