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Old April 13th, 2007, 07:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand
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setting up a strat for slide

I've decided to set up my Tokai AST 56 Strat for slide and I'd appreciate any tips on how to get the best out of a Strat specifically for slide.

I've been playing standard tuning for years but only dabbled with a bit of acoustic slide. Now I play a lot of electric blues and want to explore electric slide.

The gat is a pretty good Japanese Strat copy, based on a 1956 Strat, with alder body, maple neck, vintage style bridge and all that. It has a slightly brittle glassy sound, so could do with warmer pickups, but acoustically it resonates fine.

The 7.25" fretboard radius doesn't seem ideal for slide, but I'm adjusting my technique around it, and I guess you could compensate for that by adjusting the saddles and maybe cutting a new nut so that the string radius is flatter than the fretboard radius. (Buying a guitar with a flatter radius isn't an option right now.) I use a glass bottleneck which is literally cut from the neck of a wine bottle, and it has a slight curve which compensates to some extent.

I've swapped my usual 10s out for 11s and it sounds far better for slide (meatier and chimier), and the action has raised a little, but other than that I haven't changed the action or done anything else.

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Old April 13th, 2007, 09:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I often play slide on guitars with a small problem.
Just set the action high enough so you can cover 3 strings without fretting them.
For Strats, I always block the trem or tighten the claw a lot.
Changing tunings is a nightmare if the bridge is floating.
Other than that, Strat is a great slide guitar.
Get yourself a Craftsman deep socket that fits your finger and a couple Little Feat albums (with Lowell George, please), and go to town!
If you keep using that wine bottle neck, sand down the sharp edge with some emery paper and watch out for the seams so you can avoid them hitting the strings....or not.
They can give you some cool crunchy sounds!
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Old April 15th, 2007, 05:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Yep, I've got some of old Lowell that I can dig out. In the meantime I've been getting down on some Muddy Waters tracks from around 1948-55, learning two of them for starters. It's wild! You can get a real vocal quality with a slide.

The bridge is pretty well anchored down, and I don't think my saddles will go any higher.

At the moment I'm just using what I already have lying around. The guitar was too good not to be used, and I liked the tone of the glass slide on acoustic. I'll try metal slides too.

There's a harsh high transient tone in the initial attack of a note that's annoying me. Could be the glass slide, or the brittleness of those pickups, or maybe I'm only half hitting adjacent strings through a combination of my rough technique and the curved radius. Apart from that I'm really enjoying it.
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Old April 17th, 2007, 01:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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that craftsman socket would be 11/16 as lowell's preference, btw. nice weight and sustain. (i keep trying glass ala ry and bonnie... it doesnt seem to sustain as well, but i do prefer it on acoustic for it's sweetness)


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Old April 17th, 2007, 02:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Make sure you raise the pick ups when you raise the strings. Count less people buy new pick ups, when all they need is an adjustment. ;)

When it comes to setting it up, make sure that it isn't so high it scrapes your fingers. I have never really used strats for slide, only Tele's and Acoustics...
"Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try." - Yoda.
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Old April 17th, 2007, 02:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by rand z View Post
that craftsman socket would be 11/16 as lowell's preference, btw. nice weight and sustain. (i keep trying glass ala ry and bonnie... it doesnt seem to sustain as well, but i do prefer it on acoustic for it's sweetness)


rand z
Try using one of those tall shot glasses. They sound pretty good on my acoustic lap steel.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 11:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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All good comments thanks. I went looking for a socket (second hand) but couldn't find one to fit my third finger properly (I just can't get the hang of sliding with the pinkie), so I settled for a Jim Dunlop brass slide. Sounds better than glass on electric to me.

I'm about to take the guitar into a luthier for a higher nut, and also a neck shim to raise the saddles (they're as high as they will go already).

So, some nitty gritty questions:

How much higher should the nut be?

I have to settle on which strings I'll use first, so should I stick to 11s or go for 12s or even 13s? What do you guys use?

Do you like/dislike a wound G for slide?
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Old May 8th, 2007, 03:26 AM   #8 (permalink)
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thats what i do:

since all the strats i ever owned had serious stringbraking-troubles, i replace the saddles with graphtechs. then i put in as many springs as possible. then i fasten the six bolts that keep the bridge in place. for open d-tuning 13-56 strings are the way to go, for open e i use 12-52. the action i set rally high, like 4 millimeters. its very good if you have a middlepickup with flat polepieces, since scarping your fingers on the things is a real pain. i have seen, that chris rea had the polepieces of his strat taped, so they don´t bother him no more. i just replaced the pickup. in the bridgeposition i run a twangbanger. i had a guitartech change the wiring to the famous lindy-fralin diagram, that is very cool for slide, plus he put a special cap to the vol-pot, so the trebel does not disappear so much, when i lower the volume. hope that helps. all the mods work also pretty good for "normal" strats imho. i bang really hard on my guitars, so i need a indistructable guitar. if you play very light, it may be a different story.
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