If you have a desire to master the Delta blues or wish to add a woozy, bluesy glissando to your guitar technique 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.
Table of Contents
- View The Best Guitar Slide Below
- Guitar Slide Buyers Guide
The trademark tones can't be without adding a slide for an authentic sound, so here are some of our favorites.
View The Best Guitar Slide Below
1. Ernie Ball Glass Slide
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 is a straight piece without bevels, manufactured from boron-silicate glass for a better glide as it has fewer imperfections.
We are reviewing the medium which they don't actually give the inner dimensions for your actual finger but 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 slide is 58mm long which we think its just right to suit a range of players. They are seamlessly manufactured and come in 3 different circumferences: small, medium, and large.
+ Smooth Pyrex.
+ Straight and smooth.
+ Good Length.
Why We Liked It - It is a lovely glass ring finger option with a good length and a pure Pyrex composition for long-term durability.
2. Fender Steel Slide
Now we are changing it up with a steel counterpart courtesy of the Fender family. In our opinion 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 has been precision machined for accuracy and 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 a bit 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.
3. Guitar Slide Set
Our third option is a great accessory set which packages together three separate slides to choose from each with a different material composition.
The kit gives you a glass, steel, and brass option all of which are very well-made and have a regular wall.
The glass is a heat-treated boron-silicate (Pyrex) for a non-shatter slide for silky sounds.
The steel and brass are very accurately straight, the stainless steel is a 304 gauge and gives a clear resounding tone and the brass has a brighter treble quality to it.
All measure roughly 25mm in diameter and the length is a little longer at approximately 6cm. The inner dimension is about 21mm which should accommodate up to a ring-size 11.
They come in a gift box with 6 complimentary Guitar picks as well as 3 celluloid finger picks and one for your thumb.
+ Choice of slide types.
+ Roomy internal dimensions.
+ Complete gift box set with other instrument accessories.
Why We Liked It - It makes for a sweet gift for any budding guitarist giving you 3 slides to choose between and even throws in a range of bonus goodies.
4. Dunlop 222 Brass Slide
Our next selection is a great medium gauge brass slide from Jim Dunlop. It is developed to give a heftier edge to your slide sound that has a resounding warmth to its resonance and great sustain.
It is again accurately machined with a smooth finish for a fluid glide on your guitar. The dimensions are 19 by 22 by 60mm and it is recommended for a ring-finger size 9 or 10 for the best fit.
It is 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 - It is another high-quality slide which is a durable 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 your fingering.
5. Pangda 2 Pieces
Another alternative which gives you a choice and doesn't come with the fuss of finger picks you may have no use for, is this set of 2 from Pangda.
It provides a traditional glass and stainless steel option to choose between 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 steel is 304 gauge 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 - It is another great choice if you are torn between glass and steel tones and the tin is a nice touch.
6. Dunlop DT01 Derek
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 is made from a heat-treated annealed borosilicate blend that has great durability.
It is beautifully made and gives an authentic tone reminiscent of the original genres the slide is characteristic of as well as Trucks signature sound.
It is super-smooth for wailing stretched electric guitar glides but the embossed Dunlop logo can also be used to give a scratchier sound which can add dynamics to your acoustic playing should you choose.
+ 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 raising the pitch in a smooth motion which is distinctly different from a pitch-bend.
Though both achieve a raise in pitch a slide has an unmistakable sigh-like lamenting tone and allows for a faster wavering-motion that produces a pitch-vibrato.
It can be used to slide the entire length of the neck as well, in musical terms, it is known as a glissando which means to glide.
The earliest use probably predates the 20th century and began in 2 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 1920's 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 are going for a Muddy Waters vibe but if blues bottle is your genre of choice then it is an essential item.
It is fair to mention however that many blues performers have used makeshift slides other than a bottleneck, items including pipes, over-sized rings, butter-knives, and even spoons.
What Style of Music Uses a Guitar Slide?
Although it is most memorably noted in Delta blues that emerged from the Mississippi to Memphis region it is utilized in a variety of styles.
Slide playing began on acoustic instruments 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 60's when the electric guitar was at the heart of rock.
Artists inspired by Chicago blues used slides 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 period it was used by Eric Sardina's 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 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 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 bringing their 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 buyers' guide info have inspired you to buy.
If you are interested in Lap-guitar then you will 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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