Tom Morello’s 1982 Fender Telecaster “Sendero Luminoso”

This Telecaster was/is Tom Morellos’s main guitar for all of the songs which are played in a dropped-D tuning like “Killing in the Name” and “Testify”.

“Testify ” is my Tele in dropped D tuning with a slapback delay, through a Whammy pedal set to a [flat 7]. I’m rocking a wah pedal back and forth to give it a tornado sound.As I go through the sweep of the wah it creates all these overtones that make the sound pretty hectic.

Tom Morello, Guitar Player – July 2000
Tom Morello playing his black Fender Telecaster on
Tom Morello playing his black Fender Telecaster on “Killing in the Name” Live At Finsbury Park, London / 2010.

The guitar originates from Tom’s roommate, who at the time played in a band called “Liquid Jesus” and was in need of an amp. Tom gave him a Marshall head, and got this Telecaster in return. This happened sometime prior to 1990, although we have no exact date.

This is my main drop-D tuning guitar for my entire career. It’s an inexpensive made-in-USA Telecaster that I got, which I traded with my roommate. This is on all of the Rage, Audioslave, Street Sweeper, and Nightwatchman songs that are in drop-D tuning, like “Killing in the Name”, “Freedom”, and “Testify”.

A Tour of Tom Morello’s Guitars & Home Studio, Musician’s Friend

Specs, Decorations

Tom’s Telecaster was made in the US and features a black finish, maple neck, white pickguard, two original single-coil pickups, and a six-saddle bridge.

It is decorated with various stickers including the one which is responsible for the guitar’s nickname reading “Sendero Luminoso” – which when translated to English means “Shining Path”. This is a name of a radical organization in Peru, which is classified by the Peruvian government, the U.S., the European Union, and Canada as a terrorist organization [Shining Path – Wikipedia].

Another sticker behind the bridge shows a couple of Kenyan people holding a sign which says “Go Home Honestly, We Hate You”. This photo dates back to the 1950s and the Mau Mau Uprising that happened during the time Tom’s father was living in Kenya.


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