about slide guitar

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by tone4days, Jul 11, 2006.

  1. tone4days

    tone4days Member

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    i am a total slide guitar newbie ... the context for my learning to play a little slide is cover tunes for a dance rock band ...

    my first question has to do with knowing how to determine if the slide part for a given tune was originally performed in standard tuning or an open tuning (and if so, which open tuning) ... what is the best way to figure that out?

    example - Eagles tune 'heartache tonight' ... chords are simple loosely based around a I - IV - V in G ...

    will be grateful for any pointers as i dive in

    thanks
    t4d
     
  2. ronin32

    ronin32 Member

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    I've just started playing slide because of the "Intro to slide" article in the latest GuitarWorld Acoustic. You might want to check that one out.
     
  3. g8tr90

    g8tr90 Member

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    Most Eagles slide work is played by Walsh and he tends to play open E.

    With that said I listen to slide parts for open string notes to help me figure it out. You have to figure that the tuning is usually either standard, open E, or open G most of the time.

    There are exceptions, of course, but most of the time one of those three will get you there especially in rock.

    Just to note an exception: I think Bonnie Raitt plays in open G but with a capo on the first fret making it open A flat.

    Scott
     
  4. bluesbreaker59

    bluesbreaker59 Silver Supporting Member

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    Here are my pointers, as a slide god (ha, ha):

    Tune up to Open E, with a humbucker equipped guitar, have this guitar setup with at LEAST 10's, and slightly raised action. Play with glass, its the most forgiving, and drop the pick, and DAMP with both hands dammit!!! Now, go buy an Elmore James CD, greatest hits would be great, almost all the songs are in A, D or E, practice to the recording. Most Open E slide playing licks are based off a hybrid major scale, and usually you're sliding about 2 frets in distance.

    For instance over a I, IV, V in E, I would stay mostly in this box

    E----10----12-----
    B----10----12-----
    G#---10----12-----
    E----10----12-----
    B----10----12-----
    E----10----12-----

    I'll slip in some incidental notes too, and slide down to the 15th fret, then maybe pull a "Hound Dog Taylor" and go to the 5th or 17th fret for the IV, and 7th or 19th fret for the V. Just trust your ear.

    Its a frustrating process at first but after a while you'll sound really good. Practice slowly, really, really slowly, and listen. Also, get a very fat, sustaining OD pedal, and use a little slap back echo, that is the ultimate for slide tones.
     
  5. ES350

    ES350 Member

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    If it sounds like Lowell George/Cooder/Johnny Winter, chances are it's open G or A...
    If it sounds like Duane licks (like the Eagles tune); Open D or E...

    Listen to the notes available on a straight bar chord---if you hear the root as the highest note, it's open D or E; if it's a fifth, open G or A...
     
  6. Poppa Stoppa

    Poppa Stoppa Member

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    My 2c - you often can tell if it's standard tuning if there's a lot of playing on the D, G and B strings. Because a slide across these three produces a major triad (5, R, 3 bottom to top), players use this shape and move it up & down to match the chord. In E you'd be playing at the 9th fret, and move to the 14th for an A chord. The next most common move in standard is to play the top two strings together, so in E you get B and E at the 12th fret. You often hear a few sour accidental notes in standard. The third most common move is to play melodies as you would without slide, so if you can't hear any additional/accidental notes being played, it's probably in standard tuning and the player is doing a good job of damping everything else.- eg George Harrison.

    As ES350 says, the sound of E tuning is given away by the way it sounds at the 12th fret, Elmore James style. If you can hear the root note on the top, it's in E. Otherwise it's probably in A. A giveaway open A sound is the root on the top string at the 5th fret.

    From memory, 'Heartache Tonight' is in E tuning, played at the 15th fret because the song's in G.

    ES350's right about Lowell etc, except that Duane played both E and A tunings - listening to him I learned to hear the difference.
     
  7. Tuberattler

    Tuberattler Member

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    No one plays in standard tuning?? I've been doing just a dropped D and standard and have come a long way in two years.
     
  8. ES350

    ES350 Member

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    No one plays in standard tuning??

    Lately, I usually don't retune unless it's a bona fide Elmore or Fred McDowell kinda thing...I'm lazy and don't wanna dedicate another guitar to one or two tunes. Been doing the single note Earl Hooker/Nighthawk thing in standard tuning and switching between fretted lines and slide within a single phrase---that's kinda fun to do.
     
  9. stekks

    stekks Member

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    I used to play in just open tunings, but for convenience (ok, I'm just too laze to bring and switch extra guitars or retune) I stuck in standard tuning. It was hard for a while, but now I really have to switch back on the rare occasion I play slide in open tuning...

    In standard tuning you have to be a bit more careful, so damping strings you dont play etc..
     
  10. Benny

    Benny Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm about 50/50 standard tuning and open E, really depending on the situation. I tend to prefer standard tuning because it forces me to not rely on the same moves that everyone learns for listening to Allman Bros. Records. I also find it easier to stretch out harmonically in standard tuning, probably because I don't have to switch mental gears between tunings. However, open E really makes some of the distinctive slide effects sound "right", and open G will make your life easier if you're doing some Rolling Stones or Black Crowes. That said, it's my understanding that Warren Haynes does at least some slide work in standard tuning (or 1/2 step down). Also, Derek Trucks has no problem breaking out of the blues box while playing in open E.
     
  11. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    I play mostly in open E, sometimes in D, also in standard, or standard with drop D. You can usually hear when someone is playing in standard. Hard to explain, but some notes creep in you probably would not get in one of the open tunings. If you're hearing what sounds like all or most of the strings at once, it's not standard tuning.

    The open tunings are worth exploring for more than just slide. I play lots in open E, as much without slide as with. I like the character of that tuning. A little less spooky rumble than open D, but tighter sounding, easier to get good tones at higher volumes. Learning the chords (i.e., playing rythym and lead w/o slide) in an open tuning is the best way I know to get better at slide voicings. Especially for blues, you can play much cool stuff in open E if you stop thinking of it as just a tuning for slide.
     
  12. Texas_Blues

    Texas_Blues Member

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    What strings are the best for slide, I tried 12s and they snapped.
     
  13. Pedro58

    Pedro58 Supporting Member

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    If you're snapping strings, something isn't right. Unless it happens when tuning, in which case you're tuning incorrectly. In my experience, strings last longer when playing slide...
     
  14. Texas_Blues

    Texas_Blues Member

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    yea when im tunning, my guitar is set-up for Eb tunning with the 12's.
     
  15. pbradt

    pbradt Senior Member

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    You will find open tunings (G, A, E or D) will make lovely sounds for you.

    I think, other than knowing the fretboard and general music things and simply being accurate with the slide, string muting is paramount.

    I finger pick when I play slide, and the fingers that aren't picking, mute strings I don't want making noise when I slide. In addition, you simply MUST use a finger ABOVE the slide for muting as well, this technique eliminates most of the "Cat fight" sound that unmuted strings can make.

    I also recommend a heavy glass slide, the heavier the better. Heaviest I ever found is a Dunlop 213, which I use.

    A good basic instructional video is available and it is worth the investment if you're serious about slide, "The Art Of Slide Guitar" with Lee Roy Parnell, one of America's best sliders and the guy who taught me. It's out of print but you can get it here. VHS only.

    When I started to learn about open tunings, it was like getting blinders taken off my eyes.
     
  16. paul p

    paul p Supporting Member

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    Informative thread; good stuff...
     
  17. pbradt

    pbradt Senior Member

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    I use open G all the time and use a capo for different keys. I use .013-.056 strings and my Strat is a dedicated slide guitar. I hate playing slide in standard tuning, though I know people who are very good at it.

    Dunlop 213 slide, Callaham bridge and block. Had a nut cut for wider string spacing as I finger-pick.
     

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