Still maintaining an interest in films Adam moved to LA and received training in make-up effects. He started a career working for Stan Winston's doing make-up effects and spent a few years working on movies. Maynard and Adam decided to start a band while keeping their day jobs...the rest is history. It has only been through the last nine years, however, that Adam has begun to explore the full potentials of projecting his thoughts and emotions through Tool's songs, videos, and album artwork.
Sometimes in this environment, Adam is able to achieve a state of synesthesia where playing guitar invokes visions and images to appear before him and making videos, sketching, or sculpting creates auditory hallucinations of riffs and music. Currently Adam is sculpting a piece for the re-release of the Peach album Giving Birth to a Stone, writing music each day for the next Tool album with Danny and Justin, sketching the images he obtains in these practices, and dealing with the business side of the music industry. One way to perceive the experiences that have led to Adam's state in Tool is as the exploration of contrasting modalities of perception. As the hemispheres of the brain struggle for dominance there is a constant shifting of polarity between the right and left lobes that exists as music vs. number, image vs. word, being vs. doing, and holistic integration vs. linear abstraction.
Adam Jones famously uses the Silverburst Les Paul Customs made from 1978-1981. Gibson discontinued them after complaints about the paint changing the tone of the guitar, however Jones says that this altered tone is part of the draw for him. The bridge pickups have been swapped for Seymour Duncan pickups, which are widely rumored to be the SH-4 JB model, but not confirmed by Jones. Jones also uses a pair of non-silverburst Les Pauls for “Prison Sex” and “Parabol/Parabola” which are in BADGBE and BEDGBE tunings respectively. Jones has recorded using a Gibson SG, but does not use one live.
The amplifiers that Jones uses to create his unique tone are uncertain, as he and the band are known for spreading misinformation about themselves and their music. What is known for certain is that he uses multiple amplifiers simultaneously. Of the amplifers that he has cycled through, two have remained constant since 1994 and can be assumed to be “core” of his sound. These two amps are a 1976 Marshall Bass amp and a Diezel VH4 amp. The Marshall is his oldest amp, and was most likely used on all the Tool recordings, all the way back to Opiate EP. Adam has stated that this amp is of the “non-master volume” type and has had both channels wired together. He keeps this amp “in the freezer” when not in use to help preserve it. The Diezel has been in his live and studio setup since at least 1994. This is a four channel amp from Germany. From as early as 1994 until the late 1990s Adam can be seen live using a Mesa/Boogie amplifier as a third amp. In some interviews from the period, Jones describes this amp as Dual Rectifier. More recently, this Mesa/Boogie has not appeared on stage and appears to have been replaced with another Diezel amp that has a blue face, most likely a Diezel VH4S. Interestingly, he appears to not always use this amp. During some shows, the blue Diezel’s ‘standby’ clearly remains illuminated for the duration of the performance, while the amp is without a doubt on and being used at other shows. Other amps mentioned by Adam include a Sunn Beta Lead which he states he used in place of the Mesa/Boogie during studio recording in a June 2001 interview. More recently Jones has talked about using Bogner, Rivera, and Peavey amps in the studio as well as his Marshall and Diezel. The Tool guitar player appears to always use Mesa/Boogie cabinets with his amps. The only exception here is a Marshall cabinet which is always seen sitting under his Marshall.
On Undertow and the Opiate EP the Marshall bass amplifier was used, as the mesa boogie dual rectifier and the Diezel were not around in 1993 or before.
On Ænima the Marshall amplifier was used for high frequencies (treble). The Diezel VH4 was used to contribute the bass and mid range frequencies. The two amps were mixed accordingly to level out the frequencies.
Lateralus may have been recorded with the Diezel amp, along with the Marshall bass amp. Adam has made references to a Sunn head and may have also used his Mesa Boogie rectifier in the studio. By the time of the main Lateralus tour, the only Mesa Boogie equipment in sight was the two Mesa Rectifier Standard cabinets.
Mixonline.com’s interview with Joe Barresi and Bob Ludwig discuss Adam’s equipment and setup for the 10,000 Days album with great detail. When discussing the amps, Barresi mentions Adam’s famous Marshall and Diezel, “a Mesa Boogie”, a Bogner Uberschall, a Rivera Knucklehead Reverb, and “several others”. In a Guitarworld magazine interview Adam also mentions an unspecified Peavey amp, which is probably one of the “several others” that Barresi mentions. As far as cabinets go, Barresi says that Mesa/Boogie cabinets were mostly used because of the better low end response. The Marshall ran through its Marshall cabinet and the Rivera ran through a Rivera cabinet. Barresi goes on to describe signal chain for tracking. He says that Adam would play through certain effects and then send the signal to a splitter. The sound would then go into three to five amps. The Marshall and Diezel would each get their own track, and a third track would be a mix of the other amps (usually the Bogner and Rivera). Each cabinet would have at least two to three mics on them. Rivera Amps also claims on its web page that he is using a Rivera Knucklehead Rev Mick Thompson model on the recording.
It is worth pointing out that Adam doesn’t switch channels on his VH4. He uses only channel 3. All changes in intensity are through his pick, his volume knob, or (as of lately) a volume pedal.
According to a Guitar School interview in 1994, Jones stated that he strongly disliked using effect pedals. During that time, he only used two pedals, a delay and an equalizer, in part to the reliability of simple live setups. He is known for subtle wah use, to only create slight pitch and timbre bends. There is also an older Ibanez Flanger and Digital Delay present on much of ÆNIMA and Lateralus. Flanger is definitely a staple of his live tone. Adam runs these pedals right into the front of the amplifiers… not in the effects loop. He’s also been seen using an MXR MicroAmp.
Many people believe that Jones uses an E-bow; however, he stated that he actually uses an Epilady, an electric hair remover designed for women’s legs. “An Epilady is even better than an E-Bow,” he said. “It makes great sounds when you push it against the pickups.”
In the April 2006 edition of Guitar World magazine, Jones revealed that he used the Gig-FX Chopper Effects Pedal. He also mentioned that he had several pedals modified, and that he used an altered volume pedal to control the strength of some effects. A newer Boss Volume Pedal is clearly visible on his stage setup. He also stated that he uses the Foxx Tone Machine Reissue and a Heil talk box on the song “Jambi”, that he learned to use with Joe Walsh’s help. On the song Rosetta Stoned , a high gained pitch can be heard in the intro, which was made with Wah-Wah pedal. Many people believe the pedal used was a Dunlop CryBaby 535Q, or quite possibly the, now discontinued, Dunlop CryBaby BB-535 Wah.
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Adam Thomas Jones (born January 15, 1965 in Park Ridge, Illinois) is a Grammy Award-winning guitarist, best known for his work with the band Tool. Jones was rated the 75th Greatest Guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine and placed 9th in Guitar World’s Top 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists. He is also responsible for most of Tool’s music videos.
Adam's journey began in Libertyville, Illinois where, as a child, Adam began skipping Sunday school to read comics books at a nearby store. This rejection of the word of god in favor of the images of the comic microcosm carried over to school where Adam would draw pictures during teacher's lectures and think of music during math class.
Adam studied violin as a child, but as Adam grew older he began to move away from the rigidity of a classical music and towards the sonic potentials of guitar playing. While most kids were involved in sports and homework Adam's musical talents and continued interest in comic books and sketching evolved into a desire for integrating and animating his ideas through the medium of film and the manipulation of three dimensional space through sculpture. Despite a film school scholarship offer Adam chose art school where he was able to hone his sculpting and sketching abilities.