Slash – the hat, the hair and the Gibson: Guns N Roses legend on his guitars

One of rock’s most idiosyncratic lookers, performers and characters, Slash is unmistakable. The immaculate hat, the tight black curled long hair and that beautiful Gibson guitar. Since 1987’s Appetite For Destruction Slash has beguiled us with the trademark growling tone he’s managed to extract from myriad Gibson Les Pauls. You could say that the long-haired, dark sunglass-wearing guitarist was almost singlehandedly responsible for the return to prominence and prestige of Gibson as a brand in rock circles. It was, therefore, the least that Gibson could do to design a personalised guitar for the man. The Gibson USA Slash Signature Les Paul Standard may not be a moniker that slips off the tongue, but it certainly fits the playing style of the man himself. “You know what happened?” Slash rhetorically asked Premier Guitar journalist Steven Rosen, in their 2008 interview. “There are basically four Slash models at this point: there’s the Gold Top which is coming out and the other ones that I did not too long ago. And those are just after years and years of refining my own Les Pauls. So it was very simple to sort of go down and hang out with the boys over at Gibson in the Custom Shop and also Gibson USA and go, ‘This is specifically what we need to put on this guitar and how we need to do the neck,’ and so on and so forth. It’s like I’ve been developing my own Les Pauls over the years for myself and so we just modelled these guitars after particular favourites of mine.” Slash always did gravitate to Gibson models with relatively slim necks, knowing that it brought the best out of him. As Paul at Select Recording Studios says, “it is often little details that make a big difference when choosing a guitar that suits you. You need to hold a good few guitars before you realise what your particular quirk is.”

Not content with his signature model, Slash has also become the first guitarist to be endowed with his own Gibson collection. In a recent interview in he elaborated on this particular privilege. ““It’s cool because in the past I’ve had individual Slash models, that are limited edition that would come out through the Custom Shop and that was it, but it’s just really nice to have a USA model – that you can look at the catalogue and it’s there all the time. And also just to make guitars that are more affordable, because the Custom Shop guitars were custom guitars and they were handmade, y’know? Anytime anybody wanted to get one of those guitars, you have to fork out fuckin’ a lot of money! So I’m really happy to be working with Gibson on these USA guitars – I mean, I’ve got one that I’ve been using for the last few months that plays amazingly, so I’m just really stoked about it.” When coming up with ideas for such a bespoke collection, that ticks all the boxes, it’s important to have a good working relationship with the company and Slash had nothing but good words for Gibson CEO Cesar Gueikian. “We hit it off right away, on the first day I met him – he’s so enthusiastic. He’s a huge guitar fanatic – obviously a really smart businessman – but he has a great vision for keeping the heritage of the company intact.