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Arts & Entertainment

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

Tom Morello

Lesson time 12:09 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.


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.

Huge masterclass fan and a massive Tom Morello fan. I found great inspiration as a guitarist and songwriter. Very encouraging and humbling. Tom's vision and sonic pioneering just makes me a 100% believer in ...this is possible.

It made me believe in myself and that all of this was attainable.

Tom Morello is more than I expected. He is not only teaching Electric Guitar but to be creative and an artist. Every lesson is packed with artistry.

Outstanding course. Tom teaches you how to become an artist through the use of guitar. Ideas and inspiration rule the day here! Thanks Tom!



Love the lesson but cant stand ynwgie. I'll have to skip your advice on that one tom

A fellow student

Loved the assignments, specially the Woody Guthrie one. I came up with something that has nothing to do with the original song and I like it. It makes you think, cause I had never heard about him, picked Roll on Columbia randomly.

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.