LEIGH FUGE SHOWS YOU HOW TO PLAY SLIDE GUITAR, IN THIS COMPLETE BEGINNERS GUIDE TO PLAYING SLIDE GUITAR - COMPLETE WITH VIDEO TUTORIAL

Welcome to your complete beginners guide on how to play slide guitar courtesy of Leigh Fuge over at MGR Music. Slide guitar is a whole new world for many players. For most, the initial stages of trying to figure out how it works can be challenging and even scary. There are a million questions ranging from how do I choose a slide, right through to what tunings should I be using? In this lesson, we will look at 5 tips to get you started with your slide guitar playing. What the video on how to play slide guitar below, and read on for more info:

SLIDE GUITAR TIP 1 – USING OPEN TUNINGS

One thing that many people associate with slide guitar is the use of open tunings. You can play slide in standard tuning, but it’s easier to start off in an open tuning as you get used to this new style of playing. An open tuning is when the open strings of your guitar are tuned to match the notes of a chord. In this lesson, we are using a tuning called Open G tuning. This means we are tuning the open strings to match the three notes found in a G Major chord, G, B and D. We feel the best tuning for slide guitar is Open G. Low to high you are tuning your guitar DGDGBD Your Low E, A and high E strings are all being tuned down a full tone. The strings that were tuned D, G and B remain unchanged.

SLIDE GUITAR TIP 2 – CHOOSING THE RIGHT SLIDE

Slides come in many styles. Different lengths, thicknesses, materials… the list goes on. The most common types you’ll see in your local stores are metal, ceramic and glass. Metal slides offer a brighter tone while ceramic offers a warmer tone. Some companies even make slides from wood, brass, copper and more. We suggest trying out a few options and seeing what fits best for your preferred music style.

Dunlop Glass Slide
Dunlop Glass Slide

SLIDE GUITAR TIP 3 – INTONATION WHEN PLAYING SLIDE

When playing slide, intonation is very important. When you play guitar, you learn to fret the notes behind the fretwire, however, the note you hear is actually produced from the point the string contacts the fret itself. This principle needs to be upheld in slide guitar. When aiming for a note with a slide you must get the centre of the slide directly above the fretwire. If you position the slide behind the fret, the note will be flat. Try this with a tuner switched on and see it for yourself. Remember, if you’re playing more than one string at any time with the slide, the slide will need to be straight along the length of the fret to ensure the best intonation.

SLIDE GUITAR TIP 4 – VIBRATO

For fretted notes, vibrato can be applied by moving the string up and down, but when you play slide guitar you aren’t actually pressing down anywhere. To apply vibrato to slide guitar you must move the slide up and down away from the point where the correct note is found. You can vary the intensity of the vibrato by how far you move away from the point. This is great for ear training as you need to get back to that central point each time.

SLIDE GUITAR TIP 5 – PLAYING CHORDS ON A SLIDE

For this tip, we’re going to learn three chords on a slide. The first is just the D, G and B strings played open. This is a G chord. The Bb and C chords we’re going to learn involve positioning the slide above the third and fifth frets respectively. Remember to get the slide straight to get the best intonation.

3 Easy Slide Chords

Now we’re going to turn that into a riff. This is a typical blues style riff that is a lot of fun to play with a slide. When playing the C and Bb chords here, you want to positon the slide lower on the neck and slide into those chords. Try to be careful about stopping in the right place. 

Blues style slide guitar tabs

SLIDE GUITAR TIP 6 – A SIMPLE BLUES LICK

Here is a fun lick to round off the introduction to slide guitar. This is a triplet feel lick, you’re playing three notes across each of the first two beats of the bar. The end of each bar is a simple slide from the 11th to the 12th fret on the B before landing on the 12th fret of the G. Don’t forget to apply generous amounts of vibrato to that final note to really make it sing. Now you’re officially playing slide guitar! 

Easy slide guitar lick tabs

About the Author Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar player and tutor from Swansea in South Wales and a guitar writer having written and produced content for Guitar Magazine and many other high profile guitar publications and websites. If you enjoyed this article and video, don’t forever to check out PMTVUK on Youtube for more guitar lesson videos. Get more free guitar lessons HERE. Professional guidance can make all the difference to your development. Head over to mgrmusic.com and find a great teacher in your local area today. We have a great network of teachers around your local PMT stores including the ones in LiverpoolCardiff and Manchester.