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Slash and the Gibson Les Paul

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.



Superstar of Guitar, Slash

Imagine a star musician so famous he's almost exclusively known by a single syllable nickname. Imagine further that that man is so visually recognizable he could be identified by all who know of him by just his silhouette. Of course we are talking about the great guitarist, Slash.

Rolling Stone magazine lists Slash as number sixty five on the list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time." His riff to the song Sweet Child o' Mine is listed as the greatest riff by Total Guitar, on their list of "The 100 Greatest Riffs." Guitar World magazine ranks his solo for the song November Rain, as number six on their "The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos."

Clearly our man Slash knows his business. He's got a net worth in excess of ninety million dollars to back the fact he knows his business. Let's be clear about this, Slash is everything a rock and roll star is supposed to be. Who even knows how many millions he's partied away? All the fame, all the money, all the global recognition he has achieved, and it is almost all accomplished with the use of a Gibson Les Paul guitar.

Slash and the Les Paul

Slash and the Les Paul

Slash, Gibson's Global Ambassador

Not only is Mr. Slash a bigshot guitarist, he's Gibson's global ambassador. Slash is the first person to ever officially have the position, but if you think about it, Mr. Les Paul once held the spot, albeit without the official title.

So what is Slash doing as global ambassador? He's developing guitars, of course, marketing, and arranging events. So far as developing guitars go, he's doing this with Gibson's Epiphone line as well.

Slash owns around one hundred guitars. This is a very modest number for a guitarist on his economic level. Almost all of his guitars are Gibson, and the majority of those are Gibson Les Pauls. Probably no one since the heyday of Jimmy Page has been so closely associated with the Les Paul as is Slash.

Gibson first made a Slash Les Paul prototype in 1989. This instrument was never put into production. The first production Slash Les Paul was produced in 1996. How many different Slash Les Paul models are there? So far as my research has been able to discover, there are 22 distinctly different production model Gibson Slash Les Paul guitars, and two different Gibson Slash Firebird guitars.

With all these Gibson Slash model guitars, I couldn't possibly discuss all of them, opine on their features, list their specifications, and provide photos and videos. The page would be gigantic, and would likely take forever to load on your device. Instead I will present info for five of what I think are the most significant models of Slash Les Paul. I'll go ahead and ask for forgiveness in advance, should a reader own one of the ones I'm not featuring here.

2008 Gibson USA Slash Les Paul Standard

2008 Gibson USA Slash Les Paul Standard

2008 Gibson Slash Les Paul Standard

The 2008 Gibson Slash Les Paul Standard is significant in that this is the single model with the most individuals produced. How many were made? Sixteen hundred of these were made. So this is the Slash Les Paul where you've got the best shot of finding, buying, and owning one.

The neck of these guitars was designed by Slash. This neck profile is often referred to as the Slash neck profile. Before this guitar was created, the neck profile simply did not exist.

The burst finish is very attractive, and is referred to as a vintage sunburst. The maple top is AA grade maple, and so it has pretty significant flame to it. Between the truss rod cover, and the Gibson mother of pearl logo inlay on the headstock, there is some very cool inlay work which is of a drawing by Slash.

Slash prefers Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro humbuckers, and so that's what you've got here. These are low output passive pickups, and they are ideal for classic rock. If you are the type of person who likes to use your volume controls on your amp and your guitar to go from clean tones to distortion, then these will be wonderful pickups for you to have in any humbucker pup guitar.

The 2008 Gibson Slash Les Paul Standard sold then for thirty five hundred dollars. Today you can buy one on the used market, usually from between fifteen hundred and three thousand, depending on how used it is. Do not confuse these with a present day Les Paul Standard, as these have much more basic circuitry, as in no coil splits or phase reversal.

2008 Gibson Slash Les Paul Standard features:

  • 1600 units produced
  • Mahogany body with AA grade maple top
  • Gibson Slash profile neck
  • Slash's artwork on headstock
  • TonePro bridge and tail-piece
  • Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro Humbuckers
2010 Gibson USA Slash Appetite For Destruction Les Paul

2010 Gibson USA Slash Appetite For Destruction Les Paul

2010 Gibson Slash Appetite for Destruction Les Paul

In 1987 the album Appetite for Destruction was released. It would receive nothing in the way of radio airplay or media attention that year. In 1988 the album took off, and all the classic hits became, for a time, FM radio staples. Thirty million albums were sold, and it was here where nearly everyone, myself included, was introduced to Slash.

I personally loved the album. I still listen to it a lot now. This was very rowdy music, booze, illicit substances, and too much testosterone were themes. Hey, it made the band great, and the lifestyle would later nearly kill poor Slash, so be warned.

Gibson produced three different versions of a Slash Appetite for Destruction Les Paul in 2010. The most expensive ones are aged and signed by Slash, there were one hundred of those produced. Three hundred vintage original specification models were produced, and then six hundred less expensive ones, which also were chambered for weight relief.

The first two varieties are extremely expensive, and the least expensive one isn't exactly cheap either. What is most interesting in all of this is the guitar Slash used to record Appetite? Yeah, that wasn't a Gibson Les Paul at all. It was a custom made instrument built to be just like a 1959 Gibson Les Paul reissue.

2010 Gibson Slash Appetite for Destruction Les Paul features:

  • AAA Carved figured maple top
  • Solid mahogany back with traditional weight relief
  • Gently aged "Appetite" finish with a natural top and faded cherry back
  • Slash signature smoking skull with top hat artwork on headstock
  • Set mahogany neck with rounded '60s profile
  • Seymour Duncan Slash Signature Alnico Pro II humbuckers
  • Special capacitors selected by Slash for vintage tone
  • Aged Chrom TonePros hardware
  • Single-ply cream binding on top
2013 Gibson USA Slash Les Paul Rosso Corsa

2013 Gibson USA Slash Les Paul Rosso Corsa

2013 Gibson Slash Les Paul Rosso Corsa

In 2013 Gibson created five different Slash model Les Paul guitars. Three of the five were modeled after the 1959 Les Paul which had been owned by Slash, and previously by Joe Perry. Slash, being a super nice person, especially when dealing with his friends and role models, returned the guitar to Joe, as a gift for his fiftieth birthday.

The other two Slash Les Paul models produced in 2013 were the Rosso Corsa finished guitar, and its sibling, the Vermillion. Rosso Corsa translates as 'racing red.' There were twelve hundred of each guitar produced.

I chose to show the Rosso Corsa simply because I liked the color better than the Vermillion guitar. These guitars are identical except for the coloring, and with twenty four hundred available, selling at around twenty five hundred dollars, these are plentiful and priced really well.

The tops of these guitars are rated as AAA grade maple. By 2013, Slash's relationship with Seymour Duncan had progressed to where there were Slash model SD humbuckers, and those are what are used here. The pickups are very similar, and feature the sound of Alnico II magnets.

2013 Gibson Slash Les Paul Rosso Corsa features:

  • Mahogany body with AAA grade maple top
  • 1200 Units produced
  • Mahogany neck with ’60s SlimTaper profile
  • Seymour Duncan Slash signature humbuckers
  • Orange Drop tone capacitors
  • Slash artwork silkscreen on head-stock
  • TonePro bridge and tailpiece
2017 Gibson USA Slash 1958 Les Paul 'First Standard.

2017 Gibson USA Slash 1958 Les Paul 'First Standard.

2017 Gibson Slash 1958 Les Paul First Standard

The original Les Paul Model featured a gold finish from its introduction in 1952 until it received a new cherry sunburst in 1958 along with a new name, "Les Paul Standard." It debuted at the July 1958 Music Industry Trade Show in Chicago but it didn't catch on until its beautiful appearance and resonant properties inspired the likes of countless guitar greats from the 1960s and 70s to start playing them.

Slash had been playing his 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard for a long time. He loved the guitar, and used it often in the studio, considering it a bit too precious to take out on the road often. What Slash did not know, however, was that his exact 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard happened to be the very first one ever made.

Imagine the luck! Well, from my own point of view, that is fortunate, and I don't mean just for Slash. So often historic guitars get gobbled up by collectors. It's much better for music fans for a playing musician to own such a thing, so we get the relief of knowing it is being used for its intended purpose, and we are maybe hearing it on a recording.

Gibson loves nothing more in this world than to recreate some of its own historic guitars. So you already know what happened here, the microscopes and all manner of instruments were deployed for the analysis of the first ever Gibson Les Paul Standard, owned by Slash.

Gibson made three versions of the guitar, and as is normal, they are the aged and signed by slash version, which is the most expensive one. Then the aged but not signed batch, followed by the reproductions which are neither aged nor signed. The least expensive batch, neither aged nor signed, sold for six thousand dollars.

2017 Gibson Slash 1958 Les Paul 'First Standard' features:

  • Top wood: 2-piece Maple
  • Body wood: Lightweight Mahogany
  • Body finish: Vintage Gloss
  • Neck shape: Replica '58 C
  • Truss rod: Historic
  • Neck finish: Gloss
  • Material: Solid Rosewood
  • Radius: 12 in.
  • Neck: CustomBucker Alnico III (replica cover)
  • Bridge: CustomBucker Alnico III (double black)
  • Special electronics: Hand-wired with Bumblebee capacitors
  • Nickel Color Tuning machines: 5 Kluson Deluxe Single Band, 1 Kluson Double Band
  • Special features: Limited edition, VOS treatment, Electronics
  • Accessories: Certificate of authenticity
Gibson USA Slash 1958 Brazilian Dream Les paul Standard.

Gibson USA Slash 1958 Brazilian Dream Les paul Standard.

2018 Gibson Slash 1958 Brazilian Dream Les Paul

It's late 2018, and the Gibson Slash Les Paul for this year features one of the most, if not the single most coveted tonewoods in the world, Brazilian rosewood. What's the deal with Brazilian rosewood? Over-harvesting of the wood has made it an endangered species of tree. It's a highly restricted material, and so it is extremely expensive.

If you wouldn't take my word for it, that there is absolute magic in Brazilian rosewood, then do take Slash's word for it, as he certainly agrees. Slash goes a step further and says that woods used on fingerboards make a tonal difference. I believe that is true, but there are some persons out there who dispute the validity of tonewoods and their tonal properties in regards to solid body electric guitars.

These guitars are also reproductions of 1958 Les Pauls. This begs the question, what is it about the 1958 Les Paul Slash loves so much? It's the neck. Most people who follow guitars know the 1959 Les Paul is super prized the world over, the 1958 a little less so. The chief difference between a '58 and a '59 is the size of the neck, the 1958 necks being fatter.

There are only one hundred and fifty of these guitars produced. They've only recently hit the market, and buddy, you need thirteen thousand dollars to buy one.

2018 Gibson Slash 1958 Brazilian Dream Les Paul features:

  • Accurate reproduction of a 1958 Les Paul Standard
  • Limited run of 150 — hand-signed and numbered by Slash himself
  • Lightweight mahogany body with 2-piece maple top
  • '58 "C"-shaped neck neck topped with a solid Brazilian rosewood fretboard
  • CustomBucker pickups for dead-on vintage PAF tone
  • Handwired harness, Bumblebee capacitors, and Switchcraft switch
  • Hide-glued mahogany neck with extended neck tenon for exceptional sustain and response
  • Vintage-style Kluson Green Key tuners, unmounted black single-ply pickguard, and original cellulose trapezoid inlays
  • Gorgeous thin VOS nitrocellulose lacquer finish
  • Includes a custom Slash lacquered Lifton case and certificate of authenticity
2018 Gibson Les Paul Studio

2018 Gibson Les Paul Studio

2018 Gibson Les Paul Studio

It's been said the Gibson Les Paul was God's gift to rock and roll music. That Slash, and so many others primarily play the thing bears this out well. You look at the guitars on this page, and your mind is boggled at the prices. As a penniless writer, I absolutely understand how frustrating all of this is.

You want a new Les Paul, and thirteen thousand dollars is more than your automobile is worth. What's a poor working person to do? You get a Gibson Les Paul Studio model, and you start working on your musical dreams from there.

Slash likes a simple Les Paul. How could that be so with all these fancy guitars? They're all simpler Les Pauls than a modern Les Paul Standard. Slash doesn't use coil splits or phase reversal, none of that fancy stuff suits him. The Gibson Les Paul Studio, literally, has fancier circuitry than the Slash guitars, as these have coil splits.

These are the Les Pauls I can legitimately hope to own. With Gibson's fantastic '57 Classic humbuckers, there is all the PAF tonal glory anyone could ever need. Other Gibson humbuckers are not better, just tweaked to reflect more of one thing, or less of another. Split the coils and you've got a much more country and western twang tonality available to you.

If you're a super hardcore Slash fan? Yeah, you can have some Slash Seymour Duncans installed. Myself, I hope to be able to afford one someday soon, and it will sure be a sweet child of mine.

2018 Gibson Les Paul Studio Vintage Sunburst features:

  • A stage and studio workhorse
  • Ultra-Modern, weight-relieved body allows for longer sets and sessions
  • Mahogany SlimTaper neck plays like a '60s favorite
  • Rosewood fingerboard delivers classic Les Paul sustain
  • Coil tapped 57 Classic humbucking pickups provide classic PAF cleans to quacky single-coil cluck
  • Grover kidney tuners are studio stable
  • Aluminum Tune-o-matic bridge is lightweight and tonally matched to the guitar
  • Plek'd for precision playability
A very young Slash with his mother and father.

A very young Slash with his mother and father.

Saul Hudson, the Man Known as Slash

Saul Hudson, known and loved the world over as Slash, was born in London, the child of an Englishman and an African-American woman. Slash's parents were anything but typical. Slash recalls being a child, and David Bowie visiting his home, not once, but often.

Slash, after beginning to play guitar, felt especially suited for it as he is both British, and black. Think of all the great blues-rock guitarist, so many of them are British guys who were in thrall to the sounds of US black bluesmen.

Young Saul did not begin to play guitar until the relatively late age of fifteen, but he'd been exposed to not just art and music his entire childhood, but also high profile artists and musicians. He had a school teacher who played Cream and Led Zeppelin songs on guitar, and he reports knowing, after hearing such, that that was what he really wanted to do.

Slash had become friends with Steven Adler at a young age. He'd later meet Duff McKagan, and Axl Rose, and with Adler and Izzy Stradlin, form Guns N' Roses. Though Slash has had a long and varied career, for me he's always going to be the lead guitarist from Guns N' Roses. The band would be a tremendous success, and its music was a clean and total break from the previously popular glam metal, and would also offer a distinctly different vibe from the growing in popularity thrash metal.

Before ever getting a record deal, Guns N' Roses would earn a notorious reputation as a band of hoodlums. They were dangerous people, and the sons of controversy. These were the things which I loved, and the anti political correctness of the songs would bring pure joy into my heart.

Appetite for Destruction would be the most successful debut album in US history. G N' R Lies would sell five million copies, despite it having only eight songs on it. Use Your Illusion I, and Use Your Illusion II would simultaneously debut as the number one and number two album on US charts. No one had ever dreamed of doing something like that before.

Superstardom didn't sit well with everyone, however, and soon the band began to fall apart. Massive egos and substance abuse are both chaotic elements for an ensemble, and Guns N' Roses had both in spades. They'd still hang on to produce my favorite G N'R album, The Spaghetti Incident, which is mostly a hodgepodge of punk rock covers, and even a song by Charlie Manson.

Slash would go on, and form Slash's Snakepit, and this was all well and good, but when he joined in with Velvet Revolver, my generation of fan felt like a wonderful thing had happened, as Slash was now paired with a vocalist at least good enough to be in the same conversation as Axl Rose.

Slash is still active today, and one never knows when or if a Guns N' Roses album will happen. Slash stays busy by recording with more persons than can be listed here, and by being a genuinely nice guy. There are many lengthy video interviews available online, and gosh darnit, Mr. Slash just seems extremely personable and even humble. Lets all wish him the best in the years to come. Thanks for reading.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Wesman Todd Shaw


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on November 19, 2018:

Thanks very much, Poppy! I admit I'm trying to be encyclopedic about all of this.

Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on November 19, 2018:

You are incredibly knowledgeable about guitars and the great Slash himself! Of course, the type of instrument a musician uses contributes greatly to his or her performance. I've always liked rock music, though unfortunately, I don't know much about guitars.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on October 27, 2018:

Hey Thanks! I definitely do not get in any kind of hurry. I try to triple check things, and sometimes still get something wrong.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 27, 2018:

This is a very detailed article. Your guitar knowledge is impressive.