#1
Got a quick question regarding the action needed for playing slide, particularly on Stratocasters. Currently I have the action low and that's how I've always liked it, but it doesn't suit very well for slide, as I can hear the glass hit the frets when I attempt to play. Is their a happy medium in setting the string action where I can play both with/without the slide or would it be more sensible to have another guitar for slide? Outside of slide I play a lot of technical kind of playing (Eric Johnson, Steve Vai ish) so I'm not willing to sacrifice much of any ability to play those styles. I don't have any tools to adjust my setup and experiment myself so I'm curious if any of you guys have any experience in that regard?

Thanks
#2
You don't need a lot of tools for a setup. Allen keys and screwdrivers should be all you need.

If you have a light touch, you can play slide parts if your action isn't super low. I don't often play slide, but I have a slide part in some songs and it works fine with the action I like for regular playing. Now, if you really play a lot of slide, I'd imagine wanting a separate guitar. Not only for the setup, but maybe also for the tuning.
#3
I'm getting ready to venture into slide seriously, and i do not have a light touch. So, I'm dedicating a certain (hardtail) guitar to the process. I'm having the action raised and increasing the string gauge from 10s to 12s.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#4
Action height for slide depends on a few factors:

The weight of the slide
String gauge and tuning = tension
How light your touch is.

For electric slide, 10-46 strings, open E, glass slide I set the action at about 1.8mm, treble side heel fret.

I have it a bit higher than that using a heavy brass slide, 13-56 strings, open D on an acoustic.

The main risk I see it that if you use a heavy brass slide with light strings and/or a low action, you can hammer notches in the frets.

I would suggest starting off fairly high, say 2mm at the heel fret, and lower the action as your touch develops.


I've been playing slide a long time, an
#5
Quote by dannyalcatraz
I'm getting ready to venture into slide seriously, and i do not have a light touch. So, I'm dedicating a certain (hardtail) guitar to the process. I'm having the action raised and increasing the string gauge from 10s to 12s.
Might it be worth shimming the nut as well?
#6
Dunno. Never heard of nut shimming. My knowledge of guitar is limited to strumming the strings in a vaguely musical fashion. I'm taking my guitar to a pro.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#7
I started playing slide in the 70's, used a heavy brass bar for years, still do for acoustic. Now I have several antique medicine bottles I use for electric, I keep the action about the same for both.

At the 12th fret I start at 1/8 inch above the fret and go from there to get a workable medium where I can play regular guitar and slide with little difficulty. It usually stays very close to the starting point, which is about the same as Clapton and David Gilmour do their setups. I also use the same .009 gauge strings for everything except lap steel. For it I go with .012.

It takes a little time, but you can develop a feel for the light touch needed for slide. Playing with the heavy brass bar I had to learn it years ago, now it's second nature.

The best way to go is to set up a second guitar strictly for slide if you like low action. I've been playing with mine a bit on the high side for 40 years, I'm not comfortable with low action at all. Actually longer than that, my first guitar was a Silvertone acoustic made by Harmony, it probably had action that would make me cringe these days...

My favorite slide guitar is a 1966 Harmony Bobkat, the action is the same as the Strat I play all night, about 1/8 inch at the 12th fret.

Nut height has little effect, no need to shim it. On the frets close to the nut I have no problems. My lap steel is a different story, it's set over 1/4 inch all the way from nut to bridge from the factory. I never saw any reason to adjust it.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
Last edited by Paleo Pete at Sep 9, 2016,
#8
slapsymcdougal

You don't really need a higher action at the nut, as the string is relatively inflexible in that region; also, it would seriously hamper fretting. A high nut is good for lap steel, as it reduces fret hammering with the heavy bar commonly used, and you don't need to be able to fret.
#9
I came across a neat slip-on nut (Grover GP1103, $6 on Amazon) that raises the nut action by about 1/4" for slide playing. It's handy because it raises the action at the nut, which is kind of nice for me and its held in place by the string tension. Loosen the strings, slip it in or take it back out. Then raise up the saddles and you're good to go. No permanent change to the guitar and it's cheap. I put it on an old Ibanez Gio I bought off CL with really worn lower frets. A cheap way to have fun with slide guitar.