A Crash Course on Sliding: A Legato Technique Master Guitarists Love

slide guitarist in action

‘Sliding’ is a unique and extremely popular legato technique and has equal significance for experienced guitarists and novices. Slides facilitate the effortless blending of two or more musical notes and aids in heightening guitar melody. Slides also enable your fingers to navigate seamlessly from one particular spot to another, while moving along the fret board.

One of the most awesome facts pertaining to sliding is that, it is relatively simple to grasp. You are sure to experience greater ease and confidence with the passage of time and dedicated practice.

Sliding into your target note

The very essence of sliding lies in the application of the right amount of pressure in order to enable effortless and quick transitions. Sliding into a target note is a swift one and presents an auditory effect of a single note instead of two. Start sliding from a couple of frets below the target note.

holding an open chord
Image of Pixabay

With minimal finger pressure, use the pick for striking the string somewhere in between the original and targeted frets. Let your finger pressure increase gradually so that you end up exerting full pressure at your target note. Ensure that your target note resonates cleanly by applying constant pressure on your fret board.

Sliding out of a particular note

In order to slide out of a guitar note, hold that particular note throughout its duration, slide your finger down your fret board and then bring it up again following a few frets. Use the first string and ninth fret note for picking the string normally. Allow the note to ring and slide your finger down while steadily releasing finger pressure. Withdraw your finger after a couple of frets.

Learning to play long slides

The term ‘long slide’ refers to ascending or descending slides which cover almost the entire length of the neck. The player releases finger pressure and consequently removes his/her finger from the string located at either end of the neck.

a man using slide technique to play guitar
Image Courtesy of YouTube

If an individual does not restrict the hand and release finger pressure while playing a long slide, he would end up hearing a stopping point. And if the player releases the string, then an open string would be heard.

Increasing your comfort level with these simple exercises

Practicing a number of basic sliding exercises immensely helps in raising your comfort levels. Engage in single string exercises where you are required to make use of your ring finger and index finger alternately for every slide, as you gradually ascend the fret board.

This fabulous technique aids in imparting a unique sound to your solos. You can also try out a simple technique of using slides for repeating picked target notes. There are interesting ways of using slides for moving through pentatonic scales in a slurred manner.

Dealing with the challenges of sliding

Even though sliding is a remarkably simple technique which can be grasped within a short span time of time, beginners might find this concept a bit challenging during the initial stages of learning.

slide rings
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Here are some fundamental strategies for steering clear of these challenges and enhancing your progress rate:

  • Avoid gripping your guitar neck too tightly as it can affect the sound quality of slides. Keep your grip slightly relaxed and ensure the free movement of your fretting hand.
  • If you find that your aim is not good enough, and you either have undershooting or overshooting tendencies, then closely watch the slide while executing it for a greater degree of accuracy.
  • In order to avoid uneven tones, press down on the string evenly with your sliding finger throughout the slide duration.
  • Your thumb has a significant role in this regard. While sliding, there is no need to move your thumb, provided that you can manage without it. However, longer slides demand thumb movement. When you navigate between frets, keep your grip relaxed without compromising on the required amount of pressure.

A few tips to ensure great ‘sliding’ experiences

Do keep these useful tips in mind so that you can anticipate some awe-inspiring and really enjoyable guitar playing sessions in future:

  • Over-sliding is far from being a good idea. Make use of legato sliding in appropriately for retaining its distinct character, rather than adopting this technique indiscriminately.
  • Take the help of slides in order to facilitate smooth navigation between different scale positions on the neck of your instrument.
  • Always be willing to innovate and experiment for discovering new secrets of playing
  • Try sliding more than one particular note at a time. It is possible to slide a couple of strings together. You might even consider acquiring chord sliding techniques.
  • Combine legato slides with pull-offs, vibrato, hammer-ons, or bends for creating wonderful effects.

This amazing legato technique is frequently adopted by lead players in a large number of musical pieces. The underlying reason is that slides possess the amazing power of providing guitar notes with a fresh lease on life.

Featured Image: Image Credit

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