October 06, 2023
Slide guitar is one of the coolest things since sliced bread, especially if you’re into blues or that down-home flavor you find on muggy nights outdoors down in Austin and Nashville. There’s nothing like it, really. So, if you haven’t gotten into using a slide yet, here are a few tips to get you started.
First off, pick your slide, as this is the foundation of slide guitar playing (duh!). Different materials produce distinct tonal characteristics - glass slides are warmer, while metal slides give you brightness and sustain. Ceramic slides combine warmth and clarity. Beer bottles make you look the coolest on stage.
You’ll also want to experiment with various sizes. If it’s too big, it can hinder accuracy, but if it’s too small you might mute strings unintentionally.
A snug-fitting slide is best for control and precision. Slide it on your preferred finger (most commonly the pinky or ring finger) and make sure it doesn't wobble or feel too tight. It’s all about the right balance.
Hand positioning is equally crucial. Hold the slide lightly, allowing it to glide smoothly along the strings. Don't press down too hard; let the slide's weight and the strings' tension do the work. Keep your hand relaxed to get clean notes.
Alternate tunings open a world of sonic possibilities in slide guitar playing. Many slide players prefer open tunings, where the strings are tuned to form a chord when played openly. Common open tunings include Open D (D-A-D-F#-A-D) and Open G (D-G-D-G-B-D). These tunings facilitate easy chord formations and harmonics, which makes slide playing easier.
Exploring alternate tunings can inspire creativity and encourage you to approach the instrument from a fresh perspective. Experiment with various tunings to find the ones you dig.
Sliding is pretty simple – it’s just producing seamless pitch shifts by smoothly transitioning the slide along the strings. You can do short slides for quick embellishments, longer slides for dramatic shifts, and pretty much anything in between.
To add vibrato, gently oscillate the slide horizontally while holding a note. Use varying speeds and widths to achieve different textures. To get good sustain (aka generate prolonged notes), maintain steady pressure on the strings. You’ll have to practice accurate finger placement to prevent unintentional muting.
Developing control over both your fretting hand and slide hand is crucial. Your fretting fingers need to dampen unwanted strings to avoid interference, and your slide hand must maintain consistent pressure to produce clean notes. Practice precision by targeting specific strings and frets with your slide. Aim to hit the center of each fret to minimize buzzing and ensure accurate intonation.
Slide guitar can seamlessly complement chord progressions and solos. Experiment with sliding into chords to create unique voicings and rich textures. For solos, use the slide to emphasize specific notes and add expressive bends. When soloing, think melodically. Slide between notes to achieve smooth transitions and combine slides with vibrato for more depth.
Selecting the appropriate guitar and pickups can significantly impact your slide guitar tone. Resonator guitars, solid-body electric guitars, and even acoustic guitars all offer unique tonal characteristics for slide playing. That is to say, there’s no particular advice here – you just need to play with different options to find the one that suits your style.
When it comes to pickups, single-coil pickups tend to emphasize clarity and articulation, while humbuckers provide a warmer, thicker sound. Consider the tonal qualities you're aiming for and choose pickups accordingly.
Obviously, your amp is going to make a huge difference in what you get out of your slide playing. You should experiment, but if you want a shortcut, tube amps are usually preferred for their warmth. Set the amp for a clean or slightly overdriven sound to ensure clarity and dynamics when using a slide. Or try blasting the distortion into kingdom come with 80 million pedals and sliding through that. You never know, right?
Either way, you may want to adjust the EQ to emphasize the mids, which can make your slide notes more present. Dial in the gain to find a balance between sustain and clarity.
Slide is often done on its own, but effects can add depth and character to your unique slide sound. Reverb and delay can create a spacious ambiance that complements the slide's sustain. Overdrive and distortion pedals can provide extra sustain and saturation, enhancing the harmonic richness of your slide playing. Use them judiciously to maintain articulation and prevent muddiness. Or, as mentioned above, go crazy and see what happens.
Just keep in mind that if you’re looking for the traditional slide sound, the slide's unique tonal qualities already contribute to that distinctive sound. In this case, effects should complement rather than overpower the slide's inherent characteristics.
We could go on and on about slide technique, common mistakes (like relying too much on vibrato), and so on, but at this point, it’s probably best if you just get after it and start trying. After all, slide guitar is like any skill – you’ve got to do it to do it. Have fun!
November 06, 2023
One of the most misunderstood things in mixing is bass – whether it’s getting the low end right in general, letting the bass guitar cut through without overpowering everything else, or just making the bass interesting and cool. It can be tricky to get it right, but there are plenty of tried-and-true tricks for getting there quickly. Let’s go over a few of those.
October 30, 2023
Some of the great guitar-playing artists were self-taught – which means a great many of them use weird tunings. That’s probably no coincidence – using alternate tunings is a great way to come up with a unique sound. So, let’s look at a few of the most common uncommon tunings you could try with your guitar – or your bass.
October 23, 2023
Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases and more…
Contact Us 858-751-4884
"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all of the earth; make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praises. Sing to the Lord with the harp and the voice of the psalm." - Psalm 98:4-5