Duff McKagan Names One Important Pedal He Used on Guns N’ Roses’ Debut Album: ’I Still Have It’

Guns N’ Roses pretty much changed the game with their 1987 debut album “Appetite for Destruction.” But although we all usually focus on what Slash used on that record, particularly his Les Paul replica, bassist Duff McKagan simply doesn’t get enough attention for the gear he used on there. But in a recent chat with Reverb, McKagan named one guitar pedal that he used back then and that it’s still in his possession. Yes, he loves it that much.

Reflecting on Guns N’ Roses’ debut record and what he used on it, Duff singled out his old Ibanez CS9 Stereo Chorus pedal as an important component to his tone. He explained (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“I used an Ibanez Stompbox Guitar Chorus throughout ‘Appetite.’ I got that because of this band, Magazine, which I got to see, and the bass sound in this band was incredible. And I asked my friend, Kurt Bloch, he’s a legend in Seattle, ‘How do you get that sound?’ He goes, ‘It’s a chorus box.’ ‘What is that?’

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Coming in Ibanez’s classic casing, the same one that the legendary TS9 Tube Screamer has, these chorus pedals were manufactured in the 1980s. It’s a stereo chorus with two outputs, allowing you to create a different kind of tone with two amps. CS9 is known for blending in dry and wet signal. At the same time, control layout only includes two knobs — speed and width.

“And so, I got one for, like, 30 bucks,” McKagan remembered. “And I still have it. That’s the one I use.”

The pedal is so precious for him that he had to distance himself from it. He loves it so much that he stomped hard on it during live shows, so his tech decided to handle this aspect of the performance instead.

Boss CE-2 vs Ibanez CS9 Analog Chorus

“I don’t stomp on it anymore,” Duff continued. “I got a tech, and that really changed a lot of things. McBob who I got as my tech in 1987, is still my tech.”

“But at some point, he took the stompbox away from me, like ‘You’re gonna kill this thing!’, [with] my cowboy boots. Just because it’s called a stompbox, doesn’t mean [you should stomp on it]; you could just press it.”

That’s a valid point, especially knowing that this is a very old piece of gear. But Duff still loves it nonetheless. As he further revealed, they tried some alternatives, the usual rack-mounted ones. But he just won’t give up on his old CS9:

“We went for some sort of rack chorus, and it just wasn’t my sound. It was probably good for something else, just not for my bass sound.”

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Duff paid $30 for it back in the late 1980s. And counting in inflation, it’s about $80 to 85 these days. If you happen to stumble upon one of the old models online, you’d have to put aside anywhere between $200 and $300. SC9 was also reissued in the 2000s, but it’s not produced anymore.

During the same interview, McKagan also discussed the band’s early days and how things were back then in Guns N’ Roses. Despite all the drama and substance abuse, McKagan reveals that the work habits were there, and they were all dead-set on achieving stardom:

“What’s maybe not known totally about early Guns N’ Roses, and still to this day, we rehearsed twice a day. That’s all we f**king did.”

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“So, we worked on parts, where Slash’s guitar would go in that part, and where Izzy [Stradlin]’s guitar [would go]. Everybody would find their piece, and Steven [Adler, drums] wouldn’t fill through somebody else’s lick.”

“Every little piece of ‘Appetite for Destruction’ was super thought out,” he added. “And then, ‘Just play it and be a rock band.'”

“But we were prepared. And it sounds raggedy, ferocious, and loose, and because we rehearsed so much, we were able to get the first and second takes on ‘Appetite.’ Like, that’s it — why do three? We’re good!”

Ibanez CS9 Stereo Chorus Demo

As far as his bass parts in early Guns N’ Roses go, he said:

“In picking those parts, the bass had its own place, like playing off of those two guitar players, and without just playing a root note through a whole thing. It’s just not interesting, you know, and Paul Simonon [from The Clash] wouldn’t do that. And I think we all understood and appreciated each other’s backgrounds.”

Photo: Raph_PH (Glasto2023 (198 of 468) (53009107684))

Author

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.