There is no doubt Stratocasters are some of the most popular electric guitars in the world.
But there are so many models by Fender as well as other brands it’s hard to know which guitar to choose.
Depending on the type of music you play, you might prefer one Stratocaster over another.
If you’re looking for a signature guitar, the Tom Morello Strat could be the one that looks and sounds best.
The Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster is a signature guitar designed in collaboration with Tom Morello, the guitarist known for his work with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. Its hardware and tonewood make it ideal for metal and punk, and since it’s a signature guitar, it stands out from the rest.
In this individual review, I’ll share why I like the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster for metal and hard rock, and I’ll also share why the features make it one of the coolest signature guitars out there.
What is the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster?
This guitar is excellent for punk, metal, and alternative rock music.
Actually, this Fender is a reproduction of Morello’s custom Soul Power Stratocaster.
But it’s designed for those players looking to achieve the unique sounds and techniques Morello is known for.
It is a modified version of the classic Fender Stratocaster, with several unique features that are specific to Tom Morello’s playing style and sound.
The guitar features a “Soul Power” humbucking pickup in the bridge position, which Seymour Duncan specially designed to deliver high output and sustain.
It also has two Fender Vintage Noiseless single-coil pickups in the middle and neck positions, which provide authentic Stratocaster tones.
The guitar is equipped with a Floyd Rose locking tremolo system, which allows for precise tuning stability and extreme pitch bending, as well as a custom kill switch button that cuts off the sound completely when pressed.
The Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster has a distinctive “Arm the Homeless” graphic on the body, which is a reference to a phrase that Morello spray-painted on his first guitar.
Overall, the guitar is a highly versatile instrument that offers a wide range of tones and sound effects, making it an excellent choice for players who want to experiment with different styles and techniques.
Who is Tom Morello?
Tom Morello is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and political activist, best known as the guitarist of the rock bands Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave.
He was born on May 30, 1964, in Harlem, New York City.
Morello is known for his unique guitar playing style, which incorporates many effects and techniques, including heavy use of the guitar’s whammy bar and feedback.
He uses unique playing techniques and effects.
He is also known for his socially and politically conscious lyrics, which often address issues such as inequality, government oppression, and injustice.
In addition to his work with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, Morello has collaborated with numerous other musicians and bands over the years, including Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, and Dave Grohl.
He has also released several solo albums under the name The Nightwatchman, which feature more stripped-down, acoustic-based songs with a strong political message.
So any real rock and metal fan will know at least some of Morello’s music.
The Stratocaster guitar he designed in collaboration with Fender is also well-known among guitar enthusiasts and has been praised for its unique features and versatility.
Before spending your money on a pricey guitar like a signature Fender, it’s best to consider several features of the instrument and how it’s built.
Tonewood & sound
One of the best tonewoods is alder.
It is considered a good tonewood for electric guitars because of its balanced tonal qualities and its ability to emphasize the midrange frequencies.
It is a lightweight wood with a relatively low density, which allows it to resonate well and produce a bright, clear sound.
This type of wood is pretty good for a metal guitar because it’s deep and bright.
Stratocaster guitars are typically made of alder, ash, poplar, or mahogany.
Alder is the most common body wood for Fender Stratocasters and is the natural choice for any classic-sounding Strat.
Traditionally, the Stratocaster is known for the SSS pickup configuration, which means single-coil pickups.
But today, you can find Strats with HSS (humbucker in the bridge plus two single coils) as well as HH (two humbuckers) configurations.
Pickup options largely depend on personal preference and playing style.
The Tom Morello Stratocaster has an HSS configuration (Humbucker + 2 single coils), which can handle more distorted sounds.
The HSS pickup configuration (humbucker-single coil-single coil) is often considered a good choice for metal players because it provides a versatile range of tonal options that can handle the heavy distortion and high-gain sound typically associated with metal music.
Tremolo & bridge
The Stratocaster bridge and tremolo system is a signature feature of the Fender Stratocaster guitar, and it has been widely praised for its unique sound and functionality.
The Stratocaster bridge is a six-saddle synchronized tremolo bridge, which means that it has six adjustable saddles that allow the player to adjust the intonation and string height for each string individually.
This helps to ensure that each string plays in tune and has a consistent sound across the fretboard.
A tremolo system is also important because it allows the player to bend the pitch of the strings up and down, creating a distinctive vibrato effect.
The tremolo arm (also known as the whammy bar) is attached to the bridge and allows the player to control the amount and speed of the vibrato.
Fender equips their guitars with a Floyd Rose tremolo.
Look at the quality of the hardware. Usually, these higher-end Strats like the Tom Morello have amazing hardware.
Check the tuning machines: Stratocasters typically have six tuning machines, one for each string, located on the headstock.
These are used to adjust the pitch of the strings.
Look for a sturdy truss rod, a metal rod located inside the neck of the guitar that can be adjusted to control the neck’s curvature and ensure proper string action.
Then look at the control knobs: the Stratocaster typically has three control knobs, one for volume and two for tone.
These are used to adjust the sound of the guitar (learn more about the knobs on a guitar).
The bolt-on neck is the most common type you’ll find on Fender electric guitars.
When it comes to neck shape, most Strats have the modern C-shaped neck and the Tom Morello Strat is no exception.
A C-shaped neck is comfortable to play and most players like it.
This neck profile offers additional stability and it helps reduce fatigue while you play.
Fender fretboards are generally made of maple, Pau Ferro, or rosewood.
Some Strats have a maple fretboard. Maple is a light-colored wood that is known for its bright, clear tone.
Maple fretboards are smooth and fast, making them a popular choice for players who prefer a faster playing style.
Rosewood is the better alternative but this wood is pricier. Rosewood is a darker wood that is known for its warm, rich tone.
These fretboards have a slightly rougher texture than maple, which can help to produce a slightly warmer sound.
Rosewood fretboards are often found on Fender Jazzmasters, Jaguars, and other models.
Why is the Fender Tom Morello Signature Stratocaster the best for metal?
The unique features are the key draws of this guitar – it’s a bit different from other Stratocasters like the Fender Player, for example.
The double-locking Floyd Rose bridge and locking tuners make this guitar stand out.
These features allow you to maintain your tune for a longer period of time when performing those crazy whammy dives and whinnies.
The killswitch is the next item.
Tom creates the weird stuttering leads by pressing it to turn the sound off, which distinguished him from other guitarists back in the day.
You can get the sound by passing the guitar through a nice distortion pedal and slamming the switch.
But let’s explore the specs and see why this is a fantastic metal guitar (& not only a metal guitar)!
- type: solid-body
- body wood: alder
- neck: maple
- neck profile: deep C-shape
- neck type: bolt-on
- fretboard: rosewood
- pickups: 2 vintage noiseless Single-coil Pickups & 1 Seymour Duncan humbucker
- 9.5″-14″ compound radius
- 22 medium jumbo frets
- string Nut: Floyd Rose FRT 02000 Locking
- nut Width: 1.675″ (42.5 mm)
- Floyd Rose tremolo
- Soul Power decal
- Killswitch toggle
Overall, the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster is a highly versatile guitar that offers a wide range of tones and sound effects.
This makes it an excellent choice for players experimenting with different styles and techniques.
The HSS pickup configuration (humbucker-single coil-single coil) is often considered a good choice for metal players.
This is because it provides a versatile range of tonal options that can handle the heavy distortion and high-gain sound typically associated with metal music.
The humbucker pickup in the bridge position provides a thicker and hotter sound that is well-suited for heavy riffing and soloing.
It also reduces the amount of unwanted hum and noise that can be produced by single-coil pickups, which can be a problem when playing at high volumes or with a lot of gain.
The single-coil pickups in the middle and neck positions, on the other hand, provide a brighter and more articulate sound that is well-suited for clean and crunchy tones.
This allows metal players to switch between clean, crunch, and distorted sounds on the fly without having to switch guitars or pedals.
The Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster features the brand’s Vintage Noiseless Single-Coils and Seymour Duncan Hot Rails Strat SHR-1B humbucking pickup in the bridge position.
Fans call this pickup configuration the “Soul Power” HSS Pickups!
That’s because the guitar is equipped with a unique pickup configuration that includes a hot humbucking pickup in the bridge position and two single-coil pickups in the middle and neck positions.
This allows you to switch between cutting single-coils and a more aggressive humbucker for heavier tones.
Fender also offers a range of other humbucking pickups in various configurations that deliver an even wider range of tones.
Tom Morello is known for using a kill switch to create rhythmic stutters and sound effects.
The Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster includes a custom kill switch button that cuts off the sound completely when pressed.
The killswitch is a proper one; it completely silences the device while it is held depressed and resumes sound when it is released.
It’s much better than cheap killswitches on lower end guitars.
You won’t hear the “suddenly unplugged cable” noise that some less expensive killswitch circuits produce with this guitar.
Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo System
The guitar features a Floyd Rose locking tremolo system that allows for precise tuning stability and enables extreme pitch bending.
The Floyd Rose tremolo system is important for metal guitarists for several reasons:
- Increased stability: The Floyd Rose system is designed to stay in tune even with heavy use of the tremolo bar, making it a popular choice for metal guitarists who use a lot of dive bombs and other dramatic effects.
- Greater range of pitch: The Floyd Rose system allows the player to raise or lower the pitch of the strings by several steps, giving them a greater range of notes to work with.
- Durable and reliable: The Floyd Rose system is built to withstand the rigors of metal playing, with a sturdy design that can handle heavy use and abuse.
- Customizable: The Floyd Rose system can be adjusted to suit the player’s preferences, including the springs’ tension and the bridge’s height.
Overall, the Floyd Rose tremolo system is an important tool for metal guitarists who want to achieve a wide range of sounds and effects, while maintaining the stability and durability necessary for the genre.
The Tom Morello Strat has a C-shaped neck.
This a popular guitar neck profile that has a slightly rounded back, resembling the shape of the letter “C”. There are a few reasons why a C-shaped neck is often preferred by guitar players:
- Comfort: The rounded back of a C-shaped neck fits comfortably in the player’s hand, allowing for a more natural and relaxed grip. This can reduce fatigue during long playing sessions and make it easier to play more complex chords and melodies.
- Versatility: A C-shaped neck can be comfortable for players with a variety of hand sizes and playing styles. It’s a good all-around neck profile that can work well for a variety of musical genres and techniques.
- Stability: The slight curvature of the C-shaped neck helps to reinforce the neck against bending, warping, or twisting, which can help to ensure that the guitar stays in tune and plays smoothly over time.
- Tradition: The C-shaped neck is a classic design used on many popular guitar models for decades, including the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster. Many players simply prefer the feel and sound of a C-shaped neck, which has become a defining characteristic of many iconic guitar sounds.
Also, this guitar has a bolt-on neck which makes it sturdy and long-lasting but easy to repair in case of problems down the road.
The Tom Morello Stratocaster has a rosewood fretboard.
Rosewood is a popular choice among metal guitarists for a few reasons:
- Warm tone: Rosewood is known for its warm, rich tone, which can add depth and complexity to a guitar’s sound. This can be particularly useful in metal music, where a warm, full-bodied tone can help to balance out the sometimes harsh, high-gain distortion used in the genre.
- Smooth feel: Rosewood has a slightly porous surface that can help to absorb moisture and oil from the player’s fingers, making it feel smooth and comfortable to play. This can be beneficial for metal guitarists, who often use fast, technical playing styles that require a high level of precision and accuracy.
- Durability: Rosewood is a hard, dense wood that is resistant to wear and tear, making it a durable choice for a fretboard. This can be especially important for metal guitarists, who often play with heavier strings and use techniques such as palm-muting and string-bending that can put extra strain on the fretboard.
Overall, while rosewood is not the only good choice for a metal guitar fretboard, its warm tone, smooth feel, and durability make it a popular choice among many metal guitarists.
Finish, appearance and playability
The Tom Morello Stratocaster is finished in a glossy black polyester.
The mirrored chrome pickguard is what quickly sets this instrument apart from comparable ones.
It resembles the original Soul Power in every way. Moreover, you get a decal of the recognizable Soul Power emblem in case you like the precise appearance.
In terms of looks, this guitar will look amazing on stage while gigging and performing.
When it comes to playability, I have some thoughts.
That is a fashionable and intricate guitar, but can the playability support that? Fender has clearly made some strides in this area.
The neck features a contemporary C-shaped contour that is rather deep and intended for all-day comfort.
The compound-radius fretboard is a good addition too. In essence, it is flatter near the pickups and rounder toward the headstock.
As a result, playing open chords becomes simpler, and the upper frets are optimized for quick runs without slips or fret buzz.
The medium-jumbo frets and modest 1.65 inch (41.9 millimeter) nut width of the Tom Morello Stratocaster should make it very comfy and playable for most hands.
This must be a contributing factor to the fact that authentic Fender Strats are among the most often used guitars.
I want to mention that action on the strings is balanced. Also, the double-action truss rod enables you to change it to the perfect setting.
So, my overall impression is that this is a playable guitar with great tone for heavier musical styles!
What others are saying
Customers who bought this guitar are quite impressed by it.
Here’s what one player says about the Tom Morello Stratocaster:
“The “Soul Power” Stratocaster is an amazing guitar, a MUST have for any Tom Morello fan! Fender did a great job with this, everything looks and sounds superb! All the pickups on this sound good and you can get just about any sound you are looking for, the added KILL SWITCH is fun to play with too!”
Amazon reviews are mostly positive too, here’s what one customer had to say:
“Great sound!!! Pick ups are amazing. If you use the toggle switch a lot your going to need to adjust it, usually tighten it a little bit, but other than that great! Oh and if this is your first guitar with a floyd rose. Get ready to watch alot of youtube videos on how to adjust it. But once you figure it out it’s fun!”
This is one of those guitars better suited for intermediate and experienced players because of the HSS pickup configuration and features.
But beginners can also learn if they have some guidance.
The main criticism of this guitar is that this model is not an authentic 100% replica of Morello’s original Soul Power.
But I’m not sure Tom wants everyone figuring out his playing style and secrets. So, while this Fender Strat is a good copy, it’s not quite like the original.
Who is the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster for?
The Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster is ideal for modern rock and metal players as it has a wide range of tones that can handle heavier styles of music.
Players who want to explore different sounds and textures will appreciate the versatility of this guitar.
It’s also a great option for those who want to get a bit of the vintage Strat sound.
Overall, the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster is an excellent guitar for modern players who want to explore a variety of tones and textures.
With its range of single-coil and humbucking pickups, it can easily handle a variety of musical styles.
It’s the perfect guitar for those who want to explore different sounds and textures and still get that classic Strat sound.
Who is the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster not for?
The Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster is not for players who are looking for a more traditional sound.
If you want to keep your playing style firmly rooted in the classic Strat sound and don’t want to delve into heavier tones, this guitar might not be the best fit for you.
It’s a bit too specific and if you’re not even a Tom Morello fan, you might not be interested in the ‘in your face’ design details like the decal.
For those who prefer a more vintage sound, Fender offers several other Stratocaster models which feature the classic Strat tone.
What is the history of the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster?
The Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster is the result of a collaboration between the legendary guitarist and Fender.
The guitar was first announced at the NAMM Show in 2019 and has since become a popular choice among guitarists looking to emulate Morello’s unique playing style.
Then the guitar was released in 2020 and it quickly became a best-seller because Morello has many fans around the world!
What is a signature guitar?
A signature guitar is a unique instrument that has been co-designed by a guitar player and a musical instrument company.
It’s a special model that bears the name of the musician, who is usually a popular artist with a large following.
Signature guitars are usually electric or acoustic, and they come in a variety of finishes and styles.
They often feature custom pickups, bridges, and other hardware, as well as special features like vibratos and tailpieces.
Whether a beginner or a pro, a signature guitar can be a great way to show off your style and make your mark in the music world.
Where is the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster made?
The Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster is made in Mexico.
This is a country that some American brands choose for building really good, but cheaper guitars.
You can expect a guitar that offers a good price-quality relationship, although it may not have the same quality control as those made in Japan or the United States.
Alternatives and comparisons
Now it’s time to compare the Tom Morello Stratocaster to other Strats and see how they differ.
Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster vs Fender American Ultra
If you’re looking for a guitar that will make you stand out from the crowd and have you shredding like a pro, you can’t go wrong with the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster or the Fender American Ultra.
But which one is right for you?
Let’s take a look at the differences between these two guitars and see which one is the best fit for you.
The Tom Morello Stratocaster is the perfect choice for the rocker who wants to make a statement.
With its bright red finish and signature pickguard, it will turn heads.
It’s also got a unique pickup configuration, with two humbuckers and a single-coil in the middle, giving you a wide range of tones to choose from.
Here are the 2 main differences to note:
The Tom Morello Stratocaster features a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails bridge humbucker and two Fender Noiseless pickups, while the American Ultra features three Ultra Noiseless Vintage pickups.
The Hot Rails pickup on the Tom Morello Stratocaster provides a high-output sound well-suited for heavy distortion and rock playing styles.
In contrast, the Ultra Noiseless Vintage pickups on the American Ultra offer a more traditional, vintage-inspired tone.
Neck shape and profile
The Tom Morello Stratocaster features a modern “C”-shape neck profile with a 9.5″ radius fingerboard, while the American Ultra features a “Modern D” neck profile with a 10″ to 14″ compound-radius fingerboard.
The Tom Morello Stratocaster’s neck is slightly slimmer and more comfortable for fast playing styles, while the American Ultra’s neck is wider and more rounded for a more traditional feel.
So, which one should you choose?
Well, if you’re looking for a guitar that will make you stand out from the crowd and have you shredding like a pro, the Tom Morello Stratocaster is the way to go.
But if you want a guitar that can do it all and look good doing it, the American Ultra is the one for you. So, choose wisely, rockers!
Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster vs Fender Player Electric HSS Guitar Floyd Rose
If you’re looking for a guitar that can do it all, you’ve got two great options: the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster and the Fender Player Electric HSS Guitar Floyd Rose.
But which one is right for you? Let’s take a look at the differences between these two guitars and see what they have to offer.
The Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster is a classic rocker’s dream.
It has a classic look, with a vintage-style tremolo bridge and a three-ply pickguard.
It also has a unique pickup configuration, with two single-coil pickups and a humbucker in the bridge position.
This gives it a wide range of tones, from bright and twangy to fat and crunchy.
The Fender Player Electric HSS Guitar Floyd Rose, on the other hand, is a modern shredder’s dream.
It has a sleek, modern look, with a Floyd Rose tremolo bridge and a single-ply pickguard.
It also has a unique pickup configuration, with two humbuckers and a single-coil in the bridge position.
This gives it a wide range of tones, from thick and heavy to bright and shimmering.
So, which one should you choose? Well, it really depends on what kind of sound you’re looking for.
If you’re a classic rocker, the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster is the way to go.
But if you’re a modern shredder, the Fender Player Electric HSS Guitar Floyd Rose is the perfect choice.
Either way, you can’t go wrong!
Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster vs Fender Deluxe Stratocaster
The Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster and Fender Deluxe Stratocaster are two popular models of the iconic Fender Stratocaster guitar.
Here are some of the key differences between these two models:
The Tom Morello Stratocaster features a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails bridge humbucker and two Fender Noiseless pickups, while the Deluxe Stratocaster features three Vintage Noiseless pickups.
The Hot Rails pickup on the Tom Morello Stratocaster provides a high-output sound that is well-suited for heavy distortion and rock playing styles, while the Vintage Noiseless pickups on the Deluxe Stratocaster offer a more traditional, vintage-inspired tone.
Neck shape and profile
The Tom Morello Stratocaster features a modern “C”-shape neck profile with a 9.5″ radius fingerboard, while the Deluxe Stratocaster features a “Modern C” neck profile with a 12″ radius fingerboard.
The Tom Morello Stratocaster’s neck is slightly slimmer and more comfortable for fast playing styles, while the Deluxe Stratocaster’s neck is slightly wider and more rounded for a more traditional feel.
The Tom Morello Stratocaster features a Floyd Rose locking tremolo system, which allows for precise tuning and provides excellent stability even during extreme playing techniques such as dive bombs and tremolo picking.
On the other hand, the Deluxe Stratocaster features a two-point synchronized tremolo system, which is more traditional and provides a more subtle vibrato effect.
Overall, the Tom Morello Stratocaster is better suited for players looking for a guitar with high output pickups and a locking tremolo system for heavy distortion and rock playing styles.
The Deluxe Stratocaster is better suited for players who prefer a more traditional, vintage-inspired sound and playing experience.
The Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster is the perfect guitar for modern rock and metal players.
It features a wide range of tones and textures which can handle heavier styles of music.
With its combination of single-coil and humbucking pickups, it delivers an array of sounds that make it a great choice for those who want to explore different sounds and textures.
The guitar looks and feels nice and the design details are inspired by Morello’s iconic style.
This makes it a great option for fans of Tom Morello, but those looking for a more classic Strat sound may want to look elsewhere.
Overall, the Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster is an impressive guitar that offers a range of tones and textures that makes it perfect for modern players who want to explore different sounds.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:Subscribe