How to Sound Like Slash: Amp Settings Guide


Slash is one of the most iconic guitarists of all time and many aspiring players want to try and emulate his tone, but it’s not always so easy. In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of dialling in the best amplifier settings to sound like the legendary lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses and give you example amp settings for plenty of their most popular songs.

Quick Guide to GNR’s Amp Settings

To sound like Slash, start with the following amp settings:

  • Gain: 6-7
  • Bass: 5-6
  • Mids: 6-7
  • Treble: 6-7

These settings are designed to be used as a rough starting point. Unless you own Slash’s exact rig for a particular song, it’s almost impossible to get the tone spot on. However, I’ve designed this article to guide you through the process of setting up your amp to get as close as possible to Slash’s tone, regardless of the equipment you own.

Dissecting Slash’s Tone

Before we jump into some example amp settings for specific GN’R songs, it’s a good idea to go through the fundamentals and get an idea of what settings underpin Slash’s iconic tone.

If we take a look at his rig, there are two main constants:

  • Les Paul guitar
  • Marshall amp

Both these pieces of equipment give Slash plenty of mid-range frequencies and saturation. Depending on your rig, you may need to compensate by increasing the mids and gain setting to achieve this kind of tone.

Let’s take a look at each setting individually to get a good starting point.

Gain

In general, Slash uses a decent amount of distortion on most tracks. If you have a solid state amp, then use the distorted channel (if your amp has two channels) and start with this on around 6-7 to begin with. If you have a tube (valve) amp, then you’ll need to crank it until you achieve a tone which sounds quite overdriven.

Depending on your amp, the level you’ll need adjust the gain control to will vary. If you have something like a Marshall, Orange or Boss amp then starting at 6-7 is most likely the best option. However, if you have a cleaner amp like a Fender, then it may need to be higher. Also, if your guitar has single coil pickups, then you will probably need to increase your amp’s gain setting more.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to use your amps gain, you can use an overdrive or distortion pedal to get your gain. This is useful because on quite a few songs (e.g. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door and November Rain) Slash uses a clean tone to start with. Using a pedal will allow you to easily switch between the tones without having to adjust your amp.

EQ/ Tone (Bass, Mids, Treble)

The EQ section of your amplifier shapes the tone. Some amps have independent treble, bass and mids controls, whilst others will have a single EQ/ tone control which combines them into one control.

As I mentioned earlier, Slash uses a lot of mid-range in his tone so start with this on 6-7 to make sure the tone is full and doesn’t get lost in the mix. If you have single coil pickups or a Fender amp then this may need to be a bit higher to compensate for the lack of mid-range emphasis with your rig.

The bass setting is kept moderate for most songs so start with it on 5-6 to avoid the tone becoming too “boomy” and verging on metal. If you feel like the tone is too thin, then it may be useful to turn it up slightly. However, if the tone sounds muddy and loose instead of crunchy, then turn it down.

Since Slash is the lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, you’ll need to have a decent amount of treble. Treble controls the high-end frequencies and is responsible for making the tone sound clear and crisp. I recommend starting with this on 6-7 to begin with. If you find that the tone is too harsh then it may need to be turned down. Alternatively, if it sounds muddy then you can turn it up.

Some amps also have other controls such as presence and contour. Check out my complete guide to amplifier controls to learn how to adjust these controls and many more to get the best settings possible.

Make sure you also check out the brand-specific amp controls guide which is relevant to you, to get the most from your rig:

Effects

Whilst in most cases your amp will be sufficient to help you achieve a similar tone to Slash, utilising effects as well will help you take your tone to the next level. Some amps have built-in effects which can be very useful, alternatively you can use effects pedals.

Reverb is useful in most songs as it prevents the tone from sounding dry and lifeless, particularly when using cleaner tones. An overdrive/ distortion/ boost pedal is also useful for kicking it up a notch when switching to solos.

Here are some other effects which are useful when trying to sound like Slash:

  • Delay (useful for some songs including Welcome to the Jungle and Rocket Queen)
  • Wah (useful for some songs including Sweet Child O’ Mine, Paradise City and You Could Be Mine)
  • Chorus (useful for some songs including Paradise City)
  • Compressor (increases sustain)
  • Noise Suppressor (reduces the amount of feedback)

Sounding like Slash isn’t just about your amp settings, it’s about your skills too.
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Here are some example amp settings for some of Guns N’ Roses most popular songs to play on the electric guitar. These are not the exact settings used by Slash, and they may need tweaking to suit your rig. However, you can use them to get a good starting point and then take a look at the next section in the article to address any issues you might be having.

Sweet Child O’ Mine Amp Settings

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble 8

Welcome to the Jungle Amp Settings

  • Gain: 7
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble 6

Paradise City Amp Settings

Clean:

  • Gain: 1
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 6

Distorted:

  • Gain: 6
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 6

November Rain Amp Settings

Clean:

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 6

Solo:

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 8
  • Treble: 8

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door Amp Settings

Clean:

  • Gain: 1
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 5

Distorted:

  • Gain: 6
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 8
  • Treble: 6

You Could Be Mine Amp Settings

Clean:

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 6

Solo:

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 8
  • Treble: 8

Live and Let Die Amp Settings

Clean:

  • Gain: 1
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 4
  • Treble: 4

Solo:

  • Gain: 6
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 5
  • Treble: 7

Don’t Cry Amp Settings

Clean:

  • Gain: 1
  • Bass: 6
  • Mids: 4
  • Treble: 5

Distorted:

  • Gain: 8
  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 7
  • Treble: 8

I’ve also made an article with example amp settings for over 40 popular guitar songs here to help you sound more like your favourite players.

Common Issues

Don’t worry if your tone doesn’t sound spot on yet! This next section aims to fix any problems you might be having in your quest to sound like Slash.

I’ve listed some common issues you might be having with your tone and how to adjust your amp settings to fix them.

With each issue, you’ll find a list of multiple “fixes”. It’s not necessary to adjust every setting on the fix list, it’s actually better to make one tweak at a time and listen for the differences. The fixes are all listed in order of priority so you can easily work through them.

High Feedback

  • Decrease the gain
  • Decrease the volume
  • Position the amp in front of the guitar and as far away from it as you can
  • Use a noise gate pedal

Muddy and Muffled Tone

  • Make sure you are using the bridge pickup and that the guitar’s volume and tone controls are on full
  • Increase the treble
  • Decrease the bass

Not Enough Sustain

  • Increase the gain
  • Increase the bass
  • Increase the mids
  • Use a compressor pedal

Thin Tone

  • Increase the mids
  • Increase the bass
  • Increase the gain

Tone Sounds Too Harsh

  • Switch to the neck pickup if you are using the bridge or middle
  • Decrease the treble
  • Increase the bass

Frequently Asked Questions

What amps does Slash use?

Slash primarily uses Marshall amplifiers and is commonly associated with the JCM series.

What guitars does Slash use?

Slash is well-known for playing a Gibson Les Paul and has his own signature model.

Here are some more articles you might find useful:

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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