Richard Fortus recalls the time he and Slash tried out modeling amps with Guns N’ Roses

Richard Fortus, Slash and Melissa Reese of Guns N' Roses perform onstage during day 2 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival Weekend 2 at the Empire Polo Club on April 23, 2016 in Indio, California
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Guns N’ Roses electric guitar great Slash is commonly regarded as the ultimate old-school Les Paul-through-Marshall man. But as his GNR co-guitarist Richard Fortus reveals in a new interview, he did play through a Kemper once – once.

In a chat with Rob’s School of Music, Fortus was asked for his opinion on modeling technology, to which he replied (via Ultimate Guitar):

"I use modeling technology every day. I've been using it for years, I've been using it since it first started with the Line 6 stuff. I did pop gigs where it was essential to be able to switch scene changes dramatically because if you're doing a pop gig, you're covering 20 different players.”

He continued, "I toured with Rihanna, and Rihanna has a ton of different people producing, and playing, and writing her stuff. So in the course of a show, I'm covering 20 different guitar players and 20 different producers. So you've got to cover a really wide range of sonic territory. And so modeling amps are really useful because you can do complete scene changes.”

Fortus then went on to reveal that modeling amps have even appeared at Guns N’ Roses jams.

"Slash and I both tried Kempers out in rehearsal once, and it doesn't work for us,” he said. “For what I do with GNR, it doesn't work. Because we rely so much on our volume knobs on our guitars.

"So, in other words, I use a single-channel amp with Guns, and it's all about the volume knob. So if I want a clean sound, I just roll my volume down. With a tube amp, it gets clean and sparkly. And Slash does the same thing."

He continued, “There's always so many tones just within your volume control, you know? And if you watch live videos both of us are constantly on our volume knobs. We’re always just subtly adjusting things to get the exact sound that we want.

"Now, if I was in Muse or Metallica, and I was just playing open, and I was either getting a really clean sound or a really dirty sound, a Kemper would work, an Axe-Fx would work,” Fortus concluded. “But all subtleties and nuances are lost with that stuff.”

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.