#1
Hello, good people!

I've been playing guitar for a few months now and I recently started exploring slide guitar techniques. Thing is, I've kind of been using a lipstick cap to practice and it's kind of limiting my options. One of my friends suggested getting a test tube to substitute for a proper glass slide but I'm kind of worried. I'm kind of used to handling dangerous materials using standard test tubes found in my university's laboratories but I'm not quite sure how they can handle the vibrations coming from metal strings. What I'm worried about is the glass unexpectedly breaking on my finger while I'm playing. Have any of you had any experience with test tubes?

The tubes don't cost too much but I'm more concerned with my finger's well-being. I looked through the search engines here and I haven't found anything related to my query. Help is very much appreciated.
#2
The pyrex used in test tubes is too thin and brittle for this sort of use. I'd be very worried about it breaking and cutting your hand up. It probably wouldn't break during slide work, but have you ever dropped a test tube? It's going to shatter the first time you lose your grip picking it up. Plus, I can't think of a test tube that would fit your finger and wouldn't be stupidly long and unwieldy for playing slide.

I'm sitting here looking at a box of Fischer 18x150mm culture tubes - fairly standard size - and they won't fit over my pinky. The glass is less than half as thick as my glass slide. I wouldn't trust them.

Update: sounds fine used as a slide. Useless, though, since I can't get one on my finger.

A real slide is what, 5 dollars? Just buy one.
#3
Proper slides are cheap so why screw around? Glass is the easiest to learn with. The Dunlop glass slides are fine. The glass on them is many times thicker than any glass you'll find in a test tube.
I now use a steel slide and again, one made especially for guitar and again it was so cheap it just wasn't worth screwing around making one. A lot of people like ceramic because they are more resistant to being slippery when wet. I've never tried a ceramic one but I like the idea.
Bottom line - just buy one. And this is coming from somebody that makes as much stuff himself as he possibly can.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#4
Don't know if you live in the UK, but you can get a good glass slide for £8.
It's nothing
#5
A heavy glass slide is only $14 in Australia. That's the same price as a set of strings and we buy strings like normal people buy cans of coke.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#6
Anything vaguely cylindrical will work. Bottle necks are great. Deodorant spray cans, I think there was even a guy that used to use the back of a knife.
#7
Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate the input. For me, it's easier to acquire glass tubes from the university(lots lying around and for sale) than it is to buy so I was curious if it could work. I'll make sure to buy a real glass slide next time I drop by my local music shop.
#8
redgenevieve I'd love to find a glass slide with an ending like the receptacle end of a test tube, so I could stretch out and hit notes as if my finger had a glass end. I could even hit notes with the rounded end.
#9
I wouldn't use a test tube as a slide, too thin and light to supply any sustain. I have used cut down Universal and McCartney* culture bottles though, but would much rather have a real wine bottleneck (I make and sometimes sell them), or thick-walled ceramic or glass commercial ones. I use thick-walled brass on the resos, but there is a risk of hammering notches in the frets if the action is low - been there, done that.

rogerc1 I think I've seen ones made like that, but it was a long time age. With practice, you can use the top edge of a cylindrical one if it is nice and smooth.

These make nice lap steel slides.