Guns 'N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction (1987)
Slash's Appetite For Destruction tone has gained almost mythical status these day. Guns 'n' Roses' 1987 debut, Appetite For Destruction, was not just the result of bagfuls of talent from all members involved, however - it also required plenty of good fortune along the way.
Debate has raged over exactly what gear was used during the Appetite sessions - mainly because Slash himself has claimed that he can't remember (don't do drugs, kids!). It is now widely accepted, however, that Slash's Appetite For Destruction tone was achieved with a ’59 Les Paul Standard replica and a rented Marshall amplifier. A very special amplifier...
The guitar, a replica based on the highly sought after 1959 Les Paul, is thought to have been built by luthier Kris Derrig and fitted with Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro humbuckers. Slash chose this guitar for its sound, and he ended up using it in later recording sessions too.
The amp was (depending on whose story you believe) either a modified 100W Marshall Super Tremolo ("1959T") or Super Lead ("1959"), rented out by Studio Instrument Rentals in Los Angeles for the Appetite sessions.
The Super Tremolo in question, referred to by the company as "Stock #39", had been modded by SIR tech Tim Caswell, who converted the unused valve-driven tremolo circuit into an additional pre-amp gain stage, and added a master volume control.
The Super Lead amp - "Stock #36" - was an attempt by Tim's replacement, Frank Levi, to replicate the tone of Stock #39 since it was proving an extremely popular rental amp.
Whichever amp it actually was, Slash loved its sound so much he attempted to keep it by claiming it had been stolen, although when it was recognised by SIR techs at rehearsals following the sessions, they took it back: and so ended Slash's relationship with his Appetite tone.
Modifed Marshall 100 watts 1959T Super Lead. Image courtesy of slashparadise.com
Not technically a pedal, but Slash used a rackmounted Roland SRV-2000 Digital Reverb during the sessions, set to the unit's "secret" delay mode for parts such as the intro to "Welcome To The Jungle", and using the more conventional reverb setting for many other parts.
Slash also used an MXR Analog Chorus and a Dunlop Crybaby Wah for several parts on the album.
Slash's Guitar Gear:
- Replica 1959 Les Paul
- Roland SRV-2000 Digital Reverb
- MXR Analog Chorus
- Dunlop Crybaby Wah
- 100W Marshall Super Tremolo / Super Lead
Your best bet to replicate Slash's Appetite For Destruction tone is to use a Gibson or Epiphone Les Paul with lower output pickups (Alnico II would be best) into a Marshall Super Lead. You could also use a Marshall Silver Jubilee or even a JCM800 to get you in the ballpark - Slash himself has toured with Silver Jubilees for quite a number of years now.
In terms of pedals for the Appetite For Destruction sound, less is more! Slash's sound isn't as gain-heavy as many people think, although the rich mid-range certainly gives it that impression.
If you need to get control of your sound, try adding the Basic Audio Futureman to your setup. It's a mid-gain overdrive that has a flexible EQ section that can really tighten up your sound. The added bonus is that as a dynamic overdrive it can push your tubes, and gets surprisingly gainy at higher settings.
Of course, the mixing process will have sculpted and polished Slash's guitar tone, adding in effects such as reverb and compression as well as all those nuances that analogue outboard studio equipment can add. So if you really want to nail it, postprocessing using outboard equipment or high quality plugins will get you that final 5%.
Slash's modern setup
These days, Slash tours with a host of Marshall Silver Jubilee heads, some of which are set up specifically for a clean tone. Slash also uses plenty of rackmount equipment, including an MXR 10-band EQ, Boss NS-2 Noise Supressor, Custom Audio Electronics Boost/Line Driver and Boss DD-3T Delay (straight into front of amp for the intro of Welcome To The Jungle).