Tom Morello’s Marshall JCM 800 2205 50W

Tom used this Marshall as his main amp ever since 1988 when his old Marshall was stolen from his van. At that time Morello was playing in a band called Lock Up, which he joined after Mike Livingston, who was the guitarist and the original founder of the band, left in late 1987.

The reason behind that was I had to record a demo for my band on the weekend and all my gear got stolen out of my van. I only had a couple days to replace the gear and I went to the local music store in Hollywood. I went in there and they only had one Peavey cabinet, so I bought that. They had two heads, a Marshall and something else. I was suspicious of the something else so I bought the Marshall and that was it. It worked on that demo and I’ve loved the sound from that combo to this day—no magical rhyme or reason, but it has worked out for me quite well.

Tom Morello Interview by Chris Kies, Premier Guitar December 16, 2008
Tom Morello's Marshall JCM800.
Tom Morello’s Marshall JCM800.

According to the same interview linked above, Tom did some experimenting in 1988/89 but after a while decided to go back to the Marshall and Peavey combo. He played with the knobs on the amp to get the sound exactly where he wanted it, and he stuck with those exact same settings ever since.

For years I was seeking out this miraculous tone and I was banging my head against the wall trying to get all this horrible rack gear—which I thought made my sound worse—and cab/head combinations, but nothing really worked. Finally, I went back to the Marshall head and Peavey cabinet. I was at rehearsal and I spent at least four hours tweaking knobs just a hair this way and a hair that way to a point where I felt the sound was reasonable, and I marked those settings. This happened in ’88 or ‘89 and those markings are the same ones I’ve used to this day. They are the same markings/settings I used at every show and every record I’ve ever made.

Tom Morello Interview by Chris Kies, Premier Guitar December 16, 2008

Although Tom mostly uses the same exact Marshall that he bought in 1988, he has a couple of them in case something goes wrong with his main one. All of the amps have their Marshall logos covered in black tape.


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