How To Play Like... Slash

The man behind the music...

When we think of innovation and talent in the guitar world, Slash is usually at the top of the list. With many years in the spotlight as the lead guitarist for Guns N' Roses, Slash left the band in 1996 to pursue a solo career after the band had musical disagreements.

Since then, Slash and two other members that left Guns N' Roses with him (Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum) have formed the very successful band, Velvet Revolver.

Born in London, England, in 1965, Slash had exposure to music from a very young age. Both of his parents worked in the music industry. His mother designed clothes for the likes of David Bowie while his father designed album covers for world famous musicians.

When Slash was eleven, he went with his Mother to Los Angeles. It's hard to believe that the rock star we know and love today had a hard time fitting in as a child. With his unique style, long hair, and laid back attitude, fitting in with the other kids wasn't an easy task.

In later years, Slash's parents broke up and he went to live with his Grandmother. His life, while we may see it as glamorous now, started like many other households around the world.

With the frustration of not fitting in and his parents broken marriage, Slash found himself riding BMX. Biking proved to be a near perfect match for Slash, that is, until he received his first guitar from his Grandmother.

The guitar she gave him wasn't exactly glamorous. It had one string remaining (low E) but he used that guitar as the foundation to his future success. After a new set of strings, Slash's priorities started to change.

His promising career as a talented BMX rider started to take a backseat to his guitar. Soon, Slash was practicing from dawn until dusk. The more he practiced, the more his school work suffered. Eventually, Slash dropped out of High School in grade eleven to pursue his dreams of stardom.

Like many guitarists, Slash came across his fair share of obstacles in the music world. After teaming up with his friend Steven Adler, he created the Road Crew. The band was made of the right material, but needed a lead singer to seal their success. That's when Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin came into the picture. They merged members and created Guns N' Roses.

The new band made airplay with the infamous song "Sweet Child O Mine." While the band was on the top of their game, Slash fell deeper into drugs and alcohol. While the entire band was using, Slash seemed to be trapped by drugs and unable to escape. It would take almost dying beside an elevator before he began to smarten up.

After years of massive success on the world stage, the band took a little break from touring. Meanwhile, Slash wanted to get back to his roots and created Snake Pit. The new band was well received and hit the road. Instead of the usual stadiums which Slash was accustomed to playing in, he preferred to stick to the local club scene where he could be more interactive with his audiences.

When Axl and the rest of the band returned to the recording studio, tension rose between Axl and the other members of the band. Axl wasn't involved with creating the record, so Slash filled the gap and produced the album himself.

Eventually, Slash left Guns N' Roses to pursue his own solo career. He did work with Alice Cooper and performed on tour with him. This wasn't enough for Slash. While he enjoyed playing with these world famous guitarists, he had the itch for another band.

The wounds were still fresh from Guns N' Roses, so Slash had the idea of creating a compilation album consisting of musicians from around the world. When he began to play with some old buddies from Guns N' Roses who also left the band, Velvet Revolver was created.

Ironically, they went through more problems with their lead singer but ended up with Scott Weiland from The Stone Temple Pilots. The band has topped the charts with hits like "Slither." You can't keep Slash down, and the creation of Velvit Revolver was living proof of that.

The technique...

If you want to play like Slash, you need to know some of his techniques. Slash was completely self taught and practiced along to his favorite bands to become a better musician. The first step you can take to become a better player is listen to a variety of music and try to play along with it.

Slash hated to replicate any guitarist, rather, he let their style influence his. That's why he wrote so many fresh licks, because he wasn't trying to be anybody but himself.

As far as scales are concerned, he relied many on the minor/major pentatonic scales in addition to some mixolydian and Dorian scales for his solos. This may come as a surprise to some, considering how overused these scales have become. The trick to keeping your sound and solos original is to use a variety of techniques coupled with your own ideas.

Slash favored vibrato and using hammer on/ pull off's to create speed. His right picking hand isn't used for speed. Instead, he uses his picking hand to add a percussive feel to his solos.

The more you change the rhythms in your solo, the more unique and intricate it will become. The solo will take on a life of its own. The bottom line is this: put your heart into the solo, add in some ordinary techniques and cool effects and you have yourself a world class solo.

The key ingredient here is practice. Regardless of what techniques you use, you have to know how to apply them in such a way as to move your audience.

The gear...

It's no secret that Slash has had a love affair with the Gibson Les Paul for quite a while. He was playing on a Jackson for a while until his manager found him a '59 Les Paul. However, it was actually a handmade copy made by luthier Chris Derrig. Slash used it for most of his gigs but retired it after too much tour abuse.

To honor Slash for playing their guitars, Gibson has released two limited-edition custom Slash Les Pauls. This is in addition to the approximate 100 guitars already in his collection!

In the studio, Slash likes to experiment with the B.C Rich Mockingbird. His live sound is always with a Les Paul.

As far as Slash's effects pedals are concerned, he takes a different approach. He uses a Dunlop Crybaby, Boss graphic EQ GE-7 and a Boss DD5 digital delay ...a very modest rig.

Now here's the surprise: He uses up to eight wah-wah pedals! Why so many? On stage, Slash likes to move around. By using so many wah-wah pedals, he can easily move around and be near one when he needs it for a solo. That way he didn't have to stand in front of a pedal waiting for the solo to come around. He only used one at a time.

As far as amps are concerned, he prefers the tone of a Marshall. Like Gibson, Marshall also has limited-edition amps in Slash's honor.

The songs...

The song that launched Slash into stardom was "Sweet Child O' Mine." This riff has become a right of passage for many guitarists. Unlike most standard guitar riffs, Sweet Child O' Mine uses some melodic arpeggiated chords found higher up on the neck.

This rhythm is the backbone to the song and has been the signature riff of the song since its creation. Without it, Guns N' Roses may have never been successful. It was the first single from the band to hit the airwaves. This rock ballad has earned the reputation as one of rock's best riffs. Try it for yourself:



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The above song is an excert from our Guitar Songs site. If you would like to learn more of the world's hottest songs, you can become a member by clicking here.


Planet Waves - Smart Tools

Whether you're changing a set of strings or trying to find a particular chord voicing, there are little frustrations around every corner. Luckily, Planet Waves has set out to solve the problems that make guitarists everywhere angry. Their new lineup of smart tools has made guitar maintenace and learning more enjoyable than ever before.

Let's start with changing strings. What are the two obstacles that waste your time? Keeping the guitar positioned properly and cutting the excess string. Planet Waves has developed two tools that can solve this problem for you. First, the Pro Winder.

The Pro Winder is designed to fit perfectly over your tuning peg. It allows you to release the tension on the old string, cut it out, and put in the new one without the need of another tool. The hardened clippers take advantage of torque, so they are not sharp and will never go dull. This means that your tool will last for decades, so long as you take care of it and don't run over it with a truck.





The next tool in our lineup keeps your guitar steady while you are doing maintenance. This portable little tripod is placed underneith the neck of your guitar and keeps it elevated. I particulalry enjoy this tool for string changes. It keeps your tuning pegs offf of the floor and the guitar doesn't move. One of the most innovative features of this smart tool is how it folds up into a little stick that can easily fit in your case or gig bag.




The Chordmaster eliminates the need to be searching through endless chord books when you want to find a chord. With over 4000 chord voicings and an intuative design your Mother could use and understand, the Chordmaster is a guitarist's best friend. Regardless of whether you're a beginner or a professional, everyone can benefit from this well designed tool. Planet Waves knew what they were doing when they created this tool and they had you on their minds when they were doing it. The Chordmaster also features a touch screen and a backlight. What more could you ask for?



...I highly recommend that you check out Planet Waves on the web to see their genius for yourself. Simply click here to go their now.

They have dozens of tools that make our lives easier as musicians. I've personally used Planet Waves equipment for years and swear by them for all of my live gigs and shows.



Unfortunately, we have come to the end of yet another Guitar Tips Newsletter. We hope that you have enjoyed this article. If there is one lesson to be learned from Slash, it's this: Never give up. Regardless of the obstacles that stand in front of you, know that you can overcome them if you practice and work towards them.

Remember, Slash sat in his room and put his guitar through its paces. While we may not have 14 hours a day to spare, try to put more time into your instrument. It might just reward you down the road.

I also wish to extend my thanks to Alex and the rest of Afterglow. I have no doubt that we'll see them again in the future. Keep in mind, we're always looking for new talent to expose. Whether you're a solo act, or you play with an orchestra, we want to hear from you.

Until next time, keep on picking.

Jordan Warford
Editorial Manager
Elmore Music Pty Ltd


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