Country music has a distinct sound that sets it apart from other genres, and one of the key elements that makes it so unique is slide guitar. With its nostalgic, twangy sound, it’s difficult not to get lost in the music. From classic ballads to modern hits, slide guitar has played a significant role in some of the most iconic country songs of all time. In this article, we’ll explore the history of slide guitar in country music, take a closer look at some of the most famous country songs featuring slide guitar, delve into the techniques and approaches used to play slide guitar in country music, and highlight some of the most renowned slide guitar players in the genre. So, grab your guitar and let’s get started!
History of Slide Guitar in Country Music
When one thinks of country music, the twang of a guitar often comes to mind. However, for many country musicians and enthusiasts, the slide guitar has played a crucial role in the genre. This unique style of playing involves using a metal or glass slide to glide along the strings, creating a soulful and often mournful sound. The history of slide guitar in country music is long and varied, with roots in both African and Hawaiian music. From its emergence in the 1920s to its use in modern country hits, the slide guitar has become an iconic and recognizable feature of the genre. Let’s explore the evolution of slide guitar in country music and its impact on some of the most beloved country hits of all time.
The Origins of Slide Guitar
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact origins of slide guitar, as many cultures have used similar techniques throughout history. However, it is believed that slide guitar originated in Africa and made its way to America through the slave trade. Historians suggest that African slaves may have used a piece of bone or metal to slide over the strings of their traditional instruments, producing a unique sound.
The use of slide guitar in country music evolved over time, and its development can be traced through the history of the genre. In country music, slide guitar was initially used as a way to mimic the sound of a vocal line or fiddle melody. Players would use a bottleneck or metal tube to slide along the strings of their guitar, producing a sound that was both mournful and soulful.
As country music began to gain popularity in the early 20th century, slide guitar became an increasingly important part of the genre. Hawaiian slide guitar, or “steel guitar,” was introduced to country music in the 1930s, adding a new dimension to the sound. Instead of using a bottleneck, players used a steel bar to slide along the strings, producing a smoother, more fluid sound.
Today, slide guitar is a core part of country music and is often associated with the genre’s rich history and traditions. While the basic technique for playing slide guitar has remained the same over the years, modern players have continued to explore new and innovative ways to incorporate the technique into their music.
If you are interested in learning more about slide guitar in country music, there are plenty of resources available to help you get started. Whether you want to explore the roots of the technique or learn how to incorporate slide guitar into your own playing, there are numerous online tutorials and instructional materials available. Check out some of the resources below to get started on your slide guitar journey!
- Slide Guitar in Country Music: A Brief History
- Slide Vs. Regular Guitar Playing in Country Music
- Explore Slides in Country Music Guitar Playing
- Top 5 Slide Guitar Songs in Country Music
- Slide Guitar in Modern Country Music: Innovations and Techniques
Slide Guitar in the Birth of Country Music
When it comes to the birth of country music, slide guitar played a significant role. Here are some of the key points that highlight the significance of slide guitar in early country music:
- The Blues Influence: The rural South, where many early country musicians hailed from, was also the birthplace of the blues. Slide guitar, which had been a staple of blues music for decades, found its way into country music as well.
- The Hawaiian Connection: The 1930s saw the rise of Hawaiian music’s popularity in America – and the slide guitar played a major role in this genre. Country musicians were quick to adopt the Hawaiian slide style and incorporate it into their own music.
- Steel Guitar: Around the same time, the pedal steel guitar was emerging on the country music scene. This instrument, with its built-in slide, became a crucial part of the sound of early country music.
- The Carter Family: One of the most famous early country music groups, the Carter Family, featured Maybelle Carter on guitar. Maybelle’s unique “Carter Scratch” technique involved using a thumbpick and fingers to create melodies while also playing rhythm. Her style laid the foundation for many future country guitarists, including slide players.
- Uniquely American: Slide guitar, with its ability to mimic the sound of a human voice, was a fitting accompaniment to the storytelling nature of country music. The two styles became closely intertwined and helped to define American music as a whole.
With these influences and innovations, slide guitar became part of the fabric of country music from its earliest days. Its distinctive sound and expressive abilities continue to inspire countless musicians to this day.
Slide in Electric Country Music
Electric country music, also known as “country rock,” brought a new sound to country music by combining elements of rock and roll with traditional country music. Slide guitar played a significant role in this subgenre, where it was used to create the signature sound of many classic songs. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable examples of slide guitar in electric country music:
|Sweetheart of the Rodeo||The Byrds||Lloyd Green|
|Green River||Creedence Clearwater Revival||Tom Fogerty|
|Mama Tried||Merle Haggard||James Burton|
|It’s Only Rock and Roll||The Rolling Stones||Mick Taylor|
|Long May You Run||The Stills-Young Band||Stephen Stills|
Each of these slide guitarists brought their own unique approach to the instrument, helping to define the sound of electric country music. Lloyd Green, for example, used a steel guitar to bring a twangy sound to The Byrds’ album “Sweetheart of the Rodeo.” James Burton, on the other hand, used a Fender Telecaster to achieve a smooth, fluid sound on Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried.”
One of the most famous examples of slide guitar in electric country music is the opening riff of The Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock and Roll.” Mick Taylor’s slide guitar creates a driving rhythm that perfectly complements the song’s rock and roll energy.
Another notable example of slide guitar in electric country music is Stephen Stills’ work on “Long May You Run” by The Stills-Young Band. Stills used a lap steel guitar to create a shimmering, atmospheric sound that perfectly captures the song’s wistful tone.
Slide guitar played an essential role in the evolution of electric country music. Its distinctive sound helped define a new subgenre of country music that continues to influence musicians today.
Top Famous Country Songs with Slide Guitar and Their Iconic Riffs
As we delve into the world of slide guitar in country music, we can’t forget to highlight some of the most iconic songs that have made use of this versatile technique. From heart-wrenching ballads to foot-stomping anthems, country music has seen its fair share of memorable slide guitar riffs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top famous country songs that showcase the unique flavor of slide guitar, and how it contributes to the overall sound and feel of these beloved tunes. Get ready to tap your feet and sing along to these unforgettable melodies.
‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ by George Jones
One of the most iconic slide guitar riffs in country music comes from George Jones’ heartbreaking ballad, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” The song, which was released in 1980, tells the story of a man who never stops loving the woman who has moved on and passed away.
The slide guitar in this song is played by Pete Drake, who was known for his signature “talking steel guitar” technique. Drake’s sliding notes perfectly capture the sadness and longing in the lyrics of the song, making it one of the most emotional moments in country music history.
Here are some other interesting facts about the slide guitar in “He Stopped Loving Her Today”:
- The intro of the song features a haunting slide guitar line that sets the tone for the entire track.
- The slide guitar also appears in the song’s chorus, adding to the overall mournful vibe.
- The use of the slide guitar in this song was groundbreaking for country music at the time, as it was not a common instrument in the genre.
- Pete Drake’s skillful slide guitar playing on this track earned him a spot in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1987.
The slide guitar in “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is an essential part of what makes the song so special. Its melancholy tone and emotive playing perfectly complement the heartbreaking lyrics, making it one of the most iconic country songs of all time.
‘Friends in Low Places’ by Garth Brooks
One of the most iconic slide guitar riffs in country music is in the song “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks. The slide guitar intro immediately sets the tone for the entire song, which is a classic anthem about a man who has been spurned by his high society ex and finds solace among “friends in low places.”
The slide guitar really shines during the intro and throughout the song’s instrumental breaks. It’s played in the key of D and uses a standard open tuning, which allows for some beautiful slide work. The opening notes are played on the 10th fret and create a slow, mournful sound that perfectly captures the feeling of the lyrics.
In the chorus, the slide guitar takes on a more driving role, with a repeated riff that emphasizes the song’s catchy melody. The riff is relatively simple, but it’s played with such precision and feeling that it has become one of the most recognizable slide guitar parts in country music history.
Here’s a breakdown of the slide guitar riff in “Friends in Low Places”:
|Section||Slide Position||Notes Played|
|Intro||10th fret||D – F# – A|
|Chorus||7th fret||A – D – F# – A|
|Chorus||5th fret||G – A – D – F# – A|
To play this riff, you’ll need to use a slide that fits comfortably on your finger and allows for smooth, gliding movements. The art of vibrato is also important, as it can add depth and emotion to your playing. The right amount of pressure on the strings is also crucial to producing clear, clean notes.
The slide guitar in “Friends in Low Places” is a perfect example of how this instrument can elevate a song and create a truly timeless sound. It’s no wonder that this song remains a favorite of country music fans around the world.
‘Jessica’ by The Allman Brothers Band
One of the most iconic slide guitar riffs in country music is found in The Allman Brothers Band’s instrumental classic, “Jessica.” The song was released in 1973 as part of their album “Brothers and Sisters.”
The song starts with a catchy electric guitar riff that leads into the melodic slide guitar that makes the song unforgettable. The slide guitar solo in “Jessica” is performed by Dickey Betts, the band’s lead guitarist.
Betts’ technique in playing slide guitar involves using his ring finger to slide up and down the fretboard while using his other fingers to play individual notes. The result is a smooth, soulful sound that perfectly complements the song’s upbeat rhythm.
“Jessica” was a commercial success for The Allman Brothers Band, and it went on to become their biggest hit. The song’s popularity continues to this day, with its timeless slide guitar riff being recognized around the world.
Here is a table summarizing the key components of the song:
|Artist||The Allman Brothers Band|
|Album||Brothers and Sisters|
|Lead Guitarist||Dickey Betts|
The memorable slide guitar riff in “Jessica” is a testament to the influence of slide guitar in country music. Its popularity bears witness to the timeless quality of the technique and its ability to evoke emotion and soulfulness in listeners. The song will continue to inspire aspiring musicians to master the technique and create their own iconic riffs for years to come.
‘Free Bird’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd
One of the most iconic and beloved songs in classic rock history, “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd showcases some incredible slide guitar work that has stood the test of time. The emotional and soaring solo played by guitarist Allen Collins is one of the defining moments of the song, and has been covered and emulated countless times over the years.
The iconic riff:
The slide guitar riff in “Free Bird” begins in the song’s intro, and serves as a haunting and melancholy lead-in to the soaring guitar solo that comes later. The riff is played using a glass slide on the guitar’s strings, and is composed of a series of sliding notes that create a mournful and soulful melody.
The guitar solo:
The guitar solo in “Free Bird” is arguably one of the greatest ever recorded, and is truly a tour-de-force of slide guitar mastery. Collins’ use of the slide is both powerful and sensitive, and he showcases a wide range of techniques and approaches throughout the solo. From intricate fretwork to blazing runs up and down the neck, the solo is an absolute showcase of slide guitar virtuosity.
Techniques and approaches:
Collins’ use of the slide in “Free Bird” is a masterclass in technique and style. He employs a variety of approaches to create a fluid and dynamic sound, including bends, vibrato, and sliding between notes. His use of tone and dynamics is also impeccable, with the slide creating a range of subtle and nuanced tones that really bring the solo to life.
To help illustrate Collins’ incredible playing in “Free Bird,” here is a table detailing some of the key techniques and approaches used throughout the song:
|Bending||Collins uses bends to create a range of pitch variations, adding emotion and depth to his playing.|
|Vibrato||The use of vibrato helps to create a sense of sustain and continuity in the solo, allowing notes to ring out and echo.|
|Sliding||Sliding between notes gives the solo a sense of fluidity and motion, and allows Collins to create complex melodies with ease.|
|Tone control||Collins uses tone control to shape the sound of the slide guitar, creating subtle and nuanced variations in tone that give the solo its emotional depth and range.|
The slide guitar work in “Free Bird” is a testament to Collins’ incredible talent and his dedication to mastering the instrument. The song remains one of the most iconic and enduring classics in rock history, and the slide guitar work is a big reason why.
‘I Feel Alright’ by Steve Earle
Steve Earle’s “I Feel Alright” is a great example of how slide guitar can add a gritty edge to a country song. The riff, played on an electric guitar with a slide, is simple yet powerful. It consists of quick, repeated notes played on the E and B strings, creating a pulsing effect that drives the song forward.
Here are some key details about the slide guitar riff in “I Feel Alright”:
- The riff is played on an electric guitar with the slide on the ring finger of the left hand.
- The guitar is tuned to standard tuning, with no open tunings used.
- The riff is primarily played using the fourth and fifth frets on the B and E strings, respectively.
- The slide is used to quickly slide between these notes, creating a smooth transition between them.
One of the most notable aspects of this riff is the way it interacts with the rest of the instruments in the song. The slide guitar works in tandem with the drums and bass to create a driving, rhythmic feel that propels the song forward. At the same time, the sharpness of the slide guitar’s piercing notes adds an abrasive edge to the track, fitting in with Earle’s raw, urgent vocals.
The slide guitar on “I Feel Alright” is a great example of how this technique can be used to create a dynamic, powerful sound in country music. Its simple yet effective riff leaves a lasting impression and complements Earle’s gritty, authentic style.
‘Copperhead Road’ by Steve Earle
One of the most recognizable and iconic slide guitar riffs in country music is heard in Steve Earle’s song, “Copperhead Road.” The song was released in 1988 and tells the story of a Vietnam War veteran who returns home and gets involved in the illicit moonshine business. The slide guitar riff in this song is characterized by its gritty and edgy sound, reflecting the rebellious spirit of the song’s protagonist.
Copperhead Road Slide Guitar Riff Analysis
The slide guitar riff in “Copperhead Road” is played in Open G tuning, which is a common tuning for slide guitar in country music. The riff is played using a metal or glass slide, and requires precision and control to achieve the desired sound. Here is a breakdown of the riff:
|3rd||2||Slide up to 4th fret|
|1st||2||Slide up to 4th fret|
The riff is based on a simple chord progression, with the notes of the riff outlining the chords. The chords used in the song are G, D, and C, with the riff being played over the G and D chords.
The slide guitar riff in “Copperhead Road” is an excellent example of how slide guitar can add grit and energy to a song. It’s a classic riff that has been emulated by many guitarists over the years, and remains a fan favorite to this day.
‘Tulsa Time’ by Don Williams
One of the most memorable slide guitar riffs in country music belongs to “Tulsa Time” by Don Williams. The song was released in 1978 and became a chart-topper both in the US and the UK.
The opening riff is played in the key of G, using the slide on the guitar’s fifth and fourth strings. The approach to slide guitar in this song is a mix of blues and country styles. Here is a breakdown of the riff:
|5th||G||Slide Up to A|
|4th||C||Slide Up to D|
|5th||A||Slide Up to Bb|
|4th||D||Slide Up to Eb|
The slide guitar solo in the middle of the song is equally impressive, highlighting the great tone and skillful phrasing of the player.
Overall, “Tulsa Time” by Don Williams is a prime example of how slide guitar can be used to elevate a country song and make it more memorable.
‘Little Sister’ by Dwight Yoakam
Dwight Yoakam’s cover of the classic rock and roll song, “Little Sister”, features a mesmerizing slide guitar riff that perfectly captures the essence of country music. This iconic riff was originally created by legendary rock and roll guitarist, Scotty Moore, for Elvis Presley’s rendition of the song. However, Yoakam’s version introduces some unique nuances to the riff, which makes it stand out as one of the best slide guitar moments in country music history.
The mesmerizing riff in “Little Sister” is characterized by its repetitive yet intricate nature, which showcases the slide guitar’s versatility and expressive potential. It features a series of quick slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs that create a mesmerizing sound. If you’re looking to learn how to play this riff, it’s important to note that you should have a good understanding of both fingerpicking and slide techniques.
Here’s a closer look at the slide guitar tablature for the main riff in “Little Sister”:
To play this riff, you’ll need to use your middle finger to slide up from the 5th fret to the 7th fret on the 1st string. Then, use your index finger to pull-off from the 7th fret to the 5th fret on the same string. Next, use your ring finger to hammer-on from the 5th fret to the 7th fret on the 2nd string. After that, use your index finger to pull-off from the 7th fret to the 5th fret on the 1st string. Finally, use your ring finger to slide down from the 5th fret to the 3rd fret on the 2nd string, and use your index finger to pull-off from the 3rd fret to the 1st fret on the same string.
Playing slide guitar in country music requires a unique set of techniques and approaches that are different from those used in other genres. However, with practice and dedication, anyone can learn how to create their own iconic slide guitar riffs just like the masters of the craft.
‘Shameless’ by Billy Joel
One other country classic that features a memorable slide guitar riff is Billy Joel’s “Shameless.” The song was originally written by country artist and songwriter, Billy Burnette, but it was Billy Joel who popularized it with his rendition in 1989.
The slide guitar in “Shameless” adds a distinctive twangy quality to the song’s sound that is immediately recognizable. The guitar solo that features the slide adds a touch of melancholy to the track and acts as a perfect counterpoint to Joel’s heartfelt vocals.
Here are some techniques used in the slide guitar solo in “Shameless”:
- Slides Between Notes: The guitarist uses slides to move between notes, creating a smooth and fluid sound. This sliding technique is used extensively throughout the solo, giving it a unique sound.
- Vibrato: The guitarist also employs vibrato to add a touch of subtlety and emotion to their playing. Vibrato is a technique where the player bends the note slightly and then releases it, creating a wavering effect. This adds depth and texture to the solo.
- Use of Muted Strings: In certain parts of the solo, the guitarist uses muted strings to create a percussive effect. This technique is often used in country music and adds a rhythmic quality to the playing.
Overall, “Shameless” is a great example of how slide guitar can be used in country music to add a sense of emotion and feeling to a song. The iconic slide guitar riff in this song is one of the reasons why it has remained popular with country fans for over three decades.
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Techniques and Approaches to Play Slide Guitar in Country Music
Learning how to play slide guitar in country music can be a perplexing but rewarding experience. With the right techniques and approaches, a player can create soulful and iconic riffs that capture the heart of the genre. Mastery of the slide can take time, but with dedication and practice, anyone can learn to play like the greats. In this section, we’ll explore some of the essential techniques and approaches for playing slide guitar in country music that will help you achieve that signature sound.
Choosing the Right Slide
One of the most critical steps in playing slide guitar in country music is choosing the right slide. Using the wrong slide can result in poor tone quality and intonation issues. There are various factors to consider when selecting a slide, such as the material, size, and thickness.
Slides can be made out of various materials, each producing different tones. Glass slides, for example, offer a warm, smooth, and rounded sound. Metal slides, such as brass or steel, create a bright and cutting tone, while ceramic slides provide a mellow and balanced sound. Ultimately, the material you choose comes down to your personal preference.
The size of the slide is also essential, as it affects playability and comfort. A slide that is too small will not provide sufficient coverage over the strings, resulting in muting or buzzing. On the other hand, a slide that is too large can be uncomfortable and challenging to maneuver. The ideal slide size should cover all the strings without impeding the movement of the fingers on the fretboard.
The thickness of the slide is another crucial factor that impacts the tone and playability. Generally, thicker slides produce a warmer tone with more sustain, while thinner slides allow for greater flexibility and speed when playing. However, thicker slides can be challenging to control and require more pressure to play clean notes.
|Glass||Warm, smooth and rounded sound||Can break easily|
|Metal||Bright and cutting tone||Can be heavy and uncomfortable|
|Ceramic||Mellow and balanced sound||Less common and more fragile|
Choosing the right slide for country music is a critical step to achieve the desired tone and playability. When selecting a slide, consider the material, size, and thickness to find the perfect fit for your playing style and sound preferences.
Adjusting Guitar Action and String Gauges
When it comes to playing slide guitar in country music, adjusting your guitar’s action and string gauges can make all the difference in achieving that perfect tone and feel. Action refers to the distance between the fretboard and the strings, and the higher the action, the harder it can be to play slide. String gauge refers to the thickness of the strings, and thicker strings can provide a fuller sound but may be more difficult to play with a slide.
To adjust your guitar’s action, you may need to make some changes to the saddle height or truss rod. You can also experiment with different bridges and saddles to find the right balance between string height and tone quality. It may take some trial and error, so be patient and don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional guitar technician if needed.
Choosing the right string gauge is also important for playing slide guitar. Thicker strings can give you a fuller tone and more sustain, but they can also make it more difficult to play with a slide because of the added tension. Lighter gauge strings can be easier to play slide with, but they may not provide the same depth of tone. You can try experimenting with different sets of strings until you find the right balance between ease of playing and sound quality.
Below is a table outlining different string gauges and their corresponding thickness in inches and millimeters:
|String Gauge||Thickness (in)||Thickness (mm)|
Remember, adjusting your guitar’s action and string gauges can take time and patience. But with persistence and careful attention, you’ll be able to find the perfect setup for your slide guitar playing in no time.
The Art of Vibrato
When playing slide guitar in country music, one of the most crucial techniques is the art of vibrato. Vibrato is the slight variation in pitch that adds character and emotion to a note. It can be achieved in several ways, and the choice of approach depends on the player’s style and preference.
Hand Vibrato is a common technique used by many slide guitar players in country music. It involves moving your fretting hand back and forth to create a slight oscillation in pitch. This is done by applying pressure to the string with the slide and then wobbling the slide back and forth in a controlled manner. It’s essential to keep the vibrato subtle and in time with the music.
Finger Vibrato is another technique that can be used to achieve vibrato on a slide guitar. It involves bending the string with your fretting hand fingers rather than the slide. A finger vibrato can be achieved in two ways. The first involves using your index and middle finger to apply pressure to the string and then oscillating the string back and forth. The second method involves using your index finger to bend the string and then letting it spring back for a subtle vibrato effect.
Arm Vibrato is another technique that can be used to achieve vibrato on a slide guitar. It involves moving your entire arm back and forth, resulting in a broader and more pronounced vibrato. This technique is often used in slow country ballads or blues songs, where a more extended and expressive vibrato is desired.
It’s essential to practice and experiment with different vibrato techniques to find the one that suits your style and enhances the emotion of the music you’re playing. By mastering the art of vibrato in slide guitar playing, you can add depth and character to your playing and create a unique sound that sets your country music apart.
|Hand Vibrato||Moving your fretting hand back and forth to create a slight oscillation in pitch by wobbling the slide|
|Finger Vibrato||Bending the string with your fretting hand fingers rather than the slide, using index and middle finger or index finger|
|Arm Vibrato||Moving your entire arm back and forth to create broader and more pronounced vibrato, often used in slow country ballads or blues songs|
Fingerpicking vs. Flatpicking
One factor that can greatly affect the sound and style of slide guitar playing in country music is the choice between fingerpicking and flatpicking. Both techniques have their advantages and unique characteristics, so it ultimately comes down to personal preference and the desired sound.
Fingerpicking involves using your fingers to pluck and strum the strings instead of using a pick. This technique allows for more control over the individual notes and can create a more intricate and dynamic sound. It also allows for the simultaneous playing of melody and rhythm, making it a popular choice in country music.
Flatpicking, on the other hand, involves using a pick to strike the strings. This technique yields a crisper and more distinct sound, and can be ideal for playing fast and intricate runs. It is also well-suited for playing with a band, as it can cut through the mix of other instruments.
To better understand the differences between the two techniques, let’s take a look at this comparison table:
|Advantages||– More control over individual notes
– Can play simultaneous melody and rhythm
|– Crisper and distinct sound
– Ideal for fast and intricate runs
– Cuts through a mix of instruments in a band setting
|Disadvantages||– Can be harder to play fast and intricate runs
– Takes time and practice to develop coordination between fingers
|– Less control over individual notes
– Cannot play simultaneous melody and rhythm
So, whether you choose to fingerpick or flatpick when playing slide guitar in country music, it’s important to remember that both techniques have their strengths and weaknesses. It’s up to you as the player to decide which technique suits your personal style and the desired sound you want to achieve.
Using Open Tunings
Using open tunings is another popular technique for playing slide guitar in country music. Open tunings involve tuning the guitar to a chord instead of the standard tuning. This approach allows the slide to glide smoothly over the strings, leading to a distinct and rich sound.
The most common open tunings in country music include:
|D G D G B D||D||“Statesboro Blues” by Taj Mahal, “One Way Out” by The Allman Brothers Band|
|G B D G B D||G||“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” by The Rolling Stones, “Tumbling Dice” by Linda Ronstadt|
|E B E G# B E||E||“Rollin’ and Tumblin'” by Muddy Waters, “Death Letter” by Son House|
|C G C G C E||C||“Love in Vain” by Robert Johnson, “Walking Blues” by Son House|
When using open tunings, it’s important to be familiar with the chord shapes and finger positions, as they may differ from the standard tuning. Additionally, experimenting with different slide positions on the fretboard can create unique sounds and inspire new ideas.
Some famous slide guitar players in country music who have used open tunings include Ry Cooder, who often uses open D tuning, and Sonny Landreth, who frequently uses open E tuning. Lowel George, a guitarist and founding member of the band Little Feat, was also known for his use of open tunings in his slide playing.
Using open tunings is a versatile and exciting way to explore the possibilities of slide guitar in country music. Whether playing traditional or electric country, incorporating open tunings can add depth and character to your slide guitar playing.
Famous Slide Guitar Players in Country Music
When it comes to slide guitar in country music, there are a few legendary musicians who come to mind. These artists have not only elevated the sound of slide guitar in the genre, but have influenced countless musicians around the world. Their unique styles and approaches to playing slide have left an indelible mark on country music. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the most notable slide guitar players in country music history.
When talking about slide guitar players in country music, Sonny Landreth is a name that often comes up. Landreth is known for his unique approach to slide guitar, incorporating techniques such as fretting behind the slide and using multiple tunings.
One of Landreth’s defining characteristics as a slide player is his use of fingerstyle playing. Instead of using a pick, he uses his fingers to pluck the strings and create a more intricate sound. This technique allows for greater control over dynamics and adds a layer of complexity to his playing.
Another aspect of Landreth’s approach to slide guitar is his use of multiple tunings. He often switches between tunings mid-song, creating a unique sound and adding another layer of complexity to his playing. Some of the tunings he uses include open E, open D, and open G.
Fretting Behind the Slide
Landreth also incorporates a technique known as fretting behind the slide. This technique involves using the fingers of the fretting hand to create notes behind the slide, adding more depth and complexity to his playing.
Here is a table summarizing some of the techniques and approaches Sonny Landreth uses in his slide guitar playing:
|Fingerstyle Playing||Using fingers instead of a pick for greater control and complexity|
|Multiple Tunings||Switching between tunings to create a unique sound|
|Fretting Behind the Slide||Using fingers to create notes behind the slide for added depth and complexity|
Sonny Landreth’s approach to slide guitar in country music has influenced many other players in the genre. His use of fingerstyle playing, multiple tunings, and fretting behind the slide have greatly contributed to his unique sound and style.
When talking about famous slide guitar players in country music, it’s impossible not to mention the legendary Ry Cooder. A multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Cooder is widely regarded as one of the most influential slide guitar players of all time. He has collaborated with some of the biggest names in music, including The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Neil Young.
Cooder began playing guitar at a young age and was mentored by legendary folk musician Woody Guthrie. He quickly mastered the slide guitar technique and incorporated a unique sound that blended country, blues, and rock. His dynamic slide guitar playing has been heard on numerous soundtracks and albums, including the Grammy-winning “Buena Vista Social Club.”
What sets Cooder’s slide guitar playing apart is his ability to blend different styles and create a unique sound that is instantly recognizable. He often uses unconventional objects as slides, like a credit card or a glass bottleneck, to achieve different tones and textures. His use of open tunings and fingerpicking techniques adds to the complexity and depth of his music.
Here is an overview of some of Ry Cooder’s most memorable slide guitar riffs:
|Jesus on the Mainline||Paradise and Lunch||1974|
|Crazy ‘Bout an Automobile||The Slide Area||1982|
|The Very Thing That Makes You Rich (Makes Me Poor)||Bop Till You Drop||1979|
|Paris, Texas||Soundtrack from the Motion Picture||1985|
|Down in Hollywood||Bop Till You Drop||1979|
As you can see, Ry Cooder’s slide guitar playing has left an indelible mark on country music. His unique sound and innovative techniques have inspired countless musicians and will continue to do so for generations to come.
Duane Allman is perhaps one of the most influential slide guitarists in the history of country music. Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1946, Allman learned to play guitar at a young age and quickly developed a passion for the blues. In the 1960s, he formed the Allman Brothers Band with his brother Gregg, fusing blues, rock, and country influences to create a unique sound that forever changed the face of American music.
Allman’s slide guitar playing was a crucial element of the Allman Brothers Band’s sound, and his contributions to classic songs like “Statesboro Blues” and “Whipping Post” helped define the genre. He was a master of both acoustic and electric slide guitar, and his approach was characterized by a soulful intensity and a deep emotional connection to the music.
One of Allman’s key techniques was his use of vibrato, which he employed to great effect on songs like “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and “Soulshine”. His tone was also distinct, with a rich, warm sound that was both powerful and expressive.
Here’s a table summarizing some of the key aspects of Duane Allman’s slide guitar playing:
|Vibrato||Allman used a wide, expressive vibrato to add emotion and intensity to his playing.|
|Tone||Allman’s tone was warm, rich, and powerful, with a distinctively southern feel.|
|Approach||Allman’s approach was characterized by a deep emotional connection to the music, and a willingness to experiment and take risks.|
|Influence||Many slide guitarists, both in and outside of country music, have cited Allman as a key influence on their playing.|
Despite his early death in a motorcycle accident at the age of just 24, Duane Allman’s impact on country music continues to be felt to this day. His innovative slide guitar playing and his willingness to push the boundaries of the genre set the stage for a new era of country music, one that was defined by experimentation, innovation, and a deep love for the blues.
Buddy Emmons was a legendary steel guitar player who made significant contributions to country and western music. His innovative techniques and approach to playing the steel guitar made him a highly sought-after session musician in Nashville. Here are some fascinating facts about this iconic musician:
- Early Life: Buddy Emmons was born in Indiana in 1937 and started playing the steel guitar at the age of 11. He quickly became skilled at the instrument and started playing professionally in his teenage years.
- Session Work: In the 1950s, Emmons moved to Nashville to become a session musician. His innovative playing style and use of pedals and knee levers quickly made him a highly sought-after player. He played on many iconic recordings, including works by Ray Price, Ernest Tubb, and Roger Miller.
- Instrument Design: Emmons worked with guitar manufacturers to design and create a new type of steel guitar that included 10 strings instead of eight, providing greater range and versatility for the player.
- Beyond Country Music: Emmons’ playing style went beyond traditional country music. He played with jazz musicians and recorded albums that showcased his versatility on the steel guitar, such as his album “Steel Guitar Jazz.”
- Awards and Recognition: Emmons was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to country and western music. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association.
Buddy Emmons’ influence on country and western music cannot be overstated. He inspired generations of steel guitar players and his innovative playing techniques continue to be used and admired today. His legacy lives on through his recordings and the continued popularity of the steel guitar in country music.
Lowell George was a renowned American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer who was born in Hollywood, California, in 1945. He was a prominent participant in the “Roots Rock” movement in the early 1970s, and was best known as the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of the band Little Feat.
George was highly regarded for his exceptional slide guitar skills, and his mastery of the technique is evident on many of Little Feat’s most notable songs. He had a unique approach to slide guitar playing that involved intricate, melodic lines and a distinctive tone that was heavily influenced by the blues.
Some of Lowell George’s most famous slide guitar riffs can be heard on Little Feat songs such as “Fat Man in the Bathtub,” “Willin’,” and “Dixie Chicken.” His slide guitar work on these tracks showcases his ability to blend intricate, melodic lines with percussive techniques, creating a sound that was both complex and highly rhythmic.
George’s use of open tunings was also a hallmark of his slide guitar playing style. He often employed open G and open C tunings, which allowed him to produce bold and distinctive chord progressions that were tailor-made for his slide guitar playing.
In addition to his slide guitar work, George was also highly regarded for his vocal abilities and songwriting skills. He had a distinctive voice that was at once soulful and gritty, and his songs often explored themes of love, heartache, and the struggles of everyday life.
Despite his untimely death at the age of 34, Lowell George left an indelible mark on the world of slide guitar and country music as a whole. His influence can be heard in the work of countless musicians who came after him, and his legacy as a musician and songwriter continues to be celebrated by fans around the world.
After exploring the history, iconic riffs, techniques, and famous slide guitar players in country music, it’s clear that slide guitar has played an essential role in the genre’s development and success.
From the early days of country music, slide guitar has been used to add a certain twang to the sound, giving it a distinctive character. With the rise of electric instruments, slide guitar techniques were able to evolve and expand, with players like Sonny Landreth and Ry Cooder pushing the boundaries of what slide guitar could do in the genre.
When it comes to iconic riffs, there are countless examples of slide guitar being used to create memorable hooks and melodies. From Garth Brooks’ ‘Friends in Low Places’ to Dwight Yoakam’s ‘Little Sister,’ slide guitar has left an indelible mark on some of country music’s most beloved tracks.
As for techniques and approaches, there are several key elements to playing slide guitar effectively in a country context. Whether it’s choosing the right slide, adjusting guitar action and string gauges, or mastering vibrato, every element plays a crucial role in achieving that signature slide guitar sound.
And of course, we must acknowledge the contributions of some of country music’s most talented slide guitar players. From the late, great Duane Allman to the innovative Sonny Landreth, these guitarists have helped define the sound of country music through their use of slide guitar.
All in all, it’s clear that slide guitar will continue to play a critical role in the future of country music. Whether it’s through new techniques and approaches or by building on the genre’s rich history, there’s no denying that slide guitar is a staple of country music and will remain so for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is slide guitar?
Slide guitar is a technique of playing guitar where a tube, known as a slide or bottleneck, is used to slide up and down the strings instead of pressing the strings with the fingers directly.
What is the difference between fingerpicking and flatpicking?
Fingerpicking is a guitar playing technique where the strings are plucked with the fingers, while flatpicking uses a guitar pick to strum the strings.
What are open tunings?
Open tunings are when the guitar is tuned so that the strings are tuned to a chord, allowing the player to create a specific sound or drone.
Why is vibrato important in slide guitar?
Vibrato is important in slide guitar as it creates a sense of pitch wavering and tension, adding character and emotion to the sound.
What is the best type of slide for country slide guitar?
The best type of slide for country slide guitar is a glass slide, as it provides a sweeter and smoother sound compared to metal slides.
What guitar string gauges are commonly used for slide guitar?
Commonly used guitar string gauges for slide guitar are heavier than the usual gauge, with ranges from .011 to .013 inches for the high E string and .014 to .018 inches for the low E string.
What famous country songs are known to use slide guitar?
Famous country songs that are known to use slide guitar include ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ by George Jones, ‘Friends in Low Places’ by Garth Brooks, and ‘Copperhead Road’ by Steve Earle.
Who are some of the most iconic slide guitar players in country music?
Some of the most iconic slide guitar players in country music include Sonny Landreth, Ry Cooder, and Duane Allman.
Can you use slide guitar in other genres besides country?
Yes, slide guitar can be used in other genres besides country, including blues, rock, and even metal.
Why is slide guitar important in the history of country music?
Slide guitar is important in the history of country music as it creates a distinct sound that is unique and memorable, adding to the overall emotion and storytelling of the songs.