How Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan recorded a bass classic with Sweet Child O’ Mine

Duff McKagan and Slash
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Michael ‘Duff’ McKagan, the punk rocker from Seattle who moved to Hollywood in the mid-’80s, joined Guns N’ Roses and became a star, is best known in bass guitar world for a slinky four-bar solo executed in the upper register over the intro to their best-known song, Sweet Child O’ Mine. But how did he come up with it?

“It just happened,” he told us a while back, adding: “Really, it’s all a product of what you listen to and what influenced you, and then what you hear and what you think is right for the part – and it’s either gonna happen for you or it’s not. I’ve never tried to force any sort of bassline; it’s either gonna come to me or it’s not.”

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Joel McIver

Joel McIver was the Editor of Bass Player magazine from 2018 to 2022, having spent six years before that editing Bass Guitar magazine. A journalist with 25 years' experience in the music field, he's also the author of 35 books, a couple of bestsellers among them. He regularly appears on podcasts, radio and TV.