Slash Recalls First Les Paul He Got With Gibson and How He Accidentally Broke Its Neck in Half

Guns N’ Roses axeman and an absolute guitar legend, Slash, reflected on getting his main Les Paul from Gibson, the one simply known as Jessica.

Of course, Slash’s first Les Paul was actually a copy of a Gibson. It was named Derrig after its maker, luthier Kris Derrig. Eventually, Slash became synonymous with Gibson. And although, occasionally, you’d find some other models in his hands, it’s his relationship with the Les Paul guitar that will go down in history books.

Appearing in a recent interview with Gibson Japan, Slash reflected on how he got his actual first Gibson guitar and how it became his “workhorse” instrument for Guns N’ Roses shows.

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“Jessica, she was the first guitar that I got from Gibson after we recorded ‘Appetite for Destruction,'” Slash said after being asked about it (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs). Meanwhile, the instrument that found its way onto GN’R’s legendary debut record was the Derrig Les Paul copy. Going more into the matter of Jessica and how he got the instrument, he said:

“We were on the road for about a year, and I was using what was called the ‘Derrig’ guitar, which was a handmade ’59 Les Paul copy. And I wanted to retire that guitar because I bang on my guitar and stuff. It was a great recording guitar, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t break it — I wanted to take care of it.”

The next move was simple — get in touch with Gibson and try and get an instrument from them:

“So I called Gibson — this was 1988 — and I said, ‘Hey, my name is Slash. I’ve got a band called Guns N’ Roses, and I need a couple of guitars’. And they said, ‘Well, we’ll sell you a couple of Les Pauls.'”

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“So they sold me — I guess, at artists’ cost — two ’87 Les Pauls. They call them ‘factory seconds’, so they’re the kind of guitars that you put on display, but they don’t sell them. So they gave me two of those, and one of them was Jessica. So that basic three-piece Les Paul Standard was my primary live guitar all the way through the rest of that tour — so ’88 and ’89.”

In hindsight, it’s kind of funny to know that he had to pay for these two guitars since he’s probably the one guy who promoted Gibson the most over the last few decades. Slash continued:

“And then when we did ‘Use Your Illusions’ from ’91 to ’94, that was my primary live guitar then, too, and then also in Velvet Revolver. And I still use it to this day — I have it during the Guns tour, and I’m still using it as my main Les Paul.”

“But there’s nothing super tricky about it,” he added. “It has Seymour Duncan Alnico IIs —  basically all the same hardware, but nothing tricky. But it’s a great guitar.”

The Collection: Slash

So, where did the Jessica name come from? As Slash said with a laugh, he can’t really remember.

“I think I named her Jessica at some point in the ’90s, and I can’t remember how or why that came to be,” he said. “And she’s actually realistically the only guitar I have that’s named of all my guitars. Yeah, she’s really the only one that’s named. I have a couple other than I’ve named since Jessica, but like maybe I could count them on one hand.”

Over the years, it’s become his most used instrument. And while some guitarists prefer to keep their prized instruments safely tucked away at home and use cheaper stuff on tour, Slash still takes this one on the road. But it’s mostly for Guns N’ Roses and not his other projects. He explained:

“She’s just my main live workhorse, primarily with Guns N’ Roses. Because I spent so much time with her in Guns N’ Roses, I don’t usually take her out with The Conspirators.”

Slash's Iconic Guns N' Roses Guitar

“I did have her with Velvet Revolver, but she is really a Guns N’ Roses guitar and I play most of the ‘Appetite [for Destruction]’ stuff with her — so like, ‘It’s So Easy’, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, ‘Paradise City’… I mean, there’s a bunch of other ‘Use Your Illusion’ songs and stuff.”

During the chat, Slash also recalled one unfortunate occasion when he accidentally damaged the instrument. It was pretty bad — the neck broke in half. But fortunately, it got sorted out.

As he said, this was during a session with Nile Rodgers back in the 1990s. Recalling the incident where Jessica suffered this unfortunate injury, Slash offered:

“I think it was around 1996. And so, when I was rehearsing with Nile Rodgers and his band, we were rehearsing in New York at the SIR [Studio Instrument Rentals, a local music instrument rental and production facility], and during rehearsal I’d have this thing — because I don’t have a tremolo bar — where I bend the neck doing it.”

Slash from G n' R play his Les Paul 1988

Oh, we already see where this is going…

“We were playing — I forgot what song we were playing… ‘LeFreak’! And that was the band, it was Chic, right?”

“Anyway, so I’m doing that, and the neck broke. It completely broke in half. It hit me in the [face]. Because when you bend a guitar like this, it breaks instead of bending inward because of the pressure — it pops outward.”

“So it hit me in the face, and I was all bloody and stuff. And more importantly, the guitar was broken in two pieces, and the tour was going to start in two days.”

But we’re talking about Slash jamming in New York. It wasn’t hard for someone of his caliber to find a suitable luthier to sort things out. He added:

“My guitar tech at the time, Adam Day, found a luthier in New York, and he actually glued the neck back on, and so it’s actually survived that neck break — it comes all the way around here. [Points at the neck joint] It’s pretty cool.”

Photo: Raph_PH (Glasto2023 (202 of 468) (53008350752))

  • 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, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.