Playing With Guitar Slides

First I would like to say that you have one of the best sites about acoustic guitars I have ever seen ! The quantity of information is enormous.
Now, about the suggestion ... some people tried to teach me how to use a slide, and these are some of my conclusions, I hope that they are useful in any way.
Just a few ideas ... when you start to learn how to play with a slide, try it on the pinky.  It will leave you with 3 available fingers, and it won't get in the way unless you want to !
I like smaller slides because I manage to get precision (yes, playing with a slide REQUIRES precision i.e. correct intonation) and it is easier to move around.  When playing a specific note, don't do it behind the fret - but over it ! Try your ears, first play a note normally, then with a slide.  It should have the same intonation.
That's it.

Best Regards,

SÚrgio Sousa

I'm lucky enough to play a 1929 Dobro 65, which is a wooden bodied resonator, and a Supro metal bodied resonator. 

Here's some slide playing tips...

Setting the action is everything.  My Dobro has a high action (c.10mm!), as the nut was changed for lap steel. This is great for slide, as you can press down more on the frets, with no danger of buzzing. Basically, you can play really 
aggressively with your left hand.  My Supro on the other hand is set low, probably 2mm higher than my normal acoustic, maximum.  The downside here is that you have to slide really gently to avoid bumping the frets. You need more discipline in how you play.

Your choice is really dependent upon your playing style. If you want to be able to fret notes with your 'non slide wearing' fingers, then go for around 2mm higher than usual.  This will give you the height to whiz about with the slide, without constant fret rumble.  Most of the old blues guys didn't just play slide notes, and also finger picked turn arounds off regular fretted notes.  If, however you just want to play purely 'slid' notes, then you could go higher with the action, which will make your playing style very different, as you'll be relying on 1 finger of the left hand to find all the notes.  This places limits in terms of your ability to play certain runs across multiple strings, but does allow a more 'ballsy' approach with the left hand!

Thanks for the site!


Also see Tip 41 for more info. on slides.

Bob, Gman ( o )==#

HOME                         BACK TO PLAYING TIPS