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Sound Like Slash: For Under £1000

Sound Like Slash: For Under £1000

Appetite For Tone.

We all know Slash as the top hat-wearing, cowboy boot walking, Les Paul slinging guitar god of the late '80s; churning out iconic licks and riffs whilst effortlessly shredding his way through classic Guns N' Roses anthems such as 'Welcome To The Jungle,' 'November Rain,' 'Dust N' Bones,' 'Sweet Child O' Mine' and more. But what we all want to know is, how does he create that legendary sound?

Through the years of debauchery and rock 'n roll excess, Slash's tone has remained in a constant state of evolution and yet has retained all the hallmarks of what made it so iconic when he first exploded into rock history in 1987. Erupting onto the airwaves in the late '80s as a whirling hurricane of uncensored energy and rage borne of life in the city and youthful excesses, the unmistakable incendiary Slash sound of cranked Les Pauls and Marshall stacks was fuelled by a bluesy soul, colliding with the vicious snarl and rabid bite of a bloodthirsty hunger to drag rock 'n roll back from the ropes under the knockout blow of glitz and glam-metal, and come out swinging.

However, toward the '90s and the gargantuan era of the Use Your Illusions albums, the unmistakable Slash tone matured into a pounding and refined metallic beast; adopting a more fluid and legato approach to his lead playing, adopting FX that became an integral part of his arsenal, whilst reptilian-like riffs à la 'You Could Be Mine' crept and crawled underneath crushing backbeats like mechanical beasts.

Legend has it that these tones were conceived by a once in lifetime 1959 Les Paul Standard copy, crafted by mythical Massachusetts luthier Kris Derrig and plugged into a hot-rodded Marshall JCM800 that was never to be seen again (one of the most fascinating pieces of GNR trivia is the Les Paul responsible for the iconic 'Appetite For Destruction' tone wasn't actually a Gibson, but a replica!) The magic of which the tones have never been replicated or heard again. And whilst we'd all love to replicate that sound note for note, unfortunately, some tones remain upon the pillars of greatness, untouchable to us mere mortals and we can only seek to covet our idols in the most affordable ways possible, so we'll run you through the best ways to sound like Slash for under £1000!

Vintage V100AFD

What better way to nail those quintessential Slash vibes than with a battered and beaten Les Paul style, slung way down to your knees, ready to tear your way through Sunset Strip anthems. Sporting a solid mahogany body with maple cap and matching '50s "C" profile mahogany neck, getting those huge, swooping bends that sustain for days before decaying into that magic zone of rich harmonic overtones is pure joy. Think of those massive solos in 'Estranged' or the wailing war cries of 'It's So Easy.'

Not only that, but matching medium-high output zebra style Wilkinson WVHZ Double Coil humbuckers kick out some pure, raw dirt if you really want to crank them, spitting venomous riffs and crunch off of the bridge, whilst switching to the neck pickup will cry deliciously warm and smooth licks that effortlessly drench the 22 fret fingerboard with soul. Modern appointments really add to the responsiveness and diversity of the guitar, with a Graphtec Nubone nut ensuring strong, stable tuning and rich harmonics across the full spectrum of the fretboard.

Another super cool touch we absolutely love, is the offset heel giving players even greater potential and comfort when twiddling away at the higher frets. Top marks on the other hand, have to be awarded to the stunning tiger stripe style Flamed Amber finish, a real homage to the original 'Appetite' sessions Les Paul, which Slash has claimed is now retired, making the V100AFD a real classic!

Pro Tip: 'Sweet Child O'Mine'

If you really want to nail the iconic sound of 'Sweet Child O' Mine,' the answer lies in your tone control! People often mistake the whirling riff to be played on the neck pickup, but listen carefully and you'll find it's actually played on the bridge with the tone rolled all the way off! Keep your volume ringing loud, but if you have a valve amp really max out the master volume and use little pre-amp gain, too much though and you've lost it! The capacity of the power amp running at full will distort your tone naturally, giving you that gorgeous cascading sound and clarity. Be generous with the mid-range and volume control as this is where the magic of the Slash tone really shines. Find the sweet spot, add a generous reverb and you've got it!


Check Out Alternative Vintage Options Here!

Add Some Style! Perri's Leather Guitar Strap Guns N' Roses Red


Blackstar ID-Core Stereo 10V2 Sugar Skull

Great tone doesn't begin and end with the guitar you're using, so it's worth investing some time and research into great amps too. Fortunately, Blackstar produces some absolutely belting amps capable of monstrous tones, from sparkling cleans to brutal distortion. And generally, when it comes to nailing the Slash tone you're going to need an amp that's capable of the lot. Blackstar are one of our favourites when it comes to amps as they live and breathe classic British tone, just a stone's throw away from the huge walls of Marshall JCM800's you'd see lining stages.

Digital amps can be a minefield for new and experienced users alike, with some amps heavily relying on digital FX and gizmos to flaunt their power, often resulting in over-saturated, artificial crud. ID-Core's however, make it easy to dial in realistic and natural tones quickly without the need to squash and camouflage your natural sound!

Towards the early '90s as Guns N' Roses evolved into the behemoth of the Use Your Illusions era, Slash generally swayed toward a heavier, more saturated and focused tone; and that means more gain. The awesome part about the ID-Core series is the ISF control, which allows you to switch between that crunchy and snappy, British inspired Marshall overdrive, to molten hot American distortion (compare the tones of 'Out Ta Get Me' on 'Appetite For Destruction' with the 'Use Your Illusion 1' deep cut 'Perfect Crime', and you'll hear the transition to a heavier, screaming metallic tone.).

Not only does this equate to a more dynamic and versatile amp in general, but it means plugging in and dialling in awesome tones quickly is easier than ever. Combine this with 6 presets and 12 digital FX for extra-curricular experimentation and you've got the perfect little amp to jam with at home. Just plug your music in, put your headphones on and whisk yourself away to rock stardom. Oh, and why get the standard version when you can get the ultra-rock 'n roll chic sugar skull design?

Pro Tip: 'The Garden'

For this Guns N' Roses classic you'll need to utilise two separate amp channels, one for a warm, soothing clean tone and one for a no holds barred distortion channel. Use your clean channel and roll of the volume for the softer parts of the song before kicking into the super crunch setting. The secret here is to use both humbuckers, rolling off the tone on the neck for clean passages, before switching to the bridge and employing an aggressive pick attack, emphasising those erratic ghost notes Slash tends to throw into rhythms sporadically.

Roll-off the low end and heavily push mid and treble frequencies on the amp (but remember, too much will kill your tone). The result being the typical choked and scratchy sound of the 'UYI' and 'Spaghetti Incident' era. Rumour has it that Slash even had a wah pedal permanently cocked slightly in the open position to really emphasise that nasal, choked sound, try it out yourself!

Use the amp's digital power to your advantage and experiment with quite a focused, yet roomy reverb, matched with a subtle stereo slapback delay to really beef up your tone and embrace the stadium vibes!


VOX V845 Wah

You're not going anywhere without this! Probably one of the worlds most famous pedals, the wah has become synonymous with rock guitar and has been a staple on the pedalboards of guitarists around the globe for decades, including Zakk Wylde, Gary Moore, Jimi Hendrix, Kirk Hammett and Slash himself.

Although Slash regularly uses a Jim Dunlop CryBaby wah as his go-to, for all intents and purposes and keeping our rig budget-friendly, we've picked out the Vox V845. An absolutely stunning pedal in its own right, the V845 can nail any sound from funk & soul all the way through to the heavy rock tones of Slash and beyond. Ever wondered why wah-based solos always sound so killer and you find yourself mimicking every note while shredding air guitar? One of the really cool secrets about wah pedals is the circuits often employ a subtle gain stage, meaning when the wah is activated it actually also acts as a boost pedal. So not only do you get that awesome 'wacka-wacka' effect, but you actually get a slight boost tonally and dynamically, giving solos a real kick and that unmistakable face curdling tone.

We love the simplicity in the Vox design, it looks cool as hell and its vintage-style voicing gives it a more subtle wah effect to roll back the years naturally, rather than using an aggressive curve and gain stage which can often result in a cacophony of uninterpretable noise and players hiding behind their wah because they've messed up their part!

Pro tip: 'Slither'

For this Velvet Revolver dirge anthem, you'll want to keep your wah set to a fairly wide spectrum. And when that first note of the solo hits, kick the wah all the way open and let that note breathe! Float in and out of that fully open position and ride the wave of the wah, add some tasty vibrato and that bend will really scream. There really are no rules when it comes to wah but think of it as a pseudo-percussive instrument. While playing, emphasise hitpoints and really open it up wide at those big moments, use the pedal as a tool to vocalise your expression while feeding off of the drumbeat to nail those extreme accents.


TC Electronic Flashback Delay x4

An essential part of Slash's rig is the humble delay pedal, and while the idea of the pedal remains simple, the essence of its spirit lies in how creatively it's used. Delays can be used to create huge soundscapes or create the illusion of a waterfall of notes tumbling downward in a vibrant flourish of colour. On the other hand in a more practical sense, delays can be used to fatten up guitar tones, whether by using stereo functions to spread the sound of a guitar over to separate amps, split by fractions of a second to create a wall of sound, or alternatively to subtly thicken solos with a dollop of slapback.

The Flashback is truly one of the most creative and ingenious delays currently on the market. Featuring time, blend, modulation and feedback controls, as well as a true bypass function for terrific natural response, you can really get creative with the simple yet potentially mind-boggling palette of effects at your disposal. The coveted 2290/Modulation function is also a really cool addition as it allows you to fatten up those delayed notes further for some real '80s attitude ('Think About You' anyone?).

Pro Tip: 'Welcome To The Jungle'

Employing one of his favourite secret weapons, Mike Clink actually used a Roland SRV-2000 Digital Reverb while producing 'Appetite For Destruction,' with the pedal playing an integral part in the overall guitar sound. By using a secret control function, the pedal actually converts to a delay which fuelled the iconic sound of the intro riff (fun fact: the distinctive SRV-2000 tone can actually be heard on the opening riff to 'Sweet Child O' Mine too).

The music world had never really heard anything so iconic, raw and guttural to come out of popular music since Aerosmith 'Rocks,' and 'Welcome To The Jungle' swiftly introduced the band as a force to be reckoned with, as tales of street life, excess and anarchy rapidly cemented their reputation as the worlds most dangerous band, all within those three jagged notes echoing mysteriously into the jungle.

The secret to nailing the intro riff is to set the controls to a dotted eighth note delay with around 4-6 repeats and a 50/50 wet/dry mix for a blend of rhythmic delays and gritty decay. Try to articulate notes as clearly as possible by muting some notes while letting others ring naturally. This technique really adds plus points for that living, breathing suspense you want to create before the riff drops.


Xvive Dynarock Pedal By Thomas Blug

A really handy tool to have in your arsenal at all times is the overdrive pedal, and like the wah these can really transform lacklustre solos into incendiary beasts. The Dynarock gives you the perfect balance of natural tone and grit to push your tone over the edge when you really need a dose of aggression. Accurately emulating the warm tones of valve amps, you can easily turn lifeless distortion channels into mutant behemoths without sacrificing dynamics or rich, harmonic clarity. To put it simply, if you want to turn it up to 11, get your hands on one of these.

Pro Tip: 'Life's Sweet Drug'

Keep it simple with this one, but try kicking the pedal on and off when it comes to playing the main riff and chorus for some extra beef. What you don't want to do is push the pedal too far and kill your sound, so let's keep it nice and natural as what we want to do is push the amp and harness the pedals ability to emulate true valve tones. Dial-in the drive to around 3 or 4, hit the mid boost and keep the volume level at 12 o'clock. Try it with and without the pedal and hear the huge difference a little boost can do when tastefully dialled in!


TC Electronic Afterglow Chorus

The Afterglow Chorus was designed specifically with the vintage aficionado in mind and serves up a variety of time-honoured modulation tones reminiscent of rock 'n roll's heyday. Its all analogue circuit uses a Bucket-Brigade Device (BBD) to create a wide range of fruity modulation tones, from the smallest shudder to wildest 'Every Rose Has Its Thorn' wobble. What's great about the Afterglow, is that not only does it smash classic Slash tones that we want to achieve but it takes it one step further and will happily take on heavy lifting duties for songs that lean heavily on chorus as a staple effect, try playing 'Nothing Else Matters' by Metallica without chorus, then play it with chorus and you'll watch all those wasted years flash before your eyes.

Pro Tip: 'Paradise City'

There's no mistaking that euphoric chime as the opening notes ring out to announce the '80s battle cry of 'Paradise City.' Three chords made eternally famous by five rockers in a van, adlibbing to a jangly country guitar riff originally intended as a joke, quickly mutated into one of the greatest rock songs ever written and an anthem for generations to follow. The secret to nailing this iconic riff is not only to articulate the arpeggio riff distinctly, but throw in some chorus for a bit of liquid oomph and it's 1987 all over again. You really only need to use the chorus to add a little shimmer to a heavily reverbed clean, compressed guitar tone, but it's the effect it creates which gives it real power, without it's just not the same. Dial the depth to around 2-3 o'clock, rate to around 11 o'clock and dial the mix control to wherever feels best to you (remember, a little modesty goes a long way with FX).


Why Not Add? Guns N' Roses Anthology Songbook

So there you have it, our definitive guide to getting that monstrous Slash tone on a budget! And while the list isn't exhaustive, it's truly yours to experiment with and see what works best in your setup, tone starts with you! Take things out, put things in, it's all rock 'n roll baby!