SLIDE GUI­TAR

Har­ri­son Marsh in­tro­duces elec­tric slide play­ing in stan­dard tun­ing, in the style of play­ers such as Derek Trucks, Duane All­man and War­ren Haynes.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

In this brand new se­ries (as a re­sult of a reader re­quest), RGT’s Merv Young’s introductory les­son looks at slide in stan­dard tun­ing.

Slide gui­tar is an in­stantly recog­nis­able and a very ex­pres­sive way of play­ing and many of its heroes, such as Robert John­son, El­more James and Son House, come from tra­di­tional blues. Play­ers such as Duane All­man, Ry Cooder and Derek Trucks have ex­plored a wider mix of gen­res, al­though still with a strong blues base. While open tun­ings are syn­ony­mous with slide (Derek Trucks plays al­most ex­clu­sively in open E), when start­ing out it can re­ally help to use stan­dard tun­ing, as it al­lows you to use your ex­ist­ing fret­board knowl­edge.

Choos­ing a slide can be dif­fi­cult due to the range on of­fer. A quick check of what your favourite artist’s slide is made from can help as this, in part, de­fines the sound is. Glass slides pro­duce smooth, pure notes while steel pro­vides a more tra­di­tional sound with a harsher tone and more string noise. Many artists in­clud­ing Ry Cooder are strong ad­vo­cates of heav­ier slides for bet­ter sus­tain and tone but for be­gin­ner or intermediate play­ers, slides that are too heavy can be dif­fi­cult to con­trol and may press down on light elec­tric strings, thus de­tun­ing them or, worse, clank­ing on the frets. That said, the slide should sit tight on the strings (di­rectly over the fret and not an­gled).

One of the most im­por­tant parts of slide play­ing in­volves mut­ing the other strings with your fret­ting hand (mut­ing be­tween the nut and the slide). This means that you only hear the note that you are play­ing, and not ran­dom un­wanted ones. For this ar­ti­cle, all ex­am­ples are played fin­ger­style, us­ing the fin­gers to mute the strings be­tween notes with the thumb rest­ing across strings lower than the one be­ing played. This damp­ing ef­fect with both hands re­duces un­wanted string noise and makes your slide play­ing more ar­tic­u­late. I use the slide on my third fin­ger; this is most com­mon among elec­tric slide play­ers and al­lows a com­fort­able hand po­si­tion.

The most im­por­tant thing in slide play­ing is us­ing your ear to get good in­to­na­tion; since the frets are no longer part of the equa­tion a great deal of ac­cu­racy is re­quired. Vi­brato is a great way to ‘cen­tre’ your in­to­na­tion and we’ll be look­ing at this through­out the se­ries.

the most im­por­tant thing is us­ing your ear to get good slide in­to­na­tion, since the frets are no longer part of the equa­tion

Derek Trucks uses fin­ger­style and wears his slide on the third fin­ger

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