Want to play guitar like Slash? We show you our favourite techniques to shred like the legendary Guns N’ Roses guitarist
One of the most iconic guitar heroes on the planet - both visually and stylistically - is Guns N’ Roses guitar slinger Slash.
With a style firmly rooted in 70s British Blues Rock and mixed with a healthy dose of 80s LA hedonism, Slash’s guitar style has inspired countless players.
In this lesson we’re going to take a look at some of his guitar habits and look at how you can bring a little bit of his swagger to your own riffs and licks.
Put your top hat on and make sure you wear your guitar low for this one!
Slash usually tunes his guitar down half a step to Eb, but all the licks and riffs in this lesson are recorded in standard tuning. They are all in the key of A Minor.
Slash Style Riff
This riff combines power chord hits and some fast picked, palm muted notes. Slash would often alternate between these two techniques to create dynamic riffs that really make you want to bob your head.
At the end of the first bar there is a quick descending pull-off run.
When playing riffs with a Slash-style flavour don’t stick too rigidly to set note lengths - allow the riff to flow a little and breathe. Slash’s playing has a loose swagger to it, so you don’t want to be too tight when playing this because that will remove the feel from it.
Natural Minor Scale
As a disciple of 60s and 70s blues rock it’s no surprise that Slash bases a large amount of his playing around common Pentatonic scale shapes. He also uses the Natural Minor scale for some additional notes. This shape fits nicely over your first position Pentatonic scale.
Melodic Bending Lick
Melody and phrasing are huge in the Slash playbook. This melodic bending lick uses the fourth shape of the Minor Pentatonic scale and focuses on a hook that you can sing.
The use of pre-bends is common in Slash’s more melodic moments as they create a very vocal-sounding guitar line. This concept can be used in any position of the scale, but be sure to focus on the phrasing and the melody. He always made those lines sing!
Fast Pentatonic Phrase
This fast, first position Minor Pentatonic lick is a great rock lick to throw into some more dynamic moments of your Slash style solos.
This uses the first position but played an octave higher.
The lick is made up of a bend, followed by a fast triplet of picked notes. When moving between the 20 and 17th frets on the B string, you can add a pull-off to make the lick smoother. This is something you can experiment with as Slash would often combine both picked notes with pull-offs.
Slash Style Note Flurries
While Slash isn’t necessarily renowned as a shredder he certainly had his share of speedy guitar moments over the years. This descending Natural Minor lick is an example of how Slash would use fast note slurries to create some urgent sounding passages.
Don’t let the note length dictate the lick too much when playing like this.
Slash had a very fluid, freeform style. Notes don’t have to be played with microscopic accuracy - allow the lick to flow.