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Arts & Entertainment

Gear: Tom's Guitars and Amps

Tom Morello

Lesson time 16:48 min

Tom walks you through his signature guitars and trusty amps and shares the story behind each.

Tom Morello
Teaches Electric Guitar
In 26 lessons, Grammy-winning musician Tom Morello will teach you the guitar techniques, rhythms, and riffs that define his signature style.


And now, let's take a journey through my peculiar collection of guitars, my amps, and why they're here and why they're important to me. It's kind of an island of misfit toys with six strings. This is my first-ever guitar-- the $50 K Special from Ragoni Music in Libertyville, Illinois. I remember going to the shop. I wanted the Ovation Breadwinner. That was far too expensive. My mom said $50 is the budget. And this was the one $50 guitar in the store. It's a knock-off of a Gibson SG. And I remember very, very-- they say that no great art is ever made without a chip on the shoulder. And I remember very clearly, at 13 years old, when I walked into Ragoni Music, I couldn't get the guitar I wanted. They gave me this one. At the time, the action of this guitar-- the action means the height of the strings off the neck. It makes it easier to play if it's a lower action, and a particularly high action making it more difficult to play, that high action. And the man behind the counter jokingly said to the room, well-- well, this guitar probably won't work for him, because of all the extensive guitar solos he's going to be playing. And I remember sitting there at 13 going, you have-- you don't know that I'm not going to play extensive guitar solos. I didn't say that at the time, but I thought it at that time. And then later on-- [GUITAR MUSIC PLAYING] I'm not sure that's an extensive guitar solo. But I showed that son of a bitch. [GUITAR PLAYING] When I moved from the K guitar, the only guitar I wanted was the Gibson Explorer that you see here. It was on sale for 500 bucks that I spent so much time saving for. And then I missed the sale, and they raised it to 1,000 bucks. And I went in there, like, on knees-- on my knees. And I begged. Can I have it for the sale price, man? And I said, I need that shark fin. I need that shark fin bad, because it's metal. It looked like I was in The Scorpions. And it felt right. And they took pity on me and they let me get this guitar. I absolutely ruined the thing by adding a Kahler tremolo to it. Now, a Kahler-- I won't bore you with that. But it's a kind of whammy bar that cuts out the part of the guitar that makes it sound good and ruins it with a whammy bar that you're never going to use. That's the short version of it. But this is the guitar that I spent my 20,000 hours on. This is the one that I took to Harvard. This is the one that I moved to LA with. And this is the fretboard where I did all of my technique and all of my theory and I annoyed the roommates with, and played metal in spandex at Harvard keg parties with, I was looked askance at with. But it has a place that's near and dear from-- near to my heart. And for many years, I made sure that, no matter what project I was doing, that I played this guitar on every song and every record that I played on. At least, a little bit, I snuck it in there. [GUITAR PLAYING] This is my main guitar, sort of ...

Strike a Chord

Tom Morello is a two-time Grammy winner and one of Rolling Stone’s "greatest guitarists of all time." In his first online guitar class, the co-founder of Rage Against the Machine will teach you the riffs, rhythms, and solos that launched his career and sent his music to the top of the charts. Tom will share his approach to making music that challenges the status quo and teach you how to create your own musical style.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

That was fuckin sweet, can't wait to watch it again.

As a lifelong fan of RATM and Tom Morello's music and politics, I've been pleasantly surprised to discover more about his creative process !

Wonderful Course and fantastic Teacher, really a great inspiration for my personality as musician. Thanks Tom!!! Thanks Maestro!!!

Tom is brilliant. Wow. Very articulate, engaging and off-the-charts knowledgeable.


Wess P.

I took this course because I’ve been a fan of Tom Morello since the early ‘90s, both in his music and his politics, but now I’m a fan of his teachings too! The course offered great technics on how to challenge yourself creatively. It also provided insight and perspective on how to be the best performer/artist you can be. It unlocked some incredible revelations for me, and I’m not even a guitar player! I’m a writer, but I was able to take about five pages of notes that I plan to apply to my writing regime. It even inspired me to pick up “Viejo Cuervo” again, my old Alvarez acoustic guitar. It’s a fun and fascinating way to learn what it takes to be a musician first, and a rockstar second.

Gyula S.

I am delighted how many of you guys love the back of the guitar, but I wonder why is it not on the front of the guitar? Along with other symbols of ignorance like the Sendero Luminoso, the communist hammer and sickle, the Red Star, this would just fit right in. Does Tom Morello have a clue what the Holodomor was? Interestingly, while Santana very likely has the same opinion about Trump, he had the decency to keep the back of his guitar free from political ideas. So either you put it up on the front proudly and fearlessly, or not put it up at all.

Manuel A.

Tom, you may not know the real history of the "Sendero Luminoso", it is one of the largest terrorist organizations in the history of Peru. I lost a cousin in an attack made by SL. You don't know all the pain it means for Peruvians that you have a guitar called that. Please reconsider renaming that guitar in honor of the life of more than 70 thousand Peruvians who lost their lives in the fight against them.

Joe K.

I had that very same Music Man amp when I first started playing out. Great sounding amp! My first was an Acoustic 134 self contained 4 x 12 100 watt ...very clean and LOUD LOUD LOUD!! I now run a Marshall Valvestate head through that cabinet. Your MasterClass is helping me in so many ways Tom. Thank you so much for everything you have shared with us in this class. Cheers!


Dear Tom, u r a great person, an amazing artist n guitarrist, u r didactic, entertaining n very inspiring; ur Masterclass is outstanding!!! Just wanted 2 know a lil more about ur view of "Sendero Luminoso", I'm peruvian, they killed around 70,000 people here, mostly farmers that wouldn't cooperate with them on attacking the national police n army. A friend of mine's had his house destroyed by a car bomb those terrorists exploded in Lima in 1992 killing 25 innocent people. Like u said, it's important to stand for ur convictions, but it all starts with beign propperly informed. U wnet 2 Harvard, that's why I hope ur guitar has nothing 2 do with terrorists. PLEASE ANSWER

Vickie V.

I don't think I've ever liked the back of anyone's guitar like I like yours XD

Dominic C.

And what about the Talman? I almost bought this class only to hear Tom talk about what was "wrong" with this guitar and what Ibanez did to recreate this "problem" (Ok not only for this reason... ;) )

Jonathan S.

Great advice! Cheap guitar, bought for its appearance. Tiny, solid-state amp. Hit record. Just do it!

Peter M.

Tom has such a fantastic sense of humour and infectious laugh. "....Bless your heart".