Tom Morello: Guitarists Should ‘Play Crappy Tones’ To Become Great

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In a recent discourse with Classic Rock, Tom Morello, the maestro guitarist of Rage Against The Machine, shared insights into refining one’s guitar prowess. His journey spans illustrious collaborations with bands such as Audioslave, the E Street Band, and Prophets Of Rage, in addition to his foundational role in RATM.

Morello divulged an unconventional approach to mastering the guitar, which he whimsically termed ‘Crappy.’ He narrated his odyssey of abandoning the quest for an elusive ‘magical tone’ that resided only in his imagination. Embracing the imperfect tone he possessed, Morello resolved to cease his fret over the ideal sound, opting instead to create compelling music with whatever tone was at his disposal. This epiphany catalyzed the iconic sound of Rage Against The Machine.

The catalyst for Morello’s ascension in guitar mastery was not an inherent talent from infancy but a revelation in his late teens. Initiating his guitar journey at seventeen, Morello adhered to a sage piece of counsel from a seasoned high school guitarist, treating it as sacrosanct doctrine.

This advice, centered on the virtue of unwavering practice, became his guiding principle. By dedicating a minimum of one hour daily to honing his craft, he observed a significant enhancement in his skills. This realization propelled him to increment his practice time, ultimately reaching an astounding eight hours daily. Such relentless dedication persisted even during his tenure at an Ivy League university, carving out time from the early hours of 1am to 5am for practice, a testament to his unwavering commitment to excellence.

The narrative of Rage Against The Machine, co-founded by Morello along with Zack de la Rocha, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk in the early ’90s, is marked by tumultuous phases, including disbandments and reunions. The band’s journey was fraught with internal discord, culminating in de la Rocha’s departure in 2000 due to unresolved conflicts.

This led to the formation of Audioslave with Chris Cornell, a venture that persisted until 2007. Despite a momentous reunion in 2007, culminating in a series of tours and a final performance at L.A Rising in 2011, the band faced another hiatus. 2020 heralded a brief resurgence with the Public Service Announcement tour, only for the ensemble to announce in 2023, through Wilk, that their era of live performances and tours had ceased, leaving their future endeavors in music uncertain.

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