There are a few things on your guitar that you want to adjust differently when you’re playing slide, so in this lesson we’re going to look at how to setup a slide guitar.
When you’re playing slide guitar, you definitely want to have the strings a little higher than you would on a normal guitar. Too high, and it becomes too difficult to fret and you’ll likely be out of tune when fretting. Too low, and you don’t get a nice smooth slide sound and you’ll also get string buzz when fretting. Somewhere in the middle there’s a happy spot that will give you great tone as well as good playability.
The height from the frets to the string is called the action, and you’ll need to adjust your saddle in order to increase it. Hopefully the bridge and saddle have enough adjustment available, and you don’t need to do any serious modifications (like filing or building it up with other material). The other spot to look at is the nut, near the headstock. If the strings need to be really high, you may need to increase the thickness / height of the nut to compensate. On the guitar used in this video (a Danelectro), the nut height was fine as is.
Heavier strings is another way to get a better tone with your slide, this particular guitar is setup with .11 gauge strings. Some players really like using flat-wound strings; however this really does come down to personal preference.
How to Setup A Slide Guitar
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Another tip is to use your first finger to mute behind the slide, which goes on your second finger. Again, this is dependent on your personal preference and style, but try the second finger to start with, and if you want to go in other directions, that’s cool.