How to Play Slide Guitar

How to Play Slide Guitar


  • Slide guitar is an advanced standard tuning technique often found in country music, folk music, the blues, and rock and roll.
  • The technique uses an accessory called the slide, which is placed on one of your fingers before contacting the electric guitar strings or acoustic strings. 
  • Slides come in many shapes, styles, and materials. Some slide players, such as Duane Allman, even use empty soda bottles.

If you are new to the world of country music, you may wonder how to play slide guitar. Many of the best guitars, after all, are acoustics, and these instruments shine when using a slide. So how do you use the best acoustic guitars to play slide guitar, and what are the various playing methods? Keep reading to find out.

What is Slide Guitar?

When practicing solo acoustic guitar, you have no doubt come across the notion of slide guitar. This is a technique or playing style similar to learning how to strum without a pick. This style is not limited to acoustic guitars or even guitars at all, as any stringed instrument can be played in this style.

The slide technique is not for the faint of heart, as it takes plenty of practice. Just like learning how to tune a guitar without a tuner, however, you will get there with patience and perseverance.

Slide Acoustic Guitar Tips

Learning to play slide guitar is a personal journey, and there is not really a “correct” way to do it, but there are some tips to get started so that you don’t waste your next practice session.

Try Different Slides

Guitars have fretboards with clear delineation between each fret, so you can’t slide up and down, such as when playing most other stringed instruments. An accessory called a guitar slide gets around this by sliding up and down the fretboard instead of your finger, despite being controlled by that finger. These slides are available in many different designs, so feel free to experiment until you find “the one” that feels perfectly comfortable as you play. Also, just about anything can act as a slide, as many famous guitar players have even used empty soda bottles.

Choose a Finger

A slide can be placed on the second finger, third finger, or fourth finger. Experiment with different placements until you are completely comfortable using the slide. You want it to feel like an extension of yourself.

Play Along

Mastering the timing of the slide guitar takes a fair amount of practice. As long as you aren’t coming into this as a true guitar beginner, the best way to practice is to play along with famous slide riffs and leads. Slide guitar is immensely popular in rock and roll, folk, and country, so you can find plenty of stellar examples to learn from.

Slide Guitar FAQs

Which finger do you put the slide on?

You should try different fingers, as every player is unique. Robert Johnson used a different finger than, say, Duane Allman. As long as the slide is on the second, third, or fourth finger, you are fine for slide guitar playing. 

How do I choose a guitar slide?

Experiment with different slides and different fits. Try a uniquely-shaped slide on your middle finger, for instance, to emulate players such as Elmore James or Bonnie Raitt. Slide guitar technique is slightly different for everyone. 

How do you set up your guitar for slide?

A standard setup in standard tuning works in most instances, but if you are bringing your guitar in anyways, ask to raise the strings on the bridge a bit to make them easier to make contact with the slide. This way, you will be wowing audiences like Robert Johnson in no time. 



“The beauty of slide guitar is that there is no one right way to achieve this sound. Guitar slides come in a variety of sizes and materials — from brass to chrome to glass.” (source)

TIP: Slides are made from a wide variety of materials, each subtly impacting the tone when played.



Lawrence Bonk
[email protected]
No Comments

Post A Comment