For many of us, especially those who’ve been playing guitar for a while using more traditional flatpick or fingerstyle techniques, learning to play slide guitar can feel a bit daunting, even intimidating. We’ve all heard claims like, “you need a special guitar setup specifically to play slide,” or, “you can only play slide guitar in specific tunings.” It makes learning to play slide sound about as complicated as learning a brand new instrument. However, that is truly not the case…
In this online slide guitar lesson, critically acclaimed guitarist, former Director of Programs at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, CA, and ArtistWorks master instructor, Keith Wyatt, debunks these slide guitar myths. He explains how and why you don’t need to have a special guitar set up for slide, that you can in fact play using a slide in standard tuning, and, most importantly, he outlines the difference between the various slide types and materials and walks through how to find the right slide for you.
“All you need to play slide guitar is a slide,” Keith explains. “You don’t need to have a fancy guitar setup or a spare guitar that’s rigged out for slide. The guitar I’m playing in this lesson is a standard guitar that I play all the time, and is set up just like the rest of my guitars are.”
How do I pick the right slide?
There are three different types of guitar slides that are commonly used, and each one is made out of a unique material. The material of the slide is primarily what dictates the tone.
Glass slides are used most often, and produce a warm, fat, and round sound. They have been famously used throughout blues and rock ’n’ roll history, and are the preferred slide material of artists ranging from Duane Allman to Ry Cooder, Derek Trucks, and beyond.
Metal slides, most commonly made of brass, are another popular material and create a much brighter, more focused tone compared to glass. Metal was the preferred slide material of blues guitar icon, Muddy Waters, and has become the preferred material of modern gurus such as Ariel Posen and Joey Landreth.
Ceramic slides are another popular choice and split the difference tonally between glass and metal. Ceramic slides tend to be slightly brighter and punchier than glass, but warmer and rounder than metal, and have been used over the years by artists such as Billy Gibbons, Keb’ Mo’, Joe Perry, and more.
“Each slide material sounds a little bit different,” explains Keith. “But, fortunately, slides aren’t tremendously expensive. I recommend purchasing a few made out of different materials, and experimenting with them to find the sound and feel that most inspires you.”
Choosing a Slide with Keith Wyatt:
Have you always wanted to learn how to play the blues guitar? Through our comprehensive blues guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Keith Wyatt, and get personal feedback on your playing.
Keith’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced performance techniques, classic blues tunes, improvisation, music theory, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as blues guitarists and musicians.