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

Figure 2. George Harrison

George Harrison plays his "Rocky" Fender Strat on the Dark Horse tour, 1974.

George Harrison plays his "Rocky" Fender Strat on the Dark Horse tour, 1974. (Image credit: Steve Morley/Redferns/Getty Images)

After the Beatles broke up, Harrison’s slide technique literally soared. His instantly recognizable style was characterized by impeccable intonation, a fresh melodic approach and eschewal of blues clichés, and a very creative and tasteful use of overdubbed harmony slide parts. 

Harrison played in standard tuning and wore his slide on his 4th finger. Playing in standard tuning requires very careful string damping, since, unlike in an open tuning, any notes inadvertently sounded on neighboring strings can in many cases sound “off key.” 

Because of his usage of standard tuning, Harrison’s style was much more monophonic and linear (playing along a single string) than that of a typical blues slide player. Harrison loved to overdub harmony slide parts too, so we’ve included some in this example.

(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.