Slipknot’s Jim Root Plays His Favorite Riffs
Slipknot's Jim Root is one of metal's most respected guitarists and while in quarantine during the global pandemic, he took some time to chat with Loudwire for this edition of Gear Factor.
Root shared a bit of his natural progression as a musician, crediting his parents for turning him onto classic rock before his tastes began to evolve. "I was listening to the Beatles and the Who and stuff like that and I was just in love with the guitar but never had a guitar," said Root. "My parents couldn’t really afford to get me a guitar so I just had a metal nylon acoustic that had maybe three strings on it where I’d bang around on it or use other things pretending they were guitars."
He adds, "When I first started playing guitar, I started going away from what may parents were listening to and I was learning to play these Ratt songs and Motley Crue songs like ‘Too Fast for Love’ and stuff like that -- Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and then I started listening to Anthrax and Metallica and Megadeth and that’s when I really started getting my dexterity up and learning those types of songs."
Like many, one of Root's first riffs he ever learned to play was Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." The guitarist recalled, "I figured that out on this nylon string acoustic guitar and I was all excited and showed my dad and he thought that was cool and everything." Upon starting to navigate something significantly more difficult with Megadeth's music, Root decided it was time to learn his scales to play more like Dave Mustaine.
The Slipknot guitarist says the instrument felt natural to him from an early age. "I’m a weird guitar player in that I have the dexterity and I kind of knew the motions before I ever picked up the guitar. Maybe in a past life I was a guitar player or something, but I got it."
From there Root digs into his past, unearthing a song with one of his first riffs from the band Atomic Opera. He displays a bit of their song "Across the Sea of Doom."
Getting into his time in Slipknot, Root busted out his new signature Fender Jazzmaster V4. He explains how he had just joined the band upon their self-titled debut, so it was a quick learning curve and he was trying not to step on anyone else's toes, but by the time Iowa came around, he was allowed to have more of an imprint.
One of the things that first struck Root upon joining Slipknot was their dedication to the craft and building their legacy. He credits late bassist Paul Gray for setting the tone with his work ethic.
"We got done with ‘Tattoo the Earth’ and the next day Paul [Gray] calls me up and is like, ‘Hey, we got everything set up at my brother Tony’s house. Come over and we’re gonna start writing.’ I’m like, ‘We just got off tour, man. Can I have a couple of days to hang out with my girlfriend?’ He’s like, ‘No man, we gotta work.' So I learned work ethic from Paul and that we’re our own bosses now and if we don’t stay on top of it and we’re not thinking about what we’re doing next, it’s detrimental."
Digging into Slipknot's music, Root showcased a couple of more current pieces, picking out one of his favorite parts in the We Are Not Your Kind song "A Liar's Funeral," then rocking out a bit of the fan favorite, "Solway Firth." "The choruses in that go all the way back to that thrash metal era, that Megadeth stuff we were talking about earlier."
Root's signature Fender Jazzmaster V4 features all-new signature active EMG pickups, a hardtail bridge, sleek single knob volume control, a three-way switch and white neck binding with white pearloid block inlays.
Check out the Fender website where you can learn more about the Jim Root signature line of guitars and watch Root's episode of Gear Factor above.
All Slipknot Songs Ranked