Happened to see a clip of Slash’s band on the Guitar Center Sessions or whatever they’re called, aka MTV Unplugged 2. Personally I find that as boring as I found the Unplugged stuff (hey, let’s take the rock ‘n’ roll out of it – brilliant!), but it reminded me to look into the new Slash since John from Jersey told me I might dig it.
Turns out he was right – I do dig it.
I say that even though I’ve never been a huge fan of Slash’s tone. More on that in a sec. First give this a listen:
Les Paul, Seymour Duncan vintage-style pickups, Marshall – what’s not to like about that? A recipe for wood fo’ sho’.
But to me, and maybe you, Slash’s tone is kinda harsh. It works, especially in a band context because you can’t lose it in the mix, but….
Speaking of harsh, remember that Eddie Van Halen, for many the king of “brown” tone, played an ash guitar with an overwound pickup into a 100w Marshall with all knobs on 10. Ever played a Marshall with just the tone controls on 10?! That’s harsh, man. But the volume (and some other tricks) mellowed it out….
Anyhow, Slash has all the right ingredients and for sure gets a classic woody tone. But I had to ask myself: Why is it so dang harsh? Like this:
That’s the kind of tone I’ve tried to dial OUT of my Les Paul >> Marshall setup. Based on my experiments there, here’s what I’m hearing in Slashtone:
> Very middy, thanks to all the ingredients but especially the Alnico 2 magnet in the pickup. A2 pickups always sound that way to me because – I think I’m getting this right – the highs and lows are dialed back a bit with an A2, pushing the mids out front. About the opposite of what an Alnico 5 magnet does. (Pickup sniffers check me on that!)
> To my ears, chambered Les Pauls aren’t as warm as solid Les Pauls. Not only that, chambered Les Pauls seem to accentuate the mids of A2 pickups. Not sure what he played on the albu. I know this chambered/non-chambered mess is a Hatfields-McCoys thing, so that’s what side of the property line I’m on….
> The new Marshall AFD 100 head, which I’m assuming he used on the new album (Slash fans?), has 6550 tubes, which for sure are less warm (but more articulate) than the now-typical EL34 tubes.
> From musicradar.com about the AFD 100: the treble response is still quite fierce… piledriver midrange ..activating the AFD mode switches in even more gain, pushes the mid-range forward…. You get the picture.
> According to this site, Slash’s pre-AFD 100 amp settings were Pres 8, Bass 7, Mids 7, Treb 4.5. That’s a bit on the “harsher” (to my ears) side.
> Slash likes Celestion Vintage 30s. Not the warmest speaker, but even so it appears he doesn’t use regular 30w V30s. When his first Marshall signature head came out, it said this about the Slash signature cab: These speakers were specially designed by Marshall to replicate the tonal warmth and fatness of the original Marshall 12″ models. Although named Vintage 30 each speaker is capable of handling up to 70w, hence the 280w rating of the cabinet.
> More-efficient speakers = less warmth = more of the A2, 6550, middy harshness (almost a cocked wah-ness) coming through.
At least that’s how I hear it. You?
Have to say: Nothing but props for Slash. Really like the new tunes, guy walks it like he talks it and…wood is good. Check it: