How to play slide guitar like the world's greatest players

Figure 1. Duane Allman

Duane Allman wore his slide on the 3rd finger and tuned to open E.

Duane Allman wore his slide on the 3rd finger and tuned to open E. (Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Legend has it that, following an arm injury in 1968, Allman picked up a bottle of Coricidin pills he’d been given to ease the pain and instantly started using it as a slide and jamming along to a Taj Mahal album. Duane played in open E tuning and wore his slide on his 3rd finger.

In this example, we’ve included a riff section and a solo section. Playing riffs in open position requires a technique adjustment on the lower strings. Instead of laying your slide flat across the strings, angle it so that only the tip makes contact with the string you’re playing. 

If you’re playing on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd strings, there’s no need to lay the slide across all six strings; simply reposition it so that you only cover the strings you’re playing on.

(Image credit: Future)

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Jimmy Brown

Over the past 30 years, Jimmy Brown has built a reputation as one of the world's finest music educators, through his work as a transcriber and Senior Music Editor for Guitar World magazine and Lessons Editor for its sister publication, Guitar Player. In addition to these roles, Jimmy is also a busy working musician, performing regularly in the greater New York City area. Jimmy earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Performance and Music Management from William Paterson University in 1989. He is also an experienced private guitar teacher and an accomplished writer.