Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Chat about Equipment Info
 #136840  by mgbills
 Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:35 pm
I don't play much slide. Let's be clear on that. It might be tied to an unnamed rhthm guitar player from my past, but suffice it to say I'm unskilled.

My questions are for all the slide kings & queens out there:

1) Do you just play your slide on whatever guitar is in front of you?

2) Do you have a special guitar you prefer for slide?

3) Do you feel your playing affected by the fretboard radius & setup?

4) Is this stuff something that none of you worry about, because over time you're fretting hand/finger has just adapted?

5) Who are your favorite slide players?

I'm coming at this as a partially informed player. I get together now & then with Pete B. Pete is top-notch pedal steel guy, in addition to being an ace with the guitar. He like a high setup, so he can play slide on his guitar. But if one raises too much, you sacrifice intonation. I've been toying with a lap steel. That seems like the right tool for a guy who hasn't enough years or time to learn all the pedals, levers and strings of a pedal steel. My son has an acoustic setup with a tall nut & saddle with the strings flat instead of radiused. That's a nice toy.

What are you using? What do you like? What do you feel is the right tool for the job? Do most players who only occasionally play slide just deal with the radius? On and on....

I'd like to know a whole lot more!
 #136843  by strumminsix
 Wed Feb 19, 2014 2:07 pm
Here's my setup on all guitars and play a good amount of slide:
16" radius, high action, I like that setup, over time you just adapt and it gets natural as barre chords
 #136845  by tcsned
 Wed Feb 19, 2014 2:40 pm
I play a fair amount of slide and use whatever guitar I happen to be playing. My action is medium/highish. The weight of the slide you choose will affect how high the action should ideally be. Lighter weight slides are less likely to push into the frets though you can control for that with pressure. I go back and forth between a chrome pinky slide and a glass bottle type that I use on my ring finger. I'll sometimes tune the high E string down to D but don't do a full open tuning because it takes to long to get back to standard. If I'm playing a Stones song or something with a real country-ish sound that's what I'll do.

Some of my favorite slide players are:
Duane Allman
Muddy Waters
Ry Cooder
Lowell George
Bonnie Raitt
Mick Taylor
There's a lot of others but those names came to mind
 #136951  by gmchart
 Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:30 am
The beer bottle thing makes a certain amount of sense, even if you hadn't seen it before. The circumstances required to let a guy know that he could play a guitar with a towel draped over the neck...?
 #136952  by Pete B.
 Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:40 am
Marty if you could narrow it down to what you are wanting to do with your slide playing, that would help a lot with regard to making a recommendation.
6-string Slide Guitar (electric guitar), Lap Steel, and raised-nut Acoustic slide of whatever form (acoustic guitar, Dobro, Resonator), are all like their own separate universes.
Some thoughts...
Slide is extremely hard.
It is the most likely instrument to make the whole band sound out of tune.
Guys who are really good slide players have literally spent hundreds/thousands of hours practicing/perfecting their touch, tone, and intonation.
First you have to choose an instrument, with x-number of strings, and a tuning to tune the strings to.
If you are playing Lap Steel it is probably not tuned the same as a standard 6-string guitar like Bobby played slide on, and you are probably playing it with your bar hand over the neck with a bar in your hand, not under the neck with a slide on your finger.
Concerning 6-string guitar neck radius, you could probably look up the neck radius of guys like Jeff Beck, Ry Cooder, Duane Allman, Derek Trucks, etc, and see what they are playing.
I personally have never given a thought to neck radius, but with regard to slide-guitar, I really only play on stock Strat and Les Paul style guitars with the action high enough to play aggressive slide without touching the frets.

One commonly overlooked technique that 6-string-electric slide guitar players could explore to enhance their playing (while playing slide on a standard 6-string guitar tuning, EADGBE) is, if you get a slide that fits good on your pinky, you can use your fingers to fret notes BEHIND the slide bar, to attain different chords and/or single note runs, to enhance your slide solos and/or background slide-vibrato chord textures.
The Key to the technique: When you push the string down behind the bar, the string drops below the bar and onto the fret behind the bar.
For example, There are a lot of blues songs that go from the 1-chord to the 1(7th) chord, then the 4-chord goes to a 4-minor.
So if you are playing in the Key of D, and you have the bar over strings 2,3,4 at fret 7 to form a D-triad (like a typical D barre cord), you play the D chord with the slide, then push down the 3rd string at the 5th fret to get the 7th chord while you are still playing strings 2 and 4 with the bar at fret7.
Then, you then slide to G at the 12th fret with the bar still over strings 2,3,4... now to get the Gminor, just push the second string down onto fret 11 with your finger, and it comes off of the bar at the 12th fret, and goes on to the 11th fret making the G-minor chord.
So you are now playing a G-minor with the bar over strings 2,3,4 at the 12th fret, but string 2 is actually going under the bar and being fretted behind the bar on fret 11, and the bar is playing strings 3 and 4 with a nice vibrato.
You can expand on this technique to create single note runs by playing one or two frets behind/under the bar to add cool passing notes to your slide chords and solos.
You have to have at least a relatively high action for this to work easily, but that is the jist of it.
It works perfectly on the Blue Strat that you setup for me.
Last edited by Pete B. on Sat Feb 22, 2014 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
 #136956  by gr8fullfred
 Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:16 pm
The best advise I can give you is to NOT model yourself after any guitarist frequently mentioned on this board named Bobby. Just don't that please.
 #136962  by tcsned
 Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:28 pm
Tennessee Jedi wrote:
I used to see him a bunch when I was in high school - he's not a human, he's a guitar machine and damn near impossible to copy in any way, shape, or form. I guess that's why they called him "The Humbler"

Redneck Jazz is highly recommended listening
 #136963  by Tennessee Jedi
 Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:30 pm
Never had much luck with slide .... tried it on Row Jimmy a few times messed with Passenger a bit ...
My Jerry Rig is so bright to start with its like nails on a chalk board - well maybe not that good.
 #136964  by tcsned
 Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:46 pm
Tennessee Jedi wrote:Never had much luck with slide .... tried it on Row Jimmy a few times messed with Passenger a bit ...
My Jerry Rig is so bright to start with its like nails on a chalk board - well maybe not that good.
I'm passable, I use the KISS theory when playing slide (keep it simple, stupid) - I get trouble when I try to do too much. Here's a clip from about a year ago or so using my SMS-->Mac rig using the Earth Drive I turned on the T-Rex Dr Swamp for the second time through. It's a little loose, we just kinda decided to do the tune at the last minute so I hadn't really thought about what to play. :D this is just audio . . .
 #136967  by tcsned
 Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:05 pm
Tennessee Jedi wrote:That was pretty good , Tom Dude
thanks! I thought the playing was ok, I did like the tone though. I was using a chrome pinky slide. I go back and forth between that and an old Coricidin cold medicine bottle.

If you think your tone is too bright and/or thin you should listen to Muddy Waters' slide stuff. He really made that tone work. Bob Margolin does that really well too. I do better playing around chords than what Muddy does, though when I think of "real" slide playing that's what comes to mind.
 #136981  by mgbills
 Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:23 pm
This thread has picked up some traction!

First! Thanks Pete. I was toying with that acoustic tuned to G. I was using a bar slide. It was fun as a lead tool, playing some beginner vibrato and jamming in general. But I was not really understanding how to introduce minor & 7ths other than from a single-note-on-a string kind of approach. I sure felt like there was a lot I was missing, but then again it was a dabble not an endeavor.
Then our conversations on you playing slide on your Strat were running through my mind. You had mentioned that other guitar techs had always lowered your action by default, and that was a source of frustration. So…in one sense I was attempting to illicit a conversation on slide technique, and in another sense hoping to understand people's expectations of their instrument.

So far…it seems that most guys learn to use the slide on their guitar in whatever way it's set up. I find this very interesting. Certainly doable, but time will need to be devoted.

Pete (or others) …how do you obtain or imply minor, 7th (etc) on an instrument in an open tuning? Is there a cool string technique like Pete illustrated above? Or is it treaded more like a chord tone melody, where you might play the b3 and then ascent to the bar which more "imply" the minor tonality?

To the rest of you guys…thanks for the clips. I absolutely have to put more listening into my music studies.

I'll look at all the clips in more detail later tonight.
 #136983  by tatittle
 Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:28 pm
Duane's playing on Live at the Fillmore is why I started playing guitar. Unfortunately I had so much fun playing with my fingers in standard tuning I never really dove into slide playing in those critical formative years. I do love the sound of the seamed Corcidin's (circled W imprint) and similar pill bottles of the era. Lowell Goerge used a Craftman socket 11/16" I believe--real heavy so with a Strat I would think the action would need to be high. having a small radius fretboard will indeed be more difficult for slide work if the saddles are set to match that radius, since the slide is straight and there is an arc to the strings. This is one reason folks set-up a guitar especially for slide work. Goerge also used a DynaComp and stratoblaster and compression/sustain is great with slide if a clean amp is being used.

Open tuning offers different oppt'ys obviously, but it also seems to be easier to avoid sour notes than standard tuning since the slide naturally forms appregios straight across the fretboard. You need to relearn the whole fretboard in that tuning though to be masterful. In standard tuning, using the Duane/Derek fingerstyle, where you mute the ringing string while plucking the next string/note is helpful in avoiding sounding like Bobby slide---uht maybe I shoulda held off that OO. Like anything worthwhile it takes time to get used to the technique, and then regular exercise to keep it. A good wide slide vibrato sounds great but also is forgiving since the slide has to be exactly over the fret to be the right its practical and an absolute must for slide guitar work. EDIT: Oh yeah, resting your left hand behind the slide on the strings help prevent the strings behind the slide from ringing; this is probably more important on acoustic guitar.

I already saw the obligatory Ry Cooder, Derek Trucks and Lowell Goerge...Little Feat had some great slide arrangments. I would add Bonnie Raitt and Lightning Hopkins (unless Im mixing him up with someone), Lynrd Skynrd, Taj Mahal was the inspiration for Duane if I remember correctly. I think Sonny Terry with Brownie McGhee had some great acoustic slide if I remember, and Jorma does some cool acoustic slide. Kottke has great Hawaiian type stuff.
Last edited by tatittle on Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.