Har­ri­son Marsh brings you more slide gui­tar ideas to try, mov­ing on to the pop­u­lar open E tun­ing, also known as ‘Vestapol’.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Open E tun­ing is hugely pop­u­lar in elec­tric slide play­ing hav­ing been used by many gui­tarists in­clud­ing Duane All­man, Sonny Lan­dreth, and Derek Trucks (the lat­ter al­most ex­clu­sively). From stan­dard tun­ing, the first, se­cond and sixth strings are the same as in stan­dard tun­ing, the third string is tuned up a semi­tone to G# (the Ma­jor 3rd) and the fourth and fifth strings are tuned up a whole step to E and B re­spec­tively, go­ing from high to low E-B-G#-E-B-E. This is equiv­a­lent to open D tun­ing a whole tone higher. If you do not wish to tune in this way, open D tun­ing with a capo on the se­cond fret will give a sim­i­lar re­sult; how­ever, this means go­ing even higher up the neck and it can make some licks dif­fi­cult. Many play­ers will pre­fer the tone or find slide play­ing eas­ier in open E due the higher string ten­sion.

As well as huge suc­cess with The All­man brothers, Duane All­man was a suc­cess­ful stu­dio mu­si­cian play­ing with the likes of Boz Scaggs and Aretha Franklin with his sig­na­ture slide sound. In­flu­enced by All­man and El­more James, Derek Trucks plays al­most solely in open E. One of the things to no­tice in the ex­am­ples is that, just be­cause we are tuned to an open E chord does not mean the song must be in the key of E. In­deed, as the ex­am­ples show, slide has been used in wider gen­res than just tra­di­tional blues – and in a range of keys. The ex­am­ples also show how a slide player might typ­i­cally use higher fret po­si­tions, which can be a chal­lenge for the fret­ting hand when main­tain­ing good in­to­na­tion. It is also com­mon for slide phrases to skip be­tween non-ad­ja­cent strings, so work through the ex­am­ples slowly to be­gin with. Work­ing out the rel­e­vant scales shapes and en­sur­ing ef­fec­tive pick­ing-hand damp­ing will make play­ing eas­ier.

All the ex­am­ples were recorded us­ing a fin­ger­style ap­proach with the slide on the third fin­ger. Be aware of dy­namic and tonal dif­fer­ences when mov­ing be­tween strings to avoid any notes sound­ing thin.

Tips: It’s com­mon to use com­pres­sion to even out the tone when play­ing slide, and ac­cent­ing key notes of a phrase (per­haps with vi­brato) can add colour to your play­ing.

in­flu­enced by both duane all­man and el­more james, derek trucks plays slide al­most ex­clu­sively in open e tun­ing

NEXT MONTH Har­ri­son con­tin­ues his se­ries with more slide ideas in open E tun­ing

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