Born there in 1948, he started playing in bands during his teenage years with John ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne. At the age of 17 he suffered a freak accident whilst working in a sheet metal factory, severing the tips of his fingers on his right. Iommi recovered and a few years later Black Sabbath was born, a band designed upon Iommi’s incredible mastery of guitar.
He would often detune the instrument, something unique at the time that has become a mainstay of many heavy metal bands to this day. Voted as the 25th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine and widely regarded as the ‘godfather of heavy metal’, Iommi has cemented his place as one of the greatest musicians of modern times. Lets take a look at the gear that he has used over the years.
Jaydee Custom S.G. (a.k.a. No. 1, The Old Boy)
This model was most notably featured on Heaven and Hell. It’s iconic rugged look is perhaps the most intriguing part of this instument though. According to Iommi.com, the look of the guitar is due to a few factors: “It was built on John Diggins’s kitchen table and had to be finished very quickly. As a result, the coats of paint and finish did not have the time to cure properly. At a later date the guitar was left in a car in an extremely hot part of the world and a lot of the finish bubbled up, giving the guitar the look that has become familiar to all Sabbath guitar fans.”
Fender Stratocaster 1960
This guitar was bought sometime in the mid to late 60s as a replacement for the Burns Trisonic. It can be seen during the 1968’s Rock’n’Roll Circus with The Rolling Stones, when Tony joined Jethro Tull for one gig before going back to the Black Sabbath (still named Earth at that time).
Gibson SG ‘Monkey’
According to Iommi.com, Iommi’s SG is 1965 Gibson in red finish fitted with a Gibson P-90 pickup in the bridge position and a custom wound John Birch Simplux, as well as a P-90 style single coil in the neck position. The guitar became Iommi’s main instrument after his white Fender Stratocaster’s neck pickup failed during the recording of Black Sabbath’s debut album.
John Birch SG
This guitar was made by luthier John Birch and was one of Iommi’s main instruments before he switched to the predominantly used JayDee model. The characteristic sound of this guitar can be heard on the Never Say Die album.
Laney TI100 Tony Iommi Signature Amplifier Head
There’s been a highly-noted long-time relationship between Laney and Iommi. His latest live setup during Sabbath’s farewell tour featured the Laney TI100. Speaking to us earlier this year, Iommi says: “They started roughly the same time we did, really, so we started off with Laney, and built them up. I’ve gone away from Laney and come back, gone away again and come back… at one point Laney stopped doing tube amps and started doing transistor stuff and that’s when I stopped. And then eventually Lyndon Laney came to me and said ‘I’d love to build some tube amps again.’ So we started doing them.”
Marshall Super Lead 1959
This amp was modified by John “Dawk” Stillwell, who designed a new circuit for it that included an extra tube and a master gain control. The amp was used on the albums Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules.
Laney GH 100 TI
This amp was specially designed for Tony in 1993, and it has essentially been one of his main amps ever since. It has 3 channels and EL34 output tubes.
Speaking to MusicRadar.com, Iommi explains : “When I lived in Cumberland, when we did the Mythology thing [Iommi’s earlier band], there was a guy up there and I used to use his treble booster called a Dallas Rangemaster to give my sound a bit more ‘oomph’.”
TychoBrahe Wah Pedal
Iommi explains on his personal website that one of his favourite pedals is his Tychobrahe Parapedall. “It was made in the early seventies. They have not been available new for many years now although I believe there is someone who has now started making clones called the Parachute,” he explains.