Nuts about slide guitar?

Nuts about slide guitar?

If I had to pick type of guitar playing based upon “cool” factor, I think slide guitar would have to be at the top. Whilst there are thousands of guitarist “shred demons” out there, there are only a small number of truly great slide players that have broken into the mainstream.

The range of sounds available to slide players sets them above us mortal “fretting” guitarists and means that even briefest occurrence of slide guitar work in a song, can really pull at the heart strings.

Don’t believe me? Check out this wonderful solo by slide guitar maestro Derek Trucks and think again!

Rise to the occasion

The first issue you’ll have come across if you’ve ever tried to play slide guitar on a regular guitar is that the heavy slide has a tendency to “bump” along the frets, making an unpleasant sound which totally shatters the smooth and flowing sound you’re trying to achieve in the first place!

The answer to this is to raise the action of the guitar (make the distance between string and fretboard greater). 

However, depending on your instrument, this can be time consuming at best and at worst impossible!

Enter the Grover “Perfect” Guitar Nut.

In 3 simple steps you can turn your regular guitar into a slide player’s dream.

  1. Relax the strings completely
  2. Gently lift up all of the strings behind the nut and slide the “Perfect” Guitar Nut on top of the existing nut, replacing all of the strings into their new slots
  3. Retune your strings

What you are left with is a guitar with strings that float well above the fretboard, on a flat radius, which make playing slide guitar much easier as you no longer have to worry about “bumping” into the frets.

One drawback of the perfect nut is that the action is so high that playing the guitar regularly is impossible, which stops the capability of fretting behind the slide (an advanced slide guitar technique). However, for your average player this isn’t an issue and the clean, effortless playability of the guitar will more than make up for it.

For £8.99 you can totally transform your instrument – there aren’t many other products out there that can open up such a wide array of sounds as the Grover “Perfect” Guitar Nut.

Slide 101

If you’re now inspired to take up slide guitar, there are a few simple things you should probably know:

Open tunings

Most guitar players that use a slide will tune their guitar to some type of open tuning. Here are a few of the most popular:

Open E: E-B-E-G#-B-E

This tuning means that playing all of the open strings gives an E major chord

Open D: D-A-D-F#-A-D

Same as Open E but one tone down.

Open G: D-G-D-G-B-D

This tuning is a favourite of the legendary Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones. 

Think vertically

Many guitar players tend to think “horizontally” when they play sequences of notes, meaning their first instinct is to move “along” 2 or 3 frets on the same string to play the next note. On slide guitar, this is still possible, but playing single notes on each string and keeping the slide in one place is often the fastest way to get from A to B (or C).

Keep it simple

Slide guitar lines, by their nature, suit a simple “vocal” style of melody. Therefore a good rule of playing slide is that if you can’t sing it (i.e. it’s too fast), you shouldn’t play it!

Embrace the learning curve

Make no mistake; playing slide guitar is as just as big a change from regular guitar as it would be to start playing the saxophone or cello. Don’t get too frustrated when you start off sounding crap! Stick with it and you’ll become competent in no time!

I’m sold, where can I buy the Grover “Perfect” Guitar Nut?

You can buy the Grover “Perfect” Guitar Nut for slide guitar over at Guitar Bitz, Amazon & Strings Direct.

Alex Fixsen

Resident Online Guitar Tutor

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