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Guitar slide types: how to choose the right guitar slide

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In the following article we will see  how to choose the right guitar slide!

Hi everyone, I’m Paolo Giardiello, founder of QP SLIDE,

there are many reasons that made me to study the Guitar Slide are many, the same reasons that led me to desire something more technically designed and engineered and at last to design innovative Bottlenecks.

If I wanted to summarize those reasons in a word, I would talk about “Passion” for this beautiful tool; I love to talk about it, share trivia and anecdotes, try slides for hours and confront myself with other guitarists on the deriving sensations and feelings.

That’s also the reason behind this Blog, a place where anyone interested in anything concerning Bottleneck can find a place to share and improve his knowledge of the themes that revolve around our wonderful tool.

This first article will be a short and simple guide to help you choose the right guitar slide type for your guitar according to your desired sound style. Here you will also find many articles that embrace the world of slide guitar, with teaching topics, trivia, listening guide, etc.

The first thing to do, when you approach something new, is to choose the “Right for yourself” tool. Probability, when you entered your trusted music store, intrigued by the slide technique, you bought a random slide, probably the only one available and maybe without asking too many questions about materials, thickness, weight, etc.

Let’s at first see why it is called Bottleneck, where it was originated and which are the main materials on the market, with some advice on topics to consider.

The old bottleneck: the history of guitar slide types

Bottleneck, just as in “bottle neck”, is considered to be the primordial guitar SLIDE, although the true origins are actually older. It was in effect the neck of a broken glass bottle that was worn on a finger, and glided on guitar strings. Someone, particularly linked to tradition, still uses it, although some features see it less practical than the current production slides.

The bottleneck is not cylindrical externally, the curved/conical profile changes from bottle to bottle and some profiles are pleasant. The inside does not change much from bottle to bottle so we can say that there is only one size, your hand must therefore have the right size .

The thick ring at the top of the bottle could be annoying, not allowing to clean phrasing and bumping against the neck. Who is able to work with glass in fact usually cuts it.

Glass guitar slide

The current production glass slides are cylindrical, and are available in various thicknesses and sizes, have a good attack, do not sustain a lot, and are very light, so they do not strain your hand. Personally I find them useful on distorted electric guitar, the relative lack of sustain helping to get a cleaner playing.

One of the features that often discourages the purchase of glass slides is the fragility in case of accidental fall, in addition to the economic value, it is not nice to see it shattered at your feet, or worse between your pedals, during a live performance; for this reason it is necessary to always have a spare, along with broom and dustpan. .

Brass guitar slide

Brass slides have a warm sound, a strong attack and a generous sustain, characteristics that a give beautiful playing experience.

Again, it is crucial to find the right balance between sound and comfort; this is found by carefully evaluating the size of the slide.

Brass has a rather high specific weight, the bigger the thickness the better the sound and intonation,  but the resulting increase in weight could strain your slide finger.

Depending on the size of your fingers and your playing style, slide length is also important. A short bottleneck allows for more precision in fast passages but may not allow you to fully cover your guitar fingerboard in the high register.

The opposite choice may limit the fluidity of movement and add weight to the slide and then to the hand.  

Brass slides are the most used on acoustic and resophonic guitar, do not disappoint even on electric guitar, in this case, however, I recommend using rather light ones.

Ceramic guitar slide

Among the main materials on the guitar slide market, CERAMICS are also available; it can be said to be a compromise between the other two materials above. Compared to glass, the sound and attack of a ceramic slide are sweeter, buti t has a little more sustain, maintaining a pleasant ligh weight that does not strain the hand.

Ceramic slides tend to be used on acoustic and resophonic guitar, unfortunately there are not many sizes available and you may be concerned with the risk accidental breakage, especially considering the average cost of purchase.  

Guitar slide size

One last advice, perhaps the most important, on your slide choice: evaluate the size well, according to how you plan to use it.

Click here to discover all our guitar slides!

For more technical phrasings I recommend a rather tight measure, if you use it instead in “Roots” mode, to play Delta Blues for instance, and apply a very wide vibrato, I recommend you leave a bit of cearance between finger and slide, This will help you get a fluid phrasing and a more natural vibrato.

What do you use? Let us know below in the comments

Good slide to all

Autore

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