Hey everyone heres a thread where everyone can post any techniques or anything like that that is slide guitar realted. Feel free to ask questions in here too. Good luck all my slide brothers
Sometimes when I (try) to play slide, the notes sound flat, even though my guitar is in tune. Do you have any idea what's wrong?
you probably arent sliding up to the note enough. you should be right over the fret because thats actually where the note is. sounds like you are going in the frets like if you used your fingers. you actually have to go over the fret.
My name is Andy
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Blind In 1 Ear pegged it, you have to get accustomed to keeping the slide bar directly over the fret, not in the middle where you would usually put your finger. Remember, the slide bar IS the fret now, and a movable one.

A couple of tips I can offer, I've played slide for around 25 years, and I'll try to come up with some of the things I've learned in the process.


You can play slide in standard tuning, I do it a lot and I learned in standard tuning, didn't realize open tuning could be used, even though I was also using open G for a couple of Zeppelin and Frampton tunes. ZZ Top's "Tush" was done in standard tuning. But open tunings are great since you can also chord much easier. With open tuning the guitar is already tuned to a chord, so you simply use all or part of the strings to get the chord you want, rather than having to use only 3 strings usually if you're in standard tuning. To change chords, move the slide bar to the fret you want. I would advise against trying to retune a guitar with a floating bridge, like a strat, since the springs in back change as the tuning changes. It takes 20 minutes to retune one. I have several guitars, and I keep a couple in open tunings all the time, mostly open G and open D. I strongly recommend a second guitar kept in open tuning to avoid constantly retuning. I'm dying to scrape together the bucks for a second acoustic, so I can leave one in open G, I'm constantly retuning my Takamine.

Open tuning means simply tuning the guitar to a specific chord, such as G or D.

Open G tuning is D G D G B D.
Open D tuning is D A D F# A D.

Either is usable for slide, and they are probably the most common tunings used. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones used open G a lot, for example the song "Honky Tonk Women" is in open G (but not a slide tune, obviously). George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone" is in open G and an easy one for learning. Eric Clapton used open G for "Rollin' and Tumblin'" on Unplugged. I'm not sure but I think he also used open G on a couple of the other slide things, and he has used other open tunings for other songs. David Gilmour uses open tunings for slide and gets some fabulous sounds out of a strat in his lap or an old lap steel for "One of These Days". E B E G B E was the tuning there, interesting for slide.


As mentioned already, keep the slide bar above the fret wire, not in the middle, that will sound out of tune. You can hold the slide on your pinkie or ring finger, and Billy Gibbons seems to use his middle finger, the only person I've seen do that. I use my ring finger, I've tried the pinkie, but it's uncomfortable for me and I can't pick with the other three while holding a bar anyway due to a tendon injury many years ago that also affects my guitar playing overall. Try not to have a stiff wrist, it helps to keep it flexible so you can move more smoothly from one note or chord to another.

Near the nut end of the neck I rarely try to muffle the strings behind the bar, up the neck toward the octave I tend to keep my index finger lightly resting on the strings to avoid overtones from the vibrations behind the bar, toward the nut. Vibrato is accomplished by moving the bar back and forth at varying speeds to get the effect you want. Mike Campbell, Tom Petty's guitar player has a wild vibrato he uses in which he moves the bar quickly back and forth 2-3 frets. (Found that out watching live shows on Soundstage on PBS) I use that technique occasionally, but mostly I use a slight vibrato moving the bar only about half a fret either direction. Speed of movement depends on the sound and feel I want. I try to swivel my wrist for vibrato rather than moving the entire hand. Sometimes moving the entire hand works better, it depends on the sound and effect I'm after.

You also have to be careful not to hold the bar too hard against the strings, two things will happen.
1. The bar will cause the strings to buzz against the frets, not an enjoyable sound.
2. You will keep hitting the neck or frets with the bar when moving to a different location, like dropping back to the nut area during a lead, and it will create an audible BANG against the fretboard, also one you want to avoid as much as possible. With 25 years of practice, I still hit the fretboard quite often but I never buzz against the strings. With practice you will develop a feel for how much pressure to hold on the bar to get a good clear sound, good sustain and still not buzz on the frets. You have to have a light touch.

How to hold the slide bar:

Some people hold the slide bar on the pinkie, fingers held straight and letting the bar drop all the way to the base of the pinkie. Clapton plays slide that way. I've tried that, very uncomfortable for me, it's painful to bend my wrist that far. I hold my bar on my ring finger, with the finger bent so it rests on the knuckle just above where a ring would be. Johnny Winter uses his bar the same way, but on his pinkie and he uses the other three fingers extensively to play leads too, especially on open strings. He also uses a thumb pick and constantly picks with the other fingers of his right hand. I use a standard guitar pick sometimes, but more often I finger pick slide and I never use a thumbpick.


Here's where it gets frustrating. Muffling the strings you don't want. In addition to muffling all the strings behind the slide bar, when playing slide leads you will get a note ringing while you pick a note on another string and it will clash. That's when finger picking really is helpful, you can use fingers on your picking hand to muffle strings you don't want especially during slide solos. It takes a lot of time and practice to train your fingers for this, you're picking with 2 or 3 fingers, while alternately using the same fingers to muffle strings...The only advice I can offer is practice, practice, practice...

Slide bars:

Slide bars are available in metal and glass, and bottles manufactured to duplicate the old Coricidin medicine bottle, Duane Allman's favorite. Some ceramic slide bars are available now, I haven't tried those but I've heard they're pretty good. I use mainly a thick, heavy brass bar I was given over 20 years ago, and as a machinist I made a backup in case I ever lose it, and one from stainless steel too. I've also started using glass lately, I started collecting old/antique medicine bottles the right size from antique stores, yard sales and resale shops about 5 or 6 years ago, and using them. It took me a while to get accustomed to the difference in weight, the glass bottles weigh nothing compared to the heavy brass bar I've always used. You can also get thin chrome slide bars, I don't care much for those, especially since I'm partial to some weight on my finger. They do work well though, keep them in mind and try one when picking out a bar to use. You may like it...

By the way, I learned slide (Statesboro Blues was my first slide song) using a small size Zippo lighter held between my middle and ring fingers, at the time I didn't have an actual slide bar or bottle and didn't know they were made, the only ones I was aware of were real Coricidin bottles and I couldn't find one. Medicine companies had already switched over mostly to plastic.

Brass has a bright sound with lots of sustain, glass has a more mellow, bluesy sound but not as much sustain. I'm starting to use glass a lot more with electric guitars, but I still much prefer my old favorite brass bar for acoustic and for some things on electric.

That's all I can think of right now, I'm sure I'm forgetting something...

EDIT 2 Told you I'd forget something...

I realized this evening out looking thorough a telescope at all sorts of far away dots of light I had forgotten all about the guitar itself. Any guitar should work for slide, electric, acoustic, solid or hollow body, single coil or humbuckers, it doesn't matter. and there's always lap steel and dobro.

The guitar must be setup right, you can't get far on a guitar with really low action. I keep most of my guitars setup a bit on the high side for most guitar players' taste, so I can play slide. I just measured one, the strings are 4/32" from the fret at the octave (12th fret). That's 1/8". Any lower and you'll be banging the slide bar against the frets constantly and sustain goes out the window. That's the main consideration, and it helps if the relief at the nut is a little high too, but that's not critical. It takes some time to get accustomed to playing regular fingerstyle guitar with the action that high, but I think that's the same 12th fret height as Clapton's regular setup. Since I'm apt to grab a slide bar at any time, I keep all my guitars setup so they are always suitable for slide.

Intonation is far less critical than usual, because you're now using a movable fret. If it's a bit out of tune, you adjust the slide bar to compensate. That's one of the hardest things about slide, getting the slide bar in the right spot for intonation every time. Listen to George Harrison play slide. He was one of the most accurate I've ever heard. He could hit every note just right every time. That's a matter of lots of practice. He also had the knack for coming up with leads and slide parts that sounded like they just grew there. If your intonation is not exactly right, it won't be a major concern for slide because you can make minor adjustments as you go, and you'll learn with time and practice how to make sure the notes are in tune but in many cases you'll want to play standard fingerstyle in the same guitar too, so make sure the intonation is right anyway.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
Last edited by Paleo Pete at Sep 16, 2007,
Hey any one know which scales Duane tended to use - especially on Statesboro Blues? Im assuming blues, Minor pentatonic and mabey Mixolydian but im not to sure, any help would be appreciated.
"An eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind"- Mahatma Ghandi
I'm going to share a secret with you folks that I think is spectacular.

I was watching Luke Skaggs (Ricky's son) playing live last summer, and his glass slide kept magically appearing and disappearing while he was playing (a Tele through a plexi and a music man cab, i think).

He was hanging around talking to people after the music was over. I think this kid is about 16 years old. I asked him how he kept making the slide disappear. Luke was holding the Tele at the time, and he reached up towards the neck and suddenly he had the glass slide on his finger again.

I asked him how he was doing it, and he showed me that the slide had a magnet on it. He was putting it on the tuners of his guitar and the magnet held it in place.

When I got back home I looked around for suitable magnets, and found that the magnets inside of older laptop-hard-drives are perfectly rounded. they are about two inches long and are curved, so they lay perfectly against the slides. I used a clear epoxy glue to put magnets on my slides, and they stay snugly on my headstocks until called for.

I think this is a better solution than keeping it in the back pocket, which is what I think Derek Trucks does.

Anyway, I will try to get pics of this setup on my gutars tonight at practice. Hope it is of interest to you. And thanks to Luke for the really cool idea.


"People never misapply their economy so much as when they make mean provision for the education of children. The only practicable method to reform mankind is to begin with children." -- Noah Webster
Last edited by freepatriot at Sep 21, 2007,
Quote by Dog Eat Dog
Hey any one know which scales Duane tended to use - especially on Statesboro Blues? Im assuming blues, Minor pentatonic and mabey Mixolydian but im not to sure, any help would be appreciated.
You don't just start using different scales just because you're fretting notes with a slide rather than your finger. He used the same scales that one would use in the same situation without a slide.

So yes, Blues, Minor Pentatonic, and Mixolydian.

I'm actually looking at what I remember to be an accurate powertab of "Statesboro Blues" and I see C# thrown in there as a passing tone. I don't suggest using that note too much in a D blues, but it does show that really odd notes (and what is odder than a natural seventh over a dominant chord?) can work when they're used properly.
Quote by Ramblin'_Man
hey i was wondering if anyone knew any techniques to get that indian/derek trucks style slide?

try using a lot of legato phrasing. Play a full phrase but with only the first note plucked; slide up/down to the rest. You might also want to try making longer slides. It seems as if Derek likes to jump from one octave to another on the same string. Also fiddle with volume swells, he does that frequently.
These techniques may help. The scale you use would also make a difference, but I'm not positive on which ones he uses for the "Indian" feel. I'm pretty sure it's mostly his technique that gives his music that vibe though.
I started playing slide with an old dobro across my lap.
After a couple of years of that, I wanted to switch over to electric so it would be...you know, LOUD...and I could use distortion.
Never could get the hang of playing with a slide on any other finger than my first finger, so I just strap on a guitar and play over the top of the neck.

It's got it's pros and cons....

It's a pain in the butt to chord, but it can be done.
I can, however, get from the nut to the bridge unobstructed by the body of the guitar, and muting the string behind the slide is a lot easier. At least for me, anyway.
You can do a lot of the "bar slaps" pedal steel players use, which is a neat trick.
I have to have a slide that fits snugly on the finger though, otherwise it'll go flying off.

Just wondering if anyone else plays electric slide like me....the only person I've ever see do it this way other than me is Dave Hole.
I've been trying to find whatever info I can on George Harrison's slide guitar style, but so far I haven't dug up anything useful. There any sites out there that could help me on this?
Do YOU know who Les Paul is?

-Epiphone Dot Studio
-Fender Stage 112 SE
-BBE Soul Vibe
-Boss OD-1 Overdrive
-Ibanez DE-7 Delay
I use crappy guitars that I buy on the cheap.
I personally use guitars with humbuckers, but I play with a lot of gain, so that's just what I gotta do.......
The neck doesn't matter so much, as you're not using the frets, the slide IS the fret.
Just raise the action up and you're good to go.
Tuners and pickups are your main worries, either or both may have to be replaced on a low end guitar.
I use mostly el cheapo guitars too, as long as the pickups don't sound wimpy. Single coil or humbuckers, both work fine, I'm not picky.

Duane Allman used a strat for a while then switched to a Les Paul and eventually an SG. Eric Clapton uses a strat, Johnny Winter used Gibson Firebirds and an Epiphone, I'm not sure what model. George Thorogood uses big Gibson hollowbodies, not sure what model, Jimmy Page used a 60's Dan Electro, David Lindley (with Jackson Browne) used all el cheapos, I've seen Joe Walsh using Strat and Les Paul, and I've seen amateurs in bar bands using everything you can think of.

So basically any guitar will work, I use mostly a 66 Harmony Bobkat and two no name tele copies in open tunings (G and D). I also play slide in standard tuning so I use whatever guitar is in my hands if I want to add some slide, strat, Cort CL 1500, Peavey Patriot, Washburn BT 2, whatever. I just keep the action a bit on the high side for all of them, about 1/8" at the octave.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
Duane Allman didnt use a strat he used a tele w/ a start neck. I actually got to play the ver guitar in London at the vault in the original Hard Rock Cafe along w/ one of Clapton's strats and Hendrix's Flying V

But i used to use my strat for slide and it was fine, but i definitely prefer my SG
Yeah, the SG's got that great upper fret access....

I plan on getting myself a Danelectro soon, was always fond of the sound of those.

This might be the ultimate slide guitar, though:

Do YOU know who Les Paul is?

-Epiphone Dot Studio
-Fender Stage 112 SE
-BBE Soul Vibe
-Boss OD-1 Overdrive
-Ibanez DE-7 Delay
Just got a glass slide today. But I also discovered you can play slide with a pen, a spoon, a knife and basically anything else with a solid surface
Call me Batman.
I'm partial to a 9 volt battery, myself.
Do YOU know who Les Paul is?

-Epiphone Dot Studio
-Fender Stage 112 SE
-BBE Soul Vibe
-Boss OD-1 Overdrive
-Ibanez DE-7 Delay
I took up slide guitar for a bit, nothing extreme, like Johnny Winter ****, but it gave me insight to my normal playing, made me play down right near the fret instead of in the middle, and that gave me a much better technique, and helped me develop better ability to move around the guitar.

Anyone who doesn't play slide a bit, should. It'll change your playing for the better.
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let's get some good slide songs in a list for everyone to try out eh?

"dust my broom" by elmore james is one
Last edited by fenderdude06 at Feb 27, 2008,