Great guitar music—to me—complements what is going on in a band while still making it clear that the guitar is not only there, it’s a presence to be reckoned with. It’s a subtle mix between subtle and bold. It’s a rare mix to get right. Few do it right in my opinion. Well, to my personal liking at least. I’m no expert by any means, but one man that does it perfectly is Adam Jones from Tool. Not only is his guitar work an important part of the seriously impressive music Tool produces, it’s the part that blows your mind when the chords come pounding in at those all-important moments.
Adam Jones makes fist pumping guitar moments of passion and I love it.
What I admire more-so is the fact that Adam doesn’t create mainstream guitar moments. Tool is not your 4/4 rock band. Tool is not going to provide you with a verse/chorus/repeat/solo/chorus track. Tool—Adam Jones in particular for this guitar loving writer—is going to provide you with guitar focused music that sees the guitar shine as part of a much bigger picture that equally involves the talented bass, percussion and vocal stylings of the remaining band members.
As someone who has never aspired to being a traditional lead guitarist, it’s this approach to guitar that Adam Jones has absolutely owned that appeals to me greatly. If ever there was a guitarist who seemed to inspire guitar playing for the sake of guitar playing, then for me it’s been Adam Jones. Rarely does one Tool album sound like the previous recording. The guitar tone has an element of familiarity, but the playing style changes from song to song and album to album.
To be honest, it’s not just the Adam Jones guitar playing style that appeals to me. It’s his overall artistic qualities. If you were unaware, Adam is the driving force behind Tool’s album artwork and video artwork. A classic example of all the artistic pieces coming together are the Tool tracks Parabol and Parabola. When those two songs merge … well as I said earlier, fist pumping guitar moments.
The video itself is amazingly well put together. It’s not your traditional video clip, but that’s what makes it all the more appealing to me. This is an extension of Adam Jones’ creativity. Just as his guitar playing is. And that is exactly what I want my guitar playing to be.
Let me start a small rant of sorts.
My guitar playing will never be something that someone will rave about. But I don’t want it to be. I want my guitar playing to simply be an expression of who I am and what I’m feeling at any given moment.
That’s what all Adam Jones guitar work feels like to me. Passion mixed with incredible talent. Adam Jones interviews are rare—which is not uncommon for all Tool band members—but that seems to be because they tire of the mainstream approach to interviews and expectations of a band’s private lives. A lack of interview doesn’t equal a lack of passion. I’d argue the opposite.
I have no expectation of a Tool album every other year. If/when there is new Tool music, I’ll be glad. Most likely I’ll be appreciative. If not, I’m just glad I already have the music from Tool featuring Adam Jones’ guitar playing. It will always inspire me to play guitar with pure passion for myself. Should anybody else enjoy it as well, then I’ll once again be appreciative. But it will never be my deciding factor.
Let me end my small rant there.
As I’ve mentioned, Adam Jones guitar playing style is often dependent on the track. His technique is therefore very versatile. YouTuber Waj Syed has done an amazing job of showcasing Adam’s versatility in his seriously impressive video Top Tool Guitar Riffs. Check it out.
Hopefully you can understand the appeal. So much technique. It’s almost a perfect combination of lead and rhythm guitar in my opinion. Each component of guitar used when required in the song. It’s a skill I lack. It’s a skill I admire.
Of course as cool as Waj’s video is, there’s nothing as good as watching the man himself play guitar. That’s when those rare moments of insight into Tool are incredibly useful. No matter how brief they may be.
I can’t sit still when listening to Adam’s guitar playing. Maybe it’s the uncommon strumming patterns. Maybe it’s the song timing. Maybe it’s those huge chords. I have a feeling it’s all of those things plus pure captured passion. It’s the one thing I want to truly master.
This is not a top guitarists list and there is no significance in the order the guitarists are placed in the list. This is simply a collection of guitarists that have been influential to me.