A guitar slide is a cylinder object, usually made out of glass, metal or ceramic. Guitarists use these accessories to move up and down the guitar’s fretboard to create a bluesy sound that is vocal-like.
To hear a guitar slide in action, check out this video of Derek Trucks.
Guitar slides are predominantly used in country and blues music, however, it has its roots in stringed instruments from Africa and Hawaii and originated from guitar players using a glass bottle.
Some common slide guitarists include Muddy Waters, Ry Cooder and Duane Allman. Jimi Hendrix was also known to play bottleneck guitar from time to time.
In this review, we’re going to show you 6 of our favourite guitar slides as well as some useful tips and tricks that will help you master your first purchase.
Best Slide For Electric Guitar
Planet Waves PWCBS-SS
Planet Waves are arguably one of the best guitar accessory manufacturers on the market today. Known for making strings, tuners and picks, Planet Waves also make one of the best guitar slides available, the Planet Waves PWNCBS-SS.
The Planet Waves PWCBS-SS is one of the best guitar slides for electric guitar. Although it has a chrome-plated finish, this slide is made out of brass and has a decent weight to it.
Its brass material enables you to play single notes that ring out clearly and produce a rich, bell-like tone. This is fantastic for electric guitarists but also works well for acoustic players too.
Our main criticism of this product is that it could be too heavy for some players, however with practice, you can certainly get used to its weight over time.
Furthermore, this product is only available in three set sizes. Therefore, each size won’t be a perfect fit for everyone.
However, this product is well priced and is great for any guitarist who wants to dip their toe into the world of slide guitar.
- Available in small, medium and large sizes.
- Doesn’t take up your whole finger, making it comfortable to use.
- It’s extremely affordable.
- The chrome-plated finish looks classy and elegant.
- Could be too heavy for some guitarists.
- Some players have mentioned that there’s quite a difference between each size.
Best Slide For Acoustic Guitar
Fender Brass Slide Fat Large
Without Fender, it’s hard to imagine what popular music would be like. Most famous for their production of guitars such as the Stratocaster and Telecaster, Fender also makes a variety of guitar accessories such as strings, straps and guitar pedals.
As well as this, they also make some excellent quality guitar slides such as the Fender Steel Slide and Fender Brass Slide.
This Fender Brass Slide is perfect for acoustic guitarists. The brass material provides a full, warm tone that is energetic and bright. As well as this, the weight enhances sustain and allows all six strings on your guitar to resonate and vibrate emphatically.
Furthermore, this slide works great for guitarists who have larger hands. With an inside diameter of 19mm or 22mm and a thickness of 1.5mm or 3.5mm, there’s enough versatility to keep every guitarist happy.
Our only criticism of metal slides like this is that after a period of time the material can deteriorate and rust, however with some TLC this can be easily prevented. However, if Brass isn’t for you, the Fender Steel Slide is also a great choice.
Overall, this is a fantastic product that works well for both acoustic and electric guitarists.
- Two sets of wall thickness are available.
- Works great for guitarists with larger fingers.
- Extremely well made and guaranteed to last for years to come.
- Only available in large or medium sizes.
- The first coat of lacquer can wear off after persistent use.
Best Glass Guitar Slide
Ernie Ball Glass Slide
Ernie Ball is most famous for providing guitar strings to guitar legends such as Eric Clapton, Slash and many others. However, they also produce quality one of the best guitar slides, the ‘Ernie Ball Glass Guitar Slide’.
The Ernie Ball glass slide is one of the best guitar slides available on the market. Its borosilicate glass offers a rich clear tone and is resistant to large changes in temperature.
This makes it a great choice for musicians who live in complex climates that regularly fluctuate between different temperatures.
Furthermore, this glass slide is available in three different sizes, small, medium and large. The difference between these three sizes is more realistic than other competitors and works for most people who use glass guitar slides on either their ring or pinky finger.
The 4mm thickness and 69mm length ensure that this product has a warm, rich tone that is extremely clear.
One criticism of glass slides is that they can easily break if dropped, this almost makes them a no-go for musicians who play on stage. However, this could be easily prevented if the slide was made out of tempered glass.
Overall, this glass guitar slide is a fantastic choice if you’re looking to expand your tonal palette and add a glass slide to your collection.
- The borosilicate glass is extremely resistant and offers the user excellent durability.
- This glass slide offers a smooth and clear tone.
- It’s more comfortable than other slides due to its material.
- Glass slides can be prone to breaking.
- Due to it being clear, it can be easily misplaced.
Best Ceramic Guitar Slide
Dunlop 243 Slide
This wouldn’t be a proper guitar slide review if we didn’t include one of our favourite ceramic guitar slides.
The Dunlop 243 is incredibly popular due to it being well made, sounding great and providing the player with a smooth warm tone that is extremely satisfying.
A ceramic guitar slide is also known as a ‘ceramic cylinder’. These are great for guitarists who want to add a different slide to their collection. Although metal guitar slides are arguably the most popular slides for guitar, a ceramic slide offers players a unique tone that is unlike any other.
The Dunlop 243 slide is one of the best ceramic slides available, it’s hand-crafted and the ceramic material is extremely high quality; it enables you to play fast and easily move across the guitar’s fretboard.
Furthermore, the material of this guitar slide reduces sweat and stops your finger from slipping off. This is great for live and studio use as you needn’t worry about losing your guitar slide mid-song.
Our only criticism of this product is that guitarists with small hands may miss out on being able to use this unique product due to there only being two sizes available, large and medium.
- Comes with an extremely helpful guide on ring sizes and slide sizes.
- The bisque interior is extremely comfortable in use.
- The blue cobalt finish is graceful, stylish and provides a rich, mellow tone that resonates beautifully.
- The porous interior absorbs sweat and reduces the possibility of slipping.
- The tone of ceramic slides isn’t for everyone.
- Some different colours would’ve been nice.
Best Chrome Guitar Slide
Jim Dunlop 220 Slide
Chrome slides are incredibly popular amongst electric guitarists. Although they aren’t as loud as brass slides, the addition of electric guitar amplification can help tremendously with this.
One of our favourite chrome steel slides is the Jim Dunlop 220.
Jim Dunlop is arguably one of the best companies that produce electric and acoustic guitar slides. Offering a wide range of materials and sizes, one of their most popular products is the 220 slide.
Similar to the Fender Steel slide, the Jim Dunlop 220 steel guitar slide works well on both electric and acoustic guitars.
This product has a much lighter weight than many of its competitors and the resulting bright tone of this steel guitar slide sounds great.
It’s medium diameter and thickness ensures that it has a proper fit on your ring finger. However, if you find that this size doesn’t work for you, Jim Dunlop also offers a wide range of sizes that will work on any of your four fingers.
Overall, this is a versatile metal slide that will work for guitar players who are looking to play slide for the first time.
- Jim Dunlop offers many different slides with varying materials and sizes.
- It has excellent quality craftsmanship due to being made in the USA.
- The edges are smooth ensuring that this product is comfortable to use.
- The material is guaranteed to last and isn’t prone to breaking like other products.
- Steel guitar slides can often rust over a period of time.
Best Brass Guitar Slide
D'Addario PWBS-RR Rich Robinson Brass Slide
Most famous for his work in the band, ‘The Black Crowes’. Rich Robinson is also an accomplished slide guitarist who loves to delve into the silky, velvet tones of blues and roots music.
His signature brass guitar slide is one of the best guitar slides on the market, let’s find out why.
The Rich Robinson Brass Slide is perfect for guitarists who want an excellent quality brass slide or for guitar players who are Black Crowes fans.
Offering a bright tone that easily cuts through the mix, this type of guitar will work well with any slide guitar playing style.
Furthermore, what set’s this brass steel slide apart from others on the market is the inside taper. This enables the slide guitar player to comfortably position the slide onto their finger regardless of ring size.
As guitar slides go, this one is fairly heavy. This means that it can take a bit of time to get used to. However, with a bit of practice, this product will work for pretty much all guitarists, regardless of playing style.
- The ‘Rich Robinson’ logo looks extremely cool and adds a nice touch.
- It has a unique taper on the inside and is extremely comfortable.
- This product is part of D’addario’s Players Circle program, meaning you are entitled to discounts and points towards other purchases.
- Has the unique bright and vibrant tone that brass slides are associated with.
- As this is a signature slide, only one size is available.
- Slightly expensive for a slide.
When choosing the best guitar slide, there are lots of factors to consider. The different materials, sizes, as well as the different types available.
In this buying guide, we’re going to help you understand each of these factors to ensure that you’re able to find the perfect guitar slide for your musical needs.
Guitar Slide Materials
The four main types of slide materials are Brass, Glass, Chrome & Ceramic. Each slide offers a different feel and tone.
Metal Guitar Slides – Chrome Steel & Brass Slides
Brass and chromed steel slides are the heaviest slides available. These are fantastic for acoustic guitarists as they need all the help they can get when trying to project their instruments.
The resulting tone of these slides is a brighter tone that has lots of sustain. Furthermore, Chrome and Brass are more durable than other materials and work great with rock and blues genres.
Glass Guitar Slides
A favourite of Derek Trucks, glass sides are what slides were originally made of. This harks back to old school blues guitar players who used bottles for slide guitar playing.
The tone produced is warm, rich, can easily glide across the strings and is a much lighter slide.
However, the one downside to glass is that if you drop it, it can easily break. These types of guitar slides tend to work better with electric guitars.
Ceramic slide materials are a much newer development. Ceramic manages to strike the difference when comparing glass and metal slides.
As they lie somewhere in the middle between glass and metal, the overall sound is a nice middle ground too. They’re great for beginners who aren’t sure whether to choose between a glass vs metal slide.
The only negative of these slides is that the material is more fragile than glass.
Types of Guitar Slide
As well as different materials, you can also get different types of guitar slides. Some of the most common include full, ring, partial and reversible guitar slides.
This length of slide is the most common guitar slide. This covers your whole finger and is perfect for lap steel guitar players.
Electric and acoustic players can also use this type of slide, however, the one downside of using this style of slide is that you are unable to fret chords or single notes when the slide is on your finger.
Ring Guitar Slides, Partial Slides & Knuckle Slide
A ‘ring guitar slide’ is the same as a partial slide or knuckle slide and are a much shorter slide compared to standard size guitar slides.
As these slides only use a small amount of metal, it’s much easier to move between slide playing and regular chordal and lead work.
The only downside to this style of slide is that it’s much harder to cover all the strings, so it wouldn’t be suitable for lap steel guitars.
Reversible Guitar Slides
This type of guitar slide is unique in its design. It’s the same length as a full slide, however, it only contains the part of the slide which is used to connect with the guitar.
The main benefit of this is that when you’re engaging in bottleneck playing, you simply flip the slide over and away you go.
Then, when you want to go back to standard playing, you flip it around and carry on as normal.
This is a unique idea, however, if you’re new to using a slide, you may find it difficult to manoeuvre between both sides of the slide with your adjacent fingers.
Guitar Slide Sizes
The most important factor when purchasing a guitar slide is considering its size. If you get the slide size wrong it’ll be much harder to control when you play.
The most common sizes are small, medium and large.
- A small size slide has a circumference of between 49-56mm and a diameter of 15.7-17.7mm.
- A medium-size slide varies between 57-58mm in circumference and 18.1-20.2mm in diameter.
- A large slide had a circumference of 65-71mm and a diameter of 20.6-22.6mm.
Also, the thickness of the slide material can have an effect on the tone and slide playing.
As a general rule, if a slide has a heavy wall thickness, it will have more volume, more sustain, less string buzz and a warmer tone. However, having a heavier slide can be harder to manage.
A medium wall thickness of the slide may not sound as big as a heavy wall thickness slide, but it could be easier to manage and use.
Thinner walled slides are great for younger players who are getting into slide guitar for the first time. However, the thin walls of this product don’t offer as much sustain as other sized slides.
If you’re unsure what slide is best for you, lighter slides work better with electric guitars and heavier slides are more preferable for acoustic guitar.
What makes a good guitar slide?
A good guitar slide consists of a number of factors, this includes; solid materials, the right length for your fingers and the appropriate thickness for your desired tone.
How do I know that the guitar slide will fit me?
The best way to know if a guitar slide will fit you is to measure your finger with a tape measure, this is a great way of matching the slide size to your finger size.
Another common way of measuring your finger sizes is by going by your ring size. Any common jewellers will be able to tell you what your ring size is.
Failing that, you can always go to a local music shop and try a range of different slides to find the right one for you.
What finger should I put the slide on?
Most people put a guitar slide on either their third or fourth finger. Make sure you get your ring size correct when trying to figure what slide is right for you.
However, lap-steel guitarists hold the whole slide in their hand and use ‘tone bars’ to achieve their slide tone.