Finally, Tony Iommi’s Most Crucial Guitar Secret, Revealed

All those years that you spent dialing in that perfect Sabbath tone, acclimating yourself to heavier strings, trying to get that perfect pocket, it turns out that what you were missing was a monkey sticker. Hidden in plain sight all this time, its hand-drawn whimsy is an obvious key to that godly sludge tone in retrospect. If only we had been paying better attention.

This is the kind of crucial info that only comes from the primate’s horse’s mouth, which in this case is Iommi’s guitar tech Mike Clement. Gibson caught up with him in a round of interviews at this year’s Hellfest. While the stacks of Laney amplifiers in the background received no comment (it’s a Gibson-sponsored interview, after all), Tony’s SG collection is shown off in up-close detail.

Not all of the custom modifications are simian-based, either. For one, those Sabbath guitars have the Toney-knobs swapped out for larger versions, which makes sense since up until recently Iommi’s signature Laney heads were single-channel. In fact, if I had to guess, the newer dual channel TI100 is likely only designed as such to make it more appealing to the consumer market. Both channels are identical.

Also of note, Tony likes to have the gloss rolled off of the back of his necks for more tactile playability. For more insight into the gear behind the man behind heavy metal, scroll your eyes down to the video below.

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.