Tom Morello’s Ibanez Talman Custom

This guitar was custom-built for Tom by Ibanez, and it was allegedly modeled after a faulty guitar that Tom happened to come across in their shop. This particular guitar that Tom picked up made a weird high-pitched sound when the toggle was set between two pickups, the reason for which was an internal pickup that was picking up this weird noise when it wasn’t supposed to.

I noticed that when you set the toggle between the two pickup settings, there was a really peculiar, high-pitched noise,and you could manipulate the tone of it dramatically when you turned the tone knob. I asked them what the noise was, and they said it was just incidental noise, that the guitar had an internal pickup and it was picking up this weird noise that they were trying to get rid of!

I said, “Oh, no, no-come here with that one.” [laughs] I gave them an idea of what I thought was possible with that noise, and they were kind enough to custom build a guitar for me with that feature in it. It’s an Ibanez Talman.

Tom Morello, in Guitar World
Tom Morello playing his Ibanez Talman guitar, 2009. Photo by: swimfinfan/Flickr


Tom’s custom-made Ibanez Talman features a Kenyan flag finish, as a homage to Tom’s ancestry. It had a maple neck/rosewood fretboard, Ibanez Lo-Pro Edge tremolo, three single coils “lipstick” pickups, and a killswitch (please use the above photo for reference, the featured image on top/right is just a mockup and not a photo of the actual guitar).

This guitar has the colors and the insignia of Kenya. My father is Kenyan, and my great-uncle was Jomo Kenyatta who led the anti-colonial resistance, and it’s written there. I wanted a guitar that represented that, and that had all of the sound and fury of such a revolutionary event.

Tom Morello – Instagram


This guitar was used for a few RATM songs, including “Revolver” and “How I Could Just Kill a Man”, as well as for “Exploder” with the Audioslave.

It was also used to record the solo on “Born as Ghosts”, which is among Tom’s favorites.

That’s one of my favorite solos of all time! I wanted it to lurch between two wildly different sounds. The first noise I call “termites” and it was done with an Ibanez guitar.

I brought Ibanez one of my guitars that had really screwed up electronics, and asked them to figure out how it made all the non-guitar noises. I said, “Bottle that and put it into a guitar for me.” They managed to harness the cacophony of a broken pick-up and put it on a knob, like an internal noise generator. I turned that on and rocked the wah to give the termites some teeth.

Tom Morello, Guitar Player – July 2000


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