"The difference is huge": Tool's Justin Chancellor explains why he has no intention of going wireless – or using five-string basses

ustin Chancellor of Tool performs onstage during the 2017 Governors Ball Music Festival - Day 3 at Randall's Island on June 4, 2017 in New York City.
(Image credit: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Justin Chancellor's new Rig Rundown doesn't just have him explaining his whole rig with Tool alongside tech Pete Lewis, but also demoing his tones. In between we discover the preferences behind one of the greatest live tones on the planet.

Behind it all is a great musician, but one who is still exploring the possibilities of four-string bass with a progressive mindset. His main Wal bass (that he used on the band's most recent album Fear Inoculum) has an onboard filter system that helps sonically. "The preamp in it is just really amazing and powerful," Chancellor tells Premier Guitar in the video below. "When I got this bass for the first time I popped all the buttons out – it's got a little pick attack gain [control] when you pop the put out. I have everything on ten apart from the blend of the pickups which is right in the middle."

Justin Chancellor

(Image credit: Travis Shinn / Future)

I'm sort of obsessed with keeping it this way

While he's not saying never to the possibility of one day adding a five-string bass guitar to his arsenal, Chancellor explains that he simply doesn't feel the need. "I would give it a go, but for me there's so much to explore in the realm of four-strings," he tells Premier Guitar. "Especially with this [Wal bass], I've got 24 frets as well, and I've got an octave pedal so I can pretty much go anywhere. Going lower than the bottom string is challenging, especially with the pedal tracking – [the] tracking gets a bit weird – but I'm sort of obsessed with keeping it this way. So you can put a thicker string on – I'm happy with four [strings]."

He's also sticking with guitar cables, and for me this is actually the most striking part of the rig tour; specifically Chancellor's views on wireless systems. He and Lewis have done the research in the studio and come to the conclusion that wireless is a compromise they're not willing to make. "Using a cable is not something that's very common these days – everyone's [using] wireless, but we've done a lot of experimenting with wireless packs, just literally A/B'ing it, standing there in the studio and the difference is huge – there's a spike in the level clarity," explains Chancellor, who uses Mogami cables with Tool.  "So we just stuck with it because it gives it a little extra bit of detail to the whole band. Adam [Jones, guitar] does the same thing as well."

The pedalboard also features EBS gold-tipped patch cables. "They're flat and there was a noticeable difference in the sound and an improvement," notes Lewis. 

Check out the full interview above. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.