One of the most influential musicians of the past three decades, Tom Morello, has never been an off-the-rack kind of guitar player.
While Morello has orchestrated sonic mayhem with sundry axes over his career, few of those instruments ever made it to the stage in the form the manufacturer intended.
Morello's 'Soul Power' Fender Stratocaster is no exception. He tells Q104.3's QN'A via Fender that his famed Audioslave guitar struck him at first as being both "pretty" and "mean" when he first saw it. What he loved about the guitar in its stock form inspired him to push it more so in both of those directions with a series of modifications.
"I needed to make it my guitar," he says. "So I added the toggle switch. I added the hot pickup in the back and I added the whammy bar to be able to sort of build a bridge and a transition between my other guitars and yet something that was going to have an entirely unique [sound] ... to point towards a new batch of songs, a new batch of music."
Morello didn't put much thought into scrawling the words 'Soul Power' onto the guitar, but he's never regretted it either.
"Right away, I committed to this before we had even written a song with Audioslave," he said. "I'm like, Wherever this guitar takes me on that journey, that's where the journey is going to go as a guitarist."
The moniker continued Morello's tradition of honoring folk hero Woodie Guthrie, and it also served as a mantra for his new challenge, joining rock's most notorious rhythm section — himself, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk — with the genre's most compelling singer, Chris Cornell.
In a clever compromise, the guitar is a piece-by-piece reproduction of the monster Morello created with the exception of his calligraphy. You're free to enjoy the guitar's glossy black finish, write your own personal mantra (as he would) or affix the 'Soul Power' decal that will come with it from Fender or any authorized dealer.
After all, the soul is in the player, not the guitar.
"My first guitar cost $50, and that $50 saved my life and led me to this room today, as a means of expression, as a mean of liberation, as a means of creativity, it can provide an outlet like nothing else on the planet," he says. "To be able to provide hundreds of guitars to people who would not otherwise have them, there's no telling what repercussions that could have for creating great music or helping people in their lives."
Photo courtesy of Fender