We all know the story of Slash’s legendary ‘58 Les Paul, ‘Burst number 8-3096 which is supposed to be the first Les Paul Standard, or at least the one that was presented in NAMM to introduce the new model to resellers. That historic piece has been painstakingly replicated by the Gibson Custom Shop in 2017, and they only made 300 or those, and only half of them were reliced.
2017 was a big year for Slash since that was the height of the Not in this Lifetime Tour, during which he performed no less than 83 3-hour-long concerts with Guns n’ Roses. Before that, 2016 was the year of Coachella and 47 other GNR shows. Therefore, Slash has had the opportunity to test-drive a few prototypes of his guitar on tour to make sure everything was perfect, so he could play them like he intended to. Those test guitars are called Artist Proof, and it is impossible to know how many were made before Slash actually gave Gibson the thumbs up for starting production.
This guitar is Artist Proof #4, and it was made in 2017, which probably means it is one of the last, among the closest to perfection. An expert eye will notice a few minute differences with a regular Aged First Standard, such as a slightly longer top part of the headstock, just like on a true ‘Burst. Judging by that Les Paul’s impressive sound and the fact that this is one of the finest reissues we’ve been lucky enough to play, it makes sense that this would be the Artist Proof that served as the template for the production models.
Group : Guns N’ Roses
Main guitar : Gibson Les Paul Standard 1959 Kris Derrig
An absolute “must-hear” track : Welcome To The Jungle
Without Slash, it is likely that the Les Paul would be nothing more than a relic of the past that would only interest hard-core Clapton fans. Yet, with the sheer force of his legendary riffs and the wet, seductive sound he gets out of his Les Paul, this ultimate guitar hero brought the sunburst back into fashion and even made it his trademark, just like his top hat and long curly hair.
Saul Hudson (his real name) was a pure product of the eighties, to the point that he even auditioned for the kings of glam, Poison. But he managed a beautiful metamorphosis by joining Hollywood Rose, the group that would become Guns N’ Roses. He and singer Axl Rose reinvented themselves as bad boys, junky dandies, and post-glam rockers, breathing new life into the model of the dangerous duo of a singer and his lead guitarist, based on the model of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. With rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, Slash created a guitar sound that became the soundtrack of the late 1980s with the huge album Appetite For Destruction (1987), on which there are as many unforgettable riffs as there are tracks; Welcome To The Jungle, Nightrain, Mr Brownstone, and many more. The next album, Use Your Illusion (1991), confirmed the band’s status as a global colossus, embarking on a two-year non-stop tour. Slash was at the height of his fame, and all the teenagers of the time wanted a Les Paul to learn how to play the intro to Sweet Child O’ Mine.
Tired of tensions within the band, Slash finally left in 1996 to devote himself to his solo project, the very bluesy Slash’s Snakepit. He also appeared as a guest on many albums by other artists, from Michael Jackson to Bob Dylan and Lenny Kravitz. In 2002, he founded Velvet Revolver with former Guns N’ Roses members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum. But the curse of the singer followed Slash into that band and he had to fire Scott Weiland in 2008 because of his pervasive dope habit. In 2010, the curly-headed virtuoso did what was expected of him and released an album under his own name, a solo venture on which all his singing friends came to lend a hand. Among them, it was Myles Kennedy who became the singer for the following solo albums.
Finally, in 2016, Slash returned to Guns N’ Roses for a memorable sold-out tour. The band plays as if its life depended on it. The concerts are long and exciting, and Slash has permanently attained the status of a living guitar god. And his signature Les Pauls are selling better than ever.