It is hard to picture Slash without a Les Paul in his hands, so much did the virtuoso lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses restore the glory of that model in the late eighties, when its star was fading. And yet—being a pure product of the eighties—Slash has also regularly played guitars from B.C. Rich, Charvel, and made-to-order modern instruments hand crafted by luthiers. Two of those made-to-order guitars were built by Sammy Sanchez.
That name may not mean anything to the majority of guitar lovers, but it is required knowledge for the greats of this world. Sanchez has worked as a guitar tech for Ted Nugent, Larry Carlton, Toto, and has worked on the guitars of Stephen Stills, Santana, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, and The Black Crowes. For a short stint in the ‘90s, he made guitars for Kiss, David Lindley (a lap steel, which is an instrument that Sanchez himself has mastered to perfection) and Slash, before realising that the job of guitar tech paid a lot better.
Guitars that bear his signature are therefore extremely rare, and two of them were made for Slash. They were both Superstrats with a Gibson-style short scale so that the maestro did not have to get his left hand used to a new scale when he switched from a Les Paul to a Sanchez.
This creation has all the classic advantages of a Superstrat: Floyd Rose, screwed neck, string-lock saddle, matching black head with the Sanchez logo and typical eighties lettering, and two Seymour Duncan Alnico II pickups, Slash’s long-time favourite. The guitarist had chosen this guitar for the talkbox riffs on the bluesy track Dust N’ Bones during the gigantic Use Your Illusion tour in 1991. We can see Slash playing the Sanchez in several videos from that time. And when we hear the bold sound that comes out of it, we quickly understand that Slash would have found his distinctive sound even if he had never had a Les Paul.
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.