Tom Hess (guitarist)

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Tom Hess
Rhapsody Tom Hess.jpg
Background information
Origin Illinois, United States
Genres Power metal, progressive metal, neo-classical metal, symphonic metal
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, guitar teacher
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1986–present
Labels Nuclear Blast, Magic Circle Music
Associated acts Rhapsody of Fire, HolyHell, Hess

Tom Hess is a touring guitarist, recording artist and a former member of the band Rhapsody Of Fire from 2010 until 2013.[1] Hess also toured Europe and US with the band HolyHell [2] and recorded the album "Apocalypse" which landed on the charts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.[3][4]

In addition to his professional music career as a recording artist, Tom is also an online guitar teacher and a mentor to musicians, guitar teachers and rock bands around the world.


Hess began playing guitar on January 31, 1986 inspired by heavy metal bands such as Metallica, Def Leppard and Iron Maiden. His musical style later evolved from hard rock and heavy metal to the neo-classical and progressive rock styles, influenced by artists such as: Yngwie Malmsteen, Dream Theater, Symphony X, Andy Larocque, Jason Becker, Fryderyk Chopin, Gustav Mahler, Johannes Brahms and Claude Debussy.

Hess went on to receive two music degrees: one in music theory and another in music composition. In addition to his music school background, Hess also studied guitar with many guitar teachers, most notably with Lion Music recording artist George Bellas.[4]

Rhapsody Of Fire[edit]

On April 15, 2011 it was announced that guitarist Tom Hess has become a new official member of the epic metal band Rhapsody Of Fire.[1] His playing can be heard on the band's album From Chaos to Eternity. Hess recorded all the rhythm guitar parts and contributed several solos for the CD. Hess began touring with the band at the festivals that took place in the summer of 2011.[5]

Alex Staropoli, Rhapsody Of Fire’s keyboard player, released a statement saying: "I saw Tom Hess playing on stage several times and was always impressed by his great stage presence and his way of playing. When I heard the rhythm and solo guitars he recorded for Rhapsody Of Fire I was blown away, I could feel that strong presence in between every single note."

Rhapsody Of Fire's 2011 Release "From Chaos To Eternity" was listed in the top 100 album charts in many countries around the world, such as Japan, Italy, Switzerland, German, France and many others.[6][7]


On stage and in the studio, Hess plays mainly Carvin guitars, including V220 and X220 models with a stoptail bridge. Hess uses Seymour Duncan Metal Live Wire Pick Ups in most of his studio and live performance guitars.

During clinics and instructional master classes, he also sometimes plays the Yamaha RGZ 321P with a Floyd Rose bridge.[8]


  • Engl Amplifiers
  • Seymour Duncan Pickups
  • Dean Markley Guitar Strings
  • Clayton Guitar Picks
  • AMT Electronics USA

Online Guitar Teaching, Music Career Mentoring And Guitar Teacher Training[edit]

On top of his career as a recording artist and touring musician, Hess also teaches musicians from all over the world how to improve their guitar playing skills, develop their music careers and build their own guitar teaching businesses. Many of Hess's guitar students have become full-time professional musicians and successful music teachers who tour the world, release records and run their own music schools teaching in excess of 100 music students per week.[9]

Hess also contributes guitar lessons, columns and articles to guitar websites around the world, including:, and[10][11][12]

Tom Hess has also taught guitar at the National Guitar Workshop and started an electric guitar program at Harper College in Illinois, USA.[13]

In 2008, Hess's company Tom Hess Music Corporation has partnered with Luca Turilli from Rhapsody Of Fire to release a course for neoclassical guitar players, based upon Turilli's style of guitar playing.[14]

Other Musical Projects[edit]

HESS Band[edit]

In 1994, Tom Hess formed the progressive rock band "HESS" along with his brother Scott Hess. To date, the band has released 2 full length albums: "Opus 1" (April 20, 2000) and "Opus 2" (January 4, 2004).[15] Both albums have sold in more than 26 countries around the world, and remain among the top sellers in the Neo-Classical and Progressive categories at the instrumental guitar music distributor[16][17]

Current lineup of the HESS band:

  • Tom Hess - Guitars and Composition
  • Mike Walsh - Guitars
  • Scott Hess - Drums
  • Mark Carozza - Bass

HolyHell Years (2004-2008)[edit]

In 2004, Hess joined a power metal band HolyHell.[18] The band went on tour in 2005, before releasing its first album. Tom Hess and HolyHell played alongside bands such as Black Sabbath (Heaven and Hell), Motorhead, Nightwish, Epica, Testament, Manowar and Rhapsody of Fire performing for crowds of up to 30,000 people.[4] Some of the band's notable performances included the Earthshaker's Festival in Germany and Masters of Rock Festival in the Czech Republic where the band performed the cover of "The Phantom Of The Opera".

In 2007, the band's first album Apocalypse was released [19] and HolyHell went on tour the second time.

In 2008, Hess left HolyHell to focus on other aspects of his music career.

In addition to touring the world, mentoring musicians online and recording music, Hess also performs instructional guitar clinic tours.[20]