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

Figure 4. Bonnie Raitt

Ricky Fataar (Stig O’Hara from the Rutles!) [left] and Bonnie Raitt perform in the UK in June 2013.

Ricky Fataar (Stig O’Hara from the Rutles!) [left] and Bonnie Raitt perform in the UK in June 2013. (Image credit: Classic Rock / Future )

B.B. King once said that he thought Raitt was the “best damn slide player working today,” and her emotive, melodic style is testament to this. 

Raitt wears her slide on her 2nd finger, which enables her to switch conveniently between rhythm and slide playing. She plays mainly in open A tuning and will sometimes employ a capo to transpose everything to a higher key.

Wearing her slide on her 2nd finger enables Raitt to “work around it” and play a variety of fretted riffs with her 1st, 3rd and 4th fingers. The first eight bars of this example illustrate this convenient and highly effective technical approach, so make sure you follow the instructions in the tabs carefully. 

The second eight bars (9-16) feature a solo section demon- strating how to play over minor chords while tuned to a major chord. (Chris Rea similarly tuned to E major and would often solo over minor progressions.)

(Image credit: Future)

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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.