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Tom Morello Hits Back at Guitar Center CEO's Controversial Comments About Affordable Instruments

'Rage Against the Machine won our first Grammy for "Tire Me," a song on which I played a guitar costing 40 Canadian dollars,' Morello said.

Tom Morello
Source: MEGA

Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello doesn't believe Guitar Center should stop focusing on affordable instruments.

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Should Guitar Center be focused on newbies looking for starter instruments or seasoned musicians in search of top-notch gear? The question has been making headlines in recent days.

The chain's new CEO Gabe Dalporto believes Guitar Center is too focused on casual musicians at the moment.

Lots of people disagree with the executive, who started at the company last October. Their ranks include Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who weighed in on social media.

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Guitar Center
Source: MEGA

His social media post on the matter came in response to Guitar Center CEO Gabe Dalporto's recent comments.

"Over the years, we’ve evolved significantly into serving the beginner and entry-level customer – which is great – but if you walk through a GC store, you’re going to see an awful lot of $300 guitars," Dalporto told Music Inc.

"We have some premium product, but we don’t have enough, and it’s very hard to experience our premium product because we have our best guitars locked on the top row where you can’t easily get to them.

"Somewhere along the way, we forgot who our core customer was. Our core customer is the serious musician – the gigging artist or passionate player where music is a big part of their identity."

That's why Dalporto wants stores to have "a much more premium assortment that’s more easily accessible where [customers] can get in and grab a guitar and plug it in and try all these pedals and effects and just geek out and have a great time."

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Dalporto's comments were poorly received by many X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

"Shouldn’t Guitar Center cater to all levels of guitar player?" one person said.

"He doesn’t want to sell guitars to serious musicians, he wants to sell expensive guitars to lawyers/doctors/etc.," said another.

Morello pointed out that even professional musicians don't always use expensive gear.

"Rage Against The Machine won our first grammy for 'Tire Me,' a song on which I played a guitar costing 40 Canadian dollars," he said in a tweet. "Though admittedly I’ve never really considered myself a 'serious' musician!"

Morello bought the instrument at a pawn shop in Toronto.

"I’m not even sure (if it's) made out of wood," he said in a 2021 Instagram post. He added that the Grammy-winning track was recorded with a "20 watt solid state practice amp I had in my apartment."

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Dalporto did have a few supporters on X.

"The challenge is that premium guitars need to be really well set up and have relatively fresh strings when you pull them off the wall," one person said.

"This is something GC has never been able to do and I’m not sure how they plan to. People buying premium guitars tend to go to high end shops."

Tom Morello
Source: MEGA

The executive believes the chain needs to focus more on high-end gear.

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Someone else pointed out that this doesn't have to be a zero-sum game.

"They're not going to abandon the $300 guitars. That business is very important for the future of the market," they said. "The goal is to increase the higher end in all stores and provide a great selection for every budget and level of skill."

The company that would become Guitar Center was created in 1959. It was originally called the Organ Center and focused on key instruments.


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