What is slide guitar? It’s one of the great sounds of American roots music. Putting bottleneck to strings may be one of the most evocative and expressive ways to coax sound from an acoustic guitar.
There are several things you can do to get a good slide sound: Set up your guitar with heavier strings, use an open tuning, try different kinds of slides, dampen the strings, and learn to properly intonate. Getting a good sound is often as much a function of proper setup as it is technique.
Fingerstyle guitarist Steve Baughman shares an open-d acoustic guitar arrangement of the beloved Christmas carol "Silent Night" that lends itself nicely to slide treatment.
Learn the basics of acoustic slide guitar and start to find the notes between the notes where the range of human emotion runs.
Here's an open-G arrangement of the traditional blues tune "Poor Boy, Long Ways from Home"
While slide guitar is perhaps most commonly associated with the blues, it can be used to excellent effect in a range of other styles.
Here are some tips from contemporary players Jontavious Willis, Kelly Joe Phelps, and Jimmy Page
The slide allows the guitarist to find the notes between notes—those places between the frets where the slippery quality of human emotion runs.
Slide/bottleneck guitar can evoke flavors ethereal and lyrical or aggressive and bombastic. From Santo & Johnny’s “Sleepwalk” to Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom” and on to Debashish Bhattacharya’s Indian slide musings, this approach delivers a wide spectrum of sounds, emotions, and cultural touchstones.
In this lesson, you'll get Jimmy Page's blues riffs and musical ideas under your fingers and learn how to take them somewhere new and exciting.
Prewar blues is just a stepping-off point for Phelps’ intricate fingerpicking and soulful vocals. In this lesson, you'll adapt his open-D ideas to bottleneck style.
Learn how to employ this classic blues technique with this excerpt from Acoustic Guitar Slide Basics
At its best, slide guitar playing combines economical phrasing with special attention to pitch and tone.
The two classic slide materials are glass and metal. Some of the first slides were made from the tops of wine bottles (hence the term bottleneck guitar) or from lengths of pipe (hence the term . . . er . . . metal slide).
If I’m going to do a lot of fretting and slide at the same time, the big thing I’m working on is to not let the slide bar come away from the string.
Explore the haunting sounds of acoustic slide guitar with this easy-to-follow, step-by-step instruction series.