Slide Guitar

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons' started by Blue Notes, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. Blue Notes

    Blue Notes Senior Member

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    Ok so need some tips/ideas on how to play slide. Ive never tried it before and I've never played in any open tunings. I've just tuned my guitar to open G and bought myself a slide but just lets say I'm a little lost.
     
  2. River

    River Senior Member

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    There's a whole series of lessons here already. Search for threads started by SlidingTom.
     
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  3. Blue Notes

    Blue Notes Senior Member

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    Thanks. Will do.
     
  4. zontar

    zontar Senior Member

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    Check those out--there's lots of other stuff online.

    I love open G--there are three strings still the same--so I can work with that too.

    Overall--work on good sound, playing in tune, and having fun.

    Lots of variable you can try--see what works.
     
  5. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    I play slide in standard tuning. Didn't want to have to relearn scales and so forth.
     
  6. christophervolume

    christophervolume Senior Member

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  7. Axis39

    Axis39 Senior Member

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    I recently picked up slide playing again. I messed with it when I was younger, but never got too serious about it. I'd tune a guitar to an open tuning, play around for fifteen minutes, then tune it back to standard and go play something else.

    This time I set one guitar aside and leave it tuned in open G (then also did my acoustic that way as well).

    A couple of things to work on specifically:

    1. Remember, the pitch is over the fret, not in between them any more
    2. A little waiver when you get to pitch really makes it stand out
    3. Get good at muting... with both hands. Extra fingers behind the slide (nut side) and with your right hand fingers as well
    4. Light touch, you really don't have to press on the strings much
    5. Find some songs you're familiar with in Open G and try to hear the pitches correctly (I started with some Muddy Waters tunes, and ended up with some Robert Johnson stuff too... Now trying some ZZ Top and Rolling Stones stuff as well)

    Then, remember that I, IV and V are right there at those frets and you can learn a huge amount of songs.... in G. LOL
     
  8. Swedgen72

    Swedgen72 Junior Member

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    Just keep at it. For Open G, you can't go wrong with Muddy Waters or Robert Johnson, plus some Johnny Winter.

    For Open E, Elmore James. Derek Trucks only plays in Open E so there's tons of stuff that's useful.

    For standard tuning, I started learning Mick Taylor's slide stuff with the Stones. Johnny Winter I think plays in standard sometimes too. It's all great.
     
  9. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    The thing I like about standard is this -- I don't have to relearn scales, but when I'm chording, I can use the D, G, and B strings for a major chord:

    x--
    -s-
    -s-
    -s-
    x--
    x-- (where "s" = slide)

    ... or a power chord on the A & D, or the E & A:

    x-- | x--
    x-- | x--
    x-- | x--
    -s- | x--
    -s- | -s-
    x-- | -s-

    Note that on those "power chords" your lowest note sounding is the 5, and the higher note is the root -- but with a bassist it works fine.

    You can also fret behind the slide a la Sonny Landreth to hit extensions and alterations.
     
  10. Swedgen72

    Swedgen72 Junior Member

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    I'm still surprised more guitarists don't play slide in normal tuning. You can still do a lot of extremely cool stuff, and especially live it gives you so much flexibility to not have to change guitars all the time.
     
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  11. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    Yep. I don't maintain a "slide" guitar.
     
  12. b3john

    b3john Senior Member

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    Warren Haynes plays slide exclusively in standard tuning. Derek Trucks plays in open-E almost exclusively. Sounds pretty good together to me. :applause:

    To me, keeping a guitar around tuned in open-G isn't exactly a hardship since you can also play a ton of Stones songs with it. :cool:
     
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  13. toneguy86

    toneguy86 V.I.P. Member

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    I used to keep seperate guitars tuned to open E and sometimes G, then I started listening to Greg Martin (Rufus Huff, Kentucky Headhunters, Mighty Jeremiahs, etc.) and Warren Haynes and also found about about behind the slide fretting (Sonny Landreth does this) and decided it worked best to keep things simple and do it all in standard. I have always used a slightly higher action on my guitars anyway so it all works out.

    I also use Greg Martin's muting technique of laying my right hand across the bridge although I do sometimes also use the fingers on my right hand to mute other strings if I am playing a single note line that needs to be clean. Sometimes I don't do any of this conciously. It's just what sounds good.
     
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  14. Swedgen72

    Swedgen72 Junior Member

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    I did lash out and get myself a mid-range dobro not long ago, mainly so I could really have that nasty rasping tone in either open G or open E, but otherwise, yep totally agree.
     
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  15. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    Greg Martin plays is std. too. IT's more awkward and you have to control the noise more but you can learn.
     
  16. Mattyc123

    Mattyc123 Senior Member

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    I could probably google this info, but you just dont get the personal touches and hint and tips with google, that you get on here.

    The questions i have are as follows, as I am about to set a guitar aside for slide.

    1) What gauge strings? I have heard that heavier strings are better for playing slide, is this true?

    2) Should i raise the action of the guitar, i am sure i saw a youtube video suggesting this is better for playing slide?

    3) I play mostly in standard tuning when i write a song, would it be better to tune the slide guitar to open E or another open tuning, or does it not matter?

    Any help regarding this would be much apreachiated.

    Matt.
     
  17. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Matty, this should answer most of your questions and some more:

    action: definitely use a higher action, one that allows you to slide cleanly without rattling on the frets and that's still low enough so you can fret the occasional note - especially on the bass strings, where you'll play rhythm. Would be good if you have one guitar that's devoted to slide.
    string gauge: you'll want a bigger string for tonal reasons and to get more resistance against the slide. At least a set of .011-.049 for standard and higher tunings (open E and open A), .012 - .050 or .052 would even be better. For lower tunings (open D and open G) at least a .012 or .013 set and maybe you'll want to swap the first two strings for heavier gauges. I am using a custom slide set of .0145 - .052 with a medium high action in open D and G tuning.
    string type: whatever sounds good to you - steel or pure nickel and if you don't like the noise that a slide can make on the strings you might consider a flatwound or half round wound.
    radius: some say they prefer a totally flat radius so they can play all six strings at the same time, but I prefer a slightly radiused setup, because I rarely play all of the strings at the same time and you'll apply a little pressure anyway so the slide can touch all the strings even when radiused.
    slides: get a few of different materials to see what you like best in tone and feel. Some guitars seem to prefer a certain material. As for length, it shouldn't be longer than the finger you put it on. I get the most control when the slide's top is just where the top of my sliding finger is. My current favourite is "The Rockslide".
    finger: I would advocate to use the pinky because you'll have three adjacent fingers left for fretting, then. Ring finger gives you a little more control over vibrato but can be a little arkward.
    The most important thing is damping: behind the slide (towards the nut) where you should barely touch the strings with your index and on the picking side to get rid of unwanted noise and strings not being played. But: you can use this noise or the “ghost” notes between the slide and nut for good effect, too, especially at the 5th, 7th and 12th fets.
    You can use a flatpick, thumb- and fingerpicks or just your natural fingertips, whatever comes natural and sounds / feels best to you.
    Starting out it's not the worst idea to start in standard tuning because you already know where your notes are and with standard tuning you'll be forced to practice your damping technique.

    As for songwriting: you can go ahead and do it in standard tuning and add the slide bits on top of the parts or you caould try to write in open tuning which might opn up a few doors in terms of chord voicings etc. - all depends on what you're writing for: a band or a solo singer/player.

    If there's any more Qs: don't hesitate to ask! :)

    (Thanks, Riv!) :naughty:
     
  18. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    Yeah, that's a different story. I do want!

    And when I get one, it'll be kept in standard too.
     
  19. LiquidIce

    LiquidIce Senior Member

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    I prefer Open E for slide, but I'm messing around with many different options. I'm primarily using my acoustic to get a really good feel for slide.

    I only own one Epi Les Paul, but plan on getting another one I can use in an open tuning exclusively. The bridge will be set relatively horizontally flat, and I'll replace the nut, and purposely set it kind of high.
     
  20. toneguy86

    toneguy86 V.I.P. Member

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    Not any more then open actually. It's all about the muting baby! :) Greg mutes a lot with his right hand at the bridge. This works great, but as I mentioned, I mute withe fingers of my right hand to silence certain notes and also mute behind the slide with my other fingers. After awhile you will get so it's the sound you are going for and not how you mute, but it is good to practice with various methods to see what works for you.
     

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