There’s a few ways to play guitar; some are keen to hold down the band as rhythm guitarists, others prefer taking the spotlight and taking solos as lead guitarists. But there is one technique, often flying under the radar, that radically changes how one approaches the guitar: playing with a slide.
A slide is generally a steel or glass tube placed on a finger (but a bottle or lighter can also be used in a pinch). While using one, you’re leaving but one finger on your fretting hand in charge of creating the melody. To make up for it, the slide’s smooth roundness allows the guitarist to move frictionlessly across the fretboard, creating an effect entirely incomparable to the sounds you can create without a slide.
Our Orangewood friend, Dan Toppo is a bit of a slide guitar aficionado himself. You can hear him recreate timeless solos and vocal melodies, as well as his original slide accompaniments, over on his social channels. He’s spent his time as a guitarist perfecting the art of slide, making his playing a study guide for those looking to get into this type of playing.
There’s nothing that says “blues” quite like the sound of a slide on an acoustic guitar. Down below, you can take a listen to Toppo’s play through of “Amazing Grace” on our Ava Mahogany Live. The Ava Mahogany really sings while Toppo plays it; the all-solid wood provides the resonance that the slide needs to fully project.
In this video, you can hear him expertly combine the chords with the vocal melody of the song by using an open tuning; open tunings are especially nifty when combined with a slide, because you’re able to play and slide around an entire open chord without needing additional fingerings.
So, if you’re feeling like you need to add some variety into your guitar practice, or you’re looking for an entirely new technique to reframe how you view the fretboard, try out a slide.
Love that acoustic sound? Need more acoustic covers in your life? Check out our Indie Acoustic Covers playlist on the Orangewood Spotify.