How to play slide guitar with standard tuning.
Today we will talk about – drum roll – slide, and its use on standard tuning. I take you with me here to the States, on the Mississippi River, among the fields, on the steps of small crumbling churches where everything, really everything, has begun.
Of course, this is a broad topic, and so I thought to draw a short map in six points, which will help you move on this very slippery terrain, understand more and get good results.
- Which finger should I use?
Well, it could be ironic, but let’s get serious: the choice of which finger to use is a private, personal affair. I am happy to use the ring finger, because it allows me to stop the strings more effectively, but you can also try the little finger if you feel more comfortable.
- We have to learn to stop the strings.
This point is fundamental: we need to stop the strings both with the left hand and with the right hand, otherwise, we will not be able to get a clean sound. Plus: free the fingers from the slide – those that precede it, so to speak – must stay on the fingerboard. Regarding the right hand, instead, I would suggest using fingers, so that only a string is played, or the ones we want.
- Play on the Fret! I repeat: Play on the fret!
A fundamental aspect to play the slide is … intonation! To do this, we need to position the slide exactly on the fret in order to have perfect pitch. Otherwise, the sound will be decreasing or increasing. And this is certainly not the desired result, is it ?
- The pentatonic: learning to play it with the slide.
You never get rid of the pentatonic, like in an infernal circle. Once you have learned the basic slide technique it is important to start working on phrasing and scales to create the very first sentences. What then can be the first step? The pentatonic, very good
- Still the Pentatonic, but horizontally. And on a single string.
Train yourself to play the pentatonic scale of G on each individual string horizontally. This trick will help you a lot to use the slide and improve the vision of the fingerboard. As I always say to my students – take a look at my online Academy – broadening your horizons is the only way to build a solid creative and musical identity.
- Replicate a lick with the slide … without slide.
The time has come to try to create one using the slide. How to do? Do Not Panic: the simplest thing to do is: study new phrases and try to reproduce them with the slide. This is also a great exercise to give a different sound to anything you’ve already learned. So, take a couple of phrases you already know and try to replicate them using the magic cylinder. At first, it won’t be easy, but then it will become fun. Do you bet? 🙂
These tips are a practical and quick start to try out one of the most beloved blues tool, the most lyrical and exciting. Let’s add a lot of study and lots of listening and the game is (almost) done. What other points would you add to this list? What other suggestion or warning was useful in the past or in your tormented days of exercise? Write it here in the comments 🙂
PS: I did a Masterclass on this topic that you can find in the “Weekly Masterclasses” section in the GUITARlab Membership option of my Modern Blues Guitar Academy along with 30 other lessons updated every week.