Chris Cornell is an American rock musician and singer-songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter and rhythm guitarist for Seattle rock band Soundgarden and as former lead vocalist and songwriter for the supergroup Audioslave. He is also known for his numerous solo works and soundtrack contributions since 1991, and as founder and frontman for Temple of the Dog, the one-off tribute band dedicated to his friend the late Andrew Wood. He was voted “Rock’s Greatest Singer” by readers of Guitar World, and has amazed fans everywhere with his 4 octave vocal range and powerful vocal belting technique.
Although he is mostly known for his singing abilities, and widely considered “the best rock vocalist” of all time, he is also a very talented guitar player. He even has his own signature Gibson Memphis Chris Cornell ES-335, a customized and more “aggressive” looking version of the ES-335.
Whenever Chris is out on the road doing acoustic tours, he tends to gravitate towards Martin guitars. Due to his unusual tuning preferences, it’s not uncommon to see him switch between several different guitars in a single show. In this video (around the 51:10 mark) with Cornell’s guitar tech Stephen Ferrara, you can see him talking about Chris using the Martin D-28 for nearly all of his solo shows, which he mostly keeps tuned low to high “DGDGBC”. He also uses a Fender Telecaster in Mind Riot on the Badmotorfinger album, which he uses the most awkward tuning of all DDDDDD (or EEEEEE on the original recording).
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In a live acoustic rendition of the hit song “Like A Stone“, Chris played a Gibson Hummingbird Acoustic-Electric back in 2009. While out touring with his band Soundgarden, you might see him rocking out with a Fender Jazzmaster Electric, or a Gibson Les Paul Custom Electric Guitar.
In recent years, Chris has pretty much stayed true to Gibson guitars for non-acoustic performances, and prefers his Martin D-28 for anything acoustic. His songwriting often features non-stand chord progressions that do not conform with one diatonic scale, a prominent example of this is the song “Black Hole Sun” which Chris wrote in 15 minutes using a Gretsch Duo Jet Guitar.
“I wrote the song thinking the band wouldn’t like it—then it became the biggest hit of the summer.” – Chris Cornell
Chris Cornell’s wide vocal range, unique guitar tunings, and lyrically creative masterpieces has earned him the title of being one of the best rock musicians of all time. His captivating music and lyrical honesty has gained him fans from all over the world, starting his career fronting a Seattle grunge band to ultimately becoming one of the most respected and innovative musicians in Rock ‘N Roll.