Slash’s ’87 Les Paul

By Patrick

slash with 87 les paulOf Slash’s 90-plus guitars, the Les Paul that keeps following him around is this 1987 model he bought just before Guns ‘N Roses became a household name. The guitar features a mahogany body and 3-piece maple top with a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. Over the course of a few refrets by luthier Sammy Sanchez, the fingerboard radius – which probably began at 12″ – has flattened slightly to 14″ at the nut, rounding to 12″ at the end of the neck. The high Dunlop 6105 frets (measuring .055″ tall by .090″ wide) make for easy string bending. The string height at the nut is kept very low – about 1/64″ above the first fret.

adam day with lpTri Flow LubricantThe low nut height makes for easier playing and helps the guitar play in tune by lessening the distance the string must stretch to get to the fret. Slash’s longtime tech Adam Day pays special attention to keep the nut slots polished and lubed with Tri-Flow.

Even with tuning down a half-step and using Ernie Ball .011-.048 strings, breakage can still be a problem. To combat this, Day raised the tailpiece 1/4″ off the body, which lowers the string tension over the bridge and helps to minimize breakage. He also polishes the saddles regularly.

Les Paul 87Slash favors Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups in his Les Pauls. The neck pickup is kept low at 7/32″ from the strings, and the bridge pickup is at 1/8″. The neck is very straight, and the strings sit at a low and even 1/16″ above the 12th fret. The tuning machines have been swapped out for newer vintage-style Gibsons (with a screw-in top ferrule, not the press-in type), and the bridge has been changed to a Gibson Nashville Tune-o-matic.

The guitar’s neck has been broken in three different places: twice at the peghead and once where it joins the body. In spite of this – and the fact that this Patti is a factory second – it still remains a fantastic sounding and playing guitar.


  • mahogany body
  • 3-piece maple top
  • mahogany neck
  • rosewood fingerboard
  • Dunlop 6105 frets
  • Ernie Ball .011-.048 strings
  • Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups
  • vintage-style Gibson tuning machines
  • Gibson Nashville Tune-o-matic bridge
  • Serial #: 81757532

Additional Pictures

1987 les paul

87 les paul
(source: Guitar Player October 2001 issue written by Gary Brawer)

11 thoughts on “Slash’s ’87 Les Paul

  1. I don’t care what anybody says, this is not a “SPECIAL” guitar…. it’s not even a good guitar! No Brazilian rosewood, basic pickups [better then Gibson, not better then hand wound] and a “western” maple top?
    Anybody knows that tone comes from [and starts from] the WOOD! And this aint got it!!! Slash is a great player, and THAT is why he makes any guitar sound good! But, put a burst in his hands and he will sound that musc better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Pat
      u r the biggest idiot in the world
      this guitar is amazin
      u can’t get any guitar better
      and i don’t want any geeks sayin that this is rubbish because it’s not orginal
      slash u own at life and ur guitar is awesome

    2. with electric guitars the wood doesnt affect the tone as much as an acoustic. Rosewood fingerboards are very good and the reason its not brazilian rosewood is because Brazilian Rosewood is extremely rare to find and to use on a guitar. now if your wondering about my credentials then i’ll tell you that im a luthier with actual experience in building guitars and that guitar is an exceptional guitar. before you go and bash something make sure you have at least a little bit of knowledge, remember its better to slip with foot than with tongue.

  2. Actually, you’re wrong.

    Slash himself has said many times that no other guitar has been able to produce to tone of his les paul. It’s because it’s a hand made replica…and is not an actual gibson guitar.

  3. Pat you are obviously an idiot. Tone does in fact come from the wood. But no amount of looking will tell you if a piece of wood sounds good.

  4. Um – you guys are both wrong – this is NOT his Derrig LP (the handmade Gibson clone of a 1959/60 LP, made with the same woods and exact, but with PAF humbuckers (the seymour duncan alnico II in 86 were more PAF than burstbuckers are today)). This is the 87′ LP that Gibson gave him and that he used live – NOT used on appetite obviously. And do you think the Western maple and brazillian rosewood really makes a difference?

    Its myth. Any post 2001 = garbage. This is when they started the 3 piece body, more weight relief and chambering. Theres your tone. 1 piece backs and no weight relief.

    People who worry about fancy woods and things CANT PLAY FOR SHI**!

    1. The clown, you are just as bad as the people who worry about “fancy woods.” Multi piece backs and weight relief have absolutely no effect on tone. Besides, Gibson started weight relief in 1982. Do you know what that means? It means that Slash’s ’87 Les Paul is weight relieved. I’ve owned MANY Gibson guitars in my day. My current ’08 Les Paul Traditional is by far the best playing and sounding of them all. So, stop listening to old men on guitar forums who claim that “anything made past ’01 is garbage. Go out and play a few before you make such an uninformed comment.

  5. I have a 1987 Gibson Les Paul that I purchased new back in the day. awitched out pickups with Seymore Duncan Pearly Gates and Classic ’59 and Sperzel Locking Tuner

    the guitar plays and sounds fantastic. Being a 23 year old guitar is nice too, the wood has agesd if that makes any difference.
    I’d have to say it’s the pickups and the build quality over the wood

  6. The way I see it is thus. I’ve been playing guitar since 93 and followed Slash as the best Rock/Blues Guitar player that was relevent at the time (and still is). When I managed to get enough money to buy “my Les Paul” I went into a shop to pick up some strings etc and started looking around. within an hour I had took the plunge and parted with 1200. when I got it home, although it was cool I started to notice that the guitar started to get more out of me and I it. As time went on I realised that the uniqueness isn’t something bought but something gained through life both of the guitar and player. This goes for the sound feel and entire package. Slashes guitar is one in a million because he connected his soul and creativity to it. If Joe Bloggs had have picked it up it may have been recycled by now. Slash heared something in this one that talked to him and he made it sing. Good on ya Slash!!! and good on ya who ever let it through QA. It may not be top Spec or best quality but it rocks and long may it continue to Rock for it has earned the right by supporting one of the greatest guitar players ever. Thanks Slash :)

  7. kind gentlemen ! i have nothing whatsoever agains the 1987 les paul,
    all is subjective in music and musical instruments, so if its owner considers it a good guitar it is a good guitar (to him) and thats all that matters.
    what concerns me more is the fact that a special setup needs to help
    avoid breaking off of the headstock…gibson has left this problem unadressed for 60 years !
    any luthier worth his name knows how this can easily be adressed during construction.
    is it that the customers are so conservative, or is it simply gibsons mentality that will also refuse to address lesser faults like the too narrow strip of binding inside the cutaway calling it genuine ?
    ok, i get it…only if the headstock breaks off easily and the top wood shows inside the cutaway it is a real gibson !
    for some insights on this matter see where master luthier juha ruokangas uses his full body weight to test the strenght of
    the necks he builds !

    1. Eh. I’ve owned 12 Gibson guitars over the past 20 years, and I’ve NEVER broken a neck or headstock. A good friend of mine snapped the neck on a PRS. Does that mean PRS guitars should rethink their build process? Probably not. Besides, a broken headstock is an easy fix in the hands of a skilled luthier. Gibson guitars are fine the way they are. They sound great, play great and look great. In the end, that is all that matters. If you break a headstock, get it fixed and be more careful.

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