Famously known as Slash of Guns N’ Roses fame, Saul Hudson is one of the most recognizable rock staples ever to have lived. He was born into a family of artists before picking up the guitar and moving to Los Angeles. Everyone knows Slash as the man in the hat, and for his collection of Gibson Les Paul guitars.
When Guns N’ Roses released their first album title Appetite for Destruction they didn’t realize they would soon become of the biggest bands in the entire world. They still hold the title of the best-selling debut album for any American in recording history. Following on from the success of the band, Slash became a beloved icon for his rock guitar and wound up being an ambassador for brands such as Epiphone, Gibson and Marshall amps.
Slash is most known for playing Les Pauls guitars on stage and these have been his main instrument both in concert and in the studio. As the years have gone by there have been several Les Paul guitars made by Gibson with Slash’s signature design including an entire collection named after him.
Behind the scenes, Hudson has a great collection of Gibson Les Paul guitars. He embraces other makes and models and you can find the full list of these in our guide below on what kind of guitar does Slash play.
Les Paul Standard – Replica by Kris Derrig #90607
Years used – 1986 to Present
When Slash was recording the first album with Guns N’ Roses he was becoming increasingly frustrated with his equipment. He wasn’t happy with the sound he was getting from his Jackson and B.C. Rich guitars. The manager at the time, Alen Niven, noticed how fed up he was getting and decided to buy Slash two Les Paul replicas. These were purchased from Jim Foote and were instruments that were made by experienced luthier Kris Derrig.
There’s not much information out there about this guitar and how it was made but we do know that it didn’t have any pickups on it at the time of purchase. Right before it was going to be used some Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups were added. Alen said that Slash fell in love with the guitar instantly and he kept this Les Paul for many years. He would continue to use it even after he left Guns N’ Roses for the first time.
There’s been a lot of highs and lows for slash when it came to this Kris Derrig Gibson Les Paul model. A fan actually stole it once during a concert but Slash managed to recover it thanks to their security team. Another time the neck of the guitar actually broke and this was during the tour that he did after he released his first solo album. Ever since then Slash has kept it stored away and is the centerpiece of his entire collection.
1987 Gibson Les Paul
Years used – 1987 to 1998
When Gun N’ Roses had such a huge success on the release of their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, Slash began to use the original Gibson Les Paul guitars. He was tired of his old B.C. rich and wanted to be cautious using his replica Les Pauls because of their modifications. So, Slash felt that it was time to get himself a backup guitar in early 1987 that was made to a high quality that he could use on the promotional tour for the album.
According to the New York Times best selling biography about the band titled Watch You Bleed, Slash sought out two Les Pauls that were factory seconds. Each electric guitar got some modifications and a new paint job – one was with his classic sunburst finish and the other had a mild yellow sunburst. Both guitars had their pickups removed and replaced with Alnico II Pro humbuckers. These guitars were so good that Slash played them in concert and kept his old replicas safe back at home. They would only come out again to record the Use Your Illusion album.
As far as guitars go, these two saw it all. At one point Guns N’ Roses were considered to be ‘the world’s most dangerous band’ and these instruments really suffered along the way. One got its neck completely battered while the other one was stolen along with a lot of band gear when they were in a shared apartment. Later on Slash got another Gibson Les Paul with the same sunburst finish so it looked pretty much the same as the old guitar.
If you look at the yellow sunburst guitar you may notice that this was the one Slash would use in the Welcome to the Jungle video. The more vivid red sunburst electric guitar is seen in the video for Sweet Child O’ Mine. Slash’s guitars of the set of 87 would be used a lot until the end of the 90’s when he swapped over to more modern guitars and played with other musicians.
1966 Gibson EDS-1275
Years used – 1989 to Present
Despite barely being used over the years, this double-neck Gibson Les Paul guitar would briefly earn Slash the title of being Jimmy Page’s successor. It’s one of the most well-known guitars in his catalog. He reportedly acquired the instrument shortly after the first album became such a success because Gibson as a brand was eager to work with Slash as their frontman. In an interview with Slash, he said that he didn’t have anything to do with the buying process – he would hand this task over to his guitar technician who would pick the electric and acoustic guitars for the road.
When the guitar first emerged on the scene in 1963 it was dubbed to be ‘the coolest guitar in rock’. It was the first double-neck guitar that Gibson Les Paul would make. The EDS-1275 has both 490 and 498 Alnico humbucking pickups in both bodies as well as two volume and tone control knobs. There is also a three-way pickup selector switch. The main body of the piece is made from solid mahogany which was used for all Les Paul standard models before 1998.
Anyone who is a fan of Slash or Guns N’ Roses will know that this is one of his most iconic guitars from the height of the band’s fame. He used the piece for the cover of Knocking on Heaven’s Door which became a staple for their live shows as the band said goodbye to their audiences.
Slash still treats this guitar as one of the most precious ones in his collection. While he tends to use other Gibson Les Paul pieces to play with, this one is iconic because of the upwards trajectory it created in rock history. Recently Gibson issues a special model of this guitar where they only made 250 of them, giving Slash guitar number one.
1987 Gibson Les Paul Standard
Years Used – 1992 to Unknown
Slash would say that this was his first Gibson guitar, even though a lot of other pieces from his collection have been given this title. He got the guitar in 1992 but we’re still unsure of when his first proper introduction is. The topic is a tad blurry.
The guitar was immediately recognized as being to Slash’s preference. It had an Alnic II setup and a mahogany black finish which contrasted nicely with the yellow binding. He never really used this one as a studio guitar, although it would be one of the instruments in rotation during the Use Your Illusion tour when he received the piece in 1992. We’re unsure if this is the same guitar he uses these days as what happened to the original instrument is unknown.
Les Paul Standard – Replica by Max Baranet
Years used – 1986 to Present
Slash would receive three guitars from Howie Hubberman and this was one of those that he got after selling his original Hunterburst Les Paul. The story goes that Slash was desperate when he was contacted by Guitars R Us, telling him there was a replica available that was similar to his first model. He agreed to pay the full asking price of $2600 for the instrument and it took him two years to pay this off in full.
It’s the specs of this piece that are so special. The maple back features an image of skull and crossbones which are natural to the finish. It’s not known whether this was intentional or not. When it came to the pickups, Hubberman would only agree to give Slash the guitar without receiving full payment if he kept the original PAF humbuckers that were on it. He agreed and the pickups were removed, to be replaced at Roman Rist for some Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro’s instead.
The guitar was mainly used for touring and Slash apparently used it to record Paradise City. You see it a lot throughout the guitarist’s career. Much like the Kris Derrig replica, Les Paul named the finish ‘Appetite Burst’ yellow and the skull drawing would become a signature.
1970s Memphis Les Paul
Years used – 1978 to 1981
Slash learned how to play shreds and blues licks for the first time on the 1970s Memphis Les Paul model which would form a lifelong relationship with the band. It was in the late 70s that Slash would pick up his first ever electric guitar after only playing an acoustic guitar before. He started his first band called Tidus Sloan in 1981.
Memphis Les Paul copy their guitar specs most of the time. They are built with mahogany back and necks, a maple top and generic humbucker pickups. While we’re unsure whether this is the vert first of the Memphis models Slash had, it’s more than likely that it is.
1978/79 B.C. Rich Mockingbird
Years used – 1981 to Unknown
This was known as the actual Tidus Sloan guitar. The B.C. Rich Mockingbird is a six-string instrument that was the first high-end model that Slash got after years of working with his Memphis copy. It is alleged that this is one of the three instruments the artist saved up for during two years living in Los Angeles. When you look at the guitar timeline for Slash then the B.C. Rich Mockingbird is one of the first guitars that were added to the huge collection. The guitar was played during the first gigs for Tidus Sloan and made appearances for a few songs with L.A. Guns. The younger Slash would also use the piece in the very early years of Guns N’ Roses and was said to have been used in the studio to record the first EP.
The B.C. Rich Mockingbird is a classic in terms of specs and hasn’t changed much since the original release of ht model. It has a single-piece design from Koa wood and the finish is natural to this material. The Rich Mockingbird would feature a pair of DiMarzio humbuckers as part of the setup which offered it a heavier sound.
So, where is this guitar now? Well, Slash intended to keep it as part of his guitar collection and he wanted it to be a relic of his career trajectory. Instead, he decided to sell it to pay for drugs during his wilder years and it’s unknown when this happened. He made up for this mistake later in his career by collecting similar pieces but he still doesn’t have the original instrument.
Gibson Les Paul
Years used – 1986
Slash owned this Gibson Les Paul for only a brief period of time. It’s suggested that the Hunter Burst Les Paul was the first Gibson guitar the artist would have before he moved over to the Kris Derrig copy. The guitar was purchased from Guitars R Us in Los Angeles which was owned by Howie Hubberman. It was actually an instrument that had been pawned and it’s speculated that the prior owner was the former guitarist for Lou Reed, Steve Hunter.
The guitar is actually a great replica and was built by an L.A. luthier called Peter ‘Max’ Baranet. They said that his skill rivaled that of Gibson themselves. The guitar featured PAF humbucker pickups and these were removed to be replaced by Seymour Duncan ones prior to Slash purchasing it.
Any footage of this instrument being played live is pretty poor quality. It was last seen in circulation for Guns N’ Roses during a performance they did at Fenders Ballroom club located in Long Beach in 1986. As sources go they said the instrument was sold pretty soon after to keep up payments to do with drug addiction.
1959 Gibson Les Paul Tobacco Sunburst / Joe Perry
Years used – 1990 to 2000
This model was a guitar that was owned by the guitarist from Aerosmith, Joe Perry. He was given it by his ex-wife and then he sold it on to Gerry Beaudoin who would then sell it on to Eric Johnson. When he found out that the guitar was a Perry original he offered to sell it back to him for a large amount of money. Perry couldn’t afford it at that time so Johnson contacted other high-profile musicians. He landed on Slash in 1990 before he started recording Use Your Illusion.
This is one of the very few Gibson guitars that Slash didn’t modify. It had Japanese-style plastic tuning pegs and featured the original Gibson PAF pickup guards. The only slight modification that was made was that the neck had to be re-fretted because there was pits on the fingerboard when Slash first got the guitar.
In the early 90s this piece was said to have become Slash’s main choice. He swapped from the cherry-yellow sunburst to the tobacco one notably in the Use Your Illusion era. Over the years this original Joe Perry would work its way into Slash’s protected collections and is bought out for more selective concerts. For example, he uses it in the November Rain music video.
The guitar stayed in Slash’s extensive collection until September 10th 2000. This was when he decided to give it back to the original owner and one of his friends, Joe Perry. When asked about it he said, “I kept the guitar for a long time, but I knew that Joe really loved it probably as much as I did. So I gave it to him for his birthday.”
Guild Double Neck “Crossroads” Slash Custom
Years used – 1993 to Present
The Guild is a guitar that was made to follow Slash’s specific design. As the story goes, he drew this design on a napkin on a drunken night out before he handed it over to the luthiers. It was a guitar made purely based on Slash’s need of having to switch between acoustic guitar and electric sounds during his live gigs. The Guild Double Neck was the first signature model that Slash would make. Because it combined electric and acoustic guitars it gave the artist some relief during his live concerts. You can see him use it when performing Civil War and Patience.
This piece is truly unique and is actually pretty groundbreaking in terms of engineering. The body is completely hollow and it has been wired with twelve acoustic strings. The bottom half of the guitar contrasts to this, being solid and having six strings. The electric part of the guitar was designed to how Slash likes his setup to be done with two humbuckers.
Over the years of using this Guild guitar Slash has helped the brand be more recognized and this is definitely the most well-known one to hit the market. Due to him partnering up with them there have been several copies of the instrument made, with Slash owning a few colored numbers of them. He owns a classical cheery sunburst number and a green tortoiseshell one.
When this double guitar came into Slash’s hands it became a regular one for the stage. However, he didn’t use it that much in the 90s which would be his final years with Guns N’ Roses. It did become a staple of Velvet Revolver and Slash’s Snakepit. When the band reunited again the Guild Crossroads came back out to play Civil War. He also sometimes uses it instead of a Les Paul for Knocking on Heaven’s Door.
1965 Fender Stratocaster
Years used – 1992
We’re finishing off a list with a classic guitar, the Fender Stratocaster, although this wasn’t a guitar that you would think you would see Slash playing. Even though Slash is a Les Paul man through and through, he does have a few Fender rivals as part of his collection. The footage of him using the Strat is rare but during the November Rain music video shoot, Slash can be seen having a jam session with Gilby Clarke and Duff McKagan. In this session, he can be seen with the Olympic white Stratocaster.
It’s been reported that the Strat was kept in stock condition, we presume for image reasons and the political reason of the fact that Slash has been the main face of Gibson since the mid-90s. He allegedly used the instrument to record a few overdubs in the Use Your Illusion album as well as for his solo song titled Sucker Train Blues.
When asked about the Fender Stratocaster, Slash had the following controversial thoughts to share. “As far as I’m concerned and Gibson probably wouldn’t want me to say it, the Strat is hands down, probably one of the best, most versatile guitars there is. But I’ve always gravitated to a Les Paul. And there’s Strat guys and there’s Les Paul guys…”
There are so many more guitars and Slash’s guitar amps that he has used over the years but what we’ve given you above is the main points. There are, of course, other guitars and you can find out more about these by researching online. It’s easy to see why slash is considered to be one of the greatest rock icons of all time, being a big part of Guns N’ Roses and founding Velvet Revolver. He has stated his ultimate way of life is to continue to make music and go on tour, and we hope he does so for many years to come.
What guitar does Slash use in Sweet Child O’ Mine?
In Sweet Child O’ Mine Slash used the Gibson Les Paul 1959 replica. It was built by Kris Derrig and included Seymour Duncan Alnico 2 pickups. This was the main instrument he would use in the studio. If you would like to play this song make sure to check it out in our easy guitar songs every knows guide.
Why does Slash use Les Pauls?
Slash used a lot of guitars over the years but he said that he always ended up coming back to Les Paul. In an interview, he stated, “I’m not sure if I chose the Les Paul or the Les Paul chose me. When I started picking up the guitar, the Les Paul had a certain aesthetic appeal to me.” Les Paul guitars for Slash are his go-to instrument and he’s worked with Gibson a lot to make some signature models.