From Tom Morello's MasterClass

Tones and Sounds

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.

Topics include: Keep Your Sound Setup Conservative • Maintain Naïveté • Approximate Non-Guitar Sounds • Deconstruct the Guitar • Follow Your Sounds to Songs • Combine Rhythm Styles: “Bullet in the Head” • “Unfuck the World”: Replicating Studio Sounds

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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.

Topics include: Keep Your Sound Setup Conservative • Maintain Naïveté • Approximate Non-Guitar Sounds • Deconstruct the Guitar • Follow Your Sounds to Songs • Combine Rhythm Styles: “Bullet in the Head” • “Unfuck the World”: Replicating Studio Sounds

Tom Morello

Teaches Electric Guitar

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Preview

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.

Reviews

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

Tom is a wonderful teacher! Inspiring and supportive of risk-taking as an artist and as a student.

Most revealing to me is the fact that Tom Morello only cooks with water himself. He explains his complete process without keeping secrets. Really appreciate his class.

Having a degree in guitar already, I just wanted to learn about Tom's approach to songwriting, riff writing, and his philosophy on the instrument and music. The course delivers in spades. There's a lot here for people just getting started as well. Tom is authentic in his presentation. Well worth the price of entry.

Very fun character! He has some killer techniques and truly thinks outside the box, which you can't get anywhere else.

Comments

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.”

Art 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.

Lonnie H.

Inspirational! My practice sessions usually just involve a little technique but mostly learning new songs. This opens a whole new world!

Tom B.

That was interesting!!! There will be some odd sounds coming from our house soon!!! Did some of this way back when and used it on our PA system which we had outside of the house in stereo frightening children on Halloween! Now I want to try that again!!! Tom

Ryan G.

Never really thought about trying to make different non guitar sounds before. It is an interesting idea that could be useful, and if nothing else, at least it teaches players to think outside the box.

Blathnaid

Interesting ways to formulate ideas...has given me new things to think about...thinking outside the box etc.

Hillery S.

I have to say that this was really helpful to me. As a (non-traditional) mandolin player (who likes pedal effects) this was really inspiring to me. Tom gave me permissions that I seemed to have thought were a waste of time. I actually created two sounds shortly after watching this, that I realized were already inside of me.

Michael N.

Thank you for giving me ideas to use my limitations from my stroke as assets

Tony F.

Tom, I am really enjoying this course. The four part practice approach is VERY useful--It gives me a way to look at the various aspects of this great instrument. I also play a bit off drums, and I relate to the notion that the guitar is a percussion instrument. You are aiding and abetting my ever-expansive creativity.