Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Basic Slide Technique

Cigar box guitars kinda come in two flavors fret-less and fretted
Fret-less guitars may be a a little daunting if you have only experience of “normal” six string guitars
The purpose of this post was just to cover some very basic things about playing a fret-less cigar box guitar.
The ones I make are build just for slide work with a high action, the note is arrived by placing the slide on the string with enough pressure to make the note.
Some thing like this.

You don,t want to be trying to do some thing like below though. The the action is too high. Some fret less guitars will have a low action and you may be able to hammer down. With  a high action like this though the note will be out of tune and it will probably sound terrible.

Another thing to know is that notes can be picked and made to sound very much like it would on a six string by simply placing the slide on the position of the note and plucking.Think of it as replacing the fret with the slide. With a bit of practice this sounds just like it would if you had fretted a note. If you mix this up with sliding you can can some very good sounds.

To  demonstrate check this video out from sea sick Steve. 

You get some quick close ups of the neck, first thing to see is the action is about two weeks from the neck second its a broom stick, so not much chance of fretting the strings right down.
Listen to the verses there played with just the slide picking out the notes as I described above
Close you eyes as listen to the sound, quite like a rif being played on a six string right ?
Now check the chorus here Steve changes to slide style.
This is a really good example of how you can use these two techniques to make some really good sounds

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  1. I saw your post on Harrys blog and had to have a look at your homemade guitars. About 40 years ago (when I was a teenager) I met someone who had a homemade guitar, pretty much like yours. It looked like a little coffin with a fretboard, and to be honest I didnt think it would be any good, but I had a go with it and it sounded superb.

    I have been playing guitar all my life, I learned to play at the psychiatric hospital I was put in as a child (I am one of the Staffordshire Pindown child abuse survivors and was put in the "nuthouse" after I went nearly insane because of being locked up in a cell by the pimps who were running the "home". Anyway, thats how I learned to play guitar, and I love making music, I have got a mandolin, a ukeleli and a zither as well, but I can't play that very well yet, its a beautiful instrument though.

    I think your guitars are fantastic and this is a great blog.

  2. Thank you Zoompad

    Glad you liked the guitars, it still amazes me the sounds that are possible with these guitars. Cigar box guitars have been around for over a hundred years !