In recent posts we have explored the rudiments of bottleneck guitar, and how the slide can be used in both standard and open tunings to create bluesy, vocal-like sounds. And while slide guitar is perhaps most commonly associated with the blues, it can be used to excellent effect in a range of other styles, as players from Doug Wamble to Ben Harper demonstrate.
Jazz and roots guitarist Doug Wamble plays a mean slide in his work with trumpeter/bandleader Wynton Marsalis, vocalist Cassandra Williams, and others. Wamble originally got into playing slide out when he became frustrated by the limitations of conventional fretting technique. In this feature, he explains how he explores slide in DADGAD, a tuning more commonly associated with styles such as fingerstyle Celtic.
Harry Manx, Steve Dawson, Ross Hammond, Marisa Anderson, and Debashish Bhattacharya all play slide guitar in fresh and unexpected ways, whether channeling Indian classical music or jazz improvisation. Read their stories, learn about their gear choices, and check out their music for some good slide inspiration.
The singer-songwriter Ben Harper has the unique distinction of playing slide on a Weissenborn guitar in a rock context. Here he gives an exclusive lesson on playing the slide solo on his 2006 hit “Better Way.” If you’d like to play along, check out the notation in the print or digital edition of the January/February 2021 issue.