Slide Players...some insights please!

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by daacrusher2001, May 26, 2015.

  1. daacrusher2001

    daacrusher2001 Silver Supporting Member

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    I've started playing more and more slide, trying to actually get to a point where I can use it in a live situation. I sound great in my basement :cool:

    I've been dabbling with Open G and Open E. We do some Stones songs, so Open G is appealing to me.

    I'm wondering, is there a distinct advantage to using Open G vs. Open E vs. some other open tuning? I know some artists played in one or the other a lot, and realistically I'd be better off focusing on one for awhile until I get good.

    I'm inclined to just use Open G - but am I overlooking something? I've been trying it for "One Way Out" and sounds ok but I think the slide in that song was in Open E, so I don't sound exactly like the record [which, btw, is ok with me]

    Any insights would be appreciated...thanks!
     
  2. gennation

    gennation Member

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    If you're writing and playing your own stuff you can be more selective. But if you're trying to nail the classic tunes, use them as your decision maker. Keith Richard and Page used a lot of open G and Duane used a lot of open E. I would conform.
     
  3. bobotwt

    bobotwt Supporting Member

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    :agree

    Granted it has its challenges and there are a some sounds you just can't get without open tunings. But it has great advantages like not having to retune, using any of your guitars for slide in a set, greater harmonic knowledge for me as opposed to open tunings, etc. And if you are diligent and talented (which I may not be), you can still sound amazing in standard. Just listen to Jack Pearson for evidence of what is possible in standard. Heck, Vito's "Like a Rock" solo is in standard and that's one of the most beautiful and iconic slide solos in history!

    Josh
     
  4. glazed67

    glazed67 Supporting Member

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    Duane's in standard for "One Way Out" One should be able to get close w/ open G though since the b,g, and d strings are the same. Duane also was in standard for "Dreams & "Mountain Jam" most everything else w/ the ABB in open E.

    bobtwt makes some great points, I would look there first. I play in open tunings as well. There's some comfort knowing where all of the notes are located.
     
  5. daacrusher2001

    daacrusher2001 Silver Supporting Member

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    I've been dabbling with standard tuning and slide - I used it for the intro to Free Bird at a rehearsal and it sounded pretty good. Not note-for-note, but overall it fit in nicely.

    I'll have to study "One Way Out" a bit more, I thought that was in Open E.

    I really like integrating slide into our songs. In the right situation it sounds great...
     
  6. kimock

    kimock Member

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    I think E tuning has an advantage for a lot of folks making the transition to bottleneck because you've got the same top two strings, E and B, and the same low E as standard tuning.
    Also the 1, 5, 1, "power chord" routine on the low strings.
    I'll bet that's at least a marginally easier task for keeping your bearings on the fly; your roots and "melody string" stuff are the same as standard tuning.

    The big diff between playing slide and not playing slide is obviously the slide itself, which kind of leans in favor of just using standard tuning if the only issue were knowing where the notes in the tuning are.

    Unfortunately, the "learning slide issue" turns out to be more along the lines of "it's not the tuning, it's how you connect the notes", and standard tuning can seduce you into trying to use familiar fingerings without the benefit of actually having fingers to execute those fingerings.
    That has the potential to lead you down lots of paths that look good on paper but sound kinda weak for bottleneck.

    So, maybe the biggest advantage to either E or G tuning over standard is you get a fresh look at the most efficient musical connections and positions to use.
    Taking whatever you do learn in terms of connecting the notes in the open tunings back into standard isn't hard to do, and it's probably better, quicker, easier, than trying to get decent slide sounds by hunting around in the myriad standard tuning scale and chord fingerings we use without the slide.

    Also, with the E tuning at least, you've got a proper drone to work with to help learn some of the intonation stuff.
    Both E and G are triadic tunings, very similar, identical for a bunch of stuff, just transposed, so if you learn either you'll eventually have a handle on both.

    Anyway, that's my two cents: the most efficient path might be to learn on the open tuning, take a fresh look at the connections and bring it back to standard tuning later.
    The "glass finger" approach of using the slide to follow the standard tuning fingerings requires a lot more technique from both hands and it doesn't really sound better.
    It's cool, I do it a lot, but it's not "slide guitar" up to its full potential really.
     
  7. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Member

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    I was trying to describe what kimock said, but he put it a lot better.

    I like open G the best although I have guitars tuned to open D and open E as well. The trick is transposing stuff between tunings and understanding where your root notes are.

    Another thing so far as slide in standard tuning goes is how the guitar is setup. Some of my guitars are really too low to do well with slide without having a very gentle touch and a lightweight glass slide. I prefer to use heavier slides.
     
  8. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    Wow, Steve, thanks for that.

    I've played for years in standard, and only dabbled with open tunings. What you say makes sense.
     
  9. doveman

    doveman Member

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    Another cool way to do it is standard tuning but drop the low E to a D. Quick yo get to and has a lot of good options low and high. But do it all - open and standard. I learned on standard tuning back in the day.
     
  10. sharpshooter

    sharpshooter Member

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    ^True this,, having only one guitar, I gave-up open tunings years ago, and concentrated on playing slide in standard tuning only. There are things that standard tuning just will not do as well as an open tuning,, but it sure made me learn to hybrid-pick, to get quick notes from diff strings.
     
  11. Neer

    Neer Member

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    If you are playing slide in standard tuning, you have to ask yourself what the point is of playing slide is? If it's really just to add vibrato or to gliss between notes, a lot of that can be done without the slide. Yes, it adds a singing quality, but there is so much else in between the cracks.

    Playing slide can be extremely rewarding if you commit yourself to it, especially in open tunings, and I say it in the plural because you need more than one tuning.
     
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  12. johnnyelgato

    johnnyelgato Member

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    I have guitars n lap steels I keep
    Used to open tunings, but on gigs I usually just play slide in standard, but to capture the "sound of open G"
    Just detune your high E string to D and you can play everything normal just transpose the one string when playing licks. If you are going to learn slide I humbly suggest learning to play in standard, open G and Open E.
     
  13. johnnyelgato

    johnnyelgato Member

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    Also don't forget you can fret behind the slid In any tuning to cope different licks then normal. Another trick I use for "G tuning" for instance stay in standard play slide on the octave open strings 12th fret d g and b strings but fret 10th fret high e string... Boom half of G tuning lol. You can use behind the slide and in front of the slide fingerings to cop a tune of cool licks that you only can get from open tuning. Know what's way easier though? Having another guitar tuned to open whatever
     
  14. Cottage

    Cottage Member

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    I went the opposite, started out in open E, then went to standard. Been playing that way for the last 30 years. Sometimes I'll lower the high E to D for a partial open G, but that's about it.
     
  15. Pedro58

    Pedro58 Supporting Member

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    I do some in standard and some in open tunings. The stuff in standard tuning is a compromise, to my ears. But knowing your triads is the key to making standard tuning work. To take advantage of the the full potential of slide guitar, though, I feel like the open tunings must be used. Think of it like this: the masters of slide used open tunings.
     
  16. kimock

    kimock Member

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    To clarify my earlier comments with regard to "The Masters" in the standard vs open tuning debate, here are the two big difficulties with standard tuning that put enough of a ceiling on it to justify the perception of "mastery" not being resident to standard.
    IMHO of course, and I do hope Neer gets back to this because he's likely to have useful insight. .

    The big one in practical terms is you're carrying more garbage with the slide in standard tuning.
    You're basically forced to do a lot more right hand muting for even the simplest stuff because the slide is almost always going to be carrying some avoid notes along with the one or two notes you intend to be heard.

    You wind up being pretty busy stopping more sounds than you're creating, and as important as muting is it's not hard to overdo.
    In my experience you practice yourself into a corner where everything sounds a little stiff and disconnected at best.
    Muting more than necessary. That's a feature of standard tuning slide IMO.

    The second difficult bit is more psychological than practical in a way, and it's just visualizing standard tuning from the fretted perspective of "stopping the string".
    The idea that the note is "at the fret" in a connect the dots sense.

    Like you have to stop there, or go to that fret location with the slide and park it there.
    Like hitting the note was a break in the action.

    It's not really like that with the slide, there's all kinds of great sounds, contours, gestures, licks, etc. that happen with the slide in constant motion where you're just reaching in and grabbing the line with your picking hand, but that whole idea is kinda nonsensical from the perspective of fretted playing.

    Making the transition from fretted playing to sliding is complicated by thinking in terms of fretted playing IOW.
    "I have to stop the bar here to play that note", together with having almost every single note you're trying to play accompanied by four or five notes you really don't want to hear is what you're up against.

    When you cut down the amount of garbage you're carrying with the slide by using fewer notes in the tuning, it gets a lot easier to allow the slide to move, to slide, to carry the right notes and the right connections to the best positions.
    Getting out of standard tuning helps you listen for what's right instead of "looking at the tuning" for options and then needing to do a bunch of damage control muting to justify not the best position choices.

    Anyway, you get the idea.
    I just finished a workshop at Fur Peace Ranch where we covered some of that stuff, I could see folks struggle to control the slide as if it were a fret location; "Put the slide here" then pick that note.
    It doesn't sound right. .

    But it's more or less where we all start with slide if we're coming at it with a fretted execution/standard tuning background.
    Slide is different enough to be its own thing, and I think it's ok to let the different tunings help push that point.

    Things need to be in motion and ringing basically, not stationary and muted, right?

    So maybe those qualities are qualities we associate with accomplished slide guitar playing and they're encouraged by certain tunings and approaches and discouraged by others.
     
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  17. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    Nice way to put it. Your perception and your explanation are extremely close to my idea of this, even though my chops aren't anywhere near yours. Much better to hear it told by a player who has a performer's grasp of the concepts.
     
  18. don carney

    don carney Silver Supporting Member

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    I use open G for Stones songs and open E for others in slide. That said, the use of slide in standard tuning is highly recommended because you can just do slide when it seems right during a gig (assuming your band members like that). For me the need to change tunings was the attraction involved with the Gibson robot/mini tune technology.
     
  19. daacrusher2001

    daacrusher2001 Silver Supporting Member

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    Wow...some great insights, thanks everyone...I think I'm going to focus on open G for awhile - I'm just setting up one guitar in that tuning so I have it handy.
     
  20. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I was in the same boat...no internet when I was a kid. I realized CSN&Y, Leo Kottke, etc...used open tunings but never figured out Keith did until around the time Tattoo You came out. I never realized that most of all slide players I listened to were using open tunings.

    So, I'd been playing slide in standards for years. Once I realized most of these cats were playing in open tunings though it opened up the classic sound much better, it also made my old delta stuff I copped more authentic and I was able to really get the nuances of misplaced targets and lazy playing.

    I think it boils down to, you can get 80%-90% of the most open G just using the parallel 4th string of open A and D strings, open D, G, and B stings, or open B and E. And you can get about 40% of the open E stuff right out of the box using the open parallel strings of open A and D, open D and G, and open B and E. You can get a higher percentage if you incorporate the G, B, and E, strings together by approaching them with a slant trying to imply the all three strings are in parallel 4ths.

    Regardless though, depending the part in open tuning, you might be able to get some of the parts sounding right in standard tuning but there are a ton of nuances that really/naturally "make the part" that are going to be lacking in most players hands.
     

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