If you have a desire to master the Delta blues or wish to add a woozy, bluesy glissando to your guitar technique then you are in luck, as we have gathered 6 of the best guitar slides to help you perfect your pitch vibrato.
There comes a time in most Blues guitarists life when then they are eager to explore the yowling sounds that emerged from the early years.
In prime position is a perfectly-polished Pyrex option from Ernie Ball which makes for a great glass ring slide option, giving you that breathier edge to your slide tone.
It's a straight piece without bevels, manufactured from boron-silicate glass for a better glide as it has fewer imperfections.
We are reviewing the medium size, which they don't actually give the inner dimensions for your actual finger. However, the exterior is listed as 28mm and the glass is 4mm thick, giving it a good density to deal with the vibrato.
The overall length of the glass guitar slide is 58mm long, which we think is just right to suit a range of players. These slides are seamlessly manufactured and come in three different circumferences: a small ring size, a medium ring size, and a large ring size.
+ Smooth Pyrex.
+ Straight and smooth.
+ Good Length.
Why We Liked It - This is a lovely glass ring finger option with a good length and a pure Pyrex composition for long-term durability.
Now we're changing it up a bit with a steel counterpart, courtesy of the Fender family. This is on the smaller side internally, at around ¾ of an inch, which won't be a problem if you have particularly slim fingers.
Each metal slide has been precision machined for accuracy, The surface is completely friction-free to give you an impeccable glide over your frets.
It measures 5.5cm in length, which is a little shorter than the glass bottleneck option we opened with. This gives better dexterity and allows for more speed when navigating the neck of your guitar.
+ Solid steel construction.
+ Accurate machining.
+ Great sustain.
Why We Liked It - It is a commendable and affordable steel offering from a trusted brand with impeccable manufacturing and an ideal length.
Our next selection is a great medium gauge brass slide from Jim Dunlop. It's developed to give a heftier edge to your slide sound that has a resounding warmth to its resonance and great sustain.
It's, once again, accurately machined with a smooth finish for a fluid glide on your guitar. The dimensions are 19 by 22 by 60mm, and it's recommended for a ring-finger size 9 or 10 for the best fit.
It's a little lighter than their heavy wall option to give a better range of motion, and a little thicker than their low-gauge to give a fatter delta tone.
+ Warm resonance.
+ Medium gauge.
Why We Liked It - This is another high-quality, durable slide option that gives a thickened middle and ringing treble tone to your sliding. It is comfy on the finger and not so heavy that it slows you down.
The next alternative also gives you a choice and doesn't come with the fuss of finger picks you may have no use for.
This set of 2 from Pangda provides a traditional glass and stainless steel option to choose from, giving you a range of authentic bluesy tones to play with.
They are both 6cms in length, with an internal size of 2.36, which should suit a range of finger sizes. The glass tube is, again, Pyrex to keep it durable, and the 304 gauge steel has a polished finish for smoother motion.
The glass highlights the harmonics of your mid-range and the steel has a sweet sustain. They come with a small storage tin to keep them in.
+ Glass and Steel pair.
+ Range of traditional slide tones achievable.
Why We Liked It - This is another great choice if you are torn between glass and steel tones. The tin is a nice touch.
Our last suggestion is another great glass slide, which is actually modeled on Derek Trucks own bottleneck slide design.
It features bevels and tapering at one end like your average beer bottle top. It's made from a heat-treated annealed borosilicate blend that has great durability.
This slide is beautifully made and gives an authentic tone reminiscent of original genres it's characteristic of, as well as Truck's signature sound.
It's super-smooth for wailing stretched electric guitar glides, but the embossed Dunlop logo can also be used to give a scratchier sound. This can add dynamics to your acoustic playing should you want it to.
+ Beautifully made.
+ Authentic aesthetics.
+ Great tone.
Why We Liked It - It allows you to emulate dirty, drunken Delta roots, as well as the iconic sonic slides of the 70s.
Guitar Slide Buyers Guide
What Is A Guitar Slide?
A guitar slide is a hollow, cylindrical piece worn on the finger to allow it to slide over frets in a smooth motion. This raises the pitch, which is distinctly different from a pitch-bend.
Although both achieve a raise in pitch, a slide has an unmistakable sigh-like, lamenting tone and allows for a faster wavering-motion, thus producing a pitch-vibrato.
It can be used to slide the entire length of the neck as well. In musical terms, this is known as a glissando, which means 'to glide.'
The earliest use probably predates the 20th century. It began in two separate parts of the world, with a Hawaiian heritage that gave a hallmark lulling treble tone, as well as the basis of a blue, rooted in America.
Recordings from the 1920s first featured the gritty, scraping slide and caterwauling yowl with an almost drunken undecided slur that complimented the rawness of the themes dealt with lyrically in the genre.
Some early slide sounds were the result of beer bottles pressed against the strings, which are why tempered glass slides are often referred to as bottleneck slides.
Do I Need to Use a Guitar Slide?
You don't need a slide in your bag of tricks as a guitarist unless you're going for a Muddy Waters vibe, but if blues bottle is your genre of choice then it's an essential item.
It's fair to mention, however, that many blues performers have used makeshift slides other than a bottleneck; items include pipes, over-sized rings, butter-knives, and even spoons.
What Style of Music Uses a Guitar Slide?
Although it's most memorably noted in the Delta blues that emerged from the Mississippi to Memphis region, it's utilized in a variety of styles.
Slide playing began the acoustic guitar with use in a variety of blues genres and was even used in classical music (classical slide), but eventually transferred over to electronic guitar with a revival of exploration in the 60s when the electric guitar was at the heart of rock.
Artists, inspired by Chicago blues, used slides on the electric guitars to recreate their favorite covers, with the Rolling Stones bringing its popularity into the new rebellious genre.
As well as the Stones it was adopted by David Gilmour and Joe Perry. Most notably, it was used by Eric Sardina, emulating his blues idols on the resonator guitar, and Derek Trucks. Slide guitar can be heard all over Eric Clapton's classic 'Layla'.
The slide guitar style also developed into a lap-guitar playing technique. Lap steel slide playing is also popular with banjos and a range of stringed instruments.
Despite the improvised slides of the eras gone by, a modern slide is perfectly fit for function. There are a number of them on the market, and the materials used all provide their own tone quality.
We see a number of materials used in the manufacturing process, including steel, brass, and porcelain. Each brings its own tonal identity. Ceramic slides are also popular; sometimes we see metal slides that are chrome plated, and there are even some reversible slides that offer 2 tones.
Those we have chosen today present a good range. They are an inexpensive addition and we hope our guitar slide reviews, along with our buyer's guide info, have inspired you to buy.
If you're interested in Lap-guitar, then you'll want to look for a different type of slide than the ones we have featured today. Playing in a lap position doesn't require the slide to be worn and there are many with indentations for held use like the Lap Dawg by Dunlop.
Did you Know
Part of the solo recorded in 'All Along The Watchtower' by Jimi Hendrix features pitch slide elements achieved with a lighter during recording. The idea was borrowed from Pink Floyd who famously used a Zippo.
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