Slash discussed The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith in a recent WTF with Marc Maron interview. Ultimate-Guitar transcribed his comments.
You play mostly Les Pauls, but at the beginning, to get the tone you wanted – did you fuck with the electronics or did you just do amp and guitar shit?
“Okay, that’s a deep question. When I first started, I think I had a little Fender Princeton, it was this little Fender combo thing, and the first electric guitar that I had was a Memphis Les Paul copy. This was in 1980.
“So I started playing right around my birthday, so 14 going on 15. I had an acoustic guitar that I learned on, it had only one string on it, so I learned all these one-string riffs.
“And then I had this cool guitar teacher in town, that was named Robert Wuhl. It was great. He taught me how to put the other strings on.
How did you find a guitar teacher?
“There was a music school on Fairfax and Santa Monica.”
So did you have this cathartic moment when you’re like, ‘I’m going to be a guitar player’?
“When I got an electric guitar, the first thing I did was take that little Princeton. And I had the Les Paul copy, I got one of those MXR distortion plus pedals, the cute green-yellow kind of thing, and that was that moment where I was like, ‘Wow.’
“And I was like, learning about what everybody’s using. I think all I’ve been doing ever since then is just trying to do what it is that turned me on in the first place.”
It’s like drugs. So you’re that young and that first time you turn that MXR distortion, it’s a very specific type of distortion, and it’s a little compressed…
“It’s a little compressed. I mean, when you’re 14-15, you sort of really graduate from there, but the one thing about music and about guitar sounds that’s different from drugs, is that there are always plateaus that you can reach and it goes on forever.
“With drugs, you hit that one place, usually in the first couple weeks you started doing it, and it’s all downhill from there.”
In terms of natural ability versus practicing your ass off – I mean, you can have the feel and stuff – but in order for you to get from the beginning there, what were you learning, how were you practicing to get here?
“That guy Robert, he said he’s going to teach me guitar lessons, so we started out like, ‘I don’t know if you ever took piano lessons, scales and whatnot, but if you can learn this lesson by next week, I’ll teach you any song you want me to teach you.’
“So I was like, ‘Okay, cool.’ I was into the Zeppelin, Sabbath, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick. I really liked The Stones and Beatles, and The Who, there’s tons of records I loved.”
That first Aerosmith record is underrated.
“It is underrated. But, all things considered, in 1973 it didn’t sound as good as other records did it. Sonically, I think that’s why they didn’t cross over.
“Anyway, I can’t remember what the first riff I had him teach me was, but I watched him do it, he put the record on and he had the guitar, and he sat there and listened to it and figured out the notes.
“So I eventually left there with all due respect to Robert, I learned a lot of cool things, some picking techniques, just up and down picking, pentatonics…
“So I quit with the lessons and I just started learning. I was learning, you know, Keith and Mick stuff, some of the open chords stuff… I didn’t go all the way down, Keith’s got a lot of open-chord techniques which didn’t totally interest me.
“I know more of it now than I had known then, but a lot of Mick Taylor single-note lead stuff, ‘Can You Hear Me Knocking’, that solo.
“The guitar and I were inseparable. I used to walk around with one of those tape decks, like a Panasonic and some cassettes, and it was just that and my guitar.”