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Mastering Slide Guitar: Tips Tricks and Techniques for Beginners

Introduction to Slide Guitar

When it comes to playing the guitar, the options are limitless. There are countless styles and techniques that one can explore to create beautiful music.

One such technique that is becoming increasingly popular is slide guitar. This style of playing involves using a small piece of metal or glass, called a guitar slide, to glide across the strings to create incredible sounds.

In this article, we will explore what slide guitar is, how to get started, the different guitar types required, and some great beginner songs to get you playing like a pro. What is Slide Guitar?

Slide guitar, also known as bottleneck guitar, is a style of playing where a small object, commonly a guitar slide, is used to press on the strings of the guitar as opposed to using the finger to do it. Playing slide guitar creates a distinct sound with longer, sustained notes, sharper tones, and more emphasis on the string vibrations.

Slide guitar can be used in various genres of music such as blues, country, rock, and even Hawaiian music.

Before You Get Started

Before getting to the fun part, it is important to make sure you have all the necessary tools and understanding of how to position your fingers to slide. A guitar slide is key to getting started.

These slides come in materials such as metal, glass, and porcelain and are used to press on the strings, allowing the player to create a distinct sound over the frets. Finger positioning is essential when playing slide guitar.

It is recommended to use your thumb to dig into the strings and your index finger to stabilize the slide. You can try using your middle finger to support the slide if you feel it is necessary.

Another important aspect of slide guitar is the extension nut. This is a device that attaches to your guitar, raising the action of the string and allowing the slide to pass over the frets with ease.

Make sure your guitar is fitted with an extension nut, or you can purchase one if your guitar doesn’t have one.

Chords and Tuning

When playing slide guitar, chords are optional and not as essential as when playing regular guitar. But it is important to understand open tuning when playing slide guitar.

In open tuning, the strings are strummed without having to press down any of the strings. This tuning is the most commonly used for slide guitar, and some common tunings include open D, G, and E.

Tuning your guitar is also important. You will want to make sure your guitar is to the right tone as this makes all the difference when it comes to playing grade-A slide guitar.

Adjusting the key will make it better for you and let you play smoothly.

Guitar Types

The guitar you use is also crucial. Wooden resonator guitars are the most classic choice for slide guitar, as they provide a richer, fuller sound.

Metal resonator guitars are also an option, producing a louder and more aggressive sound than wooden resonator guitars. For a more modern approach, lap steel guitars are a great option.

They are played while lying flat and provide an entirely different sound and feel when played.

Songs for Beginners

Now that you understand the basics of slide guitar, you may be wondering where to start. Here are some popular beginner slide guitar songs that will get you playing like a professional in no time:


Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes – This song is perfect for getting started with open D tuning and is easy to play. 2.

Lookin Out My Back Door by Creedence Clearwater Revival – This popular song is played in standard tuning and is suitable for beginners as it involves basic chords. 3.

I Aint Superstitious by Howlin’ Wolf – This classic blues song is a great choice for slide guitar beginners as it runs in E tuning. 4.

Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top – This rock classic is played in open G tuning and is an excellent song for beginners due to its simple riffs and easy chord progression.


Slide guitar is a fun and unique playing style with a legendary sound that can enhance your playing skills as a guitarist. With these basics, you can start playing slide guitar and begin your journey down the road to creating fantastic melodies.

Remember to have fun, get creative, and keep practicing, and you will be a slide guitar expert in no time.

Finger Positioning and Plucking Techniques

Finger positioning and plucking techniques are essential when it comes to playing slide guitar. Mastering these techniques will allow you to create a wide range of sounds and styles to elevate your music.

Finger Positioning

When playing slide guitar, using the correct finger positioning is essential. The slide should only be in contact with the strings, leaving enough space behind to prevent unwanted noise.

It should be placed above the fret to avoid any buzzes. You can use your thumb to grip the neck while your fingers position the slide securely.

It’s important to avoid pressing down too much, as it can decrease the sustain and tone quality.

Plucking and Strumming

Strumming and plucking techniques are also crucial. It’s essential to use your strumming hand to target only the strings you want to play.

Plucking the strings will produce a different sound than strumming them, so it’s best to start with strumming and move onto plucking once you have developed the technique. Muting notes is another technique that can add depth and interest to your playing.

You can use your fretting hand to do this by lightly touching the string behind the slide. This will dampen the string and prevent any unwanted noise.


Vibrato is a technique that involves varying the pitch of a note by oscillating the pitch up and down.

Vibrato allows you to enhance the tone of a note and give it a more emotional and expressive feel.

To produce a vibrato, start by fretting a note with your slide and then slightly move it back and forth while maintaining contact with the string. The movement will create a vibrato effect as the pitch of the note oscillates.

Lap Slide Guitar

Lap slide guitar is a playing style that is different from what you might typically see when playing slide guitar. Instead of holding the guitar, the lap slide guitarist plays the guitar horizontally, mimicking a keyboard or lap steel guitar.

Hawaiian style is most commonly associated with lap slide guitar. This style is characterized by its use of open tunings and fingerpicking techniques, which produce a bright and vibrant sound.

Lap slide guitar is also used for playing lead guitar parts, as it allows the player to produce faster, smoother notes. In


In conclusion, playing slide guitar requires mastering finger positioning, plucking, strumming, vibrato and muting techniques in order to create a distinct, high-quality sound.

Practicing these techniques will allow you to elevate your skills and reach your full potential as a slide guitarist. Lap slide guitar, on the other hand, introduces new playing techniques and styles that can add variety and interest to your playing.

With these techniques in mind, it’s time to pick up your guitar and start practicing!

Tips for Learning and Playing Slide Guitar

Slide guitar is a unique playing style that can transport listeners to another world with its distinct sound. While it may seem challenging to learn at first, there are several tips and tricks that can make it easier to master.

Learn Guitar as a Beginner

If you’re new to playing guitar, it’s best to start with the basics before diving into slide guitar. This will allow you to develop a solid foundation and get familiar with the guitar’s chords, tuning, and technique.

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you can then start exploring the world of slide guitar. To get started, you can try taking a group or private lesson with a guitar instructor to learn the fundamentals of playing guitar.

You can also use online tutorials and videos to learn in your own time and at your own pace. It’s important to spend time practicing guitar regularly, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day.

This will help you develop muscle memory and improve your skills over time. Tips, Tricks and Techniques You Should Know

When it comes to playing slide guitar, there are several tips, tricks, and techniques that you should be aware of to make your playing journey a success:


Use the Right Slide: Choosing the right slide is important when playing slide guitar. Metal, glass, and ceramic are all popular materials that offer different sounds and textures.

Experiment with each type of slide to find the one that suits your playing style the most. 2.

Position Your Slide Correctly: Positioning your slide correctly is essential for producing the right sound and tone. The slide should be placed directly above the fret and should only touch the strings gently.

Pressing down too hard can decrease the sustain and tone quality. 3.

Learn Open Tuning: Open tuning is an essential technique for playing slide guitar. Tuning your guitar in an open tuning will allow you to create unique chords and harmonies when playing slide.

4. Develop Fingerpicking Techniques: Fingerpicking techniques are essential when playing slide guitar.

They allow you to produce different rhythms and sounds with your slide and can help create a distinctive playing style. 5.

Experiment with


Vibrato is an effective technique that can add depth and emotion to your playing. Experiment with different speeds and amplitudes to find the vibrato that best suits your style.

6. Practice Playing Slowly: When learning to play slide guitar, it’s important to start by practicing slow, simple songs and licks.

This will allow you to develop proper technique and build up your muscle memory before moving on to more complicated pieces. 7.

Listen to Other Slide Guitarists: Learning from other slide guitarists is a great way to gain insight into the playing style and techniques used by professionals. Listen to a variety of players from different genres and styles to help diversify your playing ability.



In conclusion, learning and playing slide guitar can be an exciting and rewarding experience with the right techniques and practices. Starting as a beginner and getting familiar with the basic techniques of playing guitar, learning open tuning, and having access to tips, tricks, and techniques, are all crucial components of mastering the slide guitar.

Ultimately, the key to becoming proficient at playing slide guitar is to practice regularly, use the right tools and materials, and be open to experimentation and innovation. With the right approach and enough dedication, you can become a master of slide guitar in no time.

In conclusion, learning and playing slide guitar can be an exciting and rewarding experience with the right techniques and practices. Starting as a beginner, it is important to learn the basics of playing guitar before diving into slide guitar.

Tips and tricks like the use of the correct slide, correct slide positioning, learning open tuning, and fingerpicking techniques are essential for mastering slide guitar. Finally, practicing regularly, using the right tools and materials, and being open to experimentation and innovation are essential for becoming a slide guitar master.

With enough commitment and practice, anyone can learn slide guitar and enjoy the unique and distinct sound it provides.

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