Music & Entertainment

Tom's Influences: Rock, Jazz, Classical, and Folk

Tom Morello

Lesson time 12:30 min

A diverse set of musical influences can help you take your playing in exciting new directions. Learn how Tom incorporates the genres that have made an impact on him into his own music, and how you can do the same.

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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As a guitarist, no matter what genre you love or favor, you can always find inspiration in others genres of music, like I have from EDM to classical to folk music to continuing to find new inspiration in rock and roll. And I think that's one of the great challenges and great ways to push yourself as an artist is to find elements in genres of music that you may favor or you may not, and find ways to add them to your own DNA to make your playing more unique, make your playing more special and more diverse. I learned to do drop D tuning from Maynard Keenan of the band Tool. I was over at his apartment in Hollywood years ago, and we were talking about Soundgarden and their song "Outshine." It goes like this. [PLAYING GUITAR] Excellent rock song. And he was playing that for me. I was like, why are you-- you're holding one finger down. What is that? He said, it's drop D tuning. Drop D tuning is simply where you take the lowest string, which is normally an E, and you tune it down one whole step to D, which reconfigures the neck in a way that makes for interesting-- may make for interesting choices. Immediately-- he handed me the guitar, and right away, I played this riff. Just the first thing that came to mind was-- [PLAYING GUITAR] I was like, that's a pretty rocking riff. And so we sat there, and we fiddled around with that song for a while. And I actually loaned it to Maynard. I said-- he was working on a Tool song. And I said, you can have that one. Later on, I called him back and said, I'd like that one back. That later, of course, became "Freedom" by Rage Against the Machine. But it was well into my rocking I learned something brand new from rock and roll music. In rock and roll, I'd like you to tune your guitar down to D and come up with a drop D riff of your own. Simple as that. Rock it to your own taste. [MUSIC PLAYING] Just the intro of Alan Holdsworth's "Metal Fatigue" really was a north star that I guided my outside guitar playing from. The two things-- the first and most important was how did he get that sound. How did he get that tone? Well, I realized that it was a-- he was playing through a harmonizer. And he's playing-- so you're hearing the note he's playing and a fifth above it. And I didn't have a harmonizer, so there was no way I could sound like Alan Holdsworth of the time. And it's one of the reasons that eventually led me-- the principal reason that eventually led me to buying the Digitech whammy pedal, which was a signature part of my sound. I bought a rack-mounted piece of gear that was a harmonizer pedal. It was very complicated, and I had trouble plugging it in. It seemed to ruin my amp sound. And so when a simple effects pedal that allowed me to play to a fifth like Alan Holdsworth did on that song that you just heard, I was in heaven. Now, that also then cracked the door open to the other sounds that were incorporated in the Digitech whammy pedal but led to a good deal of my sonic reperto...

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.

Great impulses for new ideas or new points of view on guitar playing. Thank you! :-)

I'm late to the game, but Tom's words and advice have been inspirational. He's a tremendously likeable, enthusiastic and practical guy who is down-to-earth despite his fame and achievements. There is no better combination for a teacher of any subject, especially the guitar, and in the overhyped world of rock music. Thanks so much.

Tom is one of my favorite musicians. His Masterclass really broke down some of my barriers to songwriting. He made it so human. Just record whatever sounds good when your improvising and come back to it later. You and me and Paul McCartney are songwriters.

Tom Morello is a fuckin genius and the best teacher ever. Tom Morello's Masterclass blew my mind....amazing...


A fellow student

Loving these lessons. At first I was like... Hmm What am I learning? Then the next time I picked up my guitar I started playing it like I never have before.

A fellow student

Wowzers the lyrics of this give me a special feeling in tune with what I like overall about guitar.

Chris P.

Love this! It's all connected. Cool assignments, funny I've been pausing the classes and playing and looking around online, then he suggests I do exactly what I've been doing. Wish there were other rock musicians teaching classes here, especially talking about song writing.

Tory H.

I don't think I've ever been as re energized about writing music and playing with effects as I am after watching these lessons. The use of whammy, wah and reverb especially as I was confused on how to apply it to songwriting. After hearing and learning that solo....just lit a fire. Inspired, thanks Professor Morello! :D

Tom B.

It is amazing how many songs use G, C, and D only! Not to mention those who use them with something else in the bridge!!! TB

A fellow student

I have found that my favorite tuning to write songs with is similar to drop D. I use B F# B G B E. Essentially the low three strings are in drop B and normal tuning for the higher three. It's a little strange but it works for me!

Timothy K.

Hey at least the guitar playing is killer! The singing . . not so much. . .

A fellow student

I’m choosing the Woody Guthrie song “All You Facists” and after I make the folk song using those chords I’m making a punks song using those chords.

Robert W.

Tom is truly inspirational. Shamefully, I had never heard of him, despite knowing about Rage Against The Machine. My guitar heroes have been Clapton, Peter Green, Jeff Beck, Hendrix, Prince, Joe Walsh, Stephen Stills, Ry Cooder, Mark Knopfler, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Billy Gibbons, Peter Frampton, Joe Bonamassa, Al Di Meola... even George Harrison... and a few more more. So my tastes are wide and varied...from rock to jazz, classical and folk...which is what this lesson is all about, but I doubt whether any of those 'heroes' of mine could deliver a Masterclass as good as this. My own playing as an amateur is average to lazy, but Tom makes me want to take it further. So glad I joined the class.


Oh man this will be my first song I ever feels like going April. In Buffalo NY.