In this article Guitar Lessons NYC by Mark Marshall is going to give tips on buying your first slide. There happen to be quite a few options that at first make your head spin. I’m going to break it down. I do have an opinion as to which is the best for slide guitar lessons . This doesn’t mean you can’t choose something else, it’s just that through my experience as a pro slide guitarist I’ve come to the simplest conclusion.
The one I recommend to every beginner slide guitarist is a straight metal tube like the one pictured below:
They are the simplest and most durable. Two very important factors for a beginner. You may ask what other options are there and what led to this decision.
Let’s break it down by category.
Brass – Brass yields a metallic sound but with a warmer sound then chrome. Yields nice sustain and is very durable. For slide guitar lessons this is my go to.
Chrome over Steel – The brightest of the metal slides. Similar sustain to the brass but more present.
Glass Corriciadan Medicine Bottle – This happens to be one of my favorite slides. They have a really nice “whine” sound to them. The harmonics are rich and they are fairly light in weight. Not quite as much sustain as brass or chrome.
The only reason I don’t recommend this to beginners is because of its fragile nature. You have to baby them. They will shatter if you drop them. You don’t want to stick your hand in your gig bag at the beginning of slide guitar lessons to grab your slide and get cut.
For glass Slides I use a special case designed for glass pipes. It’s protects them brilliantly. See picture below.
Wine Bottle – You can find slides that are made from the tops of wine bottles. They are specially cut so they are not sharp. I don’t recommend trying this on your own.
I love the way they sound. They are rich with harmonics and have a little more sustain due to the thickness of the glass. They are heavier then medicine bottles. The only draw back is they only fit on your pinky unless you have tiny hands. This makes them not optimal for slide guitar lessons .
Blown Glass – Occasionally in shops you can find hand blown slides. I’ve seen them at Mandolin Brothers. These tend to be really nice. They’re neat visually, have size options and have decent weight. Similar to the weight of a wine bottle top. Sometimes a little heavier. They tend to sound smoother to my ears then a lot of other glass.
Porcelain – My biggest problem with Porcelain slides is they tend to be big. This makes intonation a little bit more of a challenge for beginner slide guitar lessons . For an experienced player it’s not a deal breaker, but does take time to adjust to.
What I do like about Porcelain slides is they tend to be more brash and have more noise on the strings. Some people will actually sand them down a bit to get a more gritty surface. Great to have in your collection but obviously not a “go to” slide.
Bone – Back in the old days before they used medicine bottles or cut wine bottles for slide guitar lessons people used a knife or bone. Bone slides are generally hard to come by unless you make your own. They do sound great but aren’t very practical.
Comfort and Size
Some slides like the ones Dunlop make come in a variety of sizes. Choosing a size is like choosing a ring. You don’t want it to flop around a lot. You also don’t want it so tight you need grease to get it off.
Which finger you’re going to place the slide on makes a difference in your decision process. For slide guitar lessons a lot of guitarists place the slide on their ring finger. Some place it on their middle finger and others place it on their pinky. I generally recommend the ring finger approach but it depends on the application. I have different slides for different fingers. Although the differences between your ring and middle fingers aren’t that different you should need a separate slide for each.
Some companies make slides that are contoured. They may seem like a great idea as they claim to be an update on slide construction, however they aren’t as easy to handle as you would expect.
Control is an issue when starting slide guitar lessons . A simple Brass tube slide will let you hone in your skills before you try out more advanced models.
Trick slides and half slides are not a great idea for developing proper slide techniques. They are much harder to control and have little sustain or tone. They can be cool for a few very specific situations but they are not an alternative to a traditional slide.
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