37. Slide Guitar

Slide guitar has an exotic quality, and certain styles of music are always identified with it. There are many how-to books on slide, so all I want to do is emphasize the points that sometimes are overlooked:

1.  Make sure to familiarize yourself with open tunings; most slide work is done with them.

2. If you can, it is optimal to have a guitar especially set up for slide. Specifically, this means much higher action (the distance of the strings from the fretboard) than normal. This keeps the strings from vibrating against the fretboard when applying the slide.

3. Always use the other fingers on the fretting hand to minimize the extra noise of the strings as it glides across. Usually this means wearing the slide on the ring finger and using the 1st and 2nd finger for the purpose:

4. Use one of these same 2 fingers to create different chords occasionally if you like:

Glass slides have a cleaner sound, while a metal slide will be ‘noisier’, not necessarily a bad thing. The most important thing about slide guitar is to use the expressive possibilities made possible by the ‘microtones’. In other words, use of the slide transforms the guitar into a fretless instrument. Let it sing!

©20121Jim Greenfield