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Setup slide guitar

chrisjnyc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,399
Its been a while since I have played slide with my band, but I am trying to get back into it. Anyone have some tips on setting up a slide guitar? I have spare LP and strat... going to raise up the action.

Bonus question.... whats your favorite slide? I have better luck with glass, but also have a brass slide.
 

Benz2112

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,939
Raising action is fine if you want to have a heavier touch, but ill play slide on anything. I really like the Rockslide. I started playing slide with my index finger, eventually broke that habit and played with my ring, but now I use a Rockslide pinky, which fits really nice, and opens up a lot more possibilities. I like the brass, but I also still have a Dunlop blues bottle glass slide, which sounds really good.
 

Bob T.

Member
Messages
2,706
Rockslide brass balltip on pinky. Marvelous.

I recently acquired an Epiphone Dot Deluxe that is meant primarily as a slide guitar in standard tuning with 12's; I'd be able to play it with or without the slide. While it works well, I honestly think my touch is light enough (and since I like the action a little higher than most anyway) that I can play 11's with a slide easily.

I find slide to be one of the most expressive ways to play guitar. It's been a tough ride for me to learn, but SO worth it!
 
Messages
807
Slide is tough - best advice I can give you is to not dramatically alter a guitar for it. Instead buy a slide that’s comfortable and allows you to have a light touch. Learning how to lighten your touch will be 1000% more productive for your slide playing than sending a guitars action to the moon.
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
42,194
I play slide in standard tuning with a fairly large ceramic slide on my ring finger. I'd prefer pinky to leave more fingers for fretting but don't like the control I get.

I would rather use a regular guitar setup and tuning so I don't have to swap instruments around. However, I'm not going for a Derek Trucks, Ry Cooder, or David Lindley approach. I sprinkle slide into tunes as an extra effect or voice rather than spotlighting it.
 

OM Flyer

Member
Messages
5,637
I agree with those who caution against raising the action a bunch. Instead, work on your touch to the point where you aren't clanking on the frets. That way, you can comfortably use your fingers "behind" the slide to get minor chords and add non-slide licks to your slide playing.

And yes, the balltip brass slide from Rockslides is wonderfully lightweight, fits like a condom, and has a comfort cutaway to facilitate bending your pinky at the knuckle. Highly recommended.
 

clint

Member
Messages
1,541
Before messing around with the action, try tuning it to open G and see if that provides enough relief in the neck, since you are loosening some strings.
Learning open G with slide = lots of mileage.
 

TB72

Member
Messages
1,443
As opposed to raising the action a whole bunch, I would just go up a gauge in string size. And as stated above, find a slide that facilitates a light touch (this will actually be a combination of the slide itself, and your technique...mostly technique I'd say). For me, the action is a delicate balance...I want it high enough so that I can play slide cleanly and not be pressing it down into the frets, and low enough so that I can switch to standard fretting and not have the intonation all out of whack. (This applies to both standard and open tunings.)

I've been using Rocky Mountain Slides since about 2005. They're well worth a try if you've never used ceramic slides before. Tonally, I find the sustain is similar to glass, but the attack is a bit warmer. They don't do that raspy thing that brass does (whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, that's up to your taste).
And RMS have enough options as far as length, size, wall-thickness etc. to fit pretty much any finger or playing style. Won't break the bank experimenting either.
 

9fingers

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,447
Before messing around with the action, try tuning it to open G and see if that provides enough relief in the neck, since you are loosening some strings.
Learning open G with slide = lots of mileage.
Or Open E. Like G the added tension helps keep the slide off the frets.
 

shallbe

Deputy Plankspanker
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,579
I don't change my setup for slide, and play in standard. I've worked a while to get "open tuning" type phrasing with standard.

Since I didn't change the setup, i had to find the slide AND finger that worked for me, regarding the touch and the tone.

For me, middle finger works best and I can still play bar chords, boogie rhythms, etc. And I do not like the sound of metal slides at all.

Pyrex is not good either. I have found true bottlenecks work best for me in terms of weight, tone, sustain, fit and comfort. They do break if dropped, however. These are Booze Blues slides, each one unique in glass and tone. He has a Reverb store.

These are some of mine:

 

Premanand

Member
Messages
90
GBDGBD is just great when not in standard tuning and intervals are same for middle 3 so can play with fingers. Slide on ring finger Rockslide slides best..
I've a couple of guitars set up for this one an amplified jumbo with 12s & 13 on top, set up fairly high,; the other an Epiphone Emperor with 11s & 12 on top. This is set up fairly low so I can easily change to std. tuning but has much fatter frets, which, being weird, I like to grind the slide against be it brass, (preferred) glass or ceramic (yummy) Yes slide is one of the most expressive like a flute but with dissonant microtones. Long live Duane
 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,776
I too don’t like to change my setup for slide. I typically use 10s or 11s on my guitars and I do like the 11s better for slide. I often play slide in standard tuning, but since I play in an Allman Brothers tribute band I’ll also use open E.

I like glass slides and Willie’s slides on eBay has a really good selection. Rock slides are nice as well. I’ve used brass and steel in the past but I never got the feel I like with any metal slide. My co-guitarist in the ABB tribute uses brass and sounds great, so it’s really just a personal preference.

slide is about touch, muting the strings you don’t want to sound, and intonation.

Here’s a video of the band where we both play slide. Very different techniques. I’m playing the black Edwards LP. Watch my right hand, I’m holding my pick in my index finger and playing with thumb and middle finger. When I pick with my thumb my finger is muting strings, and when I use my finger I mute with my thumb. Brian, on the burst LP uses a pick and mutes with his fingers and palm.

 

thesjkexperienc

^^^ I made this guitar^^^
Messages
4,719
My favorite slides are the Diamond Ultimate followed by Rocky Mountain ceramic slides. The Diamond slides are from England and you can custom order their hand blown crystal to your specs.
 




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