“He wants the heaviest guitars that we can humanly make”: Here’s why Adam Jones has Gibson searching for “the heaviest woods” in order to build his custom Les Pauls

Adam Jones and his Gibson Les Paul
(Image credit: Gibson)

Owing to the fact guitars are sometimes suspended around the shoulders for hours on end, many players prioritize something lightweight when selecting their electric guitars. For Adam Jones, though, it’s the complete opposite.

The Tool maestro’s preference for heavy six-strings is somewhat evidenced by his affinity for a 1979 Gibson Les Paul Custom – an all-mahogany build that, because of its components, weighs in as arguably one of the heaviest guitar templates on the market.

Les Pauls in general are pretty hefty beasts, but Gibson CEO Cesar Gueikian has now revealed Jones’s penchant for robust instruments goes far beyond the schematics of a standard Gibson single-cut – instead, he wants the brand to build “the heaviest guitars that we can possibly or humanly make”.

When asked about working with Jones in a new episode of Dean Delray’s podcast, Gueikian explained (via Ultimate Guitar), “He has a very unique sound. First and foremost, he’s looking for the sound. 

“Second, he wants the heaviest guitars that we can possibly or humanly make,” he added. “And so we have to source the heaviest maple and the heaviest mahogany that we can find around the world.”

To appease Jones’ requests, which stem from his prized ‘79 LP, Gibson has to “go scouting to find the heaviest woods that we can find for him”.

As for why Jones loves his ‘79 model so much – and why he requires his reproduction models to be back-breakingly heavy – Gueikian says it's all a question of tone.

“And he truly believes that it has an effect and that it does affect sound,” Gueikian went on. “So, in his mind, the weight, the finish – the metallic finish – and then the way the guitar is built and the electronics, the profile of the neck, all the specs that make the guitar right in his hands, is what we’re always chasing.

“And we’ve got a good formula with him, having developed a couple of years ago the first ’79 Silverburst.”

The model Gueikian refers to is likely the 1979 Les Paul Custom Silverburst from 2020 – the flagship guitar from Jones and Gibson’s then-new partnership, which was initially available in two formats: the ultra-limited $10k Murphy Lab model and $6k VOS version. Last year, a $3k version was also thrown into the catalog.

Since then, Gibson and Jones have made the highly sought-after Silverburst six-string (slightly more) available to the masses via the Epiphone medium, with the two parties unveiling a string of Art Collection models over the past few months.

These limited-edition guitars each added a distinct artistic twist to the format, with the models all flashing custom rear-body artwork. Six have been unveiled so far: “The Veil of Bees”, “The Berserker”, “Study for Self-Portrait with Rose Skirt and a Mouse”, “Self-Portrait as Not Dead Yet”, “Sensation” and “Anti-Laokoon 1965”.

One more Adam Jones signature Epiphone is set to be released in the near future under the Art Collection umbrella.

Jones has previously discussed the effect of his favorite Silverburst finish on the sound of his guitars, telling Guitar World, “I have a true love for that color and that guitar in general, and I believe that particular metallic paint does something to the tone or the resonance or the polarity somehow.”

To browse the Adam Jones range, head over to Gibson and Epiphone.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.