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Slide guitar or bottle neck guitar is almost the reverse of a flat picking guitar style because it relies on the pitch being altered by a bar or slide resting on the strings and then moving up and down to alter the pitch.
Standard picking alters the pitch by the adding finger pressure to the fret and the fretted string being plucked.
There are different types of slide that produce different sounds when used with different guitars and playing styles. All the slides are crucial for that glissando sound.
Guitar slides were originally made from unused and found items. Rings, knives and pill bottles all have their best slide for guitar fans.
Pipes, bottles, cutlery, lighters and rings are all good examples of a household items that can make a good guitar slide.
heavier slides of brass or copper produce a harsher blues sound where as the lighter glass can be made to sound more subtle.
House hold items like knives and be used as a guitar slide bar.
This type of slide is probably the hardest to use when learning to play the guitar, but offers the most flexibility and control when mastered.
Metal guitar slide
The metal guitar slide can be made from copper, steel, chrome, or brass.
This is a heavy slide and provides good contact with the strings. It works well on Dobros and some acoustic guitars but it may be a little heavy for the lower actions on electric guitars. Gives a hard blues sound with lots of control enabling it to be used for lighter country styles too.
The length of these can be anywhere between 40 - 70 mm (1 1/2 " to about 2 3/4 ").
bottleneck guitar types
The bottle neck slide is just what it says. A bottle neck that has been cut.
The thick glass adds weight and good contact to the strings but produces a lighter more country blues sound. the bottle slide suits acoustic and electric guitars. Sizes and bottle neck weights vary but again they are usually between 40 - 70 mm.
Different bottles have different shapes from straight to fluted. As a wine drinker I can recommend a good Bordeaux as a straight bottleneck or perhaps something from the Loire for an interesting fluted shape?
The resonator acoustic guitar bottle slide
The Pill bottle is the lightest type of slide. They can be purchased commercially as bottles or as glass slide tubes similar to the metal version.
This type of slide is suited to a light acoustic or as an electric guitar slide. It is suited to guitars with a lower action as it can be lightly placed over the strings hopefully causing less fret buzz on lower action instruments.
When looking for a pill bottle slide inspiration can be found in almost any supermarket and experimentation is a must. Some will work for you others wont.
The resonator guitar slide bar
The Dobro or resonator bar is really for playing a lap steel guitar. This can be an ordinary guitar laid flat on the lap with the strings and frets facing upwards.
The bar requires a different playing style and can take a bit of practice but because of its shape it allows for many techniques such as pull offs to be played with great accuracy and clarity. Some great guitar slide licks can be produced with these.
The original bar slides used on guitars were probably kitchen knives or similar household items.
Weird Slides for Guitars
pretty much anything can be used for a slide other than these more conventional types. I have heard of a guy who plays a whole set with a rubber chicken as a slide. You can try anything for example a metal lighter may be employed or a pen knife. If it sounds good and you can control it then it may be the most suitable slide for you.