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  • Feature: Top 10 Adam Jones Tool Leads

    Wed, 14 Jan 2015 17:07:51

    Feature: Top 10 Adam Jones Tool Leads - By ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino...

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    January 15 marks the fiftieth birthday of Tool guitarist Adam Jones. Now, Jones stands out as one of the instrument’s true innovators, bringing polyrhythmic time signatures, warped textures, and other unconventional methods to the forefront of modern rock and music at large. The genre wouldn’t be the same without him. That’s how impactful he’s been. Now, a lot has been written about his riffs as they’re some of the most unique and recognizable in history, but not as much about the leads that the man has composed. They’re unlike anything else out there—often short, but extremely lyrical and crucial to the song. They might just inspire you to grab a guitar too...

    ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino compiled a list of our ten favorite Adam Jones Tool leads for this exclusive feature. We want to hear what you think too, so let us know what picks you agree with and what you don’t in the comments.

    Happy birthday Adam Jones!

    Top 10 Adam Jones Leads

    “Swamp Song”

    In the middle of this Undertow sludge jam, Jones lets some bluesy fret-burning loose. He practically scorches the strings, needling out a lead that’s both proficient and powerful around the 3:57-mark. It’s easy to drown in this one—in the best way possible.

    ”Hooker with a Penis”

    The lead here sounds orchestral as it cuts between a trudging groove, screeching out the melody in the process in haunting, hypnotic fashion at near 2:50 before the song’s final climax.

    ”The Pot”

    Jones practically bends his strings into oblivion during this 10,000 Days composition. The 3:48 lead’s watery echoes mirrors the intense intricacy of the primary off-time riffing with an emotional wah-ed out bliss leading into Keenan’s bridge crescendo.


    This may very well be one of Jones’ most important leads as it comes in at 15-seconds and slowly rolls towards the beginning of the song in tandem with that undeniable and unforgettable iconic bass line. His guitar feels like it’s crying, and it’s starkly stripped and brutally beautiful within that honesty.

    ”Cold And Ugly”

    Now, Opiate’s “Cold And Ugly” boasts some more traditional shredding, but Jones still throws in his own twist. You can hear it in the delivery at 2:38. It’s kinetic as it builds in tandem with Danny Carey’s drumming.


    The swooning Orca-esque leads that begin around 1:38, slowly introduce this sprawling 11-minute plus epic from Lateralus—that deserves a lot more attention.


    After the infamous “buzzing” at the very beginning (look it up), Jones churns out a calculated and crisp lead that’s lightly distorted and heavily fascinating.


    Starting at 11 seconds, you’ll hear one of his most iconic bend and break leads that kicks off another classic tune. Just close your eyes and crank it.

    ”10,000 Days (Wings Part 2)”

    6:35 he starts pulling the strings and really exorcising some serious emotion in the midst of one of the band’s most poignant and personal moments. He matches Keenan’s vocals in terms of power.

    ”Third Eye”

    This is one of Tool’s finest works. It’s often been played at the beginning of shows, and it’s live version from Salival is pure nirvana. However, on Ænima, Jones’ guitar work is nothing short of godly. He pulls out a lead line towards the start that ultimately kicks off the song then goes into full-on six-string symphony mode in the middle between 5 and six minutes. You’ll be prying open your third eye by the end.

    Rick Florino

    What’s your favorite Adam Jones lead?

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