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Watch 9-year-old guitarist Maya Neelakantan tackle Tool’s 16-minute epic, 7empest

Maya Neelakantan covering Tool’s 7empestl
(Image credit: Maya Neelakantan / YouTube)

Hats off to our friends over at Louder (opens in new tab) who found this incredible clip of 9 year-old guitarist Maya Neelakantan covering Tool’s 16-minute guitar safari, 7emptest

“A couple of weeks ago it was my birthday and I just turned 9-years-old and as my present, I got this awesome new Les Paul guitar,” reveals Neelakantan. “This is my most favourite song and this is the hardest song I've ever played and this is the first song I'm playing with my new guitar, so I've been just very excited to show it to you.”

Neelakantan appears to be playing an Epiphone Les Paul Modern in Figured Caribbean Blue Fade, should you be curious. In the video text, she expands on her song choice, saying, “It was an incredible journey for me when learning the entire 16 minutes of mind blowing melodies and solos! I feel Adam Jones, my favourite guitarist, really shines throughout the song. I hope you all enjoy it!”

We certainly do – getting through a song like 7empest is no mean feat, as anyone who’s tackled it will tell you. It’s not a case of simple repetition, there’s a heap of tonal changes, different rhythmic elements, numerous solo sections – and that’s before you consider the stamina required.  

“It takes a lot of energy sitting and playing for 15 minutes non-stop,” Neelakantan reflects after the performance. “The unison bends are very tough – it took a while for me to learn how to do that without slipping – and the fast-triplet hammer-on thing, that was very fast, a bit like in Vicarious, but faster. A lot faster than I thought… and on top of all this, I need to change so many effects, every single next part of the song you need to be pressing a button.”

Neelakantan later describes the song as the Tool guitarist’s “masterpiece” saying, “I think Adam Jones just went crazy with this. He just went and did anything he wants, because there's solo after solo after solo. The solo is like three minutes of the song already, and after that he turns on the wah pedal. He'll keep on the wah pedal, but he won't actually use it. Those things just taught me so much.”

It’s an admirable undertaking from a young player and it’s certainly inspired us to dig out the Tool tabs. 

It’s also another compelling reason for Gibson to hurry the hell up on that long-rumored Epiphone Adam Jones signature 1979 Les Paul. We can think of at least one person who might like one.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.