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What are the Best Guitar Slides?

Slide guitar is one of the most popular guitar playing techniques and a staple of both rock, country and blues. Here are our top 5 choices of slides available online for both budding amateurs and seasoned guitarists alike.

1) Dunlop’s No. 215 Glass Slide

Dunlop’s 215 glass slide is a solid, well-made choice, which won’t chip or grind even with heavy use. This is a great long slide that’s perfect for playing chords in open tuning. While the Pyrex build creates a warm, smooth sound.

2) Boston’s 20mm x70mm Chrome Finished Bottleneck

For a crisper, brighter tone, you’re going to want to choose a metal slide. Boston’s 20mm x70mm Chrome Finished Bottleneck gives a bluesy, metallic edge to your playing. And to sweeten the deal, each one comes with a free beginner’s guide eBook.

3) Shubb’s Tone Bar Slide

If comfort and control are your goal, then there’s Shubb’s Tone Bar Slide. This steel slide is the best of both worlds with a rounded end and a contoured body, while the bullet tip design makes it perfect for playing the blues.

4) Planet Wave’s Brass Slides

Planet Wave’s brass slides are finished with a flawless chrome plated shine, which makes them one of the smoothest and easiest-to-play slides out there. Perfect for both electrics and acoustics, this slide creates a clear, bright tone with perfect sustain.

5) Alice’s Steel Bottleneck Slide

Last but by no means least; we have the best budget choice with Alice’s Steel Bottleneck Slide. This is a solid and well-made slide and an essential bit of kit for every guitarist. For under £5, you’ve no excuse not to have this stashed away in your guitar case.

History of the guitar slide

Guitar slides are commonly used on steel guitars, resonator guitars, lap steel guitars, and conventional electric guitars. The technique of playing slide guitar was first made popular in African American blues by Slyvester Weaver in 1923 who used the slide on two recordings ‘Guitar Blues’ and ‘Guitar Rag’.

The first ‘electric blues’ song to use the slide was arguably Elmore James, who played a riff using the slide in his song ‘Dust My Broom’. Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, and Roy Rogers were also very influential in developing this style in the early days.

While the sliding technique originated from the cut off neck of a glass bottle, bottleneck slides still tend to have the same tubular shape and a length of 1” to 3”. There are a variety of glass slides available, from the borosilicate glass slides, which are often the cheapest type of guitar slide, up to the soda-lime glass slides, which are heavier and producer a better tone.

Lead glass slides are also a popular choice amongst professional guitarists. It’s also known that colouring the glass alters the timbre – adding iron oxide turns glass green, which creates a louder and sharper tone, compared to cobalt oxide, which colours the slide blue and produces an even louder tone.

Slides can also be made of brass, steel, copper, and many other materials. Which guitar slides do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!

About Marcus Taylor

In 2013, Marcus Taylor won the award for 'Young Visionary of the Year' at MIDEM. Marcus is passionate about marketing and the music industry, and has consulted to some of the biggest names in the music industry through his agency, Venture Harbour. Marcus founded this website in 2009, and has reached over half a million musicians ever since.

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