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Many of us have dreamed of becoming a rock star guitarist like Tom Morello. The electric guitar is a musical instrument that still occupies a massively significant part in popular culture. Yet mastering the instrument is not easy, and becoming a skilled player takes years and years of graft and practice.
Of course, one way of improving your skills is to have lessons with an expert tutor. This is where Masterclass can help. For a one-off cost of £85 or via a regular subscription, you can benefit from the tutelage of one of the world’s all-time great rock guitarists. We’ll take a closer look the Tom Morello Teaches Electric Guitar Masterclass here.
Anyone who is familiar with Tom Morello’s career will know him as the guitarist from the American band Rage Against the Machine. He has also played with Audioslave, and with the supergroup Prophets of Rage. He has enjoyed a glittering career, then, but where did it all start?
Morello was born in 1964 in Harlem, New York, to a Kenyan father and an American mother who was of Italian and Irish ancestry. His father was Kenya’s first ambassador to the United Nations, though, sadly, he later returned to Kenya and denied paternity of his son. Morello was raised in Libertyville, Illinois by his mother.
At the age of 13, Morello joined his first band, Nebula, who covered songs by classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin. In the early 1980s, he also formed a band called The Electric Sheep along with future Tool bass player Adam Jones.
In 1991, he would join Rage Against the Machine, the band that made a star of him. Morello formed the band after being impressed with Zack de la Rocha’s freestyle rapping. De la Rocha would become the band’s lead singer. The band would sign with Epic Records in 1992. Their eponymous debut album was released that year too. They would record three more albums and enjoyed considerable mainstream success, despite their often radical political stances.
While with Rage Against the Machine, Morello became known for the amazing sound effects that he could wring from his guitar, without recourse to effects pedals or other devices. In 1993, the British music paper Melody Maker reviewed a RATM live gig and hailed Morello’s ability to do this.
Guitarist Tom Morello wears his guitar high up to wring every sound out of it,” the reviewer stated.
“Falling bombs, police sirens, scratching – he can do them all.”
RATM disbanded in 2000, though there have been numerous revivals. After this, Morello would become part of Audioslave, working alongside late Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell. Since then, Morello has also worked on a folk music project called The Nightwatchmen. He has also worked with a whole host of other musicians and artists, among them Bruce Springsteen, Cypress Hill and David Rovics.
As well as his music, Morello is known for political activism, and was seen at several Occupy events in the USA, Canada and the UK. Additionally, he has appeared in films and written a comic book.
In a 2010 BBC poll, Morello was voted the fifth greatest guitarist of the last 30 years – a fine accolade indeed.
The Tom Morello Teaches Electric Guitar Masterclass course consists of 26 lessons, each of which last approximately 12 minutes. The lessons guide you through the process of playing, recording and writing songs. As is usual with Masterclass, a downloadable workbook accompanies the video lessons. This not only includes lesson resources and additional course materials, but also copies of set lists from Morello’s past shows.
One thing which will help you with time management on the course is that all of the materials can be accessed using your mobile device. This allows you to learn at your own pace, as well as meaning that you can revisit lessons and other content at convenient times.
Of course, practice is vital when it comes to improving your skills on a musical instrument. Simply listening to and watching Morello’s video lessons is not going to turn you into a better guitarist. You will also have to commit plenty of time to practicing the skills that he teaches. Being a good musician is something that is never complete, and constant practice is needed to improve and retain skills. You need to bear this in mind when signing up for the course.
The 26 lessons on this Masterclass course cover many aspects of being a top rock guitarist. The course opens with an introductory session where Morello outlines his career and achievements. You will then go on to learn about how to think creatively and develop your own unique voice as a musician, before moving on to learn more practical techniques.
There is a class on writing great riffs, as well as how to get interesting sounds from your instrument. The class on gear and effects pedals is especially interesting in this regard. Morello then discusses his influences and how they have contributed to the musical legacy that he has created. These influences run from jazz, folk and classic rock to hip hop, the blues and contemporary electronic dance music.
A lengthy section in the middle of the course is devoted to the practical aspects of guitar playing. You learn about how to spend your practice time wisely, as well as how to develop speed in your playing and how to “unlock the fretboard.” There is also some basic musical theory based around pentatonic scales, before several lessons on how to write rock songs. A case study of the classic RATM song ‘Killing in the Name of’ is also included.
Morello also offers guidance on studio recording and live performance. Given the amount of side projects on which he has worked during his career, it is also interesting to watch the lessons on how to work effectively with other musicians. Many guitarists have an obsessive interest in instruments and equipment too. For these kind of guitar geeks there is the course’s penultimate class, where Morello gives us a rundown of his favourite instruments and amplifiers.
The course concludes with Morello offering up some inspiration with the words: “Envision something that goes beyond what anybody’s imagined before.” Given the originality of the guitarist’s own work, it is worth listening to those words.
The Tom Morello Masterclass course on electric guitar is one that we would recommend. You will need some ability as a guitarist already to make it work for you, though. This is not a course for guitar novices. The quality of the insight offered by Morello is very good indeed, and the course materials and video lessons have all the high production values and classiness that you would expect from Masterclass.
So if you want to learn from one of the all-time great guitarists, this is the Materclass course for you. We found the additional insight into Morello’s philosophy of songwriting and performance especially interesting. But the technical and practical content of the course is also of a very high standard indeed. This is an all-round great course from Masterclass, and is in many ways a classic offering from them. Check it out at Masterclass today.