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

Figure 3. Ry Cooder

Ry Cooder in 2017. Note the slide on the pinkie, freeing him up to incorporate fretted chords in his playing.

Ry Cooder in 2017. Note the slide on the pinkie, freeing him up to incorporate fretted chords in his playing. (Image credit: Gary Miller/Getty Images)

A true legend of slide guitar and the man credited with turning Keith Richards on to open G tuning, Cooder himself plays in many different tunings. 

He has been known to use drop-D, open D, open G and open E. When playing electric, Ry uses a glass slide, worn on his 4th finger. Dark and evocative Cajun-flavored vibes are the order of the day here. 

For best tonal results, use a deep tremolo effect, timed to eighth-note triplets relative to the tempo. We’ve included a fretted chord section here to illustrate how Cooder effortlessly switches between fingers and slide; you’ll need to wear the slide on your 4th finger to pull this off. 

If you find this awkward, you could momentarily remove the slide, as there’s ample time to quickly redeploy it before the closing phrase.

(Image credit: Future)