Blues and Slide Guitar Lessons
If you’re a beginner interested in learning slide guitar in London come and check out our guitar lessons @ London Guitar Academy (also called Bottleneck guitar), looking for free lessons, tips and info on open tunings or links for slide guitar.The single most important aspect of all slide guitar playing is the ability with the right hand to block and damp successfully to cut out the unwanted notes while letting the premium notes ring loud & clear.Slide guitar is an essential part of the Blues.Guitar lessons London we will happily get you started playing great slide guitar.
Slide guitar is a particular method or technique for playing the guitar. The term slide refers to the motion of the slide along the strings. Instead of altering the pitch of the strings in the normal manner (by pressing the string against frets), a slide is placed upon the string to vary its vibrating length, and pitch. This slide can then be moved along the string without lifting, creating continuous transitions in pitch.
Slide guitar is most often played (assuming a right-handed player and guitar):
- With the guitar in the normal position, using a slide on one of the fingers of the left hand.
- With the guitar held horizontally, with the belly uppermost and the bass strings toward the player, and using a slide called a “steel” held in the left hand; this is known as “lap steel guitar“.
The technique of using a slide on a string has been traced to one-stringed African instruments similar to a “Diddley bow“. The tuning and bend filled playing style resembles the blues-harp. History
The technique was made popular by African American blues artists. The first musician to be recorded using the style was Sylvester Weaver who recorded two solo pieces “Guitar Blues” and “Guitar Rag” in 1923. Some of the blues artists who most prominently used the slide include gospel singer Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Son House, Robert Johnson as well as Casey Bill Weldon of the Memphis Jug Band. The sound has since become commonplace in country and Hawaiian music. (Music for a Hawaiian guitar includes a beatiful composition “Maria Elena”). It is also used in rock, by bands and artists such as The Doors, Canned Heat, The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, Ry Cooder, Chris Rea, Bonnie Raitt, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Little Feat, Eagles, ZZ Top, Whitesnake, AC/DC and Metallica. The Rolling Stones featured a slide guitar as early as their 1963 recording of the John Lennon/Paul McCartney song “I Wanna Be Your Man“. Guitarist Brian Jones played slide in a very blues-oriented style. His successor Mick Taylor also displayed his own slide guitar skills while with the band. Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger has also played slide guitar on occasion (both in the Stones and his solo career). Many early Pink Floyd songs such as “See Emily Play” feature Syd Barrett‘s slide guitar performances, reflecting the band’s original Chicago urban blues repertoire from musicians such as Bo Diddley and Slim Harpo. Canned Heat’s Alan Wilson also helped bring slide guitar to the rock music industry in the late 1960s which he used frequently during concerts to create a buzzing delta blues boogie which can be heard on tracks such as London Blues, I Love My Baby, Sandy Blues, and countless others and can also be seen during their performances at the Monterey Pop Festival on Rollin and Tumblin’ and at Woodstock During Woodstock Boogie and On The Road Again. George Harrison experimented with slide guitar during the latter half of The Beatles‘ career, first using the technique on an early outtake recording of “Strawberry Fields Forever” in 1966. He later used slide extensively during his solo career on songs such as “My Sweet Lord“, “Cheer Down” and the Traveling Wilburys‘ as well as on The Beatles’ 1995 reunion single “Free as a Bird“.
Arguably the first influential classic electric blues slide guitarist is Elmore James, whose riff in the song “Dust My Broom” is copied from Robert Johnson and is held in particularly high regard. Blues legend Muddy Waters was also very influential, particularly in developing the electric Chicago blues slide guitar from the acoustic Mississippi Delta slide guitar. Texas blues musician Johnny Winter developed his distinctive style through years of touring with Waters. Slide player Roy Rogers honed his slide skills by touring with blues artist John Lee Hooker. John Lee’s cousin Earl Hooker may have been the first to use wah-wah and slide together.
Like Alan Wilson, Duane Allman played a key role in bringing slide guitar into rock music, through his work with The Allman Brothers Band, specifically on the 1971 live album At Fillmore East and with Derek and the Dominos‘ Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs album. Other slide guitarists such as Bonnie Raitt, Rory Gallagher, Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Joe Walsh used middle finger and later in the mid 80s, used a brass slide.
Allman extended the expressive range of the slide guitar by incorporating the harmonica effects of Sonny Boy Williamson II, most clearly in the Allman Brothers’ cover version of Sonny Boy’s “One Way Out”, heard on their album Eat a Peach. His playing on the original studio recording of “Layla” imparted a sublime quality for which the song is distinctly memorable.
Most recently lap style slide has been reborn via artists like Jack White, Sean Kirkwood and Xavier Rudd – both players of weissenborns, the former using original early 1900s instruments long with modern day variations such as his own co-designed Asher signature model, the latter using modern reproductions of weissenborn.