Arts & Entertainment, Music

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.

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

Topics include: Tom’s First Guitar • Gibson Explorer • Arm the Homeless • Black Telecaster • Whatever It Takes • Ovation Breadwinner • Soul Power • Creamy • Black Spartacus • “Guerrilla Radio” Guitar • The Music Man Amp • The Marshall Cube Amp


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 ...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Tom Morello

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

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