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Arts & Entertainment

Live Shows: Practicalities and Performance

Tom Morello

Lesson time 18:02 min

From warming up your hands to crafting the perfect setlist, Tom teaches you how to create powerful experiences for your audiences.

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.


Live is probably the single most important thing you can do to improve as a guitar player, because it reveals the real world of performance. And all the stuff that can go wrong that you can only learn by playing live and adjust and adapt over time. What you don't want to do is practice for 2 and 1/2 years with your band in a basement and step out on a stage where you've booked a bunch of record companies and go, we're going to play it just like you did in the basement. Because this is what's going to happen. I'll tell you what happened to me. Happened to every guitar player that I've ever known in my life. You're out there rocking. Check it out. I'm out there rocking because this is how I practice in my room. I'm like-- [GUITAR PLAYING] Oh. Oh. Oh, my guitar unplugged. I unplugged it because I wasn't stomping my foot in the basement when I was playing with the band. And now I'm a jackass in the middle my own show, like, oh sorry. Also, sorry fellas. Oh. Oh. So I'll plug it back in like this. And I'm rocking. [GUITAR PLAYING] Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. How could you possibly fix that? So this happened to me in a couple of my first shows, before some wise guitar player-- perhaps the most important guitar advice I ever got other than that practicing one hour a day business-- is take your guitar cable, loop it through the strap, then plug it in. Now watch what happens when I step on that cable. [GUITAR PLAYING] You can't pull that sucker out to save your life. And save the show and save your embarrassment so that your mom will let you back in the house. Occasionally I'll see, I think, like, Willie Nelson still plays with his guitar just plugged in straight. But like he must have never stepped on it his entire 80 some years. God bless him. Other things that are revealed is to make sure that your pedals have fresh batteries. Make sure that you have an extra pack of strings in case you break one during the show. If you have a spare guitar, please bring it. Because you never know when disaster might strike. The stuff that can go wrong during shows eventually will go wrong during shows. And it's only revealed by experience. Those are a few tips that will save you time, trouble, and embarrassment when you're rocking. [MUSIC PLAYING] So here are my thoughts about messing up on stage. First of all, you know, I come from a background where I've embraced punk rock. And a wrong note is only a wrong note if you are sheepish about it. And there's no wrong notes if you're rocking from the heart. That's the way that I truly feel. But you can also use, you know, it's a bit of a cliche, but if you play a wrong note, it's a wrong note. If you play a wrong note and repeat it five times in a row, it's jazz. It's art. It's all of a sudden, if you stick on that wrong note, people are going to be like, oh, he's on to something there. I don't know what that is, but he's certainly purposeful in the notes that he's playing. That's in t...

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.

Literally changed my life!!! Tom is the best teacher I have ever had! If every teacher was like him, the world would be light years ahead! Thank you very much for your amazing Masterclass and for your masterful enlightenment in guitar, music, art, and life!

Very inspiring and covered a lot of material. It was awesome to see Tom teaching technique along with insights into the music he's played.

The best Masterclass i've done, s far!! Amazing!

Best guitar and music lessons I've ever taken.


Geoffrey B.

That setlist he read off makes me feel like you should do marathon training just to go to one of their concerts.

Marc B.

My favorite part of this lesson was witnessing the circa 2017 mod to the back of the Arm the Homeless. As ever, fucking brilliant.

Marc T.

I can relate 100% to what Tom said about the band practice time before a show. I myself always want to do it over and over again until it becomes completely effortless to perform the set, it's just very hard to convince others to do so too sometimes.

Marty B.

Found a YouTube link for a full Prophets of Rage recording (featuring almost the same set list outlined in this lesson). The Chris Cornell tribute was awesome.

victor O.

Midway through it says problem downloading. Same error on Firefox, Safari, and Chrome

Robert G.

I just started writing the poetry not too long ago. I find that writing a story about something I see when riding in a car helps. When we pass old cars and farms that are run down I c create a story, an emotion that relates then I write shit down I don't have much right now because I just started. ( thanks for the awesome inspiration) So far only ideas, not poetry. I think as I progress and practice the feeling of feeling like a nut goes away. I get some really nutty thoughts when I put pen to paper but when I speak I look like you stepping on my guitar cable. I actually froze at an audition once. I gave up.

Robert G.

My one personal purpose for studying music and guitar is because I feel a part of something. Hell, I don't do it for money (would be nice though). When we are having the family get-togethers if someone starts tapping to my creations feels just as good as a compliment.

Robert G.

You know, when I practice scales I slow down and notice when I get creative I never think about theory or scales just ideas but I start thinking about them my playing sucks.

Robert G.

Sometimes when I play on my balcony people say, as they walk on," that was awesome'". I usually say thanks but I think that it was such a simple chord progression with some pentatonic embellishments totally made up by me because I can actually only play about five to ten songs that some else has written. To me, it wasn', (currently working on diatonic scales along with triads and inversions ...etc.. Learning the structure of the pentatonic, all five shapes connections has helped tremendously. I can't say I can play as good Joe Bonamossa, whom I admire ( sorry Tom my introductory knowledge of you started with this masterclass). You are awesome too.