Arts & Entertainment, Music

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.

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

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


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...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Tom Morello

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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