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

Figure 6. Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher's slide vibrato was a force of nature, much like the man himself.

Rory Gallagher's slide vibrato was a force of nature, much like the man himself. (Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns)

When asked what it felt like to be the greatest guitar player in the world, Jimi Hendrix reputedly retorted, “ask Rory Gallagher.” Rory preferred open G tuning and wore his slide on his 3rd finger.

Wide vibrato and fast, fiery licks are signatures of the guitarist’s celebrated style. One of the hallmarks of Gallagher’s playing was his use of a wide vibrato, shaking the notes vigorously to keep them ringing and singing. 

Remember that, unlike a regular finger vibrato, which is attained by repeatedly bending and releasing a string, slide vibrato is achieved by wiggling the slide to the left and to the right, toward the nut and bridge. 

The key is to move equally above and below the target note, about one fret in either direction. Notice in bar 1 the use of the open 1st string to facilitate quick position shifts.

(Image credit: Future)