3 types of slides that I use (left to right): a custom machined brass slide, a slide made from one inch plumbing pipe, and an Ernie Ball chrome 'bullet' bar.


A glass or metal tube that will fit over the little finger and is 1/4 inch longer than the spacing between the 1st and 6th strings. If it is much shorter than that you won't be able to make a full barre with it, and if its much longer you will have difficulty playing on a single string (other than the 6th). A smooth surface is also important, and the heavier it is, the cleaner the tone. I have seen slides made out of everything from wine bottles to ham bones.



Its pretty simple, actually. Whats going on is the string is being "stopped" by the slide instead of the frets. A certain amount of preasure is needed, but the strings must not touch the fingerboard. A slightly higher string action is helpful if not essential, especially on curved fingerboards with a short radius. On a twelve string, a good bit more preasure is needed to contact the octave strings because they are smaller gauge and sit 'lower'. Proper intonation is achieved by positioning the slide directly over the fret, not behind it like you're used to, so it's a little tricky to hit the right notes without looking at your left hand.

Vibrato is important. A good strong vibrato works best (its almost impossible to overdo it), and the entire arm gets involved because the slide needs to travel 1/4 inch or so while still remaining parallel to the frets.

Damping the strings behind the slide is required (unless you want a lot of string noise and weird ring-modulator-like sounds in the background). Just lay one or more of your other left hand fingers lightly across the strings or use which ever left hand finger is closest in length to the slide.


Here the slide is directly over the fret across all strings. Sufficient pressure is needed to keep the strings from buzzing, but not so much that any of the strings touch the fret (which also causes buzzing). If you need to raise the action, this is when you'll find out. If the bass strings sound weak, then either the slide is not heavy enough, or you're not using enough pressure (even if there's no buzzing). It takes a little more pressure on the bass strings to get a decent tone. If you can get a good sound out of the bass strings by letting the treble strings buzz a little, you need to raise the action.


Tilt the slide so that it clears the fifth string. Nothing critical here - you don't need as much pressure as when stopping multiple strings, and you can use any part of the slide that's comfortable. One or more of the other left hand fingers should be used to damp the sixth string behind the slide. Go ahead and damp all of the other strings if your not using them.


This is pretty much like playing on the sixth string - angle the slide so that it clears the second string. Still okay to damp all of the strings, but in a lot of cases something will be going on with the other strings. You can angle the other left hand fingers so that the don't damp the other strings, or use the index finger tip on the first string. Depending on the length of the slide and the relative lengths of your fingers, the middle or ring finger may be more comfortable for damping


This is the hardest. The slide needs to be at enough of an angle to clear the string below it. The string meets the slide near the end, without the end of the slide touching the string above it. Use the same techniques for damping as used above. The first string can be played the same way also.

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