Ask any guitar nerd who they think is the best guitar player, and you’ll likely come across one answer repeatedly: Slash. The rock icon became a massive success with the rise of Guns N’ Roses in the late 1980s and is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
Slash mostly used Gibson Les Paul guitars. However, his favorite is a replica of the 1959 Les Paul standard built by Kris Derrig, not an original Les Paul. He used the guitar almost exclusively for studio sessions but often used a 1987 Les Paul Standard for tours.
In the rest of this article, I’ll explain Slash’s rise as one of the most successful guitarists of all time and give you a list of his most loved guitars. I’ll also answer some of the most common questions you might have about Slash’s artistry and guitar collection. Let’s dive in!
Slash: Some Background Information
Slash, born Saul Hudson, spent his early years in England, where his parents worked in the entertainment industry. His mother worked as a costume designer for notable artists like David Bowie, while his father worked as an art director. He moved to Los Angeles when he was 11.
At 15, Slash got his first guitar as a gift and soon became obsessed with playing it. His grades plummeted, and he eventually dropped out of the 11th grade to pursue music full-time.
He eventually gathered a group of talented individuals, with him taking care of guitar, Steven Adler on drums, Izzy Stradlin also on guitar, Axl Rose on vocals, and Duff McKagen on bass. Thus, the megahit rock band Guns N’ Roses was formed.
The band rose to almost immediate fame with their debut album, Appetite for Destruction. Two tracks off the album — Sweet Child O’ Mine and Welcome to the Jungle — remain some of their biggest hits.
The band continued to enjoy success with subsequent releases until Slash had a falling out with Axl Rose and exited the band in 1996. While leaving, he dropped all rights to the Guns N’ Roses name, leaving it to Axl Rose.
A couple of years prior to his exit from Guns N’ Roses, Slash formed a new supergroup called Slash’s Snakepit, with members from multiple popular rock bands. He also formed another supergroup called Velvet Revolver in 2002, which saw him return to mainstream prominence.
Since then, he’s released multiple solo albums and collaborated with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. He eventually reunited with Guns N’ Roses in 2016.
His long career and skills made him one of the most respected guitarists ever. In 2009, Time magazine named him the runner-up to Jimi Hendrix in their list of “The Best Electric Guitar Players.”
List of Guitars that Slash Plays
In his run with Guns N’ Roses and his solo career, Slash has used hundreds of guitars. However, he is most known for his longtime love for Gibson Les Paul guitars. His three-decade-long partnership with Les Paul recently resulted in a collaborative guitar collection called the Slash Les Paul Standard line.
This line includes reissued versions of Slash’s most famous Les Paul guitars, specially designed according to Slash’s specifications. He also collaborated with other brands like Guild and Gibson’s budget-friendly brand Epiphone to make custom-designed guitars.
Besides Les Paul guitars, Slash occasionally used Fender Stratocasters, Jackson guitars, and B.C. Rich guitars.
1959 Gibson Les Paul Replica Built By Kris Derrig
This guitar is Slash’s most loved one, which he has used for studio sessions since Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite for Destruction. Before receiving his Les Paul replica, Slash mainly used B.C. Rich and Jackson guitars.
While recording for Appetite for Destruction, Slash became increasingly frustrated with his guitars. He couldn’t get his preferred sound from them, and better guitars were out of his budget.
In interviews, he revealed that “in a fit of desperation,” he had pawned off most of his guitars just before recording the album. This act left him with only 3-4 guitars to record with, but none produced the sound he was looking for.
Thus, his manager, Alan Niven, went out to buy another guitar for him. The shop he went to was owned by Jim Foote, who had two Les Paul replicas made by Kris Derrig. Niven bought one, and Slash fell in love with it the minute he first used it.
In the years since, Slash continued to use these replicas for almost all studio sessions — even after he was able to buy original Les Paul guitars. In an interview with Metro, he claimed his Les Paul replica had “a unique tone and personality to it.” The guitarist confirmed that he used the same guitar for “pretty much every record” since he first received it while recording Appetite for Destruction.
If you’re interested in learning more about the parts of a guitar that affect its sound, I suggest checking out this article on What Parts of An Electric Guitar Affect Tone.
The guitar initially had no pickups when purchased, so Niven asked Foote to add the Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro humbuckers. Slash has since used these pickups for many other guitars as well.
Slash usually keeps this guitar safe at home now and uses other models for live performances.
If you’re well-versed in guitar lore, you’re probably familiar with the near-mystical aura surrounding the 1959 Les Paul. This model went out of production quickly, and Gibson replaced it with the S.G. model in 1960.
However, many famous guitarists liked trying out new guitars and seeing how they compared to old ones. The lack of availability of the 1959 Les Paul quickly made it a “rare” item in the industry, thus making them all the more appealing. Gibson only shipped 643 of these during production, but their ledgers from that era are missing, so even they can’t tell the originals from the fakes.
Another reason the 1959 Les Paul became an icon is its — at the time — unique specifications. It was probably the first guitar to feature what is now considered the “standard” Les Paul formula, which includes:
- A mahogany body and a maple cap.
- The tune-o-matic tailpiece
- PAF Humbuckers.
- The classic burst finish.
Notable guitarists like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Keith Richards were all known to covet the 1959 Les Paul at some point in their careers. Although Slash’s long-standing relationship with Les Paul began with his replica, he has since used multiple original Les Paul guitars.
Known as the Holy Grail of guitars, the ’59 Les Paul became the standard for future Les Paul guitars, especially after their sound became popular in the blues and rock circuits. Today, the closest replica of the iconic Les Paul is Gibson’s 1959 Les Paul Standard Reissue.
The original ’59 Les Paul also used PAF Humbuckers, which were still relatively new at the time. These pickups were known for their range, rich tonal clarity, and crisp sounds. The original ones weren’t wax potted, meaning they picked up and amplified all sounds on the guitar, including knocks, taps, and scratches.
In the rock and blues circuits, many guitarists liked this quality, which made the PAF Humbuckers extremely popular.
1987 Les Paul standard named Jessica
While Slash favored his 1959 Les Paul replica for studio sessions, he became protective of it after several incidents in which it either got damaged or almost stolen. So he eventually stopped playing it at live shows.
Instead, the guitar he preferred for live performances was his trusty 1987 Les Paul standard. He used this guitar on most of his tours with Guns N’ Roses during the 1990s.
Here’s a clip of him playing his 1987 Les Paul while performing a guitar solo.
The 1987 Les Paul also featured the classic Les Paul mahogany body and maple top. Slash favored Seymour Duncan Alnico pickups on his guitars after he saw their sound quality on his 1959 replica, so he installed those on the 1987 Les Paul too.
In addition to the mahogany body and maple top, the guitar has a mahogany neck and a rosewood fingerboard. It’s known for its crisp sounds and ability to pick up a wide range of notes in perfect clarity. This ability makes it the ideal instrument for a live setting.
Once Guns N’ Roses released Appetite for Destruction, they went on tour to promote the album. At this point, Slash decided to buy a couple more guitars to use on tour to protect his beloved ’59 replicas.
He bought two identical 1987 Les Paul standards and modified them to resemble his ’59. This modification included a new paint job on one, adding the Seymour Duncan Alnico II Humbuckers, and removing the pickguard.
The only visible difference between the two was a slight difference in color, with one being a bit darker than the other.
Fun fact: Slash revealed in an interview that he got drunk one night and named the guitar Jessica. You can watch the interview here.
1958 Gibson Flying V
The 1958 Gibson Flying V was a controversial release. Its futuristic design sparked much debate, with some claiming the design harmed the sound quality and others preferring the modern, sleek look.
Despite the few guitarists who liked the look, the Flying V was not popular when Gibson initially released it. They manufactured and sold less than a hundred of these guitars in the first run.
However, guitarists like Albert King and Dave Davies started using the guitar a few years after it went out of production. Their use of it led to renewed popularity, and Gibson manufactured a few more in 1963 with any remaining materials from the original run. The model went back into full-time production in 1967.
While Slash preferred other guitars over this one, he occasionally used it in the studio. His most notable use of the Flying V was while recording Knocking on Heaven’s Door.
Slash also revealed that his Flying V was the second-most expensive guitar he had ever purchased.
1967 Gibson EDS-1275
The Gibson EDS-1275 is a double-neck guitar. Gibson began producing this guitar in 1963 and continued until 1968 in the initial run.
Today, the model is another guitar icon because of its versatility and range. The model didn’t sell very well in its initial production phase but became popular later when legendary guitarists began using it.
The guitar first became popular because of Led Zeppelin’s lead guitarist Jimmy Page. He famously used the Gibson EDS-1275 while playing Led Zeppelin’s most famous song, Stairway to Heaven. The image of Page switching effortlessly between the two necks became a new standard for all aspiring guitar players.
The double-neck eliminated the need to switch guitars mid-performance, allowing for a more seamless live session. It also combined a 6-string and a 12-string guitar into one.
Another popular guitarist who favored this model was Don Felder of the Eagles. He used it while playing the Eagles’ megahit Hotel California.
Slash used this model sparingly, preferring his Les Paul guitars. He mostly used them in live performances where switching guitars would be inconvenient or cumbersome. His most notable use of the EDS-1275 was in live performances of Knocking on Heaven’s Door and Patience.
You can watch him effortlessly use the two necks in the performance below.
Memphis Les Paul replica
The Memphis Les Pau replica was Slash’s first electric guitar. He learned to play the electric guitar on this model and loved it… until he discovered it wasn’t as good as he thought.
In his Metro interview, Slash talks about his guitar history and how he finally arrived at his favorite ’59 Les Paul replica. He mentioned that his first guitar was a “1-string guitar,” and he used that until he learned how to put the remaining five strings on.
However, his second guitar — and first electric guitar — was a Memphis Les Paul replica. He learned how to play the electric guitar on this model. However, when he realized that there were much better guitars out there, he swapped it out for another model.
Despite the poorer quality of this particular guitar compared with his other ones, Slash still remembers it fondly.
You can watch the interview clip here.
1959 Gibson Les Paul Tobacco Sunburst
Slash’s Les Paul Tobacco Sunburst went through quite a journey before finding its way to Slash.
The guitar originally belonged to Joe Perry, but his wife sold it for approximately $5000 to a shop in Massachusetts during their divorce in the 1980s. Billy Loosigian, who worked at the same shop, bought the guitar for himself and used it until 1987.
He then sold it to guitar dealer Gerry Beaudoin, who in turn sold it to Eric Johnson. Johnson eventually realized that this guitar originally belonged to Joe Perry and offered to sell it back to him. Unfortunately for Perry, he couldn’t afford it at the time.
Johnson then contacted other guitarists to whom he could sell the Les Paul Tobacco Sunburst. After contacting many people, the person who finally purchased the guitar was Slash.
Slash kept the guitar for several years, despite Perry’s attempts to buy it from him. However, in 2000, Slash saw an opportunity to surprise Perry and gifted him the coveted guitar on his birthday.
“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,” revealed Slash.
You can watch Joe Perry talk about it on the Conan Show below.
This particular Les Paul had most of the standard specifications. However, Loosigian said that at the time of purchase, the guitar had Japanese-style plastic pickups, and the pickup covers had been removed. He also claimed that the fingerboard had pits all over it.
Loosigian re-fretted the neck, installed new Gibson pickup covers, and replaced the tuners with Klusons. The guitar remained in this state through the rest of its journey, including the time Slash had it.
This model became one of Slash’s more prominent guitars because of its history and appearance in the November Rain music video. Slash also used it in the Use Your Illusion studio sessions.
You can see it in the November Rain music video below.
B.C. Rich Mockingbird
While Slash is known as a longtime fan of Gibson guitars, he has used other brands too. The most famous among the many non-Gibson guitars is the B.C Rich Mockingbird.
You can see Slash play this guitar in the Guns N’ Roses’ You Could Be Mine music video.
The Mockingbird is a solid-body electric guitar, usually made of Koa or Mahogany. It also includes 2 DiMarzio humbucker pickups.
Slash used this guitar pretty rarely. Before recording Appetite for Destruction, he only had a couple of B.C. Rich guitars and a couple of Jackson guitars. However, after discovering the Les Paul series, he stuck to those for the most part.
Fun Fact: A 2010 Issue of the Guitar World magazine ranked the B.C Rich Mockingbird as “the coolest guitar of all time.”
Guild Crossroads Doubleneck Slash Custom
While Slash has bought and used multiple guitars during his long career, he also worked with brands to make his own custom designs. One of these collaborations birthed the Guild Doubleneck Slash Custom.
This guitar is a real work of art. Not only does the model include a 6-string and 12-string guitar, but one of them is semi-acoustic!
According to the most popular iteration of this story, Slash made the initial design of the guitar on a napkin. His idea was to make a single guitar that allowed him to switch between electric and acoustic guitars without actually changing guitars. Thus, the Guild Crossroads Doubleneck Slash Custom was born.
The first version went into production in 1993 and featured a red finish and custom specifications suited to Slash. These specifications included:
- Seymour Duncan pickups on the 6-string side.
- The Fishman Acoustic Matrix Natural with Custom Preamp on the 12-string side.
The 12-string side is semi-acoustic, while the 6-string side is a traditional electric guitar. Slash continued to use this guitar in live performances through the latter part of his run with Guns N’ Roses. He also used it after his split from the band.
Later, Guild worked with Slash to release the same guitar in different colors.
AFD Les Paul
Another one of Slash’s collaborations, the Epiphone “AFD” (Appetite for Destruction) Les Paul Special, uses Slash’s design and custom specifications to create a more affordable guitar.
This guitar features an “appetite amber” finish and Epiphone’s special Ceramic Plus Zebra Coil humbuckers. To make this model as close to Slash’s iconic Les Paul guitars, Epiphone made pickups modeled after the Zebra Black and White pickups found on 1950s Les Paul guitars.
The design aims to provide an almost perfect copy of Slash’s favorite 1959 Les Paul. It features the classic mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, and maple finish. Epiphone designed this guitar as an affordable alternative for beginners and professionals.
You can check this video on Epiphone’s YouTube channel to see exactly what the Slash AFD Les Paul sounds and looks like.
1996 Gibson Les Paul “Snakepit”
In 1996, Gibson manufactured a new custom-made guitar specifically for Slash. The custom design includes a cherry finish and Slash’s iconic Snakepit logo.
The design also includes a snake inlay across the fretboard and Slash’s favorite Alnico II Pro Humbuckers.
The company manufactured only a hundred or so of these guitars, with the first four going to Slash. However, in 1998, someone broke into Slash’s studio and stole all but one. Thus, he only has one of these left.
Note: Some sources say that Slash only owned 2 Les Paul Snakepits, while others claim he owned four. Regardless of the original number, Slash only has one left after the burglary.
Their rarity and the fact that they’re custom designed by Slash make this model one of Gibson’s more expensive ones.
What Guitar Does Slash Play in Sweet Child O’ Mine (PAA)
Slash played his 1959 Gibson Les Paul replica made by Kris Derrig when recording Sweet Child O’ Mine. He revealed in interviews that he had pawned off most of his guitars before recording the Appetite for Destruction album, but his manager was able to get him Kris Derrig’s Les Paul replica.
Which 2 Guitars is Slash Most Famous for Playing? (PAA)
The two guitars Slash is most famous for playing are the 1959 Les Paul replica by Kris Derrig and the 1987 Les Paul Standard. He used the former in the studio after his manager gifted it to him during the recording of Appetite for Destruction. He used the latter in most live performances.
What acoustic guitar does Slash Play (PAA)
Slash uses his Gibson J-45 for most acoustic sessions. However, he rarely plays acoustic guitars. While he learned to play acoustic guitars in his youth, he never revealed exactly which guitars he used. All we know is that he described his first guitar as “a beat-up Spanish acoustic.”
Does Slash Play bass (PAA)
Slash used to play bass and initially visualized himself as a bass player because his fellow Guns N’ Roses member Steven Adler wanted to play guitar. However, he switched to electric guitar after hearing a teacher play Eric Clapton songs. Adler then switched to drums.
Does Slash Play a Strat? (PAA)
Slash does occasionally play a Strat. In an interview with Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, Slash revealed that he thinks the Strat is “one of the best, most versatile guitars there is.” He owns quite a few Fender Stratocasters, even though he prefers his Gibson guitars.
What Is Slash’s Most Expensive Guitar? (PAA)
Slash’s most expensive guitar is his 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard Flame Top (Honey Sunburst). During his 2018 divorce, this guitar was valued at $375,000. However, Slash says the most expensive guitars he purchased were the 1958 Gibson Explorer and the 1959 Flying V.
What is Slash’s guitar collection value (PAA)
During his divorce in 2018, Slash’s guitar collection of 221 guitars was valued at a total of $1.92 million. His most expensive guitar alone was worth $375,000. By current estimates, Slash believes he owns upwards of 400 guitars, which haven’t been appraised yet.
Slash has had a long and successful career and, like most musicians, acquired an impressive collection of instruments.
His favorite guitar is the one he recorded Appetite for Destruction with — a 1959 Les Paul replica. This guitar has seen him through thick and thin and was the main instrument used in most of his subsequent releases.
His long-standing relationship with Les Paul eventually led to a partnership between the two that spawned a series of guitars custom designed by Slash. This series is known as the Slash Les Paul Standard Line.