Slide Your Way to the Top
I love the expressiveness that comes from playing slide guitar. Whether you’re playing single-string solos or really fat slide riffs accompanying a heavy blues - the possibilities are endless! The biggest detractor from me playing slide used to be the often time consuming task of retuning my guitar to various open tunings. But since Gibson introduced the G FORCE™ automatic tuning system a few years back retuning your guitar is a breeze. So now that there's really no excuse for you to not try your hand at slide guitar let's take a look at five excellent slide tunes
Johnny Winter - “Highway 61 Revisited”
If you want a challenge for the long dark winter months that lay ahead, why not tackle the solo that has set the standard for slide guitar ever since it came out? Johnny Winter forged a style and sound all his own with his Gibson Firebird and slide playing which remained second to none up until the end. I had the privilege of seeing Winter a year prior to his death, and "Highway 61 Revisited" sounded just as electric and inspired as it did on this recording from the mid-seventies:
White Stripes - “Little Bird”
I've always enjoyed Jack White's slide guitar playing. Jack has picked up much of his style from old blues guitarists that he himself is a fan of, like Son House and Blind Willie McTell. Jack's slide guitar style is often characterized by little riffs that accompany his singing, like in “Little Bird” from The White Stripes’ second album De Stijl. It's an excellent song to learn for someone who is just beginning to figure out slide and maybe wants to be able to sing and play at the same time.
Captain Beefheart - “Sure ‘Nuff ’N Yes I Do”
Perhaps one of the most underrated musicians in terms of commercial success is Captain Beefheart, who put out a steady stream of albums that pushed the envelope as far as what you can do with rock and blues during the seventies. “Sure ‘Nuff ’N Yes I Do” is probably one of the Captain's most well known songs, and its simple 12-bar blues structure is equally as fun to listen to as it is to play along with the catchy slide riffs.
Aerosmith - “Draw the Line”
Joe Perry's infectious slide work that form the backbone of one of the last classic Aerosmith songs has always been a live favorite of mine. The main riff is fairly simple but to actually get a handle on the intricacies of all of Perry’s slide riffs throughout the song is quite a daunting, yet fun, task.
Son House - “Death Letter”
This haunting Delta blues classic by Son House has been covered far and wide by many guitarists, but it's House's original recordings that still set the standard for the way this powerful slide guitar song is played. The tragic tale told through the lyrics are echoed in the frantic nature of Son House's slide work. Just like with Jack White's “Little Bird,” this song is an excellent one to take on if you want to practice singing and playing slide at the same time.