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Arts & Entertainment

Tones and Sounds

Tom Morello

Lesson time 17:27 min

It’s not what pedals you own, it’s how you use them. Learn Tom’s creative process for discovering sounds and how you can create your own.

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.


The limitations that I put on myself with regards to gear really is-- throughout my entire rocking career has helped me to push my creativity and my imagination to get the most out of a limited number of pedals. I have-- you know, there's-- I'm not sure what the mathematical probabilities are. But if you take five or six panels, six strings, one whammy bar, a jack, two pickups, a pickup selector switch, there's a lot of different vectors that can continue to-- to lead to new sonic exploration, experimentation, and results. [MUSIC PLAYING] The way that I look at effects pedals and my tone through an effects pedal-- I try to maintain the same kind of naivete that I had when I first went to a guitar shop. First time you go to a guitar shop, and you step on a-- a delay pedal, and-- you know, it sounds like-- check this out. Like, it sounds, like, crazy. You step on it. It goes-- [MUSIC PLAYING] And you like, that is some interstellar overdrive craziness. But later on, you get the effects pedal. You bring it home. And you temper it down. And now you've-- you know, you ratchet back the-- you take off some of the magic. And now you're back to something that sounds a little bit more like-- [MUSIC PLAYING] Something that's augmenting the sound, often beautifully. But there's that magical moment when you first turn on something crazy. And it sounds crazy. And you're excited about it. It gets weened out of most guitar players. I've tried to embrace that original moment of what's the craziest thing I can make this effects pedal do, and then make music out of it. [MUSIC PLAYING] Where I find the ideas is often in unusual places. Long ago, I stopped exclusively listening to guitar players for inspiration. I would listen to sounds in my neighborhood. In the early 90s, there were a lot of helicopters flying over my house, my apartment in Los Angeles. And so I got the idea one day sitting around practicing, perhaps I could find some version of a helicopter to play. I came up with this, which is a simple combination of a delay pedal set to a very short delay. [PLAYING GUITAR] You play the one note and it slaps right back. And then the DigiTech whammy pedal set to one octave down. And then it's manipulated with the foot. This is what eventually became the introduction to the Audioslave song "Cochise." [MUSIC PLAYING] So the helicopters are flying around. And all I'm doing is I'm just-- I'm muting the strings. I'm-- with this hand, so they don't ring out. [PLAYING GUITAR] And then just whacking on them with this hand-- [PLAYING GUITAR] --in a way that-- that causes the delay to endlessly loop itself. [PLAYING GUITAR] While at the same time rocking the pedal so it goes from an octave down to the one octave setting, which causes the sound of a helicopter moving further away or coming closer. [PLAYING GUITAR] Like that. Another inspiration back in the day was the Los Angeles Zoo. I woul...

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.

The main lesson that I get, is that I shouldn't overthink and just start my band!

Loved hearing Tom's thoughts about the guitar and about music. This class along with others that I am taking has taught me that a one size fits all approach is not what makes you a fantastic guitarist. Hard work and dedication to develop a unique style and perfect it is what makes an amazing guitarist.

It helps me so much, especially on how to improve my speed on playing guitar and getting inspired to be an artist rather than just a musician.

It helped me find a better version of myself while playing guitar Thats something I really couldn't do without this masterclass


Steve J.

"Even if you're not able to *ape* that particular sound" I see what you did there Mr Morello. lol

Daniel C.

Super inspiring. This is what made me subscribe to master class. I've learned some of what he has to say on my own but it's taken years. I wish I would have had something like this a long time ago. I love tom's philosophies and outlook. Truly inspirational thank you!

A fellow student

Tom Morello is a legend, this is so dang helpful. I will say, it would be nice to have some kind of markers or links to jump to the different segments/chapters within a video for all MasterClasses.

joseph H.

The legendary graphic designer, Paul Rand, said that he found the more constraints he would put on students, the more creative projects they would produce. Another great example of creativity born out of constraints, was in Monty Pythons "holy grail" with the goofy coconuts standing in for horses. They did this because they didn't have the money for horses, but it is hilarious. One of best bits in the movie.

Cesar C.

Man, I am watching this lesson and my jaw drops every minute! So many years wondering how he did some of that stuff. The only thing I came up by watching him was the octaver on 5th in Know your enemy...his thinking is just genius, and at the same time he seems so casual about it.

Marc T.

This was so eye opening. :O I feel super inspired to try some unconventional stuff now, cheers! \m/ \m/

Shaun J.

Super cool seeing how Tom creates new sounds and the approach and creativity behind it. Fun lesson, really loved it!

jeff B.

My question at this point is, “how many times a week does his tech have to change/rewire the pickup selector after beating the crap out of it all day.”

Ed G.

This is all cool stuff, but I think that I need to become better at just playing before I worry about constructing all of this kind of stuff.

Tim W.

Hey MC Staff! The download PDF file isn't downloadable... probably has to do with the Read permission settings :) A super solid lesson. Expanding your sound library by searching outside of music is absolute genius.