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Axl Rose’s Vocal Range

He is not everyone’s cup of tea, but what cannot be disputed is that the man has a good voice for what he does. So, I decided to take an in-depth look at some of the elements of his voice and Axl Rose’s Vocal Range. 


It Has Been Said…

That the success of a singer or the band he is in can be measured. It can be determined by the size of their crowds, or their fan base, or the airplay they get. I won’t say that is rubbish, but I will, because it is. 

All of those can be manipulated to make the numbers look good. Units sold is a better way of judging how well they might be doing. Looking at that then, he isn’t doing too badly. He and his band have amassed over 80 million album sales. About the same as AC/DC, although G’nR have released a lot fewer albums over a far shorter time frame.

Bit of a Way to Go

Quite a way to go to catch up with some others like the Eagles at 110 million or Led Zeppelin with 140 million. I won’t include the Beatles at 193 million units. But Axl Rose’s voice has contributed a lot to most of the success achieved by his band.

Forget the Onstage Antics

I am not interested in that. I am more interested in where his voice sits when compared with some of his contemporaries. And to look at his range and maybe a comment on how he achieves it.

Who is He?

Who is He

Born William Bruce Rose in Lafayette, Indiana, he has been the sole constant member of Guns and Roses since they started. He started to sing early in Church at around five years old. And his love of music and singing stayed with him through to his High School years. It was at that time he took up piano.

He moved to Los Angeles in the early 80s and sang with some bands before forming Guns ‘n’ Roses in 1985. That was where he found his fame and fortune, and where he was at his best vocally.

Aerosmith vs. Guns ‘n’ Roses?

Some considered them an incarnation of Aerosmith and that Rose had duplicated Steven Tylers’ style of singing and performance. There might be an element of truth in that if you are comparing the bands. 

But whilst Tyler was good at fronting Aerosmith, Rose probably had the edge as a singer back then. As the years went on, Tyler seems to maintain his level where Rose certainly lost his. More on that later.

The Rose Voice

There can be no doubt that in his prime, he was an outstanding vocalist. One thing that is evident as you listen to him is that he can deliver in a range of styles. Furthermore, comparing Axl Rose’s singing in the softer moments, you can hear very good qualities.

But despite the mood of the song, his voice still had a natural “attack” to it. That was one of the reasons why Axl Rose is a great frontman. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him as the sixth best voice in Rock music.

His Range

This is where he scores a lot of points. That’s because Axl Rose’s vocal range is incredibly large. He can cover a range of nearly six full octaves, which is one of the widest ranges you will find. 

Some singers can do that with a strain, but Rose can cross five complete octaves comfortably. This takes him to the vocal range of Freddie Mercury, who also could cover that vocal width. He is actually a bass baritone, but his range will take him to a high tenor.

The Physical Aspects

The Physical Aspects

We all have our individual physical aspects, and our voice and how we create is certainly one. The size of our vocal cords and the pharyngeal resonance play their parts. Many singers find a balance between what they call the “head voice” and the “chest voice.” But some use the natural resonance, and this is what Rose does. 

Not many people have that physical ability, but he seems to have it in abundance. Having such range and note diversity gives him plenty of vocal options. And this ability has drawn him legions of fans. 

Just as he took his inspiration from those who went before him, he inspired some great vocalists himself, such as Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. At his very best in the late 80s and 90s, he would have been in most people’s top ten of vocalists. And in some eyes, maybe even top 5.

Bringing It Up to Date

The voice today, of course, has gone a little bit along with the range. Only natural as you get older, I suppose. Though Steven Tyler seems to have maintained his a little better. The constant battering of 40 years has taken its toll. 

But, don’t think he can’t still produce a good vocal performance, because he can. It just isn’t what he was, but as I said, that is to be expected.

Where Does He Rank?

In many ways, he should be thought of in higher esteem than he is in some quarters. He has his diehard fans, of course. But others can take him or leave him and some who detest him. 

The latter falls into a group that has been influenced by his off-stage behavior. And in that area, he has done himself no favors. Domestic violence, which seemed to be a prerequisite for joining Guns ‘N’ Roses at one time, reared its ugly head. And racist lyrics on songs like “One in a Million” have had an impact.

Interested in Great Singers or Singing?

We can help you with that. Have a look at our handy guides on Top Professional Vocal Coaches on YoutubeSingers That Sound Like AdeleVoice Types ExplainedChoose the Perfect Key to Sing In6 Definite Signs That You Were Born to Sing, and Types of Vocal Timbre for more useful information.

If you’re interested in singing, you’ll need a good microphone. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Live Vocal Mics, the Best Karaoke Microphones, the Best Computer Microphones, the Best Microphones For Recording Vocals, the Best Microphones For YouTube, and the Best Wireless Microphones you can buy in 2023.

Axl Rose’s Vocal Range – Final Thoughts

Love him or hate him, the man can sing, and he has put in some great performances. His status as probably one of the best ten rock singers has not been determined by the crowd size, fan base, or the airplay they get. He has achieved his status because of his voice. And that was very good when he was at his best.

Until next time, let the music play.

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About Corey Hoffman

Corey is a multi-instrumentalist who has played in numerous bands over the years, some good, some not so good. He has also written countless songs and recorded five albums in professional studios across America. Today he is a hobby musician but still loves the guitar after over 15 years of playing.

He considers his writing as a way to share what he has learned over the decades with younger generations ad always can't wait to get his hands on the latest gear.

He lives just outside New York with his wife Barbara and their two German Shepherds, Ziggy and Iggy.

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