It was 24th august 2000. The day I'd never forget.
It was the summer I went with my folks to the seaside. It was the last one I'd go with them and I wanted to do it only because of this chance of getting me a first electric guitar. I always loved Les Pauls. I liked their sound, their look, their feel. I knew I wanted an Epiphone cause Gibsons were too expensive.
I remember this shop in Thessaloniki was pretty huge. The guitars apartment were on the second floor. There were a couple of regular ones (Epiphones) and I remember I tried them but I didn't like them so much. It wasn't just the colours (they were green and orange) but it was something about them that just didn't feel right. Then they showed me another Epiphone, the red one with a snake on it and Slash's signature. At first I thought Wow, this one looks a bit funny with this logo all over it but let's try it.
The difference between that one and the previous ones I tried was huge. I noticed the greater playability of Slash's model, and not only that - it sounded badass too. I asked for some kind of small guitar processor, combo FX pedal, just to get an idea of distortions, clean sounds etc. They asked what kind of processors, since they had the ones pricing five hundred to ten thousand Deutsche Marks. I smiled and asked something cheaper, some Korg perhaps. They brought me this small one, AX1G. It was simple but user friendly and had an expression pedal. I liked it too.
Soon enough I played with the various sounds from the Korg and started to like the guitar so much. I wasn't that experienced with the guitars back then, neither did I have someone with me who knew much about them - the only thing I knew at the time was that I didn't want to buy the guitar in Serbia. Plus I wanted it brand new. So I had this instinct that this guitar is excellent for its pricing (about 1500 Deutsche Marks if I remember correctly) and the feel I had while playing it was the exactly one I felt it would be like. I always loved Les Pauls and couldn't afford a Gibson yet, so this was the best choice.
My dad hesitated cause this guitar was pretty much expensive at that time (twice as the first couple of Epiphones I tried in the shop). I was lucky that his friend from Thessaloniki was there with us too. His name was Christos and he was a half-Serb, half-Macedonian (he spoke Serbian and Greek fluently and he was married to a Greek wife) and he became my new hero that day because he saw how much the guitar meant to me and talked my dad into buying it for me. The small Korg thingy we got too and they made us a special offer; i think we got both for 1300 Deutsche Marks or something.
It was surely the best day of my life, ever. When we came back to the hotel, I couldn't put the guitar down. I played everything I could remember and everything sounded awesome. I was in love with it.
Next year when I started playing with Amaranth and Consecration, I toyed with lots of sounds off Korg AX1G. It had some pretty good options and I learned through it the right lining of putting the effects after effects. Wah wasn't that good, but the distortions were nice. Delay was good and it had this hold effect too, where you could record a small piece and play over it while it playbacks the part you recorded, like a small loop.
When I started playing the second guitar in Consecration I tuned the guitar down to D. Bands such as Paradise Lost and Sentenced were tuned to D also and we liked it cause it was a bit more bassy than the regular E. It was a bit easier for me to sing in the lower scale as well.
When I recorded the Amaranth thing I remember I wanted to record in both C# and E but the string gauge on the guitar at the time was only 9'. That's when Nikola Vranjković told me it's better to have heavier gauges for the lower tunings. Then I put 11's and I remember I spent the whole night with a friend's brother to set everything up right on the guitar. We were upping the action, the scale, the coils, everything. It was one of those neverending nights but the feeling of the ending result was really great. It was the first time I was changing something on the guitar about the settings and after that night I felt it even a bit more mine. Felt somehow closer to it. Couldn't describe it other way. I played Yamaha CG180SA, classical guitar with nylon strings eight years (eight!) before getting my first electric guitar and I got used to the heavier and bigger strings, so by putting the 11's on the electric one it gave me more stable and relaxed feel at the same time.
I played this Epiphone for years and it never let me down on any gig or rehearsal. I was starting to get my own signature sound on it but it wasn't until August or September 2005 when Lazar got into the band with his 5-string bass when I decided to tune it even more lower, all the way down to B and drop A. Then it started to sound the most badass. I discovered Dean Markley Blue Steel strings and put Blue Steel 12's on Epiphone. The sound was monstrously good. It was this small kind of revelation and soon enough all the riffs we made sounded twice as good.
There's also this funny story about the strings. When I put the 12's first, we were still tuned D and we were recording aux. It was very hard to find 12's in any shop in Belgrade cause all the guitarists were playing 9's, rarely 10's, so I had a tough time finding something so simple as strings. A friend I knew went to the States for a couple of days and brought me the 12's, the only thing was - and I didn't know it at the time - was that there were made for an acoustic guitar, not the electric one. But on the package (Dean Markley Alchemy) there wasn't a sign with electric or acoustic, so I put them on anyway. Epiphone got this crazy acoustic sound all of a sudden and I remember the first rehearsal when I put them on and played the first chord, our drummer Yeqy stood up and yelled with glee Dude, it sounds like a piano! I think I kept those strings for the aux sessions as well, so all of the guitars on aux were basically recorded on acoustic strings put on electric guitar. That's probably why it resonated like crazy and the distortions sounded super punchy too.
The B tuning added more bass to the guitar and I found out that Epiphone sounded best when the switch was set on both coils together (treble & rhythm). It had lots of bass and the sustain was insane. That's when I started to look for an amp that could amplify both the riffs and the clean sounds best.
I made all Consecration songs off aux and .avi on Epiphone. Everything on aux album was recorded on Epi. By the time .avi recording sessions started to happen I got myself my first Gibson, but I played Epi while we were recording Idiot Glee. I remember I wanted to keep it more sludgy and bassy as it was in its embryonic form.
Every music shop in Belgrade I went to with Epiphone, I remember every salesman told me it was a great piece of a guitar. Some of them (the guy who was working in Mega Music store) even asked me to sell it. Even the guys in that shop in Thessaloniki, where the guitar was bought in the first place, were asking my folks a couple of years after the buying, if I wanted to sell it back to them. Of course, I declined. Selling it is simply something I'd never do - it's my first electric guitar and I learned eighty per cent of everything I know through it.
Nowadays I always carry Epiphone on gigs and use it as a second guitar. If i manage to break a string on Gibson while playing, it is good to have a replacement guitar right away. And this piece of guitar is the most handy one for it - it never let me down.
(Slash playing his own Gibson Slash Signature guitar, with Duff McKagan on his left)