Today we continue our series of showcasing isolated guitar tracks of famous songs, taking a look at Schism by Tool! In this post we’ll be covering the song structure and how to begin approaching learning this song.

Track notes:

First, tune to drop D tuning. And now, buckle your seatbelts; not only does the song contain multiple tempo changes but it also contains dozens of time signature changes – so, throw counting out the window! The drums and bass are the instruments that require the most timing effort in this song, but for guitars we recommend you get into the groove and play by feel. As with most Tool songs, the song structure is quite unconventional – we recommend that you individually memorize the structures with part one (0:00 to 3:30), part two (3:30 to 5:21), and part three (5:21 to end) before putting the whole song together.  

The song begins with a chorded duet intro with bass, before letting the bass take lead. From here the guitar is generally playing the lead riff in unison with the bass – make sure that you’re precisely playing the riff and not “rushing” your consecutive hammer-ons that start the riff. Watch for the broken chords at 0:54 before kicking on the overdrive at 1:21, and also watch for the “heavy bridge” at 2:17.

The riff in part two is fairly easy; however, it hops between 6/8, 3/8, and 3/4 timing before completing itself. Just try to get a groove for it by slowing the music down.

Part three starts with a new riff mixed with the riff from part two, and then has two more riff changes at 5:40 and 5:44,  before going into variations of the main riff of the song as a heavy metal outro at 6:00. Learning part three section-by-section is a must!  


Reduce the speed of the track using YouTube’s speed adjustment in the settings. Learn and play along with your guitar’s volume down to zero to ensure that all nuances are being hit. For effects, some reverb and delay go a long way – even some fuzz or crunch, and chorus or phaser effects. After you have done all of that, turn up your volume and then start to speed it up.

Challenge for intermediate and Advanced:

Can you play this song with all of its nuance, or are you playing an easier version that is “close enough”? We challenge you to get all of the detail and train each part until it is at 100% speed no matter how long it takes! We highly recommend downloading “Anytune Pro+” and using that to train the song properly.

For further insight, check this video from Rick Beato on “What Makes This Song Great: Episode 15”, and a Songsterr tab of the song!