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TwoString
AKA Chad
Join date: Jul 2006
150 IQ
#1
NOTE – 7/13/2007 - MORE PICS WILL BE ADDED WHEN I GET A CHANCE

I posted parts of this in a couple of other threads about slides so I’ve decided to go ahead and write a basic clinic thread on the subject. This clinic will cover “proper” technique and building good intonation and feel for the slide, so this is mainly for beginners. If there are specific slide concepts you would like to discuss, post away.

Contents
1. Slide Materials and Shapes
2. Guitar Prep
3. Picking Technique
4. Slide Technique
5. Starting Points
6. Intonation


1. Slide Materials and Shapes
There are many different materials and shapes where slides are concerned. When you’re starting out, keep in mind that this really doesn’t matter. The basic tonality of some materials are as follows…

Metal: Bright sound bordering on harsh for most electric playing. Brass yields a heavier tone however, but still very bright.

Glass: Thin glass can be less than desirable as it tends to give a harsher sound than thicker glass. Glass is best suited for electric as it gives a nice balance between sustain and mellow tone.

Ceramic: The brightness of metal with a more mellow tonality like glass. This material is a nice balance between glass and metal.

Your intonation and technique are far more important than what material the slide is made out of. I would stress some importance on the shape, however.


Tube: The best choice for beginners. This slide offers a long flat surface area and will give you better control when you’re just starting.


Bottleneck: These slides are either made from or made to look like necks from glass bottles (wine, beer, coke, you take your pick). I recommend against these if you’re just starting out. The flared end and curvature of the slide could make controlling the slide more difficult.


Blues Bottle: This slide type is made to resemble old glass medicine bottles. While they are flat like tube slides, I would recommend against these as condensation tends to form inside the bottle pretty quickly and it plays havoc with your calluses. Also, since the interior of the bottle is larger than the opening, it might make the slide more difficult to control.

I’ve used all of the slides above and my favorite has to be the heavy walled glass tube slide made by Dunlop. For acoustic playing, I rely on a Dunlop Mudslide ceramic slide for its amazing sustain and bright tone.

2. Guitar Prep
There isn’t much to do in this department other than raise your action a bit if it’s insanely low. I keep my Strat at about 3/16” at the 17th fret for a nice balance between fingering and slide action. I also use a .010 - .048 string set. On smaller gauge sets, you will have a difficult time keeping the slide from hitting the frets unless your action is set very high. Also, a little more relief in the neck is preferred for slide as it gets those frets out of the way towards the middle of the neck where the strings tend to sag more under the weight of the slide.
Last edited by TwoString at Nov 30, 2007,
TwoString
AKA Chad
Join date: Jul 2006
150 IQ
#2
3. Picking Technique
First things first, you need to get your "slide grip" on and proper. You can play slide with a pick, but you're going to have a hell of a time trying to properly mute the other strings. To see what I’m talking about, without fretting any notes, use a pick and play this string sequence.
6-4-2-3-5-1

Take notice that while you can palm mute or even mute with the side of your pick, as you start to move faster, muting is a little more difficult. Realize that with a slide, you’re not going to be able to mute strings with your fretting hand in front of the slide. With that in mind, it’s usually best to use a modified finger picking style while playing slide as it gives you more control over ringing notes and noise suppression while the slide is moving on the strings.

The "slide grip"


This is the default, no-sound-coming-through slide grip. From here you're in good position to sound just about any string. The thumb is muting the lower 3 strings, the tip of the index is muting the G, the tip of the middle finger is muting the B, and the tip of the ring finger is muting the E.

Sounding the high E


You'll find that you will adjust and move that default grip around to sound different strings and string combinations. Here the thumb has moved down and is anchored on the B. The thumb is muting all of the strings at this point. The high E is then struck with the index or middle finger with down strokes or upstrokes ("plucking").

Sounding the D/G


Here again you can see that the mute grip has changed. The thumb is still muting the low E and A, the ring finger is muting the B and the pinky is muting the high E. This gives you the ability to "alternate pick" notes with your index and middle finger, or just strum or pluck with your index finger.

Sounding the B


Here you can see that again the thumb has moved down to mute the dead bass strings. The ring finger is muting the high E. This again leaves you with the index and middle fingers to alternate pick notes on the B for speed.

Sounding the low E/A



All strings are muted with the tips of the fingers. The D is muted with the index, the G is muted with the middle, the B is muted with the ring and the E is muted with the pinky (although you can't see this through my gargantuan index and middle fingers). The first picture shows the thumb just before strumming the low E/A strings, and the second picture shows the thumb anchoring to the D string after the strum.

Try this technique out without a slide at first and try to sync up your left and right hands. You will learn the grip better if you start out without the added hassle of the slide. My slide technique is a combination of a few things...watching Warren Haynes, Sonny Landreth and Lee Roy Parnel play slide, as well as lessons learned from playing bass (clearly this is where the thumb anchor technique comes into play).

4. Slide Technique
How you wear your slide isn’t really important. You can push it all the way down on your finger, up to the first knuckle, maybe even have it dangling off of your finger. It also doesn’t matter what finger you place the slide on. The key ideas to keep in mind is you’re going to want these two things…
1. Control over the slide: You don’t want the slide flopping around all over the place.
2. Control over the strings behind the slide: Moving a slide around can generate a lot of noise. Also, you will notice that if you just place the slide on the strings and start playing without taking into consideration the strings behind the slide, the strings will ring out behind the slide. This noise can be heard through microphonic guitar pickups easily, and on acoustic, the noise will completely distract from the actual notes being played on the speaking length of the string.

You will want to use the slide on a finger that allows you to easily control these two factors. Here are my opinions on finger choice.
Index: You’re not going to have much control over the slide. Getting your other three fingers out of the way will be a challenge. Also, you won’t have any fingers left to mute the strings behind the slide. This position feels unnatural.
Middle: A little more control, but again you’ve got to be able to lift your ring and little fingers out of the way. The single index finger behind the slide may not be enough to mute the strings behind the slide.
Ring: Probably the best choice for starters. You’ll have a finger on each side of the slide, which gives you quite a bit of control over vibrato and other subtle movements. You also have two fingers behind the slide…that should shut those strings up.
Little (Pinky): A little less control than the middle, but a good choice due to the fact that you can now alternate more effectively between fingering notes with your index, middle and ring fingers and slide playing. You’ve got three fingers behind the slide, so if you can’t mute the strings with the slide on your ring finger, try it on your pinky instead and see how you like it


This is how I wear my slide...on the ring finger just above the knuckle so I still have flexibility in the finger. The index and middle fingers always stay locked down on the strings behind the nut (just resting on the strings, not pushing them down) to mute everything behind the slide.

5. Starting Points
Here are some basic ideas to keep in mind while playing slide.
1. The finger you place your slide on isn’t really that important, just so long as you can mute the strings behind the slide.

2. Intonation is key. You want to make sure that when you’re sounding a note that you have the slide in contact with the string directly over the fret. As long as you understand that the slide if your fret, you shouldn’t have any problems.

3. You want to make sure you use enough pressure to keep the slide from bouncing on the strings, but not so much that the string makes contact with the frets. It will take a little bit of time to get used to understanding how much pressure is too much, but you’ll know when you’ve gone to far when you start to hear buzzing.

4. Your strings are arched. Your slide may not be. Without picking or plucking any of the strings, lay your slide across your strings. While the slide may push down the higher strings (strings 2-5) keep in mind that you may not have good contact with the lower strings. You will be able to tell this easily when you pick a string and it rattle against the slide. Pivot the slide towards the lower string you want to sound so it makes better contact with the string.

5. When it comes to sounding open strings, you want to lift the slide of cleanly and quickly to avoid noise. Some noise is desirable when using this technique, but play around with it to find what sounds best for you.

6. Intonation
Like I mentioned above, intonation is very important in slide playing. I’m not talking about saddle adjustments here; I’m talking about sounding notes cleanly and properly. Remember, you’ve got a fret mounted on your hand now, and that fret has the ability to move. Since this fret is not statically bound to the fret board or any given note position, there is a larger margin of error and a better chance that the note you actually sound is a few cents off from the whole note at the fret. When fretting a note normally, you would press the string down with your finger as close to the back of the fret as possible. With a slide, you will now place the slide directly over the fret.

Now that you have the ability to move a fret around (the slide), you can now get a taste for all of those wonderful notes that happen in between frets. If this idea sounds good to you, Google “Microtonal Guitar”…it’ll blow your mind.

To practice your intonation, start out with a basic scale in standard tuning on just one string. To get warmed up, we’ll use the G-Major scale on the G string.

G String 0---2---4---5---7---9---11---12


Play this simple scale several times until you get a feel for intonation and how far you need to move the slide to get the slide exactly over the fret.

I would recommend practicing your slide technique in standard tuning so you don’t have to worry about learning new patterns while you’re trying to get your technique down. Work with the patterns you are familiar with.


So that’s the end of the slide primer for now. If you all like what you see, I would be willing to write a follow up to show you a few advanced techniques and tunings. But there’s no use in learning the advanced techniques until you know the basics. If there are any questions, let me know.
Last edited by TwoString at Nov 30, 2007,
HollyW07
Princess Newbie
Join date: Jun 2007
70 IQ
#3
Very interesting read.

I didn't even know what sliding was. Now I know. Thanks for the lesson and info!
binjajer
UG's unlucky luthier
Join date: Aug 2006
100 IQ
#4
Good job, twostring.

I wish such forums and people were around 20 years ago, whan I was starting out...
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Lightitup
Smokin' And Jammin'
Join date: Mar 2007
20 IQ
#5
You really rock. I was thinking about buying a slide, but didn't know where to start so I just didn't grab one. Now, with this, I am gonna grab a slide at the music store and get going.

Thank you so much!
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TwoString
AKA Chad
Join date: Jul 2006
150 IQ
#7
Quote by bluewilliams
Very good. I have to say though, that I couldn't live without my Blues Bottle slide.


To each his own I had one and used it for everything. One day at band practice 7 years ago it was sitting on my amp. The vibrations from the amp caused the slide to fall off of my amp. That thing shattered into about 34,987 pieces. I've been meaning to buy another one, but I just got hooked on the ceramic and the heavier glass slides.
Waterboy799
UG's Greek
Join date: Aug 2005
90 IQ
#9
awesome, now i can pull my slide out my case and finally start playing
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fexnah
Mule
Join date: May 2007
61 IQ
#10
This is very good indeed, I guess TwoString rules.
all the world's indeed a stage and we are merely players
ECistheBest
Makes Pedals for YOU!
Join date: Jul 2006
261 IQ
#12
WHERE THE **** IS MY SLIDE!!!!!

u made me want to play slide like no other...
Call me "Shot".

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ECistheBest
Makes Pedals for YOU!
Join date: Jul 2006
261 IQ
#15
bump. because i'm soooooo tempted to play slide. i'm listening to Allman Brothers band's statesboro blues. i want TO PLAY!!!

should i be turning up the gain? and rolling the tone control down? might that help?
Call me "Shot".

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TwoString
AKA Chad
Join date: Jul 2006
150 IQ
#17
Quote by ECistheBest
bump. because i'm soooooo tempted to play slide. i'm listening to Allman Brothers band's statesboro blues. i want TO PLAY!!!

should i be turning up the gain? and rolling the tone control down? might that help?


I wouldn't turn up the gain so much. His tone has a lot of headroom at times, and it only breaks up when he really hits it. I also wouldn't roll down the tone too much.
FacingUsAll
I was spinnin' free...
Join date: Jun 2005
111 IQ
#18
TwoString rocks.

Do you have any experience playing with a Jet Slide?. They seem interesting.
Recognized by the Official EG/GG&A Who To Listen To List 2008
Quote by utsapp89
^I'd let a pro look at it. Once you get into the technicalities of screws...well, it's just a place you don't want to be, friend.
FacingUsAll
I was spinnin' free...
Join date: Jun 2005
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#20
What about a Peaceland Guitar Ring?

Recognized by the Official EG/GG&A Who To Listen To List 2008
Quote by utsapp89
^I'd let a pro look at it. Once you get into the technicalities of screws...well, it's just a place you don't want to be, friend.
TwoString
AKA Chad
Join date: Jul 2006
150 IQ
#21
Yup, that's the Will Ray thing. Not my kind of thing, but if it works then go for it. I would go to the hardware store and buy a small piece of copper pipe before I buy something like that though...cut it short and try it and see if it works for you. If it does, then buy the ring thing.
uldhppi
Guitar Since 1967
Join date: Mar 2007
30 IQ
#22
Good post TwoString. I was digging in my back yard and found an old Coricidrin (sp?) medicine bottle. Must have been pretty old. Cleaned it up and use it from time to time. Maybe a message from God telling me to play more slide? The finger does sweat too much, so I tend to use a thick glass tube.
forsaknazrael
..kupo?
Join date: Jan 2005
265 IQ
#23
^If the Coricidin bottle gets slippery from sweat, I believe Warren Haynes has some kind of paint on the inside of his slides, to prevent them from moving around, as some kind of makeshift grip. Plus, it looks cool.

Quote by FacingUsAll
What about a Peaceland Guitar Ring?


I wanted to try one of those...

Quote by FacingUsAll
TwoString rocks.

Do you have any experience playing with a Jet Slide?. They seem interesting.

I had one of those. Kind of uncomfortable, truth be told...You know Zakk Wylde, of all people, endorses them?
FacingUsAll
I was spinnin' free...
Join date: Jun 2005
111 IQ
#25
Quote by uldhppi
If an expert slide player like Zak endorses it must be good.


I'm pretty sure Zakk Wylde endorses some Huggies brand diapers too. And some off brand energy drink. And Mott's applesauce.
Recognized by the Official EG/GG&A Who To Listen To List 2008
Quote by utsapp89
^I'd let a pro look at it. Once you get into the technicalities of screws...well, it's just a place you don't want to be, friend.
shredmeiser101
bomb-chika-wah-wow
Join date: Jun 2006
120 IQ
#26
he uses that slide in no more tears. anyways, I'm glad to see a tutorial of slide on here. You should join my group, the slide player's guild.
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Paleo Pete
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2007
10 IQ
#27
Nice job TwoString, I wish I'd had somehting like this as a resource when I decided I wanted to learn Statesboro Blues around 30 years ago...all I had was a Zippo lighter and and old el cheapo Silvertone acoustic, I learned every note of it on that rig holding the lighter between ring finger and pinkie or middle and ring finger. Finally settled on the second method. That was my first slide song, took me a long time to actually get it down, and i pretty much picked it up from there on my own by trial and error.

10 years later I found out they actually made slide bars and bottles, I knew Coricidin bottles were Duane Allman's favorite, but never could find one so I still used my lighter. Someone gave me a Mighty Mite brass slide 20 years ago and I use that mostly now, along with a half dozen or so antique medicine bottles of various sizes and colors I've picked up in the past 6 or 8 years at antique shops and resale stores. I like the brass better for both electric and acoustic but recently have been using bottles more for electric.

OK my addition to the actual tutorial...

Tuning

I started with standard tuning, unaware that open tunings were most commonly used. The only things I'd done with open tuning were songs in open G like Zeppelin's Bron Y Aur Stomp, That's the Way and Peter Frampton's Penny For Your Thoughts. Never even thought about open G with a slide bar...what a dummy!

Open D is probably most common, I'm starting to work with it a lot more these days, in particular learning Van Wilks' Stiletto Blues, and I've been using open G for about 20 years. I keep my lap steel tuned to open G with .011 gauge strings. Other tunings can be used, I've seen references to David Gilmour using E B E G B E for some things, I think that's what he used for "One of These Days" but I'm not positive. It's an interesting tuning to play around with, you can get some really cool sounds out of it. He also uses a minor E tuning I think.

Open tuning, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, means tuning the guitar to a chord, rather than the standard E A D G B E. Open G, for instance is D G D G B D. Strum all 6 strings and you get a good G chord, but the low D may sound a bit odd. I usually muffle it. Fret all 6 strings anywhere and you still have a chord. Tinker a bit with it and you'll find you can also make quite a few chords with open G as well. But they will not be fingered the same as in standard tuning. I didn't have any resources to draw from, so I had to sit there and try different fingerings until I came up with one that got me an actual chord. I still don't have a clue what most of them are called. I remember sitting up till 3 am a bunch of times trying to figure out where Gilmour was going with "Fearless"...

Any open tuning works the same way, all 6 strings make a chord, barre all 6 at any fret, you still have a chord. If you're familiar with Clapton's version of Rollin' and Tumblin' that he played on the Crossroads show, the main slide riff is most of a chord. I haven't taken time to figure out what tuning he's using, I play it in open G and it works well, I suspect he may be using open D though, not sure. I've tried open D, it works nicely too.

Do pay attention to the info above about muffling the strings with your picking hand. That makes a world of difference, I sucked at slide until I learned to finger pick and muffle strings with that hand. I rarely muffle the strings behind the slide, but do sometimes. (I watched a Johnny Winter DVD a week ago, it looked like he never muffled behind his slide bar, and boy is he a great slide player!) Johnny Winter and Duane Allman, by the way, are the two who caused me to pick up slide. Duane and Van Wilks are my two strongest influences, I've never been able to handle much of Johnny's style, as much as I love to listen to the guy play. He uses a thumb pick and holds the slide bar on his pinkie, very frequently using the other fingers to chord and play leads. Billy Gibbons also was a big influence.

Back to tunings...it's really a lot better if you have at least two guitars, going back and forth between standard and open tuning on one guitar sucks, I did it for years, and is impossible onstage. Don't even try it with a vintage strat style bridge, unless it's locked down so the tremolo no longer moves. The springs in back stretch along with the strings, it takes 15 minutes to retune a strat. If you tune one to open tuning, leave it that way.

I keep my lap steel tuned open G, (1940's Electromuse lap steel) and two tele style guitars, one in open D, the other in whatever I'm tinkering with at the moment. I also use heavier gauge strings on the guitars set up for slide, .010 usually instead of the .009 I use for standard tuning electrics. (I had to change to .009 strings a couple years ago, .010s started to hurt my wrist after playing them for almost 40 years.)

Google for "Open tuning" and you'll find loads of sites with every tuning you can imagine listed, you can print those out and try the ones that sound useful, then settle on one or two you like, depending on how many guitars you have and how many of them you want to dedicate to open tunings. I'm dying to be able to scrape up the money for another acoustic so I don't have to keep retuning my Takamine...
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
CORT noob
Ug's Secret Hero
Join date: Dec 2006
70 IQ
#29
I"ve been trying to slide completely wrong! Thank you. If I ever mind my bottleneck slide that I made, I'll throw it out and buy myself a proper one. Then, practice my muting.
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Erock503
Gear \m/hore
Join date: Oct 2005
150 IQ
#33
very cool two string, this looks pretty fun. I've always kind of been intimidated of a slide, nice to see a well written tutorial. I'll be looking forward to your next installment and learning some crazy slide licks!

"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wiseman knows himself to be a fool." - W.S.
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Erock503
Gear \m/hore
Join date: Oct 2005
150 IQ
#35
first time I've seen it. I've been checking out a lot of slide players lately though, so this was cool timing for me.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wiseman knows himself to be a fool." - W.S.
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shredmeiser101
bomb-chika-wah-wow
Join date: Jun 2006
120 IQ
#36
lap steels are very easy to build. It doesn't have to have good action, good intonation or anything. It doesn't even need frets (they're just on there to show positions, you could paint them on if you wanted to.)
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Wulver
Nothing is Real
Join date: Aug 2007
181 IQ
#38
Well, on the Jet Slide thing, David Gilmour used one recently on the "Making of the Dark Side of the Moon" DVD, so if that's a good enough recommendation.....


yeah, I've been interested in learning slide ever since I saw George Thororgood on dad's Live Aid DVD set. Guy was quite awesome.

So, I've been using a socket wrench attachment over the middle finger (as I have rather small fingers), and mostly have just been fooling around a bit with it: havent' developed anything in the way of a real technique yet, I suppose. I plan on getting a Danelectro 59 guitar soon, which was the same type Page used to play slide live, so I think I'm set for that......
Wulver
Nothing is Real
Join date: Aug 2007
181 IQ
#40
Well, I think it was one. he had a ring-shaped thingie around his finger, and I couldn't see the slide itself, so it's my best guess.

He was playing steel, in any case.......may indeed be awkward for bottleneck-style....
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