This week’s featured artist is Tom Morello! Born May 30th 1964, he is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, actor, and political activist. He is best known for his tenure with the rock band Rage Against the Machine and then with Audioslave. Between 2016 and 2019, Morello was a member of the supergroup Prophets of Rage. Morello was also a touring musician with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. He is also known for his acoustic solo act, the Nightwatchman, and Street Sweeper Social Club. 

He is best known for his unique and creative guitar playing style, which incorporates feedback noise, unconventional picking, and tapping, as well as heavy use of guitar effects, creating heavy metal/punk hybrid riffs and hip hop-inspired sounds. A 1993 Melody Maker live review of a Rage Against The Machine gig said “Guitarist Tom Morello wears his guitar high up to wring every sound out of it. Falling bombs, police sirens, scratching – he can do them all.”

To produce his guitar sounds, Morello chooses various effects pedals. Notable pedals he uses include a Dunlop Cry Baby, a DigiTech WH-1 Whammy, a Boss DD-2 Digital Delay, a DOD EQ pedal, an Ibanez DFL Flanger, and a Boss TR-2 Tremolo pedal. His amplifier of choice has always been a 50-watt Marshall JCM 800 2205 and a Peavey 4×12 cabinet. While the Marshall amplifier has two channels, he only uses the overdrive channel, and simply lowers the volume on his guitar to get cleaner sounds. In the studio, Morello uses the same setup for the bulk of the guitar tracks. 

Morello’s unique technique and talent led to him being voted the fifth greatest guitarist of the past 30 years in a 2010 BBC poll. He was ranked number 40 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

Check below for a live performance of Audioslave’s song ‘Cochise’ from 2017, and a tab of how to play it!

What’s your favourite song that Tom Morello is featured in? Do you prefer Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, or his other works? We’ve returned to in-home lessons as well as continuing video conference lessons if you want to learn about the ongoing history of music with a professional!

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