Musicians often find ways of creating fresh sounds using different tools designed to enhance the sound of their instruments. Two of the most common tools for guitar players are a capo and a slide. However, using a guitar slide, or sliding, is a technique that must be learned and is only used by more experienced guitar players.
Let’s look at the ins and outs of guitar slides, how to use them, and how to choose the best slide for your guitar playing needs.
Guitar Slides: What is a Slide, and Why Should I Use One?
A guitar slide is a metal or glass tube worn on the finger to create a new sound by “sliding” over the strings of a guitar. It lets the player create this unique sound by combining two or more notes. Slides differ in length and can be as short as a single fret or cover the entire length of the fretboard. Using a slide is a great way to completely change the way you play and the sound you can produce.
The type of slide used will influence the sound created. A metal slide will produce a louder, deeper tone and is most commonly used when playing the blues, while a glass slide makes a lighter sound, like the airy sound you would hear in a folk song. Some guitar players prefer a ceramic slide that produces a rich, harmonic sound.
Several factors influence the sound created when using a guitar slide:
- Type of guitar
- The strings of the guitar
- Finger placement
- Pressure when using the guitar slide
How to Use a Guitar Slide
A guitar slide might be a bit too advanced for guitar players on a beginner level, but it is possible to learn the technique while you learn to play the guitar. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use a guitar slider:
- Pick the string
- Let the slide glide over the string and frets as you move towards the second string. Then, ease up on the pressure you apply as you move to the second string.
- Reapply the pressure
Finger placement and the amount of pressure you apply while sliding are essential.
Let’s take a closer look at how these can affect the sound you produce.
Most guitar players wear their slide on their third, or ring, finger. This finger allows you to have strong movement and control of the slide when gliding over the strings. However, the slide can be worn on the second or fourth fingers. The second, or middle finger, allows for great control of the slide, while the fourth finger lets the player reach further along the neck of the guitar.
The amount of pressure you apply when sliding can influence the sound quality. Too much pressure, where the slide is in contact with the fretboard, should be avoided, as this could produce a buzzing sound. On the other hand, too little pressure will make the sound too soft. The optimum pressure to apply is to use the slide to make contact with the string without touching the fretboard.
Types of Guitars and Strings
The type of guitar you have will influence the slide you use when you play. There are four main types of guitar:
- Acoustic guitar
- Electric guitar
- Bass guitar
- Electric-acoustic guitar
Slides can be used on all the above and are chosen based on the sound you want to create and the type of strings used on the guitar.
Steel-stringed guitars are played using either a glass or metal slide, depending on the sound and type of music you create.
Nylon strings are best paired with a metal slide, creating a smooth, deep sound.
The choice of guitar is a personal one based on the type of music you want to create. While acoustic guitars are more commonly used for folk and blues music, electric guitars make the heavy, upbeat sounds associated with the rock and metal genres of music.
A guitar slide is a great tool to change or create new sounds on your guitar. Whether you want to play the blues or strum a folk song, using a guitar slide can bring your music to life. The choice of guitar slide is based on the type of guitar you have, the strings on your guitar, and the genre of music you play.
With the information provided in this article, selecting a guitar slide is an easy task. Follow our tips to choose the best slide and use a slide to create the best sound. Now is the time to channel your inner Jimi Hendrix and rock out!