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It’s only a matter of time before every guitar player’s curiosity bubbles over into the world of slide guitar. Whether it’s the old-time blues masters like Muddy Waters or psychedelic rockers like Jimi Hendrix who pull you in, slide-guitar doesn’t have to be your primary playing style for you to dabble in (or master) the skill. To help you get started, we’ve rounded up the best guitar slides on the market to help you achieve that sought-after sound.
How Do Guitar Slides Work?
A guitar slide is a metal, glass, steel, or ceramic cylinder that is worn on a guitarist’s finger to slide up and down the guitar’s fretboard. They create a very distinctive, “slippery” sound that is often associated with blues music. The best guitar slides help you create a more emotive and resonant sound too, something you can’t achieve by plucking or strumming alone.
How Do I Choose a Guitar Slide?
Size and comfort are obviously important when it comes to choosing the best guitar slide for you – if you’re going to master the technique, you want a slide that actually feels good to use. However, the most brands sell slides in a variety of sizes, so the main thing you need to consider while shopping is the slide’s material. Metal, glass, steel and ceramic slides all achieve that slide guitar sound.
However, like all things in music, the slide guitar effect is more nuanced than a one-sound-fits-all model, and within that one overarching classification there are variations in tone and style. Metal guitar slides produce a metallic, bright tone while glass guitar slides give more subtle, mellow sounds. Ceramic slides bridge that difference and produce bluesy sounds somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.
Almost as important as a slide’s material is the slide’s thickness. The thicker the slide’s walls are, the more sustain it creates. More sustain lets you play longer, gliding notes. However, more sustain isn’t always better. If you want to play fast, a lighter slide lets you move around the fretboard with greater ease and speed. In that case, having more sustain isn’t as important to the overall sound.
No matter which guitar slide you choose, you’re sure to experience the joys of experimenting as you play. Here are some of the best guitar slides to pick up online.
1. Fender Steel Slide
When it comes to shopping for the best guitar slides, you can trust Fender to provide you with a quality-made slide, thanks to its decades of experiencing in making guitars — and guitar accessories. A Fender guitar slide is all about helping you achieve the best sound.
This standard, medium-size slide is made of chrome steel and produces a sweet high-end tone. It’s designed specifically for electric guitar use and gives off a ringing tone with great sustain. It weighs 1.6 ounces and measures 5.5 x 4 x 1.5 inches.
2. Dunlop 256 Joe Perry “Boneyard” Slide
When shopping for the best guitar slide, why not take a suggestion from one of the pros – Aerosmith’s Joe Perry? In partnership with the Jim Dunlop brand, Perry designed this ceramic guitar slide for reaching that sought-after soulful, bluesy sound, whether you’re playing on an acoustic or an electric guitar. It weighs less than an ounce and is a standard medium short size.
This is a ceramic guitar slide with a glazed exterior and rough interior.
3. Dunlop Blues Bottle Slide
These Dunlop Blues Bottle slides are individually hand-blown from durable, seamless Pyrex glass. Against your guitar’s strings, it creates a crisp, bright tone. Unlike standard slides, it has a weighted, closed end that helps provide balance.
This design is an homage to the pre-Depression early blues masters, who used medicine bottle slides when they played. It weighs 1.28 ounces and is a size large, with heavy wall thickness.
4. Augshy Guitar Slide Set
Those who are new to slide guitar may want to test out slides made from different materials before investing in one go-to piece. The Augshy guitar slide set comes with four slides: three stainless steel options and one glass. Each slide measures 2.36 x 0.98 x 0.98 inches.
The glass slide produces softer sounds while stainless steel slides create excellent sustain and intonation, plus a clear bright sound. In addition to the four slides, this set also comes with 10 guitar picks and an eight-piece set of thumb and finger picks.