I know a lot has been written, lied about, explored and forgotten about guitar slides. It’s one of those things that are relatively cheap and you can fit five of them in your guitar case so, why not? My perspective on a lot of things in life, guitar related included, is limiting choice. Cognitive load as some fancy people call it. Cumulatively the decisions we make, the choices we consider, the options we explore have more of an affect on our actions than we realize. And in something as seemingly touchy as being ready to receive musical inspiration while playing any obstacles we can remove is helpful. It’s addicting to talk about gear- these strings vs those strings, those tubes vs these NOS tubes found in a desk drawer. The knowledge part of guitar playing is addicting. If that’s part of the fun for you, that’s great. But realize the possibility exists that comes at a cost.
This thought isn’t without real world anecdotes. It’s true there are really great players who geek out over gear just as much as anyone on a guitar message board. They get all the press. I have had the experience of building guitars for a few very good, big name players. The thing that struck me was how almost stand offish they were about making decisions with their guitars. “What about neck profile? Steel resonator guitars versus brass resonator guitars, ebony capped saddles or not” They didn’t care. They just wanted a great guitar and wanted me to handle the decisions. They got their guitars, loved them, and started making a living on them. I think perhaps because with a limited amount of time and effort focused so precisely, all that debate would just get in the way.
How does this apply to guitar slides? I’ve bought my slew of slides and get a slew of free ones sent to me in the mail. I did the research and now I’m decided and committed.
I always buy the large glass slides. The insides of these slides are tapered so they fit perfectly, and one slide is flat so it fits nicely against your ring finger. You forget its on your finger. Removing obstacles in your playing. The walls are super thick, which gives resonator guitars in particular a vocal quality that people think they get from a thin wall piece of steel pipe they found laying around. Don’t believe them.
Part of slide guitar playing is playing cleanly, another reason why I use glass slides. They are lighter, so you can be more accurate with fretting behind the slide and not knocking into the frets when things get crazy. Brass slides look great, especially the ones Danny does with The Rock Slides, but for me I’m so self conscious of knocking around too much because of the weight I feel more guarded. The Rock Slides sound thick and good, fit better than any slide I’ve played and I completely forget what slide I’m using when I’m playing. Lets not forget this exactly the point of gear.