As mentioned in our coverage of Buddy Guy’s 80th birthday blowout, legendary Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello was present. Renowned the world over for his aggressive guitar playing–sometimes crunchy and melodic; sometimes screechy and DJ-derivative–it was shocking to hear that, to him, gear is irrelevant.
“My take on gear is that it does not matter—at all—ever—in any circumstance,” he told Red Bull TV, according to an article by Guitar World. Morello has apparently been using the same gear for 28 years; his famous “Arm the Homeless” guitar was custom-made for him. The results were not good.
“It stunk,” Morello said, going on to recount constantly tinkering away at it–even going as far as switching out the neck ten times.
The purpose of the exercise was tone:
…[F]inally one day I gave up. I spent a couple of hours at rehearsal, I marked the settings on my amp. I got it as good as I could…This is the tone I have, so what are the songs that I’m gonna make with this?
Though seemingly restrictive, the conclusion that Morello draws is really an exercise in relativity. He simply would’ve written different songs if he had different gear or guitar sound. It makes for great reading–and viewing; the video is below.