Velvet Revolver - Slither

"Slither" is a song from the Velvet Revolver debut album "Contraband," released in 2004.


Story behind the song

Lead guitarist Slash admitted that the song barely made the record.

He recalled the story of writing the riff of the song: "I remember distinctly writing that because that was a riff that I came up with at rehearsal one day and I really felt like I had stumbled on something very cool.

"This was during the vocalist audition process that lasted like ten months. Everybody was pretty fried by the end of the day and I came up with this thing. Nobody wanted to work on it. When I was introducing that they were like 'this is great, yeah, yeah, yeah...' So that was one of the songs that I had to force through and when Scott [Weiland] came into the band, he identified with it right away and then all of a sudden it came together."

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Rhythm guitarist Dave Kushner confirmed: "I remember Slash coming in with the riff before Scott was ever in the band. When Scott came in, he picked out different things that he gravitated towards." Dave admitted that "Slither" was the second song Scott put the vocal on. [1]

Dave Kushner remembered "Slither" as an instrumental and there were many different versions of it: "The original riff never changed, but the arrangement changed more than any other song I can remember in the band. We labored a lot over the arrangement, and when we were recording it we labored a lot over the tempo - at one point Matt [Sorum] kept changing the tempo by 1bpm faster or 2bpm slower to the point where everyone was frustrated with each other and fighting among ourselves because it didn't sound right. It's funny that it came out to be a favorite riff because it was a song that was really an albatross at a certain point. I guess we did something right!" [1]

According to Scott Weiland, the song is about relationships, and one in particular that he was known for at the time: Drugs.

That song, what was that song about? Just got done performing it. The lyrics are about a relationship. "When you look you see right through me, cut the rope, fell to my knees, born and broken every single time." It's just feeling not right in a situation. [2]

"Slither" became one of the most popular songs of the band and won the 2005 Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Music videos

Official music video

The video was filmed in Prague, Czech Republic, and Los Angeles.

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Live version

"Slither" was frequently the closer to Velvet Revolver's shows.

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Live at David Letterman Show in 2004.

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Live at Rock Am Ring 2007.

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Live in Germany in 2008.

Notable covers

ApologetiX parodied "Slither" and named it "Swimmer" in 2006.

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Gear and settings



Slash exclusively used Gibson guitars.

For live performances of the song, he used Gibson Les Paul Goldtop reissue '57, Gibson Les Paul Standard 1976, and Gibson Les Paul Standard 1984. [3]

Slash's guitars. Goldtops are on the right side of the front row, while Standards on the left side.

Dave Kushner

Dave Kushner is an endorser of Fernandes guitars. He recalled the model he used for the recording of the song:

As far as guitars go, I'm pretty sure I used a Fernandes Monterey. [1]

Though, the main model he used live was Fernandes Ravelle. It has the thickness of a Les Paul and looks a bit like a hybrid of a Les Paul and an Iceman. This guitar also appears in the official video.

Also, later, he started using Gibson ES-345 Custom Shop Alpine White live.

Duff McKagan

In Velvet Revolver, Duff McKagan used Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass for the song in drop D tuning. [4]

Amps and effects


Slash relied mostly on Marshall amps, Boss and MXR effects.

He used the following amps:

  • Marshall JCM 2555SL Slash Signature with EL34 tubes (distorted sounds)
  • Marshall JCM 800 2203 with 6550 tubes (distorted sounds)
  • Marshall 1960BV 4x12 cabinet with 70 watts Celestion Vintage 30 HP

He also used a plethora of various effects during years in Velvet Revolver:

Slash's guitar rig in 2006. Click to view full image.

Dave Kushner

Dave Kushner revealed: "I think I used a modified Marshall JCM800 and a Bogner Ecstasy head... I know the pedal I used to get that weird sound was a green Line 6 DL4 delay pedal. In the second half of the verses where I'm doubling the riff and there's a heavier weird distortion, that was a Boss Hyper FZ-2 Fuzz, which is my favorite pedal." [1]

Marshall JCM800

Bogner Ecstasy head

Duff McKagan

In the studio and on the road, Duff McKagan used Gallien-Krueger 2001RB head into two G-K RBH 4x10s, an 800RB head into a G-K wx15 for distortion. As it comes to effects he used MXR El Grande Bass Fuzz. [4]

Gallien-Krueger 2001RB head

Gallien-Krueger 800RB head

Amp settings

  • Gain - 6,5
  • Treble - 4,5
  • Mids - 7
  • Bass - 7


Guitars: drop D tuning (D A D G B E).

Bass: drop D tuning (D A D G).

Song key

The song is written in the key of D minor.


The signature guitar riff that Slash plays throughout large sections of the song is a big reason why "Slither" had a great success. [5]

The main riff is played in several variations during the song: in a form of single-note riff, as an octave chords riff, and as a power chords riff. During these riffs, Slash irregularly uses hammer-ons and slides. You don't really need to consistently play this main riff the same way each time, as Slash constantly mixes it up both on the original recording and performing live. [5]

Dave Kushner described the roles of both guitarist in this song: "Well, the whole record is me on one side and Slash on the other, the same way 'Appetite For Destruction' was done. At the beginning, Slash is playing the chugging part and I'm playing the octaves and the melody thing. In all the verses we're playing it me on one side and him on the other; in the chorus, I'm playing the big chords and he's playing [the main riff] the octave higher. I'm making all the weird noises and delays in the intro as well, and that kind of sweet delay thing that happens in the break. I think those little things make the song really cool besides the riff." [1]

Song breakdown

The song has the following structure:

Intro - Verse 1 - Chorus 1 - Interlude 1 - Verse 2 - Chorus 2 - Interlude 2 - Solo - Bridge - Chorus 3 - Outro

For the first half of the intro, both guitars and bass guitar employ atmospheric chords and volume swells. Then the main riff starts. The intro concludes on a small lick, which ends with vibrato.

In verses, palm muting is used during the main riff.

In choruses, the rhythm guitar plays chords, while the lead guitar performs the main riff on the high D string.

The first interlude almost repeats the second half of the intro.

The second interlude can be viewed as the break of the song and consists of chords, played with a reverse delay effect.

The solo (as most Slash guitar solos) is full of fast blues inspired licks, wrapped around a catchy melodic structure. Here you'll need to use a lot of bends, rolls, fast alternate picked and legato licks. [5] Also, notice the use of a wah pedal in the solo.

The outro contains an extended version of the ending lick of the intro section.

Slash's main riff lesson

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Guitar cover

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Guitar lesson

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Rhythm guitar parts.

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Guitar solo.

Bass line with tabs by Duff McKagan

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Velvet Revolver interview (Monster Riffs Week)"
  2. "'Slither' by Velvet Revolver"
  3. 1 2 Slash Paradise "Slash's live gear with Velvet Revolver"
  4. 1 2 "Duff Mckagan - Behind The Player Cap. 4"
  5. 1 2 3 GuitarLessons365 Youtube channel "Slither Guitar Lesson Pt.1 - Velvet Revolver - Rhythm Guitar Parts"