The Sonic Secrets of Tool's Adam Jones

(Gibson) Sure, his band has headlined Bonnaroo and sold millions of albums, but Tool's Adam Jones does not get his due as a modernist riff-master. Maybe it's because the L.A.-based outfit play a prog-metal blend that's not exactly at the apex of popularity, compounded by often-lengthy compositions that dip into such dark waters as slow death, torture and prison. But the band nonetheless hit a nerve in their legions of fans and Jones generates a sonic kaleidoscope on stage.

The 46-year-old guitarist began his musical life as a violinist and first stepped into rock as a bass player in a band with future Rage Against the Machine stringman Tom Morello called Electric Sheep, inspired by the same Philip K. Dick novella that begat Blade Runner. Jones attended film school and developed his own approach to stop-motion animation—the technique that was used by Willis O'Brien to make the original version of King Kong. Jones used the approach to create Tool's striking videos for the songs "Stinkfist," "Prison Sex," "Parabola" and "Sober," among others.

When Jones founded Tool in 1990 with singer Maynard James Keenan, he was already developing a guitar approach that bridged the conventional and unconventional. Besides his knack for developing sharply honed riffs and his blasting deployment of angular power chords, Jones loves to pe into pure noise—using controlled feedback, string scratching, behind the nut bends, chiming arpeggiated chords and other moves to heighten Tool's already pitched level of drama. He also enjoys variations on open tunings, like B-A-D-G-B-E for "Prison Sex." more on this story

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