Slide Guitar In Drop D. Part 1

author: KirkLorange date: 02/14/2006 category: guitar techniques
rating: 7.6 / votes: 20 
When I started to look into playing slide in standard tuning many years ago, like 30 or so, I began looking at the fretboard in a new way. What I started plotting out were all the places notes line up 'vertically', in other words 'across the fretboard'. The reason, of course, is that the slide can really only play notes that line up in a straight line. Over the years, realizing that chords were the holders of all pertinent information, I made sure to learn every one of these 'line-ups' and how it fit in to the big picture. It was this process that prompted my Eureka moment which turned into my book PlaneTalk.
"NOTE: Tune the bass string (low E) of your guitar down one step to D."
The movie shows a short excursion in D, in dropped D tuning. What I do is turn a bunch of 'lined up' positions relevant to D (and I mean both the chord D and the key of D) into a musical sounding phrase. You can see that there are many places I can find line-ups. So what seems at first slim pickings, like one position for D at the 7th fret, is in fact a rich assortment of double stops - 'chordlets'. I figure if 'applet' can mean 'small application', then chordlet can mean small chord. 'Double stop' is the real term, but there is no identity attached to naming them as double stops. I like to know that the double stop I'm playing is really just a little chunk of a specific chord. The positions in the movie are all the bits and pieces that come to mind when I hear "key of D". I instantly think IV and V chords: G and A7. They are just as much 'key of D' as the I chord, the D. So D, G and A7 -- those are the three primary chords. Where can I find notes that line up and that allow me to at least hint at those chords? The movie shows one possibility. Let's pick it apart, starting from the beginning and referring to the tab below. Listed are all the bits and pieces. The red numbers indicate the measures as per the tab below. The numbers indicate, from bass to treble, the chord tones. You can see that all are either 1-3-5 and there are also a couple of 7's which are part of the A7chord. 1 - D major triad 5-1-3 2 - A7 Chordlet 7-5; D Chordlet 5-3; G Chordlet 5-1; A Chordlet 5-1 3 - D, pure triad again 5-1-3 4 - G Chordlet 5-3; A Chordlet 5-3; D Chordlet 5-1 5 - A7 Chordlet 7-1; D Chordlet 5-3 6 - D Chordlet 5-1 7 - D triad 5-1-3
     D     A7  D   G   A      D     G   A   D      A7   D      D      D     D
  1     2                  3     4              5           6      7     8
e||-----|--0---2---3---5---|-----|--7---9---10--|--12---14--|--10--|-----|-----||
B||--7--|--|---|---3---5---|--7--|--|---|---10--|---|-------|--10--|--7--|-----||
G||--7--|--0---2---|---|---|--7--|--7---9-------|--12---14--|------|--7--|-----||
D||--7--|--|---|---|---|---|--7--|--|---|-------|---|-------|------|--7--|-----||
A||-----|--|---|---|---|---|-----|--|---|-------|---|-------|------|-----|-----||
E||-----|--|---|---|---|---|-----|--|---|-------|---|-------|------|-----|--0--||
           |   |   |   |            |   |           |
All chord tones of either the I, IV or V chords, all elements that can work together in a melodic sense to keep the listener in a D major landscape. Notice how the first double stop at bar 2 and 5 doesn't seem to fit any D related chord until you remember that the V chord is a 7. Then it becomes recognizable as the 7 and 5 of an A7 chord. Chord tones to the rescue! If you are having trouble recognizing these double stops, order my book PlaneTalk. It teaches the trick to it. Sorry about that, where was I? Oh yes, aspect three. Muting. If you study my right hand in the movie, you'll see, even through the blur of compression, what the secret to playing slide guitar in standard tuning is: muting out any unwanted strings. Look at the tab, and you'll see that there are three different -- we need a new word -- GRAB! -- three different grabs that I do. One is the first two strings. Those are the easiest to mute. The thumb chokes everything except the two treble strings. Another is the treble string and the third string grab. You have to mute that second string, impossible to do at the same instant you pluck, but you can move in a nanosecond later. I find often I don't need to mute that second string, but if I hear anything, I drop a finger tip onto it to mute it. I see it in the movie at the 8 second mark, where I hold that high D double stop. Because I'm lingering on it, I don't want that middle note of the line up to ring out, so my middle finger firmly moves in to choke it off. The other is the triad on the 2-3-4 strings. You can clearly see the thumb muting the two bass strings, and the ring finger kills the treble string. Now only those three strings can ring out. I use this muting technique for non-slide playing also. Unless I want to hear the ringing of other strings, I choke off everything that isn't required. Below are the not-so-accurate timing wise tabs, but it's something to practice to. Of course all these positions give rise to a million melodic possiblities which you can play with or without slide.

Files :


Canadian Kirk Lorange is the man Guitar Maestro Tommy Emmanuel calls "The best slide player on the Planet". Based in Australia since 1975, he has played on scores of album tracks (including Keith Urban's early albums), dozens of film scores and literally hundreds of TV and radio jingles. His speciality is slide guitar, played in standard and dropped D tunings. He is also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Book and creator of the website Guitar For Beginners And Beyond. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his 'How to play Slide in standard and dropped D tunings DVD'. You can listen to Kirk's music at his Soundclick site.

Links :


- Kirk Lorange's Official Website
- Kirk Lorange's E-mail Address
- Kirk Lorange's Lessons
To be continued...
More KirkLorange lessons:
+ CAGED System Explained Soloing 03/13/2014
+ Slide Rhythm Guitar In Drop D Guitar Techniques 03/03/2006
+ Slide Guitar In Drop D. Part 2 Guitar Techniques 02/28/2006
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