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We used to go to different people's houses, you know. In those days I mean they could hear music and - if somebody could play an instrument, man, they would get up at night, from one o'clock; and they'd fix food and they'd have drinks and they'd stay up till five, six o'clock in the morning and give you money. It wasn't a dance but a serenade; we'd go from house to house. In those days there wasn't too much things like juke boxes, high fidelity sound, wasn't nothing like that then; and whenever somebody could play and could play well, he was considered as somebody; he could go anywhere and he had it made, you know? - Baby Doo Caston, on playing music in Natchez in the 1920s, interview with Jeff Todd Titon

Author Topic: Slide guitar problem - help!  (Read 910 times)

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Offline Steve Pajik

  • Member
  • Posts: 59
Slide guitar problem - help!
« on: June 21, 2011, 05:33:50 PM »
Hi, y'all!

I'm wondering if anyone can help. I've started to get a little bit more into playing slide on my acoustic, but I've noticed something kind of annoying: there are these weird harmonics on the top two strings (high E and B) whenever I play slide. (I call them "harmonics", but I'm not sure if that's the correct term.) This phenomenon doesn't occur on the wound strings, however.

For example, if I have the slide at the 12th fret on the E or B string, pick the string, and then slide down to, say, the 5th fret, there's a discordant harmonic that sounds underneath the primary note (but it's still annoyingly noticeable!). As the primary note goes down in pitch - as you'd expect! - the annoying harmonic starts off low and goes up in pitch. It also works the other way: if I start at 5th fret and go to 12th, the primary note ascends while the harmonic descends. I hate it!  >:(

I've tried a few types of slides: glass (3 different thicknesses), ceramic, brass, and chrome. I use light gauge strings on my primary guitar, but the exact same thing happens on my other acoustic guitar, and it has slightly heavier gauge strings.

Is this phenomenon common??!! I apologize if it is, but on the Internet, I can't seem to find anyone experiencing the same thing!! Is there any way around this? Would heavier gauge strings help? Old, deader strings?

Thanks for any and all help!  :)
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 05:43:31 PM by Deaf Steever »

Offline banjochris

  • Member
  • Posts: 2243
Re: Slide guitar problem - help!
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2011, 07:09:02 PM »
You're hearing the note on the other side of the slide, and as far as I know there's only one thing you can do about it.

You need to mute behind the slide. Let your index finger rest lightly against the strings behind the slide. You have to be careful not to press down too hard or you'll create a problem by pulling the string away from the slide. Take a look at Booker White on YouTube playing "Aberdeen," for instance, and watch his left index finger when he slides up.

Hope that helps!
Chris

Offline Gumbo

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  • Posts: 873
  • So Papa climbed up on top of the house
Re: Slide guitar problem - help!
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2011, 07:53:37 PM »
Interessin'

I was watching our side player tonight and wondering why he sometimes put another finger in behind the slide thinking it would dampen the string. Seems like he had a fiendish plan the whole time!

Offline Steve Pajik

  • Member
  • Posts: 59
Re: Slide guitar problem - help!
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2011, 08:21:04 PM »
You're hearing the note on the other side of the slide, and as far as I know there's only one thing you can do about it.

You need to mute behind the slide. Let your index finger rest lightly against the strings behind the slide. You have to be careful not to press down too hard or you'll create a problem by pulling the string away from the slide. Take a look at Booker White on YouTube playing "Aberdeen," for instance, and watch his left index finger when he slides up.

Hope that helps!
Chris

Who would have guessed it was a matter of technique?! I'd much rather blame my equipment!  :D But seriously, thanks for the tip. I was just foolin' around, playing like you said, and it's like night and day. Sounds great now! Well, actually, I still have quite a ways to go with my slide skills - but at least the extra noises have been eliminated!  :)

Thanks a million!

Offline banjochris

  • Member
  • Posts: 2243
Re: Slide guitar problem - help!
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2011, 09:44:00 PM »
Glad that helped!
Chris

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