Best setup for slide

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by golfnut, Jul 30, 2021.

  1. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    2,854
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    I have 2 telecasters. I played each one at band practice this week, taking one for one night and the other for the second night of practice. I found that one of the tele's just sounded better and responded better for slide. So I'm thinking of just dedicating this tele for slide playing and open tunings.
    So I'm thinking of tweaking the relief just very slightly to attain a slightly higher action. It doesn't need to be much higher, maybe just a hair. Also thinking of increasing the string gauge just slightly, which also might bring the action up just slightly. Right now I have a custom set on 10, 13, 17, 18, 38, 48. I'm thinking of just a regular medium set 11, 14, 18, 28, 38, 49. So my question, will these changes improve clarity and ease for slide playing? I play a bluesy slide with medium to low gain and sometimes even clean (slight dirt with a kingsley page) Playing cleaner its a bit tougher to get it smooth sounding. The frets seem to make a bit of noise if I'm not careful which is why I was thinking a bit higher action would help. Not sure if the bigger gauge strings will help with that but I do like the sound of bigger gauge strings. The custom set I already use is the biggest I can go and still able to do some of the bends I do for non slide playing so I'll keep my other tele as is.
    Maybe my most important question is, is it an acceptable way of getting the action slightly higher just to increase the string height slightly. I don't want to get in to raising each individual string from the 3 barell saddles because I know I'll just screw it up. So a 14 to half turn of the neck relief would raise it enough.
     
  2. Matt Sarad

    Matt Sarad Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,358
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2003
    Location:
    Buckers Field!
    I play slide on my lap steel or SG.
    I use my Teles for picking.
     
  3. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    2,854
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    Yes I used to have an SG and it was great for slide. Maybe one day again. But I have 2 teles now and thats it for electrics for me for the foreseeable future.
    So my questions are for the tele I perceive as being the best sounding for slide. My other tele is for picking.
     
  4. KATT

    KATT Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    436
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Location:
    Essex, England
    The increased tension on the heavier gauge strings will help if you have a tendency to press too hard on the slide and hit the frets.

    What is it about raising the saddle height that you are worried about? It's one of the easier adjustments to make and you can also set the strings in a straight line rather than following the radius of the fretboard. Increasing neck relief will also help in avoiding hitting the frets. I would do both.
     
    60telepicker and golfnut like this.
  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    76
    Posts:
    7,191
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2018
    Location:
    Washington
    I play slide on almost every guitar in my quiver but I have a couple that are optimized for it. First, you need to think about your playing style. Are you playing in standard tuning (mostly pentatonic lead stuff) or will you be playing in an open tuning? If an open tuning will you tune down to open G or D or up to A or E? Will you use only one tuning or several? Will you be combining fretted notes with your slide notes? At the same time? Will you be doing full barres with your slide (all six strings)? How particular are you about intonation when you are playing slide? What shape and weight of slide do you use?

    Rather than waiting for answers to all of those I'll tell you what I prefer. I only play slide in open tunings, I've never mastered standard. On my acoustic guitars I always tune down (open D, G, C) and play heavier gauge strings to get more tension. On my electric guitars I tune up (A, E) because I want additional tension. I try to flatten my string radius as much as I can and I typically raise my action about 10 thousands over what I would want for standard finger style play (I play fingerstyle when doing slide). I like the action just high enough that I can barre all six strings cleaning on the 1st and 6th but not hit the frets on the middle strings - I dampen behind the slide and that helps control the pressure when barring.

    If I was going to set up an electric guitar for primarily slide I would go up two standard string gauges from what I would normally play on it. I would intonate those strings for the tuning I wanted to use (G and D), I want fretted notes to be in tune, slide notes take care of them self., Depending on the radius of the fretboard I would try to flatten the strings as much as I could. Nut action might be a couple of thou higher, 12th fret action about 10 thou higher.

    Slide right on in
     
    mad dog, Obsessed, Flaneur and 2 others like this.
  6. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    2,854
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    My slide playing currently is standard tuning. But I'm looking at experimenting with open tunings. For now on stage I'd use the guitar as my primary slide guitar and for some songs that use low e and sometimes high e tuned down to d. I do prefer heavier slides, my 2 favorite being an old brass slide I have and a ceramic. Occasionally I use a glass slide thats light but not often. So right now the way my setup is I have to be very careful with how hard I'm pressing but with the heavier slides its hard. The radius is 9.5. I think going up 2 gauges would be tough. I commonly mix some fretted picking with slide and 2 gauges might be about 12 or 13's. My custom set is in between 10 and 11's. However I may experiment with 12's. I was going to start with 11's which is slightly up. To go up 2 gauges I'd have to probably take it to my tech to get the nut adjusted. Which is not a biggie.
     
  7. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    2,854
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    My eye isn't good and I've messed it up in the passed, getting the strings at slightly different heights and had a hard time getting them even again. Its hard for me to see but I can feel it off.
     
  8. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    6,774
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2003
    Location:
    Athens-GREECE
    You don't set action by adjusting relief.
    You adjust saddle height.

    You can play slide on any guitar and string gauge (Duane Alman used light 010-038 strings ,basically a mixture of 08s on the bottom and 010s on the top).

    Still if you want to dedicate a guitar to slide heavy FLATWOUND strings and a high action will be the best option.
     
    soundchaser59 and FenderGyrl like this.
  9. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    2,854
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    Interesting. I haven't any experience using flatwounds but from what I read it seems the tonal characteristics are opposite of what I would want. One thing, supposedly they have much less sustain. Infact I use my cali76 CD to increase sustain which I find beneficial for slide. Would love a sliderig.
     
  10. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    2,854
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    Yes you are correct. But giving slightly more relief does slightly raise the action. Infact just putting a heavier gauge string on will most likely pull it up some. I'm not understanding fully the cons of getting a little higher action this way.
    Most likely when I've decided on the thicker gauge I'll use I'll likely take it to a pro tech to have it setup perfectly for that gauge for slide.
     
  11. dougstrum

    dougstrum Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,726
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2015
    Location:
    blu ridge mtn cabin
    When I play slide I just use the guitar I have strapped on, no dedicated slide guitar.
    I use standard 10-13-17-26-36-46. I set neck relief flat and show about 4/32" clearance at 12th fret.

    I would not mess with the truss rod if your neck is straight. Adjust action at the saddles. Measure what you have at 12th fret to get a baseline; then try 1/2 turn on the screws across all three saddles. You can do it, really can't mess anything upo_O
     
    old wrench likes this.
  12. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    6,774
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2003
    Location:
    Athens-GREECE
    Listen to Ry Cooder.
    He ,along with many other slide players, uses fw strings.
    If you like the sound give them a try.
     
    douellette and FenderGyrl like this.
  13. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    2,854
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    Yes generally I do to. But this one particular tele I have a 52 CS I bought about a year ago, is setup perfectly for my picking and regular playing but when I try slide on it, its near impossible. I think the sounds of the pickups don't help. Its just not a great guitar for slide and I've historically played slide on whatever has been in my hands. Since I have the other tele that is basically just a less expensive (but great guitar) that I have as a backup I thought I'd optimize it for slide. I wanted to mainly go up in gauge not necessarily because I thought it would benefit slide playing (although I hope it does) but because I love the tone of heavier gauge strings on a telecaster but anything from 11's and thicker really limit some types of bends and things I do. So I figured I'd use the tele optimized for slide for some picking as well but my other tele would be the primary picking guitar.
     
    mandofrog and dougstrum like this.
  14. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    2,854
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    I just picked up a set of 11's, which is slightly heavier than what I was using. The guitar already doesn't play bad for slide in relation to string height. Maybe the slightly heavier gauge will bring it up just enough to be perfect with out any adjustments. And it will still be acceptable for some picking.
     
    dougstrum likes this.
  15. Telecentric

    Telecentric Tele-Holic

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    774
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2016
    Location:
    Boulder Creek, Ca
    FWIW, I have a tele set up with flatwound 12's for slide and it just kills. The string tension is enough to raise the string height, and the tone is awesome. As long as you don't try to do any bending (wound G string) it is the perfect electric slide setup (IMHO). Add a bit of compression and it sustains for days.
     
    douellette and FenderGyrl like this.
  16. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    2,854
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    I just bought the D'addario XL 11-49. Since I'm simply in the experimental phase I'll try a set of flat wounds as well. Likely won't go any heavier than 11's. I wouldn't want a wound G as I'd probably do the occasional bends as the guitar would have some limited regular picking on it. Rhythmic songs with simple picking (emphasizing some lower string, lower notes) would be perfect for the 11's which is heavier than I normally play. I've tried 12's before and I find it really neuters the tele twang a bit too much.
     
    Telecentric likes this.
  17. dougstrum

    dougstrum Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,726
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2015
    Location:
    blu ridge mtn cabin
    11's will probably keep you off the frets.

    Intonation will most likely need some adjustment with the heavier gauge.
     
    golfnut likes this.
  18. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    2,854
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    Yes I figured I'd have to tweak the intonation somewhat.
     
  19. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,861
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2005
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Truss rod relief only gives you more height in the middle of the fretboard. You will still have fret rattle around and above the 12th fret. The effect of using heavier strings is the same.

    Raising the saddles gives you more height across the whole fretboard. If you are worried about mucking it up, just be systematic. Raise all the saddles the same amount. I'd go 1/4 turn on each then check. If necessary do another 1/4 turn and check again. Keep a tally of how many 1/4 turns you've made so you can undo if necessary. Also measure the height of each string at the 12th fret before you start so you have a baseline to go back to. Slacken the strings a little before raising saddles to avoid stripping the threads, and tune back up to check. (No need to slacken them if you are lowering the saddles.)

    This will keep your existing string radius, which probably matches your fretboard radius for non-slide playing. It will be like what you have now but with less fret rattle. But as Freeman points out, you may come to prefer a flatter radius for slide for using a full barre across the strings with the slide. This is so the slide contacts each string equally and you don't end up slightly pushing down on the middle strings (which then go sharp) so as to be able to play the outside strings. If you mostly play single strings or adjacent strings, this doesn't matter.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2021
    Telecentric likes this.
  20. Telecentric

    Telecentric Tele-Holic

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    774
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2016
    Location:
    Boulder Creek, Ca
    Yeah, but when you are sliding the intonation doesn't matter quite so much. It does, but unless you are strumming full major chords or playing fretted notes (as you mentioned you will) intonation is all in the left hand. And slide vibrato is a major part of playing slide....
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.