Skip to main content

Tom Morello: "I've been accused countless times of using a ton of effects - but I've used the same four pedals for the last 30 years"

Tom Morello
(Image credit: Future/Joby Sessions)

Tom Morello recently talked to Guitarist magazine about a wide range of topics, including a misconception about his tone; specifically how big his pedalboard is. 

As he told us last year, Morello made a conscious choice not to get caught up with updating his gear and expanding his effects pedal collection. But as he explained to Guitarist magazine in a new interview, some people still aren't convinced.

"I've been accused countless times of using a ton of effects - but I've used the same four pedals for the last 30 years," he explained. 

"It's just a piece of wood, with six strings, a few electronics. But you can manipulate it"

"It's a wah, a Whammy, a delay, and a phaser. It's just about finding different applications for the same old shit. The electric guitar is a relatively new instrument on the planet. It's just a piece of wood, with six strings, a few electronics. But you can manipulate it.

"As soon as I had that revelation in Rage, it was like, 'I'm the DJ in the band but rather than sampling I'm gonna use my bare hands to create this new vocabulary for the electric guitar.'

"My influences were Dr. Dre, Jam Master J, and a trip to the zoo, you know? So the combo of the big, heavy Sabbath-Zeppelin riffs, with this otherworldly R2-D2 stuff, it really felt like I'd found my voice on the instrument. There was no-one else in that lane."

Read more

Tom Morello

(Image credit: Joby Sessions / Future)

Tom Morello shows us his Rage Against The Machine guitars

Morello also talked about his go-to instruments, including the Soul Power Strat that he introduced in Audioslave and became his first ever signature model with Fender this year. 

“The guitar is just another canvas to express yourself," Morello explained. "I had already painted four cute little hippos onto one of my guitars. Then just before Rage played our first headline club gig at the Whisky A Go Go, I was sat there on my floor and I scrawled ‘Arm The Homeless’ onto it. To me, it’s the juxtaposition of these happy floating hippopotami and this kind of situationist, outrageous screed written on the guitar.

"In a way, a guitar is a divining rod to bring down truths from the heavens"

“It represented pretty well who I am. That writing has been on there 30 years. In a way, a guitar is a divining rod to bring down truths from the heavens. And I needed a different divining rod for Audioslave, and that was the ‘Soul Power’ Strat. I customised the toggle switch, the pickups, the whammy bar – and it reflected the change.”

For the full interview, head to guitarworld.com

Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before that I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar.