Slide Guitar Country Music: Mastering the Art of Slide Guitar in Country Music

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Slide guitar country music is a unique and captivating style of music that has been a staple of the genre for decades. This style of playing, which involves using a slide or a bottleneck to create gliding tones, has been used by some of the most legendary country musicians of all time. In this article, we will explore the history of slide guitar in country music, the techniques used to play it, and some of the most famous songs and musicians associated with this style.

The History of Slide Guitar in Country Music

The origins of slide guitar in country music can be traced back to the early days of blues and folk music. Slide guitar was first used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by African American musicians in the Deep South. These musicians would use a knife, a piece of pipe, or a glass bottleneck to slide along the strings of their guitars, creating a haunting, ethereal sound that was perfectly suited for the raw, emotional music they were playing.

Country musicians quickly picked up on this style of playing, and by the 1920s and 1930s, it had become a staple of the genre. Artists like Jimmie Rodgers and Blind Lemon Jefferson were some of the first to popularize slide guitar in country music, and their influence can still be heard in the music of today’s country musicians.

Techniques for Playing Slide Guitar

Playing slide guitar requires a unique set of techniques that can take some time to master. Here are a few of the most important things to keep in mind when learning to play slide guitar:

  • Choosing the Right Slide

    The slide is one of the most important tools for any slide guitarist. Slides can be made of glass, metal, or ceramic, and each has its own unique sound and feel. Glass slides tend to produce a brighter, more melodic sound, while metal slides have a darker, more gritty tone. Ceramic slides are a good middle ground, offering a warm, round sound that is perfect for country music.

  • Proper Technique

    When playing slide guitar, it’s important to use the correct technique. This means holding the slide lightly between your thumb and index finger, and resting it on the strings so that it is touching both the frets and the strings. This will allow you to create a smooth, gliding sound as you move the slide up and down the neck of the guitar.

  • Tuning

    Slide guitar is typically played in open tunings, such as open G or open D. This means that the strings are tuned to specific chords, which makes it easier to play slide guitar and creates a rich, resonant sound.

Famous Slide Guitar Country Songs

There are many famous slide guitar country songs that have become classics in the genre. Here are a few of the most well-known:

  • “The Wabash Cannonball” by Roy Acuff

    This classic country song features a memorable slide guitar riff that has become synonymous with the genre. The song tells the story of a legendary train, and the slide guitar adds a sense of movement and energy to the track.

  • “Orange Blossom Special” by Johnny Cash

    This up-tempo country song features a blistering slide guitar solo that is sure to get your foot tapping. The song tells the story of a fast train, and the slide guitar adds a sense of speed and excitement to the track.

  • “Mississippi Queen” by Mountain

    While not strictly a country song, this classic rock track features a memorable slide guitar riff that has been covered by many country musicians. The slide guitar adds a southern, bluesy feel to the track, making it a perfect fit for country music.

Famous Slide Guitar Country Musicians

There have been many famous slide guitar country musicians over the years. Here are a few of the most influential:

  • Duane Allman

    Duane Allman was a legendary slide guitarist who was a member of the Allman Brothers Band. While he is best known for his work in rock and blues, he also contributed slide guitar parts to country songs like “Blue Sky” and “Little Martha”.

  • Eric Clapton

    Eric Clapton is one of the most famous rock guitarists of all time, but he has also dabbled in country music. His slide guitar work on songs like “Lay Down Sally” and “Tears in Heaven” has become iconic in the genre.

  • Bonnie Raitt

    Bonnie Raitt is a country and blues singer-songwriter who is known for her powerful voice and impressive slide guitar skills. She has won numerous Grammy Awards for her music, and her slide guitar playing has been featured on many of her most popular songs.

Interested in exploring different aspects of guitar playing in country music? Check out our articles on tuning your guitar for country music, mastering rhythm guitar in country music, and the evolution of electric guitar in country music for a deeper dive into this popular genre.


Slide guitar country music is a unique and captivating style that has been a staple of the genre for decades. From its origins in blues and folk music to its current popularity in country music, slide guitar has remained a powerful and expressive way to play the guitar. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced musician, learning to play slide guitar is a rewarding and challenging experience that is sure to expand your musical horizons.

About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

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