The most common materials for bottleneck slides are steel, brass, glass, and ceramic. I have also seen slides fashioned from copper tubing and plastic cylinders. Now comes the MagSlide, made of magnesium, the eighth most abundant element, as well as the lightest structural metal on earth.
The MagSlide ($39.95) was developed several years ago by the father-and-son team of Tom and TJ Carter, hobbyist musicians who own a display company in Wilmington, North Carolina. One evening after work, they wanted to play some slide guitar and, on a whim, used a piece of magnesium tubing from a project they were working on. Pleased with the magnesium’s warmth and sustain, they soon made the first prototypes for the MagSlide.
Even though MagSlide is light—a feathery 1.4 ounces—it has a thick lip at the top, which makes it similar in size to a thick-walled glass slide. The interior wall has a cloverleaf contour that allows your finger to rest comfortably and snuggly inside, and it fits great on my third or fourth finger. While shorter slides are best for playing single-string runs or double-stops, the MagSlide is perfect for covering all six strings.
I tried the MagSlide on a National Style O, a Martin 00-18, and an Epiphone Les Paul. The slide moves very easily up the neck and its lightness does reduce string noise. However, much of slide playing is about touch and feel. On acoustic guitar, I tend to use a heavy ceramic slide—which I find best for vibrato, as the weight helps me from moving it to fast—so it was a bit of an adjustment to play the MagSlide. On my National, my ceramic slide was a bit louder.
For electric guitar, I prefer a lighter glass slide, and the MagSlide proved a terrific alternative. It sounded much like the Coricidin bottleneck that Duane Allman famously used on songs like “Statesboro Blues” and “One Way Out,” and was very easy to maneuver with a light touch.
If you’re new to playing bottleneck, it’s a great idea to try out an assortment of slides to see, feel, and hear what appeals to your sensibilities. The MagSlide adds another hue to the sonic palette, and it just might be the right fit for you. playmagslide.com
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.