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There are guitarists, and then there are guitar gods...

Clad in leather, top hat on his head, cigarette dangling from his mouth -- Slash wailed his way into our lives with the legendary Guns N' Roses decades ago, and has been blazing a smoldering trail of rock 'n' roll ever since. His monumental and influential use of the Les Paul returned it to the spotlight as the quintessential rock guitar. His work with Velvet Revolver has influenced a younger generation of musicians to rock.

When Slash isn't laying down the baddest riffs on the planet, he is deeply involved with the design of guitars and amps that bear his signature, and reflect his singular approach to crafting the perfect tone. zZounds sat down with the legendary axe-slinger and picked his brain on his influences and techniques -- and we were surprised by some of the answers we got.

Epiphone Slash Appetite for Destruction Les Paul

  • New Ceramic Plus humbucking pickups
  • Bound AAA flame maple top with cherry mahogany back
  • Built-in Shadow pickup ring e-tuner
  • Includes custom gig bag with Snakepit logo, Slash signature Dunlop Tortex picks, guitar strap and instrument cable

New, $229.00
Learn more »

Dunlop SW95 Crybaby Slash Wah Pedal

  • Custom high-gain distortion circuit, combined with the Crybaby Classic circuit for instant screaming lead tones
  • Features the heralded Fasel Inductor for a sweet and singing top end
  • Tuned to Slash's specs for more upper-midrange focus and sparkle

New, $169.99 | Learn more »

zZ: What was the first song you learned to play?

Slash: The first song that I remember learning to play from end to end was "Tangerine" by Led Zeppelin.

zZ: Which album or song was the one that made you fall in love with playing guitar?

Slash: The Rocks album by Aerosmith had a big influence on me, but there were a lot of albums that really whet my appetite for playing guitar.

zZ: How has your English heritage played into your musical personality?

Slash: I was raised on the British rock bands of the time from as early on as I can remember. That was The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, Gene Vincent -- so all of that British music was a huge influence on me. Then when I moved to the States, that was augmented a bit -- but those bands really set the tone for my guitar playing and the type of music that I wanted to play.

zZ: Who are your 5 most major influences? Are they all guitarists?

Slash: My 5 major influences would be: Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Who, The Stones, and the fifth one is a bit of a wild card -- there are so many that could fill that last spot -- but I'd have to say BB King.

zZ: If you were getting ready to jump into the solo for "November Rain" right this second, which pedals do you have on?

Slash: I didn't use any pedals. I just had my amp, and my tone turned all the way off on my rhythm pickup -- that was it!

zZ: What are your thoughts about your signature Dunlop products? Do you and Jim Dunlop hang out?

Slash: I've hung out with Jim Dunlop in the past. I haven't hung out with him in a while, but we used to hang out. The Dunlop products are great! They've been the mainstay of my outboard gear for years. They provide me with boost pedals, wah wah pedals, and any other ancillary effects I might choose to use at any given time.

zZ: Your Slash signature Marshall head sounds amazing. Tell us about it and what makes it so cool. How was it working with Jim Marshall and Nick Bowcott?

Slash: Jim Marshall was always something of a hero of mine, and then he and I became close when I first started working with Marshall back in the '90s. Jim and I remained close all the way up until he passed away. Nick Bowcott has always been the liaison for me with Marshall, and somebody that I trust and respect over there.

The Marshall head has been something I've been developing over there since the '90s. The first Slash model Marshall was a cross between a JCM 800 and a Jubilee. Then there was the AFD one, which was obviously modeled after the sound that I used for the Appetite for Destruction record, and then I also did the little 5-watt combo. We've done some pretty cool stuff, and I'm actually looking to do some stuff with them in the not-too-distant future.

zZ: You're synonymous with a Les Paul live, but is there another axe lurking somewhere in your arsenal that is the "one" we don't know about?

Slash: There are no surprises in my arsenal. It's always been and probably always will be a Les Paul. I have one Les Paul that I've used primarily in the studio, which is actually a Les Paul copy. It's a copy of a '59 made by a guy named Chris Derrig who passed away some years ago, but made some amazing re-issue knockoffs. On some records I might pull a Strat out, or I might use a BC Rich or a 335 or something -- I did that a lot for Lose Your Illusion, and the Velvet Revolver record Libertad. But I just keep finding that I'm much more satisfied trying to get sounds out of a Les Paul, than trying to get a sound out of another guitar where it just ends up sounding like that guitar.

zZ: Your solo material is amazingly cool with Myles Kennedy singing. What drew you to work with him -- besides his amazing voice?

Slash: Outside of his voice, the thing that attracted me to Myles was the fact that he was so easy to get along with, so sincere, and so down-to-earth, and more or less simplistic about what he does. He's also a really hard worker, so those were really the personality traits that I found in Myles that drew me to him besides his voice.

zZ: On your solo records, do you value the vocals as much as the instrumentation?

Slash: I've never been a solo guy that's all about making a record that's all about guitar solos. It's always been more about the songs. The key and primary focus of the songs is the vocals, and then obviously the instrumentation, as far as the arrangement is concerned. But of course, the vocals always drive the song.

zZ: Switching gears, tell us about your Slasher Films production, "Nothing Left to Fear."

Slash: "Nothing Left to Fear" [released in the US October 8, 2013] was a $5-million-dollar movie that we only had 20 days to shoot. We got a lot of outside favors to help get it off the ground and eventually pull it off.

zZ: As one of the premier influences for a new generation of players, what advice would you give an
aspiring "Slash-head" to inspire them?

Slash: My advice to any guitar player is to differentiate what you like from what you don't like, and to be prepared to put an endless amount of work in -- probably more than what should be humanly possible -- and just commit to it. Do what inspires you -- listen to a lot of music and listen to a lot of different guitar players and make sure that you have exposure to a broad range of musical genres, and listen to everything carefully and figure out what it is you really like and learn it. I'd say that even though I don't read music, it never hurts to be able to read music. That's an added bonus for any musician -- if you can play by ear, it's always great to be able to read, too.

zZ: What inspires you to progress and evolve as a musician?

Slash: I'm inspired by the endless road that is music and that is the instrument. The possibilities are endless, and I don't think that I'll ever stop being inspired by it.

zZ: Do you think you've passed your creative spirit on to your children?

Slash: I definitely see a lot of similarities, at least from an artistic point of view, in my youngest son -- I started out as an artist or an illustrator, and he's picked that up and got really good at it at a really young age. And there's a lot of perseverance and work ethic in my older son; I definitely notice his determination. He's just as committed to whatever it is that he does as I am. I really see that trait from both myself and his mom.

zZ: What are the next moves for Slash? Any sneak previews, or hints you can share with zZounds?

Slash: I've got the movie coming out, and I'm working on the next Conspirators record and developing the material for that. Those are really the top priorities at the moment.

zZ: If you were to sum up the last 25 years of experiences into a long sentence, what would it say?

Slash: The last 25 years of experiences has been quite a roller coaster. All things considered, I wouldn't change anything, though -- because, good or bad, every single experience lends you into the next thing that you're going to do. And sometimes negative things turn into positive things, and occasionally positive things turn into negative things, but rarely. So, the last 25 years of experience has just been quite a ride!

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