Adam Jones (musician)

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For other people with the same name, see Adam Jones (disambiguation).
Adam Jones
Adam jones tool roskilde festival 2006.jpg
Adam Jones performing with Tool at the Roskilde Festival in 2006.
Background information
Birth name Adam Thomas Jones
Born (1965-01-15) January 15, 1965 (age 52)
Park Ridge, Illinois, United States
Genres Progressive metal, progressive rock
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, make-up artist, visual artist, animator
Instruments Electric guitar, bass guitar, upright bass, sitar, violin
Years active 1978–1987
Labels Volcano, Zoo Entertainment
Associated acts Tool, The Melvins, Electric Sheep
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul Custom Silverburst

Adam Thomas Jones (born January 15, 1965) is a three-time Grammy Award-winning American musician and visual artist, best known for his position as the guitarist for Tool. Jones has been rated the 75th Greatest Guitarist of all time by the Rolling Stone[1] and placed ninth in Guitar World's Top 100 Greatest metal Guitarists.[2] Jones is also the director of the majority of Tool's music videos.[3]


Early years and personal life[edit]

Jones was born in Park Ridge, Illinois, raised in Libertyville, Illinois. He was accepted into the Suzuki program, and continued to play violin through his freshman year in high school. It was said[by whom?] that as a child he was very different from other children. He would always skip church in favor of reading Sunday comics.[citation needed] As a child he had an interest in animation, turning his ideas into three dimensional sculptures, which explains why Tool's music videos often had 3D-clay effects. He later began to play the acoustic bass in an orchestra.[4]

In addition to playing classical music, Jones played bass guitar in the band Electric Sheep, with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine playing guitar, until Jones moved to California (Morello soon followed). According to both of them, the band was quite unpopular at the time. Jones never received traditional guitar lessons, but instead learned by ear.[4]

On January 27, 2013, Jones became engaged to his girlfriend, painter Korin Faught. The marriage proposal took place before the Royal Rumble event. Their wedding took place on July 6, 2013. A year later, they welcomed their first child.

Film work[edit]

Jones was offered a film scholarship but declined and chose to move to Los Angeles to study art and sculpture. His focus of interest shifted to film, and he began to work as a sculptor and special effects designer, where he learned the stop-motion camera techniques he would later apply in Tool's music videos, such as "Sober", "Prison Sex", "Stinkfist", "Ænema", "Schism", "Parabola" and "Vicarious". He graduated in 1987.

After graduation, he went to work at Rick Lazzarini's Character Shop. During the next couple of years, he worked the TV show Monsters. He designed and fabricated a Grim Reaper makeup and a Zombie head on a spike (later used in Ghostbusters II) among others. After that, he went to Stan Winston's special effects workshop, where he worked on Predator 2, sculpting a unique-looking skull for the Predator's spaceship interior.[4]

Jones worked on several other big films in Hollywood doing makeup and set design, including Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Dances with Wolves, and Ghostbusters II. He did the "Freddy Krueger in the womb" makeup for A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, as well as work for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.

He also worked on commercials for salad dressing (never aired), Olympic stain (Albert Einstein makeup), and Duracell (boxers and taxicabs).[4]

Music career[edit]

Main article: Tool (band)

Jones also toured with the Jello Biafra/The Melvins band and contributed to their albums Never Breathe What You Can't See and Sieg Howdy!. Jones and Melvins Guitarist/Vocalist Buzz Osborne are close friends. Jones also appeared on the Melvins album Hostile Ambient Takeover, the Melvins/Lustmord collaboration Pigs of the Roman Empire and the Isis album Wavering Radiant.

On Mr. Show, he appeared as the fictional guitarist of Puscifer along with bandmate Keenan, and can also be spotted in the audience seated at a table with Keenan in the series' first episode.

On August 14, 2011, Jones performed the National Anthem of the United States at the outset of WWE's SummerSlam (2011) wrestling event in Los Angeles.[5]

Playing style[edit]

Adam Jones is known for not predominantly using any particular guitar playing technique, but rather combining many techniques[6] such as "alternately utilizing power chords, scratchy noise, chiming arpeggios, off-beat rhythm patterns, and a quiet minimalism".[7] On Lateralus and 10,000 Days, he made heavy use of triplets. Other techniques used to expand his band's sound repertoire require forms of instrumental experimentation and applications of non-instrumental experimentation as well, such as his use of an Epilady as a plectrum on the Ænima and Lateralus albums for example; continuing in this direction on the Tool song, "Jambi",[8] Jones uses a talk box. In the song "Third Eye", he makes use of a guitar slide for the opening. He has two synthesizers that are listed below in his effects section. Live, Adam can be seen with a large pedalboard full of effects, including a DOD FX-40B Equalizer (EQ) pedal, Boss BF-2 Flanger, Boss DD-3 Digital Delay, MXR Micro Amp, Dunlop BB535 and two Boss Master switch/power supply pedals among a few others .

Visual art[edit]

Jones created the liner art for the re-release of Peach's Giving Birth to a Stone, in which Jones's fellow Tool member Justin Chancellor played bass.

He helped Green Jellÿ with their costumes.

In 2007 he received the Grammy Award for 'Best Recording Package' as art director for his work on 10,000 Days.

Adam came up with the make-up layout the actors wore on the videos for "Schism" and "Parabol/Parabola".

In his spare time, Adam shoots photography that is used for the visuals at live Tool concerts.

Adam draws his own comics, a habit he began as a young child manipulating his ideas into 2-D form on paper. An X-Files/30 Days of Night crossover in 2010 was co-written by Jones and 30 Days creator Steve Niles with artwork by Tom Mandrake.[9]



Adam Jones uses Gibson Silverburst Les Paul Customs, of which he owns three (it has been believed that he owned five because of a Guitar World cover, but in actuality the last two were copied) as his main guitars for live performances and in the studio. His main Les Paul has a headstock ornament. It appears to be a blue mirror, which covers the usual split diamond inlay Gibson Les Paul Customs are known for. Another of his Silverbursts is a 1981 model and (as described by Jones himself in an interview in 2001 with Australian Guitar magazine) has an unsightly screw in it that Jones will not remove because doing so may hurt the unique tone of the guitar. (This guitar with its screw can clearly be seen twice on the cover of the above-mentioned Guitar World Magazine.)

After making these Silverburst Les Pauls in the late seventies and early eighties, Gibson discontinued using this finish after complaints about the metal flaking changing the tone of the guitar. Jones says that this altered tone is part of the draw for him. In a March 1994 interview with Guitar School magazine, Adam states: "I use Gibson guitars; I prefer the Les Paul Custom. It's a black guitar with a greenish burst in the middle. They only made them for two or three years. I guess a lot of people complained that the metallic finish was affecting the sound. That's exactly why I like playing it. I have Seymour Duncan pickups, and I can't get the same sound with any other guitar, not even another Gibson, without that finish on it. I have five of them. I'd buy another if I could find one". Adam has admitted that his guitars are customized, but he has kept secret the exact nature of the modifications he has made to his guitars. Jones stated in 2001 that his pickups were "hot-wired" and would say nothing beyond this. Jones has admitted that the fret wire on the Gibsons is of the heaviest gauge.

When playing live, Jones also uses a Natural finish Les Paul to play the songs "Prison Sex" and "Parabol/Parabola", which are in BADGBE and BEDGBE tunings respectively. When in the studio, Jones has said he has used other guitars, mentioning a Gibson SG electric guitar and a Guild acoustic guitar amongst others.


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 amplifiers that he has cycled through, two have remained constant since 1995 and can be assumed to be "core" of his sound. These amps are a 1976 Marshall Super Bass amp and a 1995 Diezel VH4 Blueface amp,[10] the blue faceplate models were made from 94–97, and have less presence and a darker tone than the current Silverface that are being made. The Marshall is his oldest amp, and was most likely used on all the Tool recordings, all the way back to Opiate EP.

According to Dave Friedman, who has worked on Adam's Marshall, the amp is a "1959 [bass circuit], late 70's with JJ EL34's and Chinese preamp tubes [Shuguang]. It [has been modified to] Super Lead spec. with 100k negative feedback on the 4 ohm output tap. It has a 0.68 cap on the presence and a 0.68 cap in V2, also the caps in V1 are both 0.022's. The amp is biased to 25ma and he jumps the channels with a cable." Adam has stated that this amp is of the "non-master volume" type and has had both channels wired together. Jones has claimed to keeps this amp "in the freezer" when not in use to help preserve it (but this assertion is most likely a joke). 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 2000s Adam can be seen live using a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier 2 Channel amplifier as a third amp. In some interviews from that period, Jones has confirmed that it is a Dual Rectifier. More recently, this Mesa/Boogie has not appeared on stage and appears to have been replaced with another more recent VH4 amp. The new model VH4's have a silver faceplate and are different in voicing and circuitry compared to the Bluefaces. Interestingly, he does not always appear to 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. He appears to use Mesa/Boogie cabinets exclusively with his amps, with the exception of a Marshall cabinet which is always seen sitting under his Marshall head.

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.'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 does not switch channels on his VH4. He uses only channel 3 when playing live. All changes in intensity are through his pick, his volume knob, or (as of recently) a volume pedal. Also, another point to mention about Adam's live rig is that he uses Mesa/Boogie 4x12 Oversized Rectifier straight front/slant baffle cabinets with his VH4's.


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, due in part to the reliability of simple live setups.[11] He is known for subtle wah use, to only create slight tone 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 as opposed to in the effects loop.

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 Ernie Ball Standard 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. Adam used a "pipe-bomb microphone" for the lead recording of the song Rosetta Stoned. Jones also uses a Dunlop CryBaby BB-535 Wah.[12] In a recent Guitar World interview, he stated that he uses an Access Virus synth hooked up to a Roland PK-5 midi controller. As an example, the Access V.B. can be heard in the introduction of the songs "Reflection," and "The Grudge".

List of possible[citation needed] and proven effects pedals used throughout the years:[1]

  • Snarling Dogs- Blues Bawls
  • Snarling Dogs- Mold Spore
  • Line 6- DL4 Delay
  • Foxx- Tone Machine
  • DOD- FX40B EQ
  • MXR- M-133 Micro Amplifier
  • MXR- Dynacomp (Used with talkbox)
  • Voodoo-Lab- Tremolo
  • Boss- BF-2 Flanger (seen also with Boss- BF-3)
  • Boss- DD-3 (seen also with Boss DD-5)
  • Dunlop- Heil Talk Box
  • Boss- SYB-3 Bass Synth
  • Ernie Ball- VP Passive Volume
  • Korg- DTR-2000 Rackmount Digital Tuner
  • Dunlop- Crybaby BB535 Wah
  • Boss- PSM5 Power supply/Master switch x2
  • Roland- PK5 MIDI
  • Access Virus Classic (Redtop)
  • Gig-Fx- Chopper
  • Boss- CE5 Chorus Ensemble
  • StroboStomp Virtual Strobe Tuner
  • Buzz Box – Signature Buzz Melvin Distortion
  • Colorsound Tonebender Fuzz

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "100 Greatest Guitarists: 75 – Adam Jones". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 12, 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Guitar World's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists Of All Time -". January 23, 2004. Archived from the original on September 2, 2011. Retrieved 2015-12-28. 
  3. ^ "Tool : Music Videos". Retrieved 2015-12-28. 
  4. ^ a b c d Mahaffey, Joel (August 6, 2001). "The Tool Page: Adam Jones Biography". The Tool Page (t.d.n). 
  5. ^ "Tool Guitarist Performs National Anthem at WWE Summerslam". Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  6. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon (June 2001). "Mysterious Ways". Guitar Player. Retrieved 2007-05-02. Jones isn't a shredder, a pop guitarist, a jazz man, an avant-garde iconoclast, or a blues player, but his performances often include elements from all those genres. 
  7. ^ Huey, Steve. "Sober Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 
  8. ^ Forlenza, Jeff (July 1, 2006). "The Making of Tool's "10,000 Days"". Mix. Archived from the original on May 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  9. ^ Hudson, Laura (April 19, 2010). "'X-Files/30 Days of Night' Comic Book Crossover". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Rig-Talk • View topic – Diezel VH4 Blueface revisions with pics, Peter can you help?". Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  11. ^ "Tool Guitarist Adam Jones is a Master of Many Trades". Guitar School. March 1994. Archived from the original on February 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-03. 
  12. ^ Smith, Matt. Andrew C., ed. "Adam in Guitar World". Fourtheye. Archived from the original on June 22, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-09.