Don't think this was a "bloated" thing. I believe they were enjoying being creative, and looking to their influences (Wings, Zeppelin, Aerosmith) who all had those instruments in their recordings. I also liked the idea that apparently Slash pitched, about doing a small club tour (kinda like GNR 2013), that wouldn't have been stripped down like AFD days.
I think they would changed things up with each tour - the biggest issue was always third parties interfering and miscommunication causing trust issues. Most bands that solved those issues, manage to stay together longterm.