Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: Vermonter on July 02, 2018, 06:24:17 AM

Title: women slide players
Post by: Vermonter on July 02, 2018, 06:24:17 AM
I'm curious if anyone has info on women slide guitar players: specifically, if there's a lot of variation in the fingers chosen for the slide because of smaller hands. Pinky, ring, or middle? My pinky is much too short for a slide (defective, as I call it). Thanks.
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Nicolas Dussart on July 02, 2018, 02:33:06 PM
the firsts coming to my mind are Rory Block who uses her ring finger and Bonnie Raitt who uses her middle finger
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Rivers on July 03, 2018, 06:49:47 PM
I would look at Sister O.M. Terrell. Weenie member Harriet will probably want to chime in here also.
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: oddenda on July 04, 2018, 02:03:30 AM
This Atlanta resident was going to be my suggestion! Sadly, we'll never know how Savannah "Dip" Weaver sounded. but her students Robert and Charlie Hicks, and her son, Curley James Weaver may give us an inkling! The only female guitarist I recorded was one Mattie Russell of Atlanta, mother of pianist Tommy Lee Russell and aunt to guitarist/harminicist Charlie Russell. She claimed to have been taught "by a Geechie"; some of her playing reminded me of Willie Brown!, very rhythmic.

Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: harriet on July 04, 2018, 04:47:27 AM
Thank you for the mention Rivers.  As far as I know  there's as many different ways as men, but for contemporary or living slide players you might want to look online at photos of lady electric blues/rock players to confirm that.

Bonnie Raitt and Rory Block both use slides that extend past their fingertips, neiither are small women so I don't know if that's going to be comfortable for small hands. Son House used his slide that way as well.

I can't tell whether you are just interested in knowing more about this or are interested in playing yourself. If you are looking at contemporary players, many women who have videos or photos are electric guitar or electrified cbg players. The slide material itself for electric and acoustic is often different, so I would go back and look at male acoustic players for the materials - glass, metal etc.

Here's Sarah Rogo from San Diego -she plays slide on Nationals..I could be wrong but I think there's some interest in women performers on resonators.  There seems not to be many on acoustic that are getting their name out there. And the women I found on resonators are also playing on electrics...

Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Vermonter on July 04, 2018, 07:43:56 AM
Thanks, everybody. Helpful replies!
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Rivers on July 04, 2018, 07:04:47 PM
If the slide fits comfortably on your chosen finger, and has a comfortable weight and balance, it can extend your reach beyond the finger tip. A heavy slide, like a Sears deep socket, may take some time to master. I believe I read somewhere that Bonnie picked that up from Lowell George, but I don't know if she still uses one, and anyway she uses her middle finger in all the photos I've seen after a quick search.

A lot of people get very pedantic about which finger to use, not me. I ended up using my pinkie so I can fret partial chords with the other three fingers. If I'm feeling adventurous I can also fret a string behind the slide to hit a minor chord. But I'm not into it really, it's just a technical exercise and generally sounds off unless your guitar's intonation is better than mine.

Also bear in mind that  most, or many, of the really good slide players are aces at playing slide on the inside strings. So whatever slide and finger you chose you might want to make sure you can play slide lines and double stops on strings 2 thru 5

That's just the way I like to play. Also, as harriet alluded to earlier, electric guitar is a whole different ball of wax. What sounds great on an electric with a great steel amp doesn't always (ever?) translate to a great acoustic guitar, and vice versa. So you have to figure out what you're into, or adjust your touch to play both ways.

Rivers, who just returned from a Ry Cooder & Emmylou Harris concert at Tanglewood MA, 95 degrees out on the lawn, it was hot hot hot, in all ways

PS since no-one has mentioned it yet, damping technique is a pretty crucial element of slide touch, both fretting hand and picking hand damping. Takes a while, play and practice a lot and it will eventually work its way into your playing, like everything on a musical instrument.
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Vermonter on July 06, 2018, 08:08:06 AM
Thanks, Rivers. And we saw Ry in VT with the Hamiltones. Phenomenal!!!
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Rivers on July 06, 2018, 03:46:29 PM
Phenomenal indeed. Ry played right on the limits at Tanglewood, proving occasionally the old saying "if you aren't making (small) mistakes you're not trying hard enough". The Hamiltones were the perfect backup, and Ry's tone was spine tingling. We were very happy to have witnessed it, I'll never forget it. Here's a sample, without the harmony singers unfortunately:

Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: harriet on July 07, 2018, 05:26:24 AM
That's a great clip and also illustrates the slide on little finger extended technique mentioned. 

I started out on my little finger but started to get some indications of problems with the outer tendons on the arm so I switched to my ring finger. Fortunately these days you can order a custom slide from diamondbottlenecks.com and I have been also using a short slide from silicasounds on my acoustics. Electrics use a standard dunlop 218.  The  diamond inner size is a little large for me so I cut a piece of moleskin and put it inside. 

Originally actual bottlenecks were used and they are conical, but I found that they were irregular and was having to turn them too much. Both the diamondbottleneck and the silicasounds are tubular, but the silicasounds is tapered on the inside and doesn't need moleskin. I use a heavier custom size bronze slide from daddyslide on my 12 string. Went through about 40 slides before I settled on a few - some people are lucky and find what they are looking for right off...
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Lignite on July 07, 2018, 06:29:41 AM
Unless you are Louisiana Red who seems to have spent his whole life in search of the perfect slide.
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: harriet on July 07, 2018, 10:52:06 AM
Yes Louisiana Red wore a slide on different fingers, ring and pinky, and different materials in the photos of him online.

Fred McDowell is another example of people who switched fingers - he played with his ring finger usually in Vestapol and his bass player reported that he used his pinky for playing in Spanish and to verify that if you move to 10.37 or so you can see that he does that:

Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: DerZauberer on July 09, 2018, 01:07:16 AM
I have thick fingers and use the "Son House" Technique - ring finger, slide just up to the second joint so I can still bend the finger. This gives me good control (slide is tight), comfortable playing (can still use the other fingers to fret).

Slide all the way up the finger does not feel great for me when playing non-slide stuff, and slide on the pinky ... well I can technically do that, but I don't have the same amount of control (that is likely due to me just not trying and practising this, because I have found "my" playing style).

Also, while many people recommend heavy/thick slides, there are other ways! Some of the greatest slide players used thin glass tubes, flimsy metal rings, pocketknives or whatever was around. There is no one size fits all.

So for any person and gender anyone: Get you a slide that fits! The basic glass tubes from Dunlop are cheap, get a variety of different sizes and shapes and experiment. Once you know what you want - buy some more.

Even after years of trying and buying and finding quite a few good slides, I keep myself coming back to that cheapo brass Dunlop standard slide - it's the one I feel most comfortable with, have spent the most time with, have the best control. It's scratchy and not great for a sweet clean sound, but it does the job on the rougher stuff that I play anyways.
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Booker Matches on July 09, 2018, 07:51:07 PM
Spark plug socket for acoustic, Coricidin pill bottle for electric a la Duane Allman
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Vermonter on July 14, 2018, 09:09:31 AM
Harriet: thanks for the clips of Fred McDowell. I hadn't seen those.
And thanks to all who replied. Much appreciated.
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Stuart on July 14, 2018, 03:02:27 PM
Hi Vermonter: I'm a little late here, but I'll chime in anyway. You said that  "your pinky is much too short for a slide," but didn't say anything more than that. How short is "too short?" If you were to put a 6" ruler between your pinky and ring finger, what would the measurement be?

I've played with a slide since the late 60s and worked on cars longer than that, so IMHO save the spark plug sockets for spark plugs. However, if there aren't any music shops in your area with a selection of slides that you can try out, and you are within driving distance of store that has an open stock of deep sockets, it can be a good place to try a few on for size. Look for 12 point 3/8" drive and 1/2" drive deep sockets, both standard and metric. Try to find one that will slip down over your pinky without being too tight or too loose. There will be a difference in the wall thickness between the 3/8" drive and 1/2" sockets. If you find one or more you like, you can then take it to a machinist and have him drill out the end that the ratchet connects to. Then you can have him cut it down to length, deburr it, smoothing out the rough edges. It will cost you a few extra bucks, but it will put you in the ballpark and might be better than buying several slides sight unseen and being stuck with the ones that don't work for you.

Not all hands are the same and not all fingers are the same (to state the obvious). And not all guitars, necks widths, fretboard radii, string height at various places along the neck, action and string gauges are the same (to overstate the obvious). Therefore, the slide that is the best choice for one guitar may not be the best choice for another guitar, even though it fits our finger to a tee. "The right tool for the job," and all of that.

Speaking of Vermont, back in the early 70s there was a small scale Blues fest at UVM. Ry was one of the artists and held a workshop in the morning--in Billings Center back when it functioned as the student union. Hardly anyone in the area knew who he was and only a few people attended his workshop. I brought several of the slides that I had around, just to get his opinion. He picked out the one I had made from a wine bottle (my favorite) and I remember him saying that he preferred glass and that it had to have a certain weight in order to produce the right sound. --And also that you had to be in control of the slide. Too heavy and/or too much slop won't work. Sage advice from the master.

I'm lucky insofar as a Dunlop 211 slides over my pinky and does most of what I want in this stage of my playing days, although it doesn't have sufficient wobble for when I'd like more vibrato, but I have a real bottleneck for that. There are currently a lot more choices of both off-the-shelf products and custom slides than there were back in days gone by, but finding them all in one place so you can try them out is another matter.

Another thought is if you find that something like a glass Dunlop fits your pinky, but is too long, you could take it to a glass shop or ceramic shop and they might be able to cut it down for you.

Yep--There's a lot of great music to choose from and play. And Tampa Red's single string runs certainly differ from playing Frank Hutchison's "Worried Blues" in the upright position. Hopefully you'll find the right slide(s) that will allow you to play both as well as everything in between.
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Booker Matches on July 22, 2018, 12:40:32 AM
Ellen McIlwaine plays a mean slide using her pinky. Saw her in the early 80's when she toured Down Under. Acoustically she seems to prefer those big juicy Guilds.
Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: Prof Scratchy on July 22, 2018, 10:46:15 AM
Ellen McIlwaine plays a mean slide using her pinky. Saw her in the early 80's when she toured Down Under. Acoustically she seems to prefer those big juicy Guilds.
What a racket!

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Title: Re: women slide players
Post by: blueshome on July 23, 2018, 01:24:41 AM
I?m with Scratchy there on Ms. McIllwaine. Tasteless!

Re slides and slide playing, it?s too easy to get carried away with what slide, what strings, what guitar to use rather than getting on with playing. You?ll soon sort out what works for you. Break the neck off a wine bottle and go, first enjoying the wine.
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