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Studio Recording

Tom Morello

Lesson time 14:58 min

Tom takes you on a philosophical and practical tour of his strategies for getting the most out of a studio recording session.

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.
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It's one thing to write music and songs, it's another thing to play, write, and improvise solos. But eventually, you're going to record-- want to record your music. My recording history is one that was originally fraught with peril. I was in a band called Lockup before Rage Against the Machine. We were signed to Geffen Records, and at the time, it was like grabbing the brass ring. Like I had a record deal. Everybody back home in Libertyville thought I must be a multimillionaire. They didn't know I was living with like six other guys in a one room apartment in West Hollywood. But I had the opportunity to make a record. And my thought was, I'm now entering this world of professional people whose ideas must be great, because they're professional people, they're A and R people and record company people and producers. And so we went to a fancy, expensive studio in Marin County and began making the Lockup record. And the first thing that I noticed was that the environment in which we were recording was very, very-- the band was like a street band from sort of the eastern side of Hollywood and had a punk rock vibe, and we were in this kind of luxurious environment with hot tubs and elk, you know, (LAUGHING) coming by. I thought, oh, I guess this is how you make rock and roll. And then the, you know, the producer was trying to damp-- the band-- the band, at its rawest, sounded like kind of a punk rock version of Living Color. But the producer and the A and R person had an idea for the band that was a little bit more like kind of latter-day Chili Peppers, like sort of a funky but song, pop oriented band. And I realized, early on, I'm not sure how my guitar playing fits into that. Like I want to play heavy stuff. I want to play crazy guitars. And all that was dampened down in the recording process, but I thought, well, I guess they know best. So we made that record. And I remember at one point, like not only were they sort of wanting to de-emphasize my toggle switch playing, but something that was complete anathema at the time, the producer wanted to put keyboards on the record. And I was like, aw, that-- I mean, come on. I mean, dude, like we are not making the keyboard record. I won't be able to ever look my metal friends in the face again. So on the last day-- I stalled doing the keyboards to like the last day we had booked at the studio. And the night before, I snuck in and I completely disabled all of the keyboards in the studio. The next day the producer came in and was like, oh, I guess there's no keyboard overdubs. Like, man, that's a bummer. So we made a record that didn't sound representative of the band, a record that did not connect with an audience, and we were summarily dropped from the label, and Rage Against the Machine formed. Now, Rage Against the Machine went into the studio to make a record with Garth Richardson, who had had some engineering success with Helmet and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And we went i...

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.

I think the two biggest take aways are that you only need to decide in your mind that you're an artist to actually be one, and that the only thing that matters is that you're honest with your art!

The Tom Morello Masterclass was an incredible experience. Learning from a humble legend I really had a great time, particularly in learning to developing courage in writing music without judging yourself. I also thought that some of the things were so easily looked over in my 15 years of playing and Tom explained and cleared my doubts beautifully.

A very well-thought out, comprehensive guide to the electric guitar and how to use it to make original sounds and then original music. Excellent.

I have played guitar for 10 years and still learned SO much. What an inspirational and engaging teacher. I laughed, I learned, and I never lost interest. The best masterclass since Aaron Sorkin!


Joe K.

Hi Tom...another great segment! Recording can be so intimidating. I learned from many musicians who record everything...practice sessions, noodling with ideas while alone at home... this has helped me get past the "red light syndrome" and has produced many "bits and pieces" that I can build off of. Had I not recorded my noodling and working out some new ideas...I most likely would have forgotten them. I too have an old four track...a Tascam Porta 1 but have gone digital and am using Boss digital recording equipment. I am with you as far as being " non-Technical" when it comes to gear and recording. I just play what I feel and go from there...Thank you so much Tom. I am thoroughly enjoying your MasterClass!

Marc T.

Loved this lesson! :) Recording is probably my favourite part of the entire process and nowadays it's really easy and cheap to record high quality stuff in the comfort of my own home, so I can't complain. I'd like to share my latest recording with you guys and I'd really appreciate any feedback if you have a spare minute to have a listen: . Thanks in advance! :D

José Juan G.

Hello everyone, I recently purchased an interface, a set of speakers, and some microphones. I could say Im in the process of building a home studio. I am fascinated with what these things can actually do. So far I've just made some demo recordings. Check them out:

Jenny S.

Don't Miss the Underlying Message (Disclaimer: I own a mid-size, professional, recording studio) I hear stories like these much too often and they truly disappoint me. There’s an arrogant and almost toxic attitude that many engineers seem to adopt. It’s the “I know best!” attitude and lemme tell you… they are wrong! It’s the Artist that knows best. After all it’s their music and their vision. It’s the engineer’s job to take years of training and experience and work *with* the Artist to help them achieve the recording they want without the engineer’s ego getting in the way. And that’s the message… find an engineer/producer that fits you as an Artist. One that will work *with* you to help you achieve your dream recording. You find this person (and they aren’t hard to locate) and you will have someone you trust in your corner so that you can focus on the important stuff like… being an Artist. As for Tom’s 3 tiers of recording… I feel his perspective is a bit over simplified which is surprising. There’s much more to it than that like… why can’t studios and home recording Artists work together to make a killer record? Well, they can. But I’m gonna stop myself right there because I don’t wanna become a shill for my own company 😀 And Tom, if you’re reading these comments, give me a call. I’d love to chat with you about those 3 tiers offline. Be well and make killer records! Brad Smalling, Colorado (shamefully using his wife’s account to watch this amazing Masterclass)

Aaron P.

THANK YOU! To this day we're still on Spotify and iTunes but back in the day, we recorded our album at Colorado Sound right after Eminem and right before Panic! At the Disco and thought we had "arrived" only to go through the same process that Tom is talking about here. Nothing like our live shows. It was the one take where all of us played together (that was recorded at a different studio) which was the best song on the album. Everything that Tom is stating here is TRUTH!!

Jonathan S.

My first time in a professional recording studio 50 years ago was similar to Tom's. The recording sounded very dry. So I said to the engineer, "Can we have a little more reverb?" He said, "No, that's all there is." I pointed to a knob on the board and said, "Well, just turn this one up here." He said, "Let me put it this way, that's all you're getting." I'm thinking, what the hell? We're paying for this. On the second song, we were singing 3-part harmony, and it was out of tune, which I pointed out. The other guys said it was me. I went home, hocked some equipment. and bought a 4-track reel-to-reel machine. I took the instrumentals we had done and put them onto one track of the tape. Then I proceeded to sing all 3 parts, and guess what? They were in tune. I haven't looked back since. But you DO have to learn how to mix.


Home recording has gotten really affordable these days- a condenser mic, the audio interface, some xlr cables and your laptop. The software usually comes bundled with the interface. Most people already have a set of speakers attached to the computer. I can get going for well under $500.00, If I want to go a little bigger maybe $1,000-$2,000. If I would budget that much for small studio time, may as well get the equipment instead and hit the button myself.