3 Tips to Slide in Standard Tuning

As I also play lapsteel, well I don’t play slide on the guitar that often. Let’s not talk about slide guitar in standard tuning! However, the slide in standard tuning is a good, and interesting exercise. Here are 3 modest tips for those who would grab a bottleneck but not change the tuning of the guitar.

Recently, Milan Polak launched a Youtube competition, and that backing track sounded good to give a bottleneck run on the fretboard. Instead of thinking hard about an adapted open tuning, I thought it would be better to think hard about how to play over the BT in standard tuning. And I think that’s the first time I record some bottleneck solo in standard tuning!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQIwraSyt8w[/youtube]

Tip #1 : Never More than 2 Strings at a Time…

One of the advantages of the open tuning is to allow you to play several strings at a time… This is also possible in standard tuning but far more tricky! I prefer to play on one or 2 adjacent string pairs. In the video, from the 38” to 51” mark, I am playing the G-B (10th fret) and the B-E (12th fret). On the first slide at the 41” mark, you can hear that I didn’t perfectly mute the G string ! Hence the nasty sliding sound ! So you will always care a lot about muting the strings that you don’t want to be heard.

Tip #2 : Favour the Melody…

I am not saying that the rhythm playing is impossible in standard tuning but as you would rather play on 2 strings max then you are far more limited. You won’t be able to play it like Elmore James for instance. So it is better to favour the melody. The main difficulty is to be precise to sound in tune but to not forget the slight vibratos that will bring some life in the solo. Well my biggest flaw in that game is that I often flirt with the cheesiest melodies…

Tip #3 : Don’t Press the Strings too Hard…

Yeah… As your guitar is set for standard playing then you’ll have to be even more careful than in open tuning. The goal here is to avoid killing the notes on the frets (muted or fretting noises) as it would occur if you press too hard on the strings. On the part that goes from 52” to 1’01 I am playing a sort of pull-off hammer-on on the B string… I think it illustrates that tip. Just imagine how nasty it would sound with frets noises or muted notes… Erk!!

There are so many other tips that you can apply to play slide in standard tuning… Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to shoot a video one day to show you that ! Until then, go listen to some of the most awesome guitarists who play bottleneck in standard tuning  such as Bonnie Raitt, Warren Haynes, Jeff Beck (when he slides which is not that often)…

I am now going to try this last tip…

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