Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Rage Against The Machine's debut with this Know Your Enemy guitar lesson

Rage Against The Machine
(Image credit: Steve Eichner/WireImage)

This week celebrates 30 years since the release of Rage Against The Machine’s self-titled album, and we’re looking at the incendiary, Know Your Enemy.

Get the tone 


(Image credit: Future)

For the intro you’ll need a guitar with two pickups and separate volume controls for each and set the neck volume to zero – most LP-type guitars will do the job. 

Tone-wise you need an amp-like overdrive or distortion pedal and a DigiTech Whammy pedal set to harmony (classic mode) a 5th above the note you’re playing. 

Technique tips 

The intro is classic Tom Morello trickery! The Whammy is on here and with the neck pickup volume set to zero, you use the pickup selector to flick between bridge and middle positions while you hammer-on get that choppy sound. 

Think of the toggle down to bridge position as a picking downstroke, so you’ll need to keep your hammer-ons sync’d with hitting the toggle switch down. 

The next riff is a series of power chords with a load of upstrokes and rests and then the verse riff is just an off-beat groove! Tom also uses the whammy for the fast solo licks and some more toggle switch goodness, which I haven’t covered off in this lesson, but we’ll get to that one at some point! 

Learn more 

Check out this other lesson on my favourite riffs from Rage Against The Machine's debut album. 

Tom Morello shows us his Rage Against The Machine guitars

Matt Webster

Matt spends his spare time teaching guitar lessons and creating gear demos on his YouTube channel Let's Play All, which covers all manner of styles, but he does have a special place in his heart for '90s grunge and alt rock.