East/West Bottleneck Guitar: A Look At Glass & Ceramic Slides & Unorthodox Tunings
Slide guitar is a unique experience. In this country [America], it goes back to the 19th century, when musicians used various materials as slides, including bored-out beef bones, medicine bottles, and sawed-off bottlenecks. I suspect that until the advent of steel-string guitars [I believe Martin issued it's 1st steel string in 1926, however I might be wrong], that gut-string (the precursor to nylon-string) guitars were used. Have you ever tried playing a nylon-string guitar with a glass slide? It's fantastic! Sounds like an oud. And if you use a certain muting technique it can sound like a Moog synthesizer.
Fortunately, today we don't need to go to the stockyards and collect cattle parts to create our slide arsenal. For years, I've been using slides by Dunlop Manufacturing. I particularly like the sound of Dunlop's glass and ceramic slides because they're light, smooth, and very fast. For me, they produce a very human sounding voice which suits my heavily influenced East Indian style. I also prefer a straight edge although some players like a flared slide, which Dunlop also manufactures. I like a slide as large as possible (I have found that looser fitting, larger slides yield better tone) and full length; and I play exclusively with the slide on my pinky so that I have three fingers free to voice chords. All my single line technique is played on the last 1/4 inch of the slide. I also like a thick wall if I have a choice and in particular there are two slides that Dunlop manufactures that I really enjoy: the Metallic Mudslide and the White Lightning, both of which have a special glaze making them very fast and creamy, though they are a bit heavier.
I currently use the following slides:
Model #213 Pyrex Large Heavy Wall Thickness: This is a great all around slide for weight and tone. I compose, improvise and record with this slide a lot. It's light and fast.
Model #276 Blues Bottle Large Heavy Wall Thickness: The closed end creates a nice balance. Different than the Pyrex. Very light. Great for composing.
Model #246 Moonshine Ceramic Slide, Large: Also very light and I like the porous interior and buffed glazed gunmetal blue exterior. This slide cuts, has an edge to it, and is very fast. Also it has a nice cut to the end which facilitates my angled-tip technique.
Model #266 Mudslide Porcelain Slide, Large: A darker creamy tone. A bit heavier. Again, a unique voice unlike the Moonshine glass slides.
Model #239 Metallic Mudslide Porcelain Slide, Extra Large: This is very unique! Buy one without delay! Has a special metallic glaze which creates a very slick, no scratch sound that really sings. If you are diligent about articulation and intonation, this slide evokes an even more subtle human like voice.
Model #250 White Lightning Ceramic Slide, Extra Large: This slide is cool and has a slight flare. It's basically a Moonshine with a high fire metallic glaze like the Metallic Mudslide (the Mudslides are black porcelain and the Moonshines are white porcelain).
For a variety of slide examples, check out the following free downloads on my site:
In addition I also prefer tunings that do not use either a major or minor 3rd, such as:
I am partial to suspended tunings and tunings with a unique color tone included, such as:
110 MB of free acoustic guitar downloads:`fingerstyle`slide`altered tunings.