Best setup for slide

bottlenecker

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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.

If it's really going to be setup for slide in an open tuning, I would use straight barrels and set them up with no compensation. This will keep chords in better tune as you move up the neck. And of course, raise them up. If you're going to do some fretting behind or in front of the slide, then you just have to decide where you want the intonation compromise.
 

Freeman Keller

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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....

Intonating a slide axe is a compromise. It sounds like the OP is playing mostly in standard tuning which means very little barreing and mostly single notes. Its pretty easy to adjust the note a few cents with the slide, in fact I mostly like to be just a hair flat as I slide into a note. Something like a lap steel or Weissenborn has no compensation, when you start fretting notes you need to think about it,
 

Dostradamas

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I am setting a esquire up for slide
New nut cut high and flat( no radius at nut)

Set saddles a bit higher and straight at scale length

A new set of 12 flat wounds

That should be all i need
 

Telecentric

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I am setting a esquire up for slide
New nut cut high and flat( no radius at nut)

Set saddles a bit higher and straight at scale length

A new set of 12 flat wounds

That should be all i need

Yup, that will work. But, as discussed, setting up flat is great if you plan on paying full major chords in an open tuning. I started that way, but over time changed to 2-3 string chord fragments and single string lines, so putting the radius back to normal makes string muting sooooo much easier. All depends on what you are playing. It sucks muting 5 strings on a single string run.
 

Dostradamas

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Yup, that will work. But, as discussed, setting up flat is great if you plan on paying full major chords in an open tuning. I started that way, but over time changed to 2-3 string chord fragments and single string lines, so putting the radius back to normal makes string muting sooooo much easier. All depends on what you are playing. It sucks muting 5 strings on a single string run.

I want to start with open tunings and as simple a set up as I can to start.
I am focusing on the tunings and left hand/ ear training at first.
Muting I imagine will be a long developing learning curve
 

Telecentric

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I want to start with open tunings and as simple a set up as I can to start.
I am focusing on the tunings and left hand/ ear training at first.
Muting I imagine will be a long developing learning curve

Ah, the sounds of strangled kittens:( :D

Muting is the hardest part. The greats mute behind the slide, as well as every unplayed string. It's a lot to think about once you stop playing all 6 strings. Even playing all 6, make sure to mute all strings behind the slide. Save the kittens.

Have fun!
 

Freeman Keller

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I want to start with open tunings and as simple a set up as I can to start.
I am focusing on the tunings and left hand/ ear training at first.
Muting I imagine will be a long developing learning curve

Some things that have helped me. Slightly stiffer setup as we have discussed. Like all slide players I have experimented with about every shape and size and material for the slide, I find I like a plain old glass wine bottle neck or a fancy high tech ceramic thing that is pretty heavy and spans all six strings. I wear my slide on my pinkie, I fret will all the other fingers.

When I lay the slide onto the strings I touch the ring finger to the string first and use that both to dampen the string and as sort of a reference for the slide to touch down. The ring finger mostly stays behind the slide, sometimes I add the middle one. I do not fret behind the slide or any of that other fancy stuff.

I play in open G and D and sometimes C. I play delta blues and what John Fahey called "American Primative", mostly on acoustic guitars . I've never mastered playing in standard tuning. Remember that in an open tuning your I chord is open and the 12th fret, IV is the fifth fret, V is the seventh. The slide should be more or less right over the fret, maybe a hair flat. Here is a bit of fooling around in open G

\

I think I killed a couple of kittens...
 

tfarny

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Just go up a string gauge, especially if you still want to fret notes and overall you like the way the guitar plays now. If your guitar is 7.25 radius you might want flatten out the string radius a bit on the high strings, too. If you do a dedicated "slide setup" that isn't friendly for fretting, you will miss out on a lot of opportunities. Just play 11s, and mess around with just dropping your high E down to D. The technical term for the tuning is "half-a&$^%d Open G" That way you won't have to rethink your scales and chords very much, you can go back and forth from slide to standard with just one guitar on stage, and so on. A dedicated "slide guitar" is kind of a pain unless that is your main thing.
 

golfnut

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Just go up a string gauge, especially if you still want to fret notes and overall you like the way the guitar plays now. If your guitar is 7.25 radius you might want flatten out the string radius a bit on the high strings, too. If you do a dedicated "slide setup" that isn't friendly for fretting, you will miss out on a lot of opportunities. Just play 11s, and mess around with just dropping your high E down to D. The technical term for the tuning is "half-a&$^%d Open G" That way you won't have to rethink your scales and chords very much, you can go back and forth from slide to standard with just one guitar on stage, and so on. A dedicated "slide guitar" is kind of a pain unless that is your main thing.

Out of a night of playing I'll have slide on about 8 to 10 songs. As well I want to experiment with open tuning slides so its worth it to have for dedicated slide. Its my Brad paisely sig tele. I don't play it much but its more of a keepsake that my wife bought me for my 60th because my original plan of crossing the border to visit the Martin guitar factory got canceled for obvious reasons. I do really like the guitar but my custom shop 52 gets most of the play. However I noticed for whatever reason, the neck, sound of the pickups the BP really excels when using slide. I'll never get rid of it as it was a gift. It feels good that it now really has a purpose.
 

Freeman Keller

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Just to confuse matters a bit, my wife and I were at a little open air concert last night featuring a very good local musician whose playing I have admired for 40 year or more. He is a good slide player - often does some nice Kottke style acoustic stuff.

Last night he was mostly playing a 335 in standard tuning but on quite a few songs he slipped his slide on for the solo and did the usual pentatonic stuff with it rather than his fingers. Very tasteful and very well done. And obviously nothing special done to the guitar.

I couldn't do it but he pulls it off nicely.
 

old wrench

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I started learning to play slide after watching Duane Allman and the Brothers up close one night when they were playing at a small hall venue at Case Western Reserve University.

I was close enough to see exactly what he was doing, but I wasn't knowledgeable enough to really understand what he was doing ;).

I could see that he was using what looked like a little medicine bottle on his finger, and then someone told me, yeah, sure, that's a Corricidin bottle.

The next day I went and bought a bottle of Corricidin and threw the pills in the trash and started practicing.

I really didn't know anything about alternate or open tunings back then - so I started learning in standard tuning.

I had to figure out how to properly mute strings - which is a key part of the technique.

I started with glass, and that's still what I use today.

I experimented with all sorts of different materials for slides, but I always ended up coming back to glass because it's light in weight.

My regular style of playing incorporates lots of bends, so a little higher than "normal" string action suits my playing style just fine, and it also gives me that extra bit of clearance I need for playing slide.

I use a small, light-weight glass slide (with a light touch ;)) and a regular set of 10's


So - as it ends up, every guitar that I own and have setup for playing is already set up for my type of slide playing - and I'm still learning, too :).

.
 

Obsessed

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Great advice above, but since you are learning and practicing the slide technique, I would not change a thing on your guitar for slide dedication … yet. Lots to learn and the muting above the thread as mentioned is very important. Developing your skill set with a lighter touch in standard tuning slide as well as alternate tunings will give you a better foundation down the road. You can always raise the action, flatten the curve, or go to heavier strings later when and if you desire, but by then it will be much easier to adapt. The bonus with this method will be the ability of easily changing guitars. Why this is important is because you will find your own slide style, sounds and preferences later on and perhaps stumble on your favorite set-up over time. Just my perspective though.

Slide on and enjoy the journey.
 

mad dog

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Every guitar is so different in how it reacts to slide playing. And we're all different to, in how we approach slide playing.

For me, electric slide is open E. That fact alone usually means a dedicated guitar. Retuning is not a huge deal at home. Live, or jamming with others, it is a big deal.

Also, I need to be able to play easily in open E without slide too, as I use the tuning for rhythm and leads w/o slide just as much as with. With those requirements, I usually end up with a tele for dedicated slide guitar, with action raised slightly, radius flattened a bit, more on the treble side. I use .11s on all solidbodies. Sometimes that's enough. Other times, I'll replace the treble E and B strings with .012s, .015s respectively.

It's always a compromise, juggling playability with optimal slide sound. Some guitars do way better than others for slide, open tunings. It's not just a matter of setup. It's how the pickups sound with slide, how the sound/volume balance is string to string. Impossible to predict which guitar sounds best with slide/open tunings. I've tried so many. Teles generally work best, but there was this one Orville LP Special I never should have sold ...
 

kennl

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download and print out a radius gauge from the internet
determine the fretboard radius on your Tele
use the gauge to set bridge saddles correctly - then tweak if you like - flatter radius for 6-string chords or tighter radius for single string playing
adjust intonation after setting saddle heights
adjusting extra relief will not help
 

golfnut

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download and print out a radius gauge from the internet
determine the fretboard radius on your Tele
use the gauge to set bridge saddles correctly - then tweak if you like - flatter radius for 6-string chords or tighter radius for single string playing
adjust intonation after setting saddle heights
adjusting extra relief will not help

I have very good set of radius gauges from stewmac. I ordered a bunch of good setup tools to see if I could do my own setups as I didn't like leaving my guitars for weeks waiting for the tech to get around to it. However for whatever reason I am just not suited to it. I'm a pretty good cook but I can understand there are those who couldn't boil water.
My eyes aren't the greatest and I'm such a perfectionist when I take trying to set up a guitar I get stuck in an endless loop of never being satisfied and adjusting, readjusting until I've got it so messed up I can't back to where I was. Could be some lack of patience as well. If I've got a guitar in my hands I don't want to mess with it, I want to play with it. Maybe since I do have the tools I need I'll try to watch some videos and take my time because I'm pretty sure I'll have the time for setups in 5 or 6 years when I retire and I'll likely need to save the money. So it would be better if I learned before retirement comes.
As for setting the action via the relief yes I know thats not how you do it but I have made slight, subtle changes when not quite satisfied with the height at the 12th fret. Almost every time I get it back from the guitar tech the action isn't quite where I would like (I'm talking a hair difference) and I'll turn the truss rod just slightly one way or the other depending on what I'm after. Theres also been sometimes from season to season where I've adjusted, going from dry to humid, etc. Although for some reason I haven't had to do that for about the last 10 years. Might be something to do with the big chunky necks I've been playing. Whatever the reason they don't seem to move noticeably.
Anyway I played my first gig in almost 2 years lastnight to a good sized crowd outdoors. The second guitar worked pretty good for slide and even though I was up a little in gauge with the 11-49 it worked rather well for some songs I wasn't planning on using it for as I'd just leave it strapped on. Got me thinking that maybe I'll be able to transition to 11-49, which is really only taking my high e, b and g up slightly.
 

41144

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Is the slide Tele 7.25" or 9.5" or X" rad - that'll make a difference to getting the best feedback.

Presuming 9.5" ...

All this really is a personal taste thing but ....Change the action, not necessarily raise it, so that the strings are flatter, not flat, just flatter - which might just mean raising the 2 'E' strings a tad. Also, at least try 12s on it and if they prove too difficult for non-slide playing in open tunings then try 11s.

Someone else recently posted about slide guitar setup etc ... the slide you use will impact on the setup you need!

A thin walled glass can have a guitar setup way lower than a thick one etc, but imo, the heavier the slide the better it sounds.
Another thing with the slide/technique, lets presume a glass one for now, if it's flared that should lend itself to leaving the setup more toward 'normal' whereas a straight slide you more likely will need to alter the setup - again, in my experience.
 

Andy ZZ

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Neat Trick: Danny Gatton used to slide a butterknife handle under the 2nd fret. Instant raised action for super easy slide. Yank the knife and back to normal.
-az-
 

golfnut

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Neat Trick: Danny Gatton used to slide a butterknife handle under the 2nd fret. Instant raised action for super easy slide. Yank the knife and back to normal.
-az-

Doesn't sound simple. insert knife. Retune all strings. Pull out knife. Retune all strings. What about intonation when the knife is stuck in there?
 

Full-Tilt-Tele

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I have a couple of Tele's that I love, and I have ONE special custom 'Flaming Quilted Maple' carved arch guitar, that I use exclusively for 'Slide Guitar' style...

Here's what I did for that 'TOOL':
First, I made an Camel Bone' nut, 3/32nd taller than the standard nut, and installed instead...
Second, I raised the 'Saddle' about as high as the nut...
Thirdly, I installed a set of Mid-Gage strings...
Lately, I opened all the 'Pots' and put the 'Switch' to both, 'Neck & Bridge' to open the 'Flood Gate' and let the Slippin' & Slydin' flow... Slyding is Pure JOY!
Sunburst-LP-Slyder.jpg
 
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