Tool is one of the most creative bands in music. Their guitarist, Adam Jones, is one of the most creative guitarists in music.
From his complex rhythms, riffs, and melodies, to his equally complex sound. But what exactly goes in to creating his guitar sound, and can we recreate it without breaking the bank?
Let us take a look at Adam Jones’ guitars, amps, and pedals, and see how we can go about recreating his unique sound.
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Adam Jones has only ever used one guitar throughout his career, a Gibson Les Paul Custom Silverback. But any modern Les Paul Custom would work just fine to recreate the Tool sound.
That doesn’t mean that you can only recreate Jones’ sound with a Les Paul Custom. A standard Gibson Les Paul will work just as well. I would even recommend an Epiphone Les Paul if a Gibson is outside of your budget.
Jones has also reportedly used a Gibson SG for some studio work. Although, there aren’t any specifics about the SG that he used.
Adam Jones has used a variety of amps over the years. Several of these amps he still uses to this day.
For distortion, there are a few amps that Jones’ uses, the main one being a Diezel VH4. This amp can do everything needed in terms of distortion and clean for recreating Jones’ sound.
The two other main amps that he uses are a 1976 Marshall Super Bass and a Bogner Uberschall. Both of these amps are very expensive and hard to come by, however.
Good alternatives are the Marshall 1987X or the Marshall SV20H. For Bogner, a great alternative to the Uberschall would be the Helios 50. A Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier and Rivera Knucklehead have also made appearances over the years.
For his clean tone, Jones uses a Roland Jazz Chorus. A fairly common amp used by many guitarists. It has a great bright tone and pairs great with pedals.
One of the most interesting aspects of Jones’ amp rig is the Roland Cube 15 that he uses. A very low-powered amp that you wouldn’t usually find in a professional setup. According to Jones, however, the Cube 15 is perfect for his talkbox effect.
The amp heads are paired with Mesa/Boogie cabinets. Jones actually uses both a 4X12 Rectifier cabinet and a 2X15 Bass Cabinet. The bass cabinet is used to give his guitar sound more low end and power since he is the only guitarist in Tool.
Adam Jones’ list of pedals is quite extensive. Ranging from a variety of Boss and MXR pedals, a few Dunlops, Rolands, and a number of others.
The most important pedals would likely be the Boss BF-3 Flanger, Boss CE-5 Chorus, MXR M292 Delay, MXR M102 Dyna Comp, Electro-Harmonix C9 Organ Machine, and a Dunlop Cry Baby Wah. These pedals should be enough to cover Jones’ entire range of different sounds.
If a talkbox is also wanted, the TC-Helicon Talkbox will work fine. The Dunlop HT1 that Jones uses is a bit of a rarity these days.
Jones’ Amp Settings
Because Jones uses multiple amps and blends their sounds quite often, you won’t be able to recreate his sound exactly with just one amp. Luckily, you can still get quite close with the right settings.
The most important thing to remember about his tone is that it has quite a lot of low end and midrange, and less distortion than you might expect. The easiest way to recreate his tone is by turning all the amp settings halfway, then slowly dialing up the bass, mids, and gain. Then dial back the treble until it sounds right.
Your settings should look something like this:
- Bass – 7/8
- Mids – 7/8
- Treble – 3/4
- Gain – 6
- Volume – 6/7
However, there are some more specific settings for some of the amps that he uses to work with.
His Diezel VH4, for example, has the treble and mids set a bit higher. The gain and volume are kept at half.
The Diezel also makes use of both Channel 3 and the Master settings.
For Channel 3:
- Bass – 8/9
- Mids – 9/10
- Treble – 8
- Gain – 5
- Volume – 5
- Volume – 5
- Mix – 1
- Presence – 5
- Deep – 7
On something like a Marshall amp, the gain is turned up quite a bit, with the volume turned up slightly. The EQ stays the same, with the mids maybe rolled back a little bit.
- Bass – 8/9
- Mids – 8/9
- Treble – 8
- Gain – 8
- Volume – 6/7
If you are using pedal distortion instead of amp distortion, use a modern pedal with a lot of saturation. Something like the Boss ST-2 will work great.
Jones’ tone is fairly tight and controlled. Using a compressor, like the MXR Dyna Comp, will help to rein in the sound. A noise gate can also be useful for controlling the sound a bit more, like the MXR M195.
To help compensate for the lack of amps and to help shape your tone a bit more accurately, use an EQ pedal. The MXR M108S is a great ten-band EQ that isn’t too expansive.
Adam Jones almost always has a slight bit of reverb on top of his sound. Use a reverb pedal with just enough reverb to make your sound a bit more vibrant.
He also almost always boosts his sound during choruses and heavier sections of songs. This is usually done with an overdrive pedal like the Boss SD-1 or the Boss DS-1. But any good, modern overdrive pedal should work just fine.
Tool has one of the most complex sounds in music. It comes at no surprise then that their guitarist, Adam Jones, would have an equally complex gear setup.
Blending multiple amps and many effects pedals, it can be easy to think that his sound can’t be recreated. But even with one amp and the right set of pedals, anyone can get pretty close to Jones’ unique sound.