Slash Guitar Methods

A break-down of the style and techniques of the best guitarist of the '80s, '90s and '00s -- Slash.

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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.

134 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Guitargod12345
    Yeah, Jimi Hendrix didn?t need theory, but he was a genius
    He needed theory, how did his solos match his songs then
    guitar_freakgr
    hey fancy boy this site called ultimate-guitar if you want bass tabs go somewhere else . ok you stupid bassist. p.s. how do you call a professional bassist who quarreled with his parents and dont have a girlfriend. homeless hahahahha
    iruka2998
    i already knew most of this, but it helped 'concrete' the stuff into my head if you will. i always do double stop's in the pentatonic, but i didnt know they were called double stops lol
    clapton-floyd
    Perfect pitch is only the ability to guess what a random note is. Like you could tell what note a car horn is. It's not some sort of amazing gift given by a deity that allows you to have instant vast knowledge of theory.
    FourSticks17
    ghostofhendrix wrote: He was one of those weird people who have perfect pitch- means he can play modes and scales without lerning them and all the theory that goes with them because it all made sense to him naturally. I think Eddie van halen had perfect pitch as well but dont quote me on that
    Yeah...that is NOT a description of perfect pitch. Perfect pitch won't give you any of those things, and it certainly won't take the place of learning scales/modes/etc. If Jimi never had to learn scales, it wasn't because of his "having perfect pitch"---it was because he was just really good at playing things that sounded good. Anyway though, perfect pitch is becoming extremely hyped these days as something of a "Holy Grail" of music playing. FORGET PERFECT PITCH; develop relative pitch, which is the essence of music anyway (the relationship between tones, not the absolute tones themselves, which are trivial). Being able to call out notes is little more than a party trick.
    DrOcan
    guitar_freakgr wrote: hey fancy boy this site called ultimate-guitar if you want bass tabs go somewhere else . ok you stupid bassist. p.s. how do you call a professional bassist who quarreled with his parents and dont have a girlfriend. homeless hahahahha
    woah that is one of the stupidest thing I ever read on UG
    rockerdude4455
    slash is one of my major influences and one of the main reasons why i first picked up guitar and i really appreciate this lesson so keep up the good work due and keep on rockin.
    grungemoshin2k8
    somone help on a 5-string bass lesson? it went that way or something >>>> lol im eight years old 2
    epiphreak
    hey fancy boy this site called ultimate-guitar if you want bass tabs go somewhere else . ok you stupid bassist. p.s. how do you call a professional bassist who quarreled with his parents and dont have a girlfriend. homeless hahahahha
    you know that a bass is still a guitar (bass guitar)... and this site has bass tabs too... now someone asking for oboe lessons, go rain on their parade... btw your gonna need a better joke. that one was pretty lame.
    121lespaul
    slash is awesome!!!! I wish i was home and not in school so i could be playing this right now!!!
    joe8rulez!
    Yeah, Jimi Hendrix didn?t need theory, but he was a genius He needed theory, how did his solos match his songs then
    devilex121
    oh by the way, this explains a lot of things about slash to me....the swelling bit especially
    devilex121
    hey KoRn-FrEaK-15 the (21) means your bend pitch should sound like the 21st fret and you are bending up from 15 to 16 (i think) and you are holding 9 and hammering onto 15 if you dont get me (i wont be surprised) visit my profile devilex121
    KoRn-FrEaK-15
    Hi, Umm yea whenever i see (21) it just...Bogs me, i have no idea what that means, Can anyone tell me? i've seen like 15b16 Which means what? you cant Bend down to 16 From 15? and 9h15? Lol yeaaa...i dont think that'll be happening if you can help me Email me at Twistedstryker15@hotmail.com
    ThrashMetal19
    The lesson was Awesome. Slash is my idol so is zakk wylde. i'm trying to mix slash's style with zakk wyldes to develop my own
    epiphreak
    oh... forgot to say, great lesson. i didnt know that pedalling was called that.
    EldonsName24
    wow his 2nd solo from "Enstranged" should've been on here hwta a lovely solo that is man it gives Me chills
    mrRICHARD911
    dommyx wrote: Guitargod12345 wrote: Yeah, Jimi Hendrix didn?t need theory, but he was a genius He needed theory, how did his solos match his songs then He had perfect pitch
    he kept on practicing and practicing until he knew which note sounds good (to him). so it's like memorizing scales.
    Epipy78
    ghostofhendrix wrote: shredrooster69 wrote: slash is awesome guitarist and my hero but so many fags just copy his exact style and sound make your own sound its what playing guitar is all about slash didn't copy anyone and look what he has become slash probably did copy people eg Jimmy page- its just that he managed to develop it into his own sound. Theres nothing wrong with playing similar to your idols, its just a good idea to warp it enough that it becomes your own style- or mixing it with other styles also works.
    Well said bro! almost Everybody picks up a guitar to play or sound like their guitar hero! guess it's the improvisation tat make a diff after tat rite?
    jack_freeman
    Ive studied Slash and the way He plays for 20 pluss years. I think You nailed it.... Would have bin nice to read this back then.
    Reckzilla
    Nice lesson Slash is a beastly guitarist and this was a step in the right direction. as i thought though he uses pentatonic scales i need a good place to find those. As for the hendrix comment that said how did jimi's solos match his songs without theory?, it is quite simple he had a good ear a good can get around theory. I know that because thats the my dad plays and he is an amazing guitarist. Train the ear.
    danielflasher95
    miskatsu wrote: srvkicks@$$ wrote: BlueTails wrote: holelotsand46 wrote: DUDE WHY ISN'T MATT BELLAMY A GUITAR GURU? why are you posting this in every guitar guru forum? Bellamy isn't as good as any of the 'gurus' in this section. Plug in Baby is his most famous lick, which is really repetitive and not difficult. None of his songs are that difficult, he just uses effects a lot. Don't get me wrong I'm a huge Muse fan, but if you think Bellamy is a guru you need to compare tabs of the guys on these forums and his...Give him a piano section but he is definetly no guitar guru. Hey just because bellamy's most famous riff is easy doesnt mean he sucks dammit wat about ritchie blackmore his most famous riff is the "smoke on the water" one but if you listen to the solo of black night or hush or highway star youll spend so much time trying to get the solos down you will end up shitting your pants, giving up guitar and cowering in the fetile position for weeks on end thinking i cant believe the guy who wrote smoke on the water is this much dam better than me and bellamy's famous riff is more complicated than blackmores the moral of the story kids is just because someone is famous for something lame doesnt mean you should judge him for that because he could probably kick your skinny white ass back to pussie land.... B!tch RETARD NEVER EVER AGAIN DISS MR. BLACKMORE YOU PUS5Y! You say, that Bella,ys riffs are more complicated than Ritchies???? Riffs are to make the song interesting and catching. The chord progressions and how they are performed realy is the thing. Listen to the awesome classic -style guitar and piano duet solo in Burn. WTG if you can make an complicated riff, but Ritchie is an awesome songwriter and an guitarist, better than BELLAMY will ever be! AMEN!
    Well said man, i don't intend to say Bellamy sucks, but he really just can't pull things off like Ritchie...its not even his job...plus, who cares if he has a more difficult riff(which I sincerely doubt if we're comparing him to blackmore)! ahh...anyways... good slash basic lesson, it kinda gave me a bit closer look at his style
    CGB89
    One thing you could've mentioned was that he often took Chuck Berry riffs and played with them to make new ones. Like the "Mr. Brownstone" riff you posted. It's a play on the "Johnny B. Goode" riff.
    zurdo.at
    very good man (y), i would like to add just a few things about slash playing( i dont know if anyone post it too, i didnt read the posts)... 1 is that he also use the rests and long notes with bends to add more feelling to his solos. 2 is the "jumps" he does in his solos, he jump strings and going down again what gave more highlight to his solos,or "jumping" from C to a G and then going back to a C, for example... im not sure if you undertsand what im trieing to explain xD well... very good lesson anyway
    miskatsu
    srvkicks@$$ wrote: BlueTails wrote: holelotsand46 wrote: DUDE WHY ISN'T MATT BELLAMY A GUITAR GURU? why are you posting this in every guitar guru forum? Bellamy isn't as good as any of the 'gurus' in this section. Plug in Baby is his most famous lick, which is really repetitive and not difficult. None of his songs are that difficult, he just uses effects a lot. Don't get me wrong I'm a huge Muse fan, but if you think Bellamy is a guru you need to compare tabs of the guys on these forums and his...Give him a piano section but he is definetly no guitar guru. Hey just because bellamy's most famous riff is easy doesnt mean he sucks dammit wat about ritchie blackmore his most famous riff is the "smoke on the water" one but if you listen to the solo of black night or hush or highway star youll spend so much time trying to get the solos down you will end up shitting your pants, giving up guitar and cowering in the fetile position for weeks on end thinking i cant believe the guy who wrote smoke on the water is this much dam better than me and bellamy's famous riff is more complicated than blackmores the moral of the story kids is just because someone is famous for something lame doesnt mean you should judge him for that because he could probably kick your skinny white ass back to pussie land.... B!tch
    RETARD NEVER EVER AGAIN DISS MR. BLACKMORE YOU PUS5Y! You say, that Bella,ys riffs are more complicated than Ritchies???? Riffs are to make the song interesting and catching. The chord progressions and how they are performed realy is the thing. Listen to the awesome classic -style guitar and piano duet solo in Burn. WTG if you can make an complicated riff, but Ritchie is an awesome songwriter and an guitarist, better than BELLAMY will ever be! AMEN!
    miskatsu
    Slash is the number one guitarist from 80s 90s and 00s and after! Nothing more to say about him. Wow! I really captured Slashes greatness in an one simple sentence. Nice lesson.
    holelotsand46 wrote: DUDE WHY ISN'T MATT BELLAMY A GUITAR GURU?
    lol like his not so godly dude, you know. It's not his job to be an guitar god like Jimmie, Ritchie, Slash, Wylde, Page, Randy, Iommi, Beck, Clapton, Vaughan...
    glassinthegrass
    Slash, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton or whoever of the many great guitar players out there never picked up a guitar and were able to play scales, chords, arpeggios, chord progressions etc without learning any theory. you are not a good guitar player if you disagree. sorry, its true. people may be able to hear a song and duplicate it by searching for the right notes on the fretboard. Learning theory and guitar is like learning another language. it can be hard and frustrating as all hell but if you stick with it, it will really pay off. who's gonna know how to understand a language right from the start and be able to create dialogue. sure, some people learn faster than others but it takes absolute dedication to be as good as those guys and lots and lots of practice. Go read anything about Jimi Hendrix no where will it say that he picked up a guitar and had perfect tone so he can play anything. you'll always read something like they stayed in their room all the time practicing and practicing while their siblings went out partyin'.
    miskatsu
    Im an huge Slash fan, and this was nice lesson... Though I don't still understand these Gutiar Guru things -.-'... And every guitar help/instruction book says: "Steal from everyone else..."
    Fezzi
    EldonsName24 wrote: wow his 2nd solo from "Enstranged" should've been on here hwta a lovely solo that is man it gives Me chills
    Yeah it's a pretty ****ing awesome solo, but it dosen't really teach allot of his technique
    matt_guitar150
    brokenanthem wrote: dommyx wrote: Guitargod12345 wrote: Yeah, Jimi Hendrix didn?t need theory, but he was a genius He needed theory, how did his solos match his songs then He had perfect pitch You don't have to know theory and you don't have to know theory. A guy that I used to play with just learned a lot of scales and messed around with it for years until he just knew what sounded good with what.
    Willie Alder is like that too. GP magazine says he plays soley by ear. He played what sounded good. If Hendrix wrote a riff he liked, he probably movede it into different keys until it blended with the chords.