What type of a guitar slide should I buy?
Slides usually come in 2 basic materials, glass or metal. Choosing one material over another comes down to figuring out the sound and feel that is right for you. Glass slides have a mellow sound, but they are more fragile and can break. Metal slides are sturdy and produce a sharper sound.
It is best to play with the slide on the third or fourth finger of your left hand if you play right handed or wear it on the right hand if you play left handed. This will leave your other fingers free to play chords and leads. I've never tried one but I've seen ads in magazines for a slide that is open on one side so it can be rotated around and then you can use that finger to play in the regular fashion when the slide is not needed.
Try on a slide and test it on a guitar in the store before purchasing it to make sure it fits and you like the sound. This is hard to do because sometimes they are packaged up pretty tightly. If this is the case, ask the sales person to get you one out of the package.
Bob, Gman ( o )==#
Agreed, glass slides are much more mellow, and perhaps have a bit less sustain. Metal slides vary dramatically dependent upon what metal they are made of, and it's thickness. Quite often you may be offered a chromed steel slide from the guy behind the counter. My advice would be to avoid these. Chromed steel slides will give you a thinner, colder sound, which can be quite lacking in character. It's as if your guitar has lost a bit of its soul. I've also found that I get less sustain from these slides. The best slide I have is brass, about 2 1/8" long, (good for my little finger, the tip should be just visible) and 2.5mm thick (ish). This type of slide will give you a fuller warmer sound, more mid range, and, IMHO, better sustain.
Also watch the diameter of the slide, it should be tight enough not to roll about, but wide enough for you to be able to brace your finger against the inside of it, to have more control over the pressure you put on the strings.
When I started out playing slide I had a too short, too wide glass slide, and a too long, too tight chrome slide. The combination of poorer quality materials, and bad fit, put me off slide for years.
If you are serious about learning slide, consider raising the action a bit, and be sure to find the right slide for you. A bad slide is a nightmare and quite often (unless you are lucky) the guys in the music shops are not always that knowledgeable about the differences. You'll end up with something which looks cool but is harder than it should be to use and sounds awful!
Thanks for the site!
See Tip 190 for more info. on slides.
Bob, Gman ( o )==#
HOME BACK TO PLAYING TIPS