This month Martin Cooper delves into the gui­tar style of this Bri­tish-born blues-rocker and icon of leg­endary sta­dium fillers, Guns N’ Roses.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Martin Cooper looks at the bluesy-rock style of Slash, the man some say saved the Les Paul!

Slash is one of the most iconic of gui­tar he­roes. He may not have re­de­fined rock gui­tar in the way that Van Halen or Hen­drix did, or been quite the house­hold name as play­ers like Clap­ton, but he and his style are in­stantly recog­nis­able, and have been for the past 30 years.

Of course, most well known for his role with Guns N’ Roses in their hey­day, as well as play­ing on Michael Jack­son’s Dan­ger­ous al­bum in 1991, he also went on to form Vel­vet Re­volver with Duff McKa­gan, Matt So­rum and the late Scott Wei­land. He now has a suc­cess­ful ‘solo’ ca­reer with Slash & The Con­spir­a­tors, which in­cludes Al­ter Bridge front­man Myles Kennedy.

When GN’R’s suc­cess reached fever pitch, Slash was some­thing of an anti-hero – in the days when gui­tars were pointy, and whammy bar histri­on­ics and pinch har­mon­ics the rock norm, Slash played clas­sic Les Paul licks in a tra­di­tional, blues-rock way.

Slash was ac­tu­ally born Saul Hud­son in Hamp­stead, Eng­land and be­gan to take an in­ter­est in gui­tar at school when one of his teach­ers played him Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones. He went on to be in­flu­enced by Cream and Led Zep­pelin, and these in­flu­ences are on full dis­play in the ca­reer defin­ing Ap­petite For De­struc­tion. The al­bum was re­leased in 1987 and has sold over 30 mil­lion units world­wide; it re­mains the big­gest sell­ing de­but al­bum in US his­tory.

Packed with crunch­ing gui­tar riffs and wail­ing so­los, Ap­petite’s most well known track, Sweet Child O’ Mine is pos­si­bly as widely heard in gui­tar shops and school bands as Smells Like Teen Spirit or Smoke On The Wa­ter. In fact, many of Slash’s so­los have made their way into mag­a­zine read­ers’ ‘best’ polls over the years, and the gui­tarist him­self is of­ten found in the up­per ech­e­lons of ‘great­est gui­tar player’ lists.

Slash knows what he likes and sticks with it. He may have em­braced tech­nol­ogy in terms of record­ing tech­niques and the way mu­sic is re­leased, but his play­ing re­mains recog­nis­able as the same per­son who helped to cre­ate those clas­sic songs three decades ago.

Our track this month fea­tures a Slash style gui­tar riff and chords and is in the key of A ma­jor (A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G#), although you’ll find plenty of bluesy G and C nat­u­ral notes scat­tered through­out. Although Slash’s style is very much blues based and there­fore in­cludes Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic, Ma­jor Pen­ta­tonic and Blues scales, he also favours Har­monic Mi­nor in many of his songs and so­los. This scale con­tains a ma­jor 7th and on this oc­ca­sion it means over the B5 chord we’re play­ing B Har­monic mi­nor (B-C#-D-E-F#-G-A#).

NEXT MONTH Martin in­ves­ti­gates the smooth, speedy style of Be Bop Deluxe’s Bill Nel­son


Slash in typ­i­cal pose: ver­ti­cal Les Paul and black top hat

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