Slash Guitar Methods

author: mamakin87 date: 09/05/2006 category: guitar gurus
rating: 9 / votes: 140 
Slash, real name Saul Hudson, rose to fame in the fertile breeding ground of LA in the late '80s with the and Guns N' Roses, yet despite the demise of the original line-up, has continued to be one of the most highly regarded guitarists of all time. He currently plays in Velvet Revolver with ex-band mates Duff and Matt Sorum. Slash's playing is based around the bluesy licks and riff methods of the early '70s, and totes Jimmy Page, Angus Young and Jeff Beck as his primary influences. His sound is achieved with the help of Gibson Les Pauls (and the occasional Mockingbird) and the crunch of Marshall half-stacks, occasionally using a crybaby (either Vox or Jim Dunlop) or a Dean Markley Talkbox (Anything Goes and live solos). NOTE: there are many websites dedicated to documenting his gear, so check those out. Moving onto the music, he relies heavily on the pentatonic minor scale, the blues scale, the pentatonic major, and the major scale, with the occasion reference to the mixolydian and dorian modes. Do not worry if you are not familiar with these, as knowledge of these comes with experience, and you are not required to know them to learn the licks demonstrated here. One main features of his playing is his use of 'double stops', where two notes are played together to get a fatter, fuller sound. The following lick is from Out Ta Get Me:
|------------------------------------|-------------------|
|--17b-17b-17b-17b-17b-17b--17-15-17-|--------17-17-15b--|
|--17b-17b-17b-17b-17b-17b--17-15-17-|--------17-17-15b--|
|------------------------------------|-17-15-------------|
|------------------------------------|-------------------|
|------------------------------------|-------------------|
I would advise you to play the 2 notes together using your third finger, as it can get very tight to use two fingers on the high frets (if you're playing along to the recording, note that it is tuned half a step down: Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb, Eb). The next riff is taken from Paradise City, where, rather than relying on playing in the 'right mode', he plays a series of furious hammer-ons to create a swelling effect. It might not sound great slow, but practice with a metronome, built your speed up, and you'll be able to rip it off nicely. Practise this lick to increase finger dexterity as well:
||----------------------------------------------|
||----------------------------------------------|
||-------------------------------------15h16h17-|
||-------------------15h16h17-15h16h17----------|
||-15h16h17-15h16h17----------------------------|
||----------------------------------------------|

|-----------------------------------------------|-----------15--------------------|
|--------------------15h16h17----------15h16h17-|-16h17h-18----18b20=(18)r--------|
|----------15h16h17-----------15h16h17----------|---------------------------------|
|-15h16h17--------------------------------------|---------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|---------------------------15\---|
|-----------------------------------------------|---------------------------------|
Rather surprisingly, Slash also uses various 'country' sounding licks, with the next lick (taken from Anything Goes), also being used by rockabilly maestro Brian Setzer:
|-----------16--17--18--19-------------------------19--------------------|
|---19b(21)-----------------19b(21)r19--17--19b(21)----19b(21)r19p17-----|
|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
Try sustaining that first bend when you get comfortable with it, but make sure it stays at the target fret pitch (21), because otherwise it will sound horrible! For the four ascending chromatic notes on the top string, use all of your fingers. Practiced over time, the lick will increase your finger accuracy, and the strength of your 4th finger. This lick has also been used in Patience, and is a nice way of spicing up the major scale. Slash also uses the pentatonic minor scale to great effect. This is the first scale most guitarists will learn, so it is worthwhile building up a solid vocabulary of minor pentatonic licks. This one is taken from Mr. Brownstone. Do not worry if the lick is fluid to start with, with practise, it will begin to flow:
e|------3-------3-----------------------3-|
b|----3---3-6b8---6-3------------------3--|
g|-5b7----------------5b7r-5p3-5p3-5b7----|
d|----------------------------------------|
a|----------------------------------------|
e|----------------------------------------|

e|---------8---------8-11------------------------8-|
b|-------8---8-11b13------8--------------------8---|
g|-10b12---------------------10b12r10p8-10-8h9-----|
d|-------------------------------------------------|
a|-------------------------------------------------|
e|-------------------------------------------------|

e|------10-13------------------------------------|
b|-13b15------10---------------------------------|
g|---------------12b14r12p10----12----10-10-(10)-|
d|---------------------------12----12------------|
a|-----------------------------------------------|
e|-----------------------------------------------|
The technique responsible for Slash's characteristic chunky rhythms is called 'palm muting', where you rest your strumming hand lightly across the bridge of your guitar, giving your strokes a more percussive sound. Vary the pressure for different sounds. This is taken from the main riff of Paradise City:
||----------------------------|
||o---------------------------|
||------------------------3---|
||----------------------5-3---|
||o-5-3-4-5-3-2-5-3-5-3-5-1---|
||--3-1-2-3-1-2-3-1-3-1-3-----|
PM: . . . . . . . . . . . .
The last point I am going to give you is a really cool sounding idea called 'pedalling', where you play every other note the same, so you repeat the same note to give a cool effect. You can change the note you pedal to change the tone and make it fit into a song context. This is taken from Loving The Alien by Velvet Revolver:
E---15--13--15--12--15--13--12-13-15--15--13--15--12--15--13--12-13-15-|
B-13--13--13--13--13--13--13--------12--12--12--12--12--12--12---------|
G----------------------------------------------------------------------|
D----------------------------------------------------------------------|
A----------------------------------------------------------------------|
E----------------------------------------------------------------------|

E---15--13--15--12--15--13--12-13-15---15--13--15-----------|
B-----------------------------------------------------------|
G-14--14--14--14--14--14--14--------12--12--12--1215b(17)r-|
D-----------------------------------------------------------|
A-----------------------------------------------------------|
E-----------------------------------------------------------|
I hope this has served as a useful introduction to Slash's playing, and I apologize if it is too basic, too hard or just boring. For those of you who don't know the scales pentatonic minor, major, blues, pentatonic major or natural minor, I would advise you greatly to get a scale book and learn the scale formula so you can play them in any key. They will not limit you creatively, but rather just increase your musical vocabulary and help you express your feelings. Yeah, Jimi Hendrix didn't need theory, but he was a genius. It takes the rest of us years to get good. The best advice I can give is to learn solos note for note, and use the techniques in your own playing. But remember: be original.
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