The other day I was flipping through the latest Musicians Friend catalog for 60 seconds (too much temptation) when I stumbled upon a very interesting interview with legendary guitarist, Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave fame.


TRR126 Gear Wisdom From Rage Guitarist Tom Morello

Via Marnie Joyce

His Shocking Response

In the very first question they asked him how his guitar rig has changed over the past 20+ years of being a professional touring and recording musician. His answer was stunning:

I’ve had the same rig since prior to Rage Against The Machine. It’s the same [amp] head. It’s the same cabinet. The newest piece of gear that I have on my board is a pedal that I got in 1991. There’s a sense of comfort in not worrying about gear anymore, I’m [now] going to worry about trying to get sounds and music out of the gear that I have. – Tom Morello

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

I was totally shocked when I read his response. The same recording and touring rig for 20 years?! But he has had every opportunity to use any gear he could want and he still reaches for the same couple of guitars and the same old amp. But what’s even better is his reasoning behind it. By putting an end to the quest for perfect tone (insert “recording quality”) he has felt freed up to focus on his music. What a concept!

One of the things that has helped me creatively and helped my imagination is to have some things just be carved in stone, which has been my gear. – Tom Morello

By knowing that his gear situation was settled, Morello could move on to bigger and better things: writing, recording, and playing chart topping songs with multiple bands.

Where Is Your Heart? The Music, Or The Gear?

When I hear someone like Tom Morello say he just gave up on looking for a “better” sound and decided to just go make music it kind of resonates with me as a musician. It forces me to ask the hard question, where is my heart truly? Do I truly love making music because of the music and the impact it has in my life and in others? I’d like to think so.

But then if we question ourselves with complete transparency we might find that it’s actually the gear (guitars, drums, keys, consoles, DAWs, computers, microphones, preamps, compressors, plugins, virtual instruments, loops, speakers, etc) that we truly love. Writing and having songs to play and record simply are the fuel for our gear lust. They are a necessary evil to be able to use fun gear.

Listen To The Wisdom

I understand that this might sound like a bit exaggerated and I’m sure many of us are a foggy blend between music and gear lovers, but it always pays to listen to those with more years and experience under their belts. You will get further in your musical journey with fewer hearteaches and more of a sense of joy if you would only listen to and apply the wisdom of those who have gone before us.

Tom Morello’s gear mentality is an important one to ponder. So go do some pondering!