Arts & Entertainment, Music


Tom Morello

Lesson time 15:18 min

Using examples from guitarists Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen, Tom breaks down his strategies for creating innovative, rule-bending solos with melodies and effects.

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

Topics include: Challenge the Idea of the Solo • Try Different Approaches • Give Your Solos a Point of View • Craft Solos From Sounds • Learn Other Guitarists’ Solos • Randy Rhoads: Marry Musical Styles • Eddie Van Halen: Play Across Genres • Jam to Music That Sticks to the One • Jam, Hum, and Take a Break • Solos Don’t Need to Resolve


There are many guitar players and music critics that believe that the guitar solo must match the song. Bah. Bullshit. I think that the guitarist-- who is to say what matches the song. Like I love Kurt Cobain's guitar playing in "Smells Like Teen Spirit." He basically plays the vocal melody in the solo, and it sounds fantastic. I also love when Allan Holdsworth plays these crazy outside solos that have nothing, bear little resemblance, have little in common with the musical base under which they're playing. So I think there's no hard and fast rules for it. In my own catalog, two examples are from the song "Find Another Way" off "The Atlas Underground" record, which Marcus Mumford sings beautifully on. I crafted a guitar solo that melodically fits very snugly with Marcus's vocals and with the rest of the song. [MUSIC - TOM MORELLO, "FIND ANOTHER WAY"] (SINGING) Flesh of my flesh, you knew I'd turn. - And a counterexample would be on Audioslave's song "Show Me How to Live," where the solo set, I mean, I remember recording this in the studio. And I looked in the control room, and people were just laughing. It was like some sort of clown show was happening through the amplifier because in a way it was. I've sought to not just deconstruct the instrument, but deconstruct the idea of playing guitar solo. So the solo in "Show Me How to Live" is this kind of linear warbling. There's no movement in the solo for the entire eight bars of it. It just plays exactly the same sort of odd tone, which I like the idea of challenging the idea of, what is a guitar solo? And you certainly are going to have thoughts on that when it goes by in a way that you've heard a million blues licks and a million solos. You've never heard some small birds struggling in a nest for eight bars during a solo. And that's what I was aiming for during that one. [MUSIC - AUDIOSLAVE, "SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE"] So in summation, when you're writing your own solos, I would say that you need not be tethered to the idea of sticking to something that is simply melodic and fits snugly in the song, also feel adventurous. But again, it's entirely subjective, and whatever feels-- you're most connected with, personally, is the route that you should go. [ROCK MUSIC] How far can you take a solo before bringing it back to the song? There's no hard and fast rules to that. And I've certainly done it at least three different ways in my career. One example of playing within the song, but doing a slightly ear bending note is in the song "Cochise." Let's rock that. [MUSIC - AUDIOSLAVE, "COCHISE'] (SINGING) I'm not a martyr. - A middle ground would be in the Rage Against the Machine song "Settle For Nothing." The solo in that is very jazz influenced and strays from the chords, doing outside notes, passing notes, but still in a very recognizable guitar situation that incorporates some jazzy outsidedness with some rock and roll insidedness. [MUSIC - RAGE AGA...

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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