Saul Hudson – a.k.a. Slash – has just turned 48 yet he shows no signs of slowing down into a comfortable middle age. He has plans for a new album with Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators , and a new variation on his favorite Gibson Les Pauls is out now.

With a career of success and excess spanning three decades, Slash is also full of insightful guitar anecdotes and advice on how he’s become the most-revered hard rock guitarist since, what, the 1970s?

Get your top hats and leather pants on to learn some Slash wisdom…

On getting his first guitar from his grandmother…

“She went into the closet and dug out a guitar,” he told Guitar Center. “We lived in a small apartment. I don’t know how this escaped my knowledge, that there was a guitar in this closet, but she pulled out this flamenco guitar. It had one string and I didn’t know anything about guitars, so I just learned stuff on that one string for a while. After that I graduated to a Memphis Les Paul copy.”

On the albums that inspired him (as also told to Guitar Center)…

Jeff Beck, Blow by Blow, is a big one for me; Hendrix Axis: Bold as Love, Disraeli Gears from Cream – I know these are all ancient records, but they're just what I was sort of weaned on – Led Zeppelin II, and Aerosmith Rocks.”

Yet Slash also has some unlikely heroes. “The first Cars record – Elliot Easton, great guitar player. Nobody would ever expect that, but if you were going to listen to a really cool sort of Les Paul guy, that first record would probably surprise a lot of people.”

For an album for guitar tone alone, Slash recommends Degüello by ZZ Top.

Talking of tone, here’s Slash’s tips on his classic Gibson Les Paul + Marshall amps sound…

“The longer I’ve been doing this, the more I’ve come to realize that less is more, and the more you can simplify it, the better,” he told Guitar Messenger. “In doing this last [Slash] record, it was basically just one Les Paul and one amp for the whole production. I’ve been out on the road at this point, and I’ve got two heads on the road and fewer guitars than normal, and that just works better.

“It even comes down to the less knobs that are on the amp, the better. Working with the simplest tools possible is really when you get the best results.”

On recognizing a good amp, he says, “I think the easiest way for me to recognize what an amp sounds like is to turn everything on seven.”

On his love of blues, he told his own Snakepit.org

“Buddy Guy is one of the best rock’n’roll blues guitar players there has ever been. I jammed with him a couple of times at his club in Chicago, and it was great. He was this huge, blistering lead guitar player, and there aren't many of them left.”

Remembering his late friend, Les Paul…

“Les was great because he was always full of energy. He was one of those people who didn’t take no for an answer. He was a bit of an adventurer, a little bit of a maverick. He was well-mannered, very astute, very loving, good sense of humor and definitely a caring guy. At the same time he was a little tough guy, too, when it came down to it.”

And why he loves Gibson Les Pauls…

“Gibson felt that I had something to do with bringing the Les Paul back into the mainstream,” Slash told Gibson.com. “Les Pauls have been the premier guitar for me for as long as I can remember. I’ve gone through the whole trial-and-error experimentation period in my younger days, trying to figure out which guitars to use. But I was always drawn to a Les Paul.”

On his vintage guitar habit, which has him owning over 100 electric guitars, he told (appropriately) Vintage Guitar

“Over the years I’ve picked up instruments that I’d pay huge sums of money for and are very special to me; the original Les Paul Standards from ’59 and ’58; the Goldtops – a ’58, a ’57, and a ’56 with P-90s; the doubleneck is a ’67 EDS-1275 that I found at Guitars R Us. It was already refinished in black, but I got it when I was buying guitars for particular songs.

“That one was the “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” guitar, and I had it on the road just for that one song on the Use Your Illusion tours in the ’90s.”

“Then there’s the ’58 Flying V and ’59 Explorer, which were just things I had to have. The Explorer and the V were never taken on the road, but the Goldtops influenced me to get a reissue from the Gibson Custom Shop – a 1960 Classic that sounded amazing. It was stolen from me. I got another once since, but it’s a different model. I like Les Paul Juniors, too, and have a few of them. I’ll write a certain song, and know when that’s the kind of guitar sound I need, so I want to have one close by.”

On why he also loves new Gibson Les Pauls, particularly the Gibson Les Paul Axcess…

“The tremolo bar is something I don’t use all the time, but there’s always one song per record where I’m like, ‘I need a tremolo bar!’” he told the IHeartGuitar blog. “And I’d been using a BC Rich Mockingbird for years for that particular purpose, and the only thing about the Mockingbird is it’s not as thick or aggressive volume-wise as the Les Pauls, so I’ve always felt from on stage that there was a dip in the overall attack of my guitar sound as soon as I put on the BC Rich, and I always sort of grinned and bore it, for years, just because of the tremolo bar.

“Anyway, Gibson came out with the Les Paul Axcess, and I always felt it was kinda sacrilege to rout out a Les Paul for a Floyd Rose, but since they had done it themselves, y’know, I thought I’d give it a shot!”

On his current co-Consprirator, singer/guitarist Myles Kennedy…

“When Myles came on the road with me to tour the first solo album, I knew we should make a whole record together. We’ve become really comfortable working together, sending ideas back and forth. I’m not a dictator, there are no egos — everybody has great ideas for the songs. Every band I’ve ever been in I tried to make it always just about the music, never about who was the star.”

The Official Slash YouTube channel has some good videos on how Slash works with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators.

On becoming famous in Guns N’Roses…

“At the moment I don't feel very much like a rock icon!” he told Steppin’ Out magazine in 1991. “I never look at things from that point of view. But from the public’s perception, they probably think, ‘There's that guy doing that thing again, and he's one of the few guys that does it.’ So maybe I get singled-out that way. But personally, I've been doing the same kind of s*&t and hustling the same game since I was 15 years old. I see everything from a very realistic day-to-day, moment-to-moment point of view.”

On his favorite guitar for writing…

“I’ve got one on the road I write with, and I carry it on the bus,” he told Vintage Guitar in 2005. “It’s a Gibson Les Paul Standard, a 2000-something model. I have another Standard from the ’90s that I write with at home. You can’t go wrong with Standards. Then I’ve got a newer small-bodied Gibson acoustic I use around the house. I recently got a Gibson jumbo acoustic with a maple body that I use to write with on the road.”

On getting clean and sober: Slash is now teetotal and doesn’t smoke…

“It was over a period of time,” he told Time Out Shanghai. “More than anything I realized I had to be responsible for my own destiny. Once I left Guns N’Roses, I found that trying to navigate the terrain in this business completely under the influence, I had become somewhat of a parody. I was known as party central, Mr F***** Up. I was probably not being taken seriously at the time.

“I struggled with it for a long time and then I realized I wasn’t even having a good time doing it anymore and I just sort of stopped. That was it – and it has been great. The whole drugs reality, I suppose is part of a lifestyle, but people blow it way out of proportion.”

He also told The Telegraph, “On my own I’m very self-destructive. The only thing that saved me was music - my desire to play.”

What are your favorite Slash tracks? And how high does he now rank among the all-time guitar greats?

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