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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Guitar

Date: February, 1994

Transcribed by
Jason Winkler (

  page: 144
 title: Sound F/X:  Tool's Adam Jones "SOBER"
author: Eric Mangum

Pedal setup:


Distortion set: LVL:  12 o'clock  
                TONE: 12 o'clock
                GAIN:  5 o'clock

Flanger set:    DLY:  12 o'clock
                SPD:   3 o'clock
                WDT:   2 o'clock
                REGN: 10 o'clock

Chorus set:     SPD:  10 o'clock
                DLY:   5 o'clock
                DPTH:  5 o'clock

Delay set:      DLY:   2 o'clock
                MIX:  10 o'clock
                RPT:  10 o'clock                

    The guitar tone from the album Undertow is, I think the only aspect of Tool's sound that is not radical and unusual.  Adam Jones uses Gibson Les Paul Guitars because he likes their wide range of tones.  The song "Sober" has several effects going on and off.  His distortion sound is typical of those heard in the '70s and in the more modern sounds of today.  In the verses he's using what sounds like a Leslie or a Leslie simulator.  There is a delay used at the begining and a multitap delay at the end.
    Here's a pedal setup for Adam Jones' tone on "Sober."  Start with a distortion pedal set as shown; balance the distortion with the level of your amp so you can get a controlled feedback.  You may be surprised at how close you can come to his sound using nothing more than a standard distortion or overdrive pedal.  Now the setup will get a bit creative.  This is my backyard attempt at a leslie simulator: use a flanger pedal set with the speed fast, medium depth, and just a little regeneration, followed by a chorus pedal set as shown for the slower rotation parts.  The simulation actually works better if you have two flangers but I don't know too many players with more than one of any effect so we'll stick with this setup.  The last effect is the delay, set for about 250 to 300 milliseconds on your digital dial or about 2 o'clock on an analog delay.  
    The guitar at the begining has the distortion and delay on.  Kick off the delay at the 16th bar.  At the begining of the verses, lower the volume of your guitar and turn on the flanger and the chorus at the same time.  At the middle part of the verse turn off the flanger. When you reach the chorus, turn off the chorus pedal and use just the distortion.  Repeat for a second verse and chorus.  At the end is the multi-tap delay Adam uses on the first two eighth notes of the ending passage.  You'll have to listen closely and turn the delay pedal on and off for each measure.

  page: 41
 title: Perfomance notes:  SOBER
author: Jon Chappell

    It's the bass and drums that propel this dirge-like plea for
collective psychic sobriety; the guitars provide only atmosphere and
color, hanging back unassertively behind the beat.  Witness the opening
feedback pitches and subsequent octave licks in the intro that lend a
modal, almost Eastern feel to the basic D minor tonality.
    Verse 1 has the guitars playing long tones sotto voce ("under the
voice," understated), while the pre-chorus and chorus allow the guitars to
get ugly.  The lead guitar comes to the front at 1:58 on the four-bar
section between the chorus and second verse.  Here we see good use of the
devices that are evocative and unobtrusive: long, vibratoed notes, moving
lines harmonized in 4ths, slow-bent notes, slides, and heavy use of delay
and reverb.
    The fills that begin in bar 9 of verse 2 (again harmonized in 4ths)
highlight the D Phrygian (D Eb F G A Bb C) aspect of this progression.  
Feedback lines, similar to those heard in the intro, appear between the
second chorus and third verse.
    The outro kicks into double time and the gestures in the guitar, heard
before over the slow tempo, now take on a surf-like quality.

Posted to t.d.n: 06/20/99 18:05:15