Adam Jones of TOOL has one of the most instantly recognizable guitar tones in the business. But what pickups does Adam Jones use?
TOOL is one of the biggest metal bands on the planet. I say, metal, but TOOL is much more than just a metal band; it has elements of prog, arthouse, rock music, and electronica. TOOL is TOOL, basically. And one of the key elements of TOOL is the sound of Adam Jones’ guitar.
Adam Jones uses a Gibson Les Paul Custom, a 1979 model in Silverburst. Jones also released his own signature model with Gibson in 2020, the Adam Jones Gibson 1979 Les Paul Custom in Antique Silverburst. And Jones is also said to be working on a cheaper Epiphone variant which is very exciting.
But the guitar is just one component of Jones’ sound. His style of playing and choice of tuning – he plays predominantly in Drop D – also adds to that distinctive, unmissable TOOL sound. But what pickups does Adam Jones use in his guitars? The story behind his choice is almost as interesting as TOOL’s music – let’s dig in, shall will?
What Pickups Does Adam Jones Use?
Like most things related to TOOL and Adam Jones, nothing about Jones’ pickups are standard. Jones took advice from Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins about how to get a killer tone from his rather unique pickup choice and installation.
Adam Jones uses a Seymour Duncan DDL humbucker in the bridge and a Gibson Custombucker in the neck of his 1979 Gibson Les Paul. But the twist here is that the pickups are reverse-mounted, again, this was done on the advice of King Buzzo of the Melvins. And the reason? It gives you a different polarity, according to Jones.
The Seymour Duncan DDL humbucker that Jones uses in the bridge is a high-output ceramic humbucker that was first introduced in the 1990s. Seymour Duncan then discontinued the pickup. But because Adam Jones is Adam Jones, and his signature guitar with Gibson was such a big deal, Seymour Duncan re-released the Seymour Duncan DDL humbucker for use inside the Adam Jones 1979 Custom release.
But that’s just the beginning. Jones wanted the EXACT same pickup and he even requested the original engineer of the Seymour Duncan DDL humbucker ($89) to come back to recreate the pickup for use inside his signature Gibson model. Talk about attention to detail.
Jones wanted his custom Les Paul to be as close to his actual guitar as possible but, as reports have noted, this created quite a few problems when setting up to manufacture the limited run of his custom models.
For instance, Jones modded his own guitar by adding a DiMarzio pot to control the DDL humbucker. He wanted this to be included in the production model of his Gibson guitar, so Gibson had to go away and talk to DiMarzio in order to source enough parts for Jones’ signature Les Paul.
Will There Be An Epiphone Version?
There are rumors that Jones is working on an Epiphone version of his 1979 Les Paul in Antique Silverburst, but so far not too much is known about this guitar. I had assumed it would land at some point during 2021, but it is now looking more likely to land in 2022.
Gibson owns Epiphone, after all, and dropping $5000 on Jones’ signature Les Paul from Gibson just isn’t feasible for 99.9% of guitarists. An Epiphone model that retailed for around $800 to $1000, however, would be much more palatable.
And given the popularity of TOOL and Jones as a player, it would almost certainly go on to be one of Epiphone’s most popular signature models. I know I’d snap one up as soon as they went up for pre-order.
Epiphone has been a brilliant run these past 24 months, dropping amazing guitars left, right, and center. My current daily driver, the Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy, complete with Fishman Fluence pickups, is one of the best guitars I have ever played and owned. And it is around 80% cheaper than a Gibson Les Paul Custom.
Learn More About Epiphone Guitars: Best New Models, Buying Guides & Tone Tips
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