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. . . Enter Kris Derrig Version
Whatever the lineage of the Hunterburst, at some point it passed out of Slash’s hands. In general, the band had a quick excuse any time equipment went missing. “I think the story was that someone stole it,” Hamilton laughs. “Which was a common story with those guys back in those days. Things just sort of disappeared and I didn’t even know that they were up on my roof doing drugs and shit.”
When Guns N’ Roses entered the studio in late 1986 to record Appetite for Destruction, Slash was apparently playing an assortment of guitars that did not— according to some—include a Les Paul, whether replica or Gibson.
“Now, I was not there in the studio, but there are too many accounts from Slash and other people that a lot was recorded with a black Jackson and a red B.C. Rich,” Rist says. He claims that most of the record was recorded with these instruments and that the second legendary Les Paul replica did not enter the picture “until Slash did all of the solo stuff.”
Other sources claim a Les Paul replica was more prominent on the album. In Stephen Davis’ 2008 book Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N’ Roses, he writes, “Slash cut most of the tracks with a Les Paul copy plugged into a Marshall amplifier.”
But in a July 2010 interview with AOL’s Noisecreep website, Slash himself seems to confirm, at least in part, the assertion that the LP didn’t show up until late in the game, as well as rumors about the disposition of his earlier instruments.
“I was really broke and I hocked all my decent guitars before we went into the studio to make Appetite for Destruction,” Slash tells the website staff. “All I had left were a B.C. Rich Warlock and two Jackson guitars, a Firebird, and a prototype archtop Strat-style guitar. I brought them all into the recording studio for the Appetite session and they all sounded horrible. I was like, ‘F---, what do I do? I have to do the overdubs and I have no instrument.’ So Guns N’ Roses manager, Alan Niven, showed up the night before I went in to do the Appetite overdubs and brought me this Les Paul. I went in the next day and it was the most amazing sounding guitar.”
That instrument, the second Les Paul replica in Slash’s epic journey, is widely reported to be the work of the late Kris Derrig. Luthier Baranet references this guitar when he says, “And then the Derrig model came in, you know, at the last minute for the overdubs and solos.”
At first glance, that seems to conflict with Slash’s own statement in his book that, “It was made by the late Jim Foot[e], who owned MusicWorks in Redondo Beach.”
However, guitar-building contemporaries explain that Derrig shared space with Foote (who is still alive), which probably accounts for Slash’s statement in the book, especially since band manager Alan Niven brought the instrument to the guitarist. The rocker did not go to the shop himself.
“Kris had a workshop in the back of Jim Foote’s store,” Rist says. “Most guitar builders, they just want to be left alone and do their thing, and one thing you do not want to do a lot is deal with customers. So if you can have a buffer man out front, you can do your own thing a bit easier.”
The Derrig model is presumed to be Slash’s main guitar to this day. In the Gibson promotional materials, when Slash says, “the original,” he’s referencing the Derrig. Since that instrument went directly to the guitarist, the builders interviewed for this article don’t have any firsthand knowledge of the guitar.
In this photo taken in 2001, Luthier Peter “Max” Baranet (left) stands with Slash and the Les Paul
replica he built for the gunslinger. Photo courtesy of Peter Baranet