How to learn slide guitar in open D tuning with Elmore James’ signature lick

What’s up, ladies and gentlemen Tyler Preston here back with another lesson for you in this video. We are going to be talking about how to get started with slide guitar. So let’s get to it. Now. The first thing that you’re going to need to play slide guitar is you guessed it a slide. This one is called the Dunlop preaching pipe. I love it’s a brass slide. It’s waited on this and and it helps me with intonation. There’s a lot of different kinds of slides out there. I’ll be posting an article on my blog talking.

About the merits of different kinds of slides and their types there’s glass and there’s clay ceramic brass steel. There’s a lot of different varieties and picking the right one for your guitars important, but you can’t go wrong with a solid black brass slide on an acoustic guitar. They give really nice resonant tone anyway. 

To get started with slide guitar. Once you got your slide the next thing that you need to do and this is the thing that messes everybody up when they’re trying to get started with slide is that you need to get your guitar into an open tuning now, if you’ve never heard of an open tuning before that’s where you turn tune your whole guitar to a chord. Listen if I play all my open strings that is sounding a D major chord because I’ve tuned my guitar to D major. 

I’m open I’m not going to go over how to do that in this lesson. I’ll be posting another video about how to do that and I’ll link to it later. You can look it up online in the meantime the tuning from bottom to top IS d-a-d F sharp a Saudi a d f sharp A.D. A.D. A.D. A sharp ad anyway, so you get yourself into open a tuning and now you’re like well 

This is a brand new instrument. I don’t know any chord shapes if I try to play any of my regular chord shapes on here, none of them work. All right. So what are we going to do? Well, the first thing to know about playing an open strings is that an open tunings is that because you’re in an open tuning you can just bar across any fret and it’s going to give you the major chord and they’re in 

is where the magic of the slide lies because the slide is you guessed it. It’s a bar. Okay, so we can play now proper slide positioning is when you take your slide and place it over the Fret that you want to play Not Over the spot where your finger would go but over the actual threat itself. Okay, but I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself when you talk about how to wear your slide first a lot of players. 

See where their slide on their pinky and this is not incorrect. It’s totally cool to do it leaves your other four fingers free for fretting and doing normal guitar playing and then using the slide for emphasis has however, I personally find and you’ll notice that many blues players do this playing with your third finger is more useful because you are able to bend your knuckle such that you can get the slides to lay flat over the 

The strings a lot more easily. You see how my pinky kind of sticks up right here. And when I want to play with my pinky on the slide, I have to wrap my whole hand around whereas with my slide on my middle finger. I can now move my hand up and down now it does restrict your fretting ability a little bit. But when you’re playing an open tunings, you can get away with two fingers to get most of the chords that you need and besides that you really not going to be needing to do a lot of quartz because you know, you’re playing slide so 

Basically playing slide. You’ve got four main five main positions on the neck and we’re just going to go over a couple of them today. We’re not going to be doing all of them. What I want to do is I want to show you the octave. Okay. So this is all of our open strings and if I was to take my slide and slide it all the way up to right above the 12th fret okay, so I’m laying the curved part this part of my slide right there. 

On the Fret okay not here in between Frets here over the fret wire itself. Okay. So we lay it over the 12th fret and now we’re getting some resonance compare that note to the open strings. 

So that’s an octave and that’s the that’s the basic spot where you’re going to get started with slide guitar. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to learn the intro to Sweet Home Chicago today, which is a classic old blues tune. This slide riff was made Popular by Elmore James. It might have been the only riff that he knew. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I’m pretty sure he plays it in just about every song not just Sweet Home Chicago anyway, so this is Elmore James signature riff. It’s a really 

Sick blues riff and all we do to play it as we slide up from you know, roughly the ninth ninth fret region slides slides not an exact science, like playing trombone. You can get these really nice glissando effects cake with glissandos want to go boom and the notes just Ascend smoothly rather than having breaks in between them. You know what I mean? So we’re going to go Sandow. 

And what we’re going to do is we’re going to do that on the top three strings using are three finger pick and Claws and we’re going to slide them up. So something I’m doing to help my notes ring a little more cleanly as I’ve got my first finger laying on the strings behind my slide that cuts down on residents. If I don’t do that you can hear a little bit more stringent. 

sound this is it with 

and this is it without 

it makes more of a difference when you play at volume, but generally when you’re playing with your slide, you should lay your first finger down lightly across the strings. Now common mistakes for beginners are pressing the slide down too hard so that it’s bottoming out on the Frets. You really want the slight slide just as light as you can get it on the strings. 

And it’ll take you a while to develop that filled with this totally cool. That’s why we got this exercise K. So basically to play that riff all we do is we play trickle. It’s you know on the downbeat if you want. You can also play this with a pick some people find that easier. 

What you’re working on right now in the early stages of slide is just getting your hand used to the idea that you’re going to slide all the way up the neck as opposed to locate positions to play Frets and to get your intonation. Correct. You really want to be able to slide right into position because being even half of even half a fret off, that’s a little too low, right or if I go. 

That’s a little high. 

And you can you can bounce that out by doing a little bit of vibrato. If you do vibrato over the top of the string. 

It will help you kind of even out the notes and cover up those intonation issues that you might be having. So that’s that’s it for that for that little bit of the Riff. And then we combine that with a little bit of fingerstyle Okay. So we’ve got our thumb doing a quarter note down beat baseline monotonic. 

And that’s pretty much it you working on that for a while and then you get the last little bit in there, which is a slide up to the third fret. 

So obviously there’s a lot that goes into playing slide guitar. Hopefully, this has gotten you started in the coming days. I will be producing more lessons on this. If you got questions about what I talked about in this lesson today, please give me a holler. I’m on Twitter at mr. Tyler Preston, or you can email me at Tyler at Tyler 

As always. Hope you had fun. Good luck and until next time happy strumming. 

Tyler Preston

Tyler Preston

National touring singer-songwriter & music teacher. I'm a country boy at heart, but I paid my dues singin' the blues. Find me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.