Best Guitar For Slide

Best Guitar For Slide (our top picks)

Are you looking to buy the best slide guitar, but you aren’t sure what to look for? Our experts explain what you should be checking for and how much you should expect to pay. 

By reading this article, you will understand all you need to know about guitars for slide, and have a good idea of which guitar is ideal for you. Make sure you continue reading to find out what the guitar brands wish you didn’t know about buying guitars for slide.

Getting good at slide guitar isn’t easy, whether you’re researching through blog posts like this or even following a good app with online guitar lessons, but the key to becoming the next Earl Hooker, Robert Nighthawk, Elmore James or Muddy Waters is dedication and consistency.

Electric Guitars For Slide

Fender Telecaster

Muddy Waters, Keith Richards and Danny Gatton played some amazing slide on their Fender Telecasters. And although you might not be on their level (yet), you’ll be following in some mighty footsteps with a tele!

No products found.

Gibson Les Paul

We couldn’t put this list together without mentioning Duane Allman, who famously played slide on his Les Paul on many songs. Warren Haynes also done some amazing work on his Les Paul too!

No products found.

Gibson/Epiphone SG

Derek Trucks, the master of blues slide guitar himself would often play slide on his Gibson SG.

No products found.

Acoustic Guitars For Slide

A lot of the classic slide guitar we listen to from the good old days were actually played on regular guitars. And it wasn’t so much the guitar that made the slide sound good, it was the guitarist. The way they played their guitar, the way they tuned it etc. And although there are certainly things you need to look out for when making a purchase (more on that here), most acoustics will sound great.

With that said, you don’t want to buy a low quality acoustic guitar to play slide on, and then have to buy another if you want to do some finger picking or rhythm work.

Our advice would be to invest in a top quality guitar like one of the ones we’ve listed below, these are all great for playing slide as well as any other style. And if you take care of it, it’ll last you for the rest of your life (and you’ll never have to spend any more money upgrading if you want to try a new style of playing).

No products found.

Guitar For Slide Buyers Guide

If you want to get into the Delta Blues slide guitar or any other slide guitar, here are a few things to consider before making your final decision.

High Action

Usually we are advising you to keep away from high action guitars, but for slide guitar playing, the higher the action the better.

Heavy Gauge Strings

Heavy gauge strings work better for slide guitars, but trying to bend those heavy gauge strings will mess your hands up fast.

Fretboard

For slide guitar, you need a flat fretboard, some fretboards camber from the middle which makes it difficult to slide all the strings.

Electric Or Acoustic?

There are many great slide guitarists that play relatively cheap guitars. But if you decide to play electric slide guitar we suggest you go for a high action guitar with a flat fretboard. You will probably need to change the tuning nut.If you decide to play acoustic slide guitar, you’ll need to replace the strings with some higher gauge strings. We recommend 0.0014 to 0.059 or 0.015 to 0.056 which are easy to find either instore or online. 

Using heavier strings should be sufficient to create a tighter action which should allow the slide to create the desired sound.

Tuning

Different tunings can greatly change the sound of a slide guitar, many top slide guitarists have had great success by experimenting with different tunings, let’s have a quick look at some of the more popular:

  • Regular (or standard) Tuning
    (EADGBE) this is handy for adding a few slide riffs into your regular playing, but muting can be problematic, many slide guitarists have discovered that open tunings can be less problematic.  
  • Open G Tuning
    (DGDGBD) The middle strings are the same as in regular tuning which can help the guitarist with keeping some familiarity with standard tuning.
  • Open D Tuning
    (DADF#AD) Also known as “Vestapol tuning” is a popular type of open tuning and has been used by many great guitarist, singer/songwriters including Joni Mitchell, Keith Richards and Mumford & sons.
  • Open E Tuning
    (EBEG#BE) As strings became more pliable during the 20th century, many top slide guitarists moved over to open E tuning. Guitarists like Duane Allman and Derek Trucks still play predominantly in open E to this day. As open E tuning puts the guitar neck and strings under extreme duress, we advise playing open D with a capo.

Bottlenecks

Using a bottleneck slide takes some careful pondering. The first consideration is what guitar you’re planning on using. Acoustic guitars are best suited for glass slides, glass has a warm tone, glides across the strings with ease, but can easily be broken if dropped.

No products found.

Metal Slides

In comparison to glass slides, steel or brass slides are heavier and harder, which gives a  harsher sound and yet sounds brighter at the same time. Metal slides tend to be the first choice for electric guitarists.

No products found.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is slide guitar called?

Slide guitar is also called bottleneck guitar. It is a type of guitar playing using a metal or glass tube to slide across the strings creating a sound that has been compared to a human voice.

Can you play slide guitar in standard tuning?

It is possible to play slide guitar in standard tuning, but it works better in open chords.

What do you need to play slide guitar?

Basically all you need to play slide guitar is a guitar and a slide.

What slide do I need to play acoustic guitar?

The best type of slide to play acoustic guitar is a glass slide.