From his distinctive look to his timeless riffs and unmistakable tone, Slash is one of the most recognizable rock guitarists of all time. When it was time to create a line of signature pedals, he turned to his friends at Dunlop.
Talk a little bit about what got you into wah and fuzz in the first place. What were the songs that featured those effects that made a big impact on you?
One of the big influences was Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart doing “I Ain’t Superstitious.” It was this insane wah pedal with distortion—a really unique application that always stuck with me. There were certain things that Jimi Hendrix did with fuzz and octave that I thought were really cool. I’ve always wanted to be able to pull off something along those lines.
You’re not exactly known as a big effect guy.
I have a limited amount of effects that I use, and most of them are effects that I physically control myself, like the wah or the talk box. But the fuzz and the octave up are an extension of the sound that I’m already using—which is an overdriven tube amp. I just want to add a little to that, and that’s what this new Slash Octave Fuzz pedal does.
What did you want with the Slash Octave Fuzz?
There are some octave fuzz tones on records that I love, but the pedals that created them are very unpredictable. They’re hard to use live and even hard to control in the studio. So I talked to the guys at Dunlop and I told them that there should be a pedal that can just nail those sounds reliably. That’s where the Slash Octave Fuzz comes in. I worked with them and we made a fuzz that’s controllable, with a low octave that didn’t warble too much—that took a bit of work—plus a vintage high octave fuzz and the ability to mix the two.
Do you play differently when you step on the Slash Octave Fuzz?
I’m using it right now in rehearsals for the upcoming tour. The big thing for me is this feeling of confidence—knowing that the tone you’re going for, you can rely on it. You can get into the zone that you need to and play what you want to play. If you have something that doesn’t work properly and reliably, it really interferes with and distracts from what you’re doing. When I step on this pedal and it works so well, it allows me to really play my ass off.
Will you choose different registers to play your lines when you’re using the Octave Fuzz?
No. We designed and voiced this pedal to work over the entire range of the guitar, so I feel like I have the freedom to go anywhere on the fretboard.
Did you use this pedal on your new record?
I used it for a song called “Carolina.” It was in addition to a talk box part, which is a pretty unique combination. I had the amp relatively clean and put this pedal over the top. I used the high octave sound for the song “No More Heroes.” That’s a really cool tone. This is really a flexible pedal that can be set a bunch of different ways. If you’re going for a screaming, Hendrix-y thing, you might turn the high octave up a bit and the fuzz down a little. Or, you can crank the fuzz and dial back the octave. For the parts I’m using it on, I’m looking for it to be even with the guitar tone—not too extreme. You hear it but it’s not overbearing.
Talk about the Slash Cry Baby Classic. What do you look for in a wah pedal in terms of sweep, tone, treble response, and output?
I don’t know if I can verbally describe it, but I need the highs, when the pedal is wide open, to be bright but not out of the stratosphere. I need the sweep to be smooth. I need a nice smooth arc, from the midrangey sound on the bottom—which can’t be too bassy or overly throaty—to the highs, which need to be sweet. I need to be able to hear the note all along the way. The note can’t get lost in the lows and it can’t get lost in the highs. That gives me a fully pronounced wah tone but not that processed sounding wah, which is hard to describe, but you know it when you hear it.
How is this wah different from your last signature model and why the changes?
My first signature wah was very much a professional recording and live wah. You had to spend some time with it and know what you were doing to really control the distortion and use it. This one is much more straightforward.
Did you use it on your latest record?
Yeah. On the title track, “Apocalyptic Love,” and on “Bad Rain.” Those are the two main wah tunes.
Even if you don’t seem like an “effect guy,” you definitely seem like a wah guy.
It’s just one of the great guitar effects of all time. I’ve always felt very natural using a wah pedal. It fits me. It’s timeless.
Check out our MXR demo of the Slash Octave Fuzz below!