You have always wanted to try slide guitar, but find yourself confused about guitar slides. If you have always wanted to unlock the mystery of guitar slides, you have come to the right place. Perhaps you have never played slide guitar before and want to learn.
The purpose of my guide is to eliminate that confusion, so you find the best guitar slide to take your playing to the next level. Whether you want to play blues, rock, country or other guitar styles, these slides will make you sound great.
In a Hurry? Here Are the Best Guitar Slides
All About Slide Guitar
The slide will usually go over at the ring finger or the pinky. At the point of string contact, the slide cuts the string. It alters and shortens the pitch of the string. Slide guitar tends to sound best in an open tuning, although there are songs that are played in standard tuning. There are different styles of slide guitar playing.
It’s popular with blues guitar as well as genres such as Hawaiian and country. A slide is used with a regular guitar or it’s used with a lap guitar often referred to as a lap steel guitar. This is a guitar that is played on your lap, and you move the slide up and down the strings. You can use the slide with both the acoustic and the electric guitar.
Why Play Slide Guitar?
Many players play or at least try slide guitar. It opens up your creativity on the instrument. Since a lot of slide guitar is played in open tunings, you need to be more creative and learn new things. It’s quite a bit of effort to get good at slide guitar, but the results are well worth it. The slide moving up and down the strings create interesting and unique melodies.
This isn’t possible with regular chords or even regular lead guitar. You can enhance the sound of a song to a great degree when you incorporate a slide. It’s one of the easiest ways to get out of a guitar-playing rut. If you’ve never played slide guitar before, now is an excellent time to give it a try. You never know what you’re going to come up with.
What to Know Before You Buy a Guitar Slide
Before you purchase your first slide, there are several factors you need to consider. These are the weight of the slide, thickness, hardness, and the fit. Here is how this all breaks down.
The weight of the slide is going to matter. A heavier slide has more sustain, volume, a warmer tone, and the strings will buzz less while you’re using it. In general, you want to slide that is quite heavy. You run into problems if you use strings that are too light with a heavy slide. You also can’t have an action that is too low because the slide will press the strings too much into the fretboard. You need to experiment a bit with the weight of the slide to find a balance.
When looking for the best guitar slide, you also have to think about the thickness of the slide. An electric guitar player we’ll probably want to slide that is thinner because it will be easier to play on the lighter strings. An acoustic guitar player may want one that is thicker because they have to get more sound out of it.
There are several different materials used to make slides. That will be addressed a bit later. You don’t want a material that is too soft as there won’t be enough sustain. if the material is too hard, then there will be additional string noise. You need to find a balance between the sustain of the slide and the tone. You’ll have to experiment a bit with the hardness of the side and try different materials.
We all have different hand sizes. You want your slide to fit over your fingers properly. Slides come in different thicknesses for this purpose. You’ll have to decide which finger you want to put the slide on. A slide that goes on the pinky is easiest because it frees up your fingers to play other notes. For some players, this isn’t practical because their pinky is too small. For other players, a slide on the ring finger works the best. Try to find a slide that fits your fingers in the right fashion. For those with smaller fingers, you can also buy what is called a guitar slide ring. This is a small slide that will go over your fingers.
Picking a Slide based on Your Finger Size
This guide will help you pick the right slide size based upon your finger size. If you don’t know your finger size, you can have this done at a jewelry store for free.
- Small Slide – Ring size 4–7.5
- Medium Slide – Ring size 8–10.5
- Large Slide – Ring size 11–13.5
- Extra Large – Ring size 14–16
What is the Best Material for a Guitar Slide?
There are three main guitar slide materials. These materials included ceramic, metal, and glass. Let’s examine all three materials.
Ceramic slides are a bit of a compromise between metal and glass. The texture, hardness, and weight fall between the other two materials. The ability of the slide to glide, the tone, and the sustain are somewhere between metal and glass. The main downside to a ceramic slide is that they are brittle. If you drop a ceramic slide on a hard surface, it will probably break.
Metal is a great material for a guitar slide. It is sturdy, and it’s not going to break even if you drop it. Stainless steel and brass are two of the metals used to make metal slides. You get long sustain and a sound that is a little harsh and bright what’s a metal slide. For rock guitar or blues guitar, metal slides are often the popular choice. A brass slide has a softer and denser tone when compared to a metal one.
Glass is a common material used to make slides. In the early days of guitar slide playing, beer bottles, wine bottles, and other pieces of glassware were often used. You get sustain that is shorter but a warmer tone. Glass will glide smoothly across the strings. Like ceramic slides, you must be careful with a glass slide. These could easily break if you drop them. Glass sounds the best with an acoustic guitar because it gives a nice smooth sound.
Can You Use a Slide on Any Guitar?
Yes. A slide can be used with any guitar. Your side will work best with heavier guitar strings. The slide won’t press down as much on these strings, which eliminates buzzing. You may also want to have higher than normal guitar action. This is more the case for an electric guitar as the strings are closer to the fretboard on electrics.
Tips for Playing Slide Guitar
- Get one that fits your finger
- Try the various materials to find one that you like
- Don’t press too hard on the strings as they will buzz
- Higher action is preferable for slide guitar
- Alternate tunings are easier for slide guitar than standard
1. Dunlop 222 Brass Slide, Medium Wall Thickness – Best Metal Slide for Electric Guitar
Jim Dunlop makes excellent accessories for guitar players. The Dunlop 222 Brass Slide features a medium of wall thickness which makes it perfect for electric guitar playing. This is a comfortable slide that fits easily for your finger.
You get a smooth and warm tone with this side. This is because the slide has a decent weight to it and sickness. It measures 19 x 22 x 60mm and is suitable for ring size fingers 9 through 10. It’s made in the United States, and the material used is brass. You will find this slide perfect for blues guitar, country, rock, and other guitar styles.
2. Jet Black Ceramic Guitar Slide by Star Singer Slides – Best Electric Guitar Ceramic Slide
For those wanting an electric guitar slide that has the tone of both brass and glass, the Jet Black Ceramic Guitar Slide by Star Singer Slides is a good option. This product is made in Glastonbury England to a high-quality. In addition to the small size, you can also get this product in a medium and large.
This ceramic slide is triple fired at temperatures over 1200c. it is durable and stronger when compared to glass. The slide itself features an excellent crackle glass pattern that is unique for each slide made. Plaid has an interior diameter, which measures 16mm for the height and 4mm for the wall. This slide is perfect for electric guitars but it also works on acoustics or a cigar box. When you order, you get a carrying pouch for the slide to help protect it in your guitar case.
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This set of guitar slide is made with premium stainless steel. The slides are durable, anti-rust, and they will last for a long time. The slide has a sleep surface, which makes it easy to glide across the strings. For those that want more than one slide, this set is ideal. You’re going to save a lot of money when you purchase this set.
You get four different slides that have different lengths. You will have a slide to meet almost any need. These slides give superior sustain, a bright sound, and good intonation. You are covered by a 180-day warranty so you can feel confident in buying this set. For anyone that wants to try out slides, this set will get you started.
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4. Dunlop 218 Tempered Glass Slide – Best Budget Acoustic Slide
For those that own an acoustic guitar, you want a decent slide. This slide produces a thick tone, a warm sound, and will accentuate the middle harmonics. This makes it the perfect option for any acoustic guitar. it features a non-slip interior so your finger will stay in place.
This slide is made with high-quality boron silicate. The tube has been heat-treated and designed to last a long time. It comes in several different sizes, not just medium. This slide gives you a warm sound, but this slide gives you more control because the interior has been treated. For anyone looking to purchase their first slide, this is one of the options you might want to consider.
5. Ernie Ball Glass Slide – Best Beginner Acoustic Slide
Ernie Ball is a leading producer of guitar accessories. Best known for their guitar strings, but they also make excellent slides. This medium Ernie Ball Glass Slide is the perfect beginner’s slide because it is so easy to use.
The slide is made with seamless Pyrex glass. It’s perfect for blues country guitar for another guitar playing. It’s 4mm thick and the outside diameter is 25 mm. the slide is durable and it will glide smoothly across guitar strings. You get a clear sound when you use this slide. It comes in small, medium, and large, so you’re sure to find one that fits your finger. Ernie Ball slides sound great and you will love this one as much as I do.
6. Shubb AX Axyx Reversible Slide – Best Unique Slide for Acoustic/Electric
The Shubb AXyx Reversible Slide is unique. This is a brass slide. It gives you excellent control and tone. It’s different from a normal slide. When you use a normal slide, it’s difficult to get the slide out of the way so you can play normally.
This slide can be rotated behind your hand. This only takes a couple of seconds. It leaves your fingers free so they can play regular notes. You can easily do this with one hand. It can be done in the middle of a song to get the slide of the way so you can continue to play as normal. It doesn’t take long to learn how to do this. For anyone that plays slide guitar, this makes it an excellent option. For the best results, it’s recommended that you use this slide on your ring finger.
I have reviewed several slides in this guide. I consider the Shubb AXyx Reversible Slide to be the best slide out of the bunch. The reason for this is the handy adjustment that it provides for you. This slide can be moved out of the way when you don’t need it. The slide easily moves behind your fingers, so they are free to fret other notes. This is impossible with other slides. You have to take the slide off to be able to fret chords fully or to play a solo.
For those that want a glass slide, the Dunlop 218 Tempered Glass Slide is another excellent option. I have used Dunlop products in the past and find them to be dependable. The Jet Black Ceramic Guitar Slide by Star Singer Slides is also another excellent option. This is a slide that has a unique design for each made so it’s truly original each time. The downside to this slide is that is costs more than regular ones.
Try a wide variety of guitar slides. Make sure you find one that fits your fingers comfortably. The fit of the slide is important. You don’t want it to be too tight or falling off your finger. Slide guitar is a unique way to play the instrument. Have fun playing slide and never stop jamming.