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Author Topic: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?  (Read 4662 times)

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Offline Westside

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How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« on: September 23, 2012, 01:07:45 AM »
How do you set up your guitar for slide playing? Do you replace the nut and saddle, or maybe you just shim them?  I would like to get some input so I can get started in getting my parlor in shape for learning slide.

Offline frailer24

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2012, 01:12:40 AM »
My slider is an old no name Chinese kid's guitar. I didn't shim the nut at all, just the saddle with a couple hunks of toothpick at each end. Strung it with a set of Martin mediums, works great! Hope it helps.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline frailer24

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2012, 01:14:39 AM »
Also, what make is your parlor?
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2012, 01:32:25 AM »
Unless you have a very low action, you probably wont want to make much, if any adjustment to the bridge and nut.  Certainly you could shim them.  Very much doubt there's any need to change them.  Most slide playing involves fretting as well, so you dont want a nasty action that prevents that.

You may well need heavier strings though- at least on the top e.  On the few occasions I have used my Martin as a slide guitar, I have swapped the top e (usually an 11 or 12) for a 14 to give enough reiststance and prevent slide clanking on the frets too much. 

Many people with resonators tend to put heavy strings on for slide anyway, and you may find you get a better tone by doing so on a flat top as well, but you have to set that off against the risk of damage!

Offline frailer24

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2012, 01:38:03 AM »
I never go heavier than a 13 for the top string. Most players use an 11 or 12, but I need volume.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2012, 01:43:25 AM »
Hence the suggestion of just changing the top string, for a 14, to give the extra weight to make slide playing comfortable if the action is pretty low.  Id be very nervous about putting 16s on a flat top parlour.

Offline frailer24

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2012, 01:50:13 AM »
A 16 for the top string? That thought alone gives me the willies!
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2012, 01:55:00 AM »
Ive always found that a 14 is enough for slide playing on a flat top, and that the rest of the strings dont need changing- so you stick with your usual set of 11s or whatever, just swap the top string for a 14 - and away you go.  Full set of 16s on a wooden guitar seems likely to kill it!  I do use 16s on resonators from time to time, though have reduced that to 14s and 15s recently. 

Offline frailer24

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2012, 01:58:01 AM »
I have to agree with Slim. How does that Washburn sound? Been thinkin of getting one soon
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline frailer24

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2012, 02:29:16 AM »
If I were in your shoes, I would go with a standard medium set. As a part-time repairman, I have watched in horror as a bridge with resophonics on it flew off mid-song and knocked out the performer. It was a new guitar, and a Martin to boot. There are just some things I can't reccomend.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 02:31:48 AM by frailer24 »
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline Stuart

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2012, 11:27:48 PM »
As a part-time repairman, I have watched in horror as a bridge with resophonics on it flew off mid-song and knocked out the performer.
Are you being facetious? That sounds a bit far-fetched.

That's why guitarists in-the-know use Plate Mate from Stew-Mac:

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Bridges,_tailpieces/Acoustic_guitar_bridge_pins/Plate_Mate.html?actn=100101&xst=3&xsr=15682&tab=Pictures

It keeps those ball ends down below the bridge plate where they belong and prevents them from creeping up, pulling your bridge off and whacking you upside the head with it!

Install Plate Mate from Stew-Mac--it's the slide guitarists' best friend!  ;D

Offline Adam Franklin

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2012, 12:18:58 AM »
I'd have to agree with Norfolk Slim. There is a tendency to go with really heavy strings and a high action to play slide. I do use fairly heavy strings on a resonator (15-56), that's due to a hard playing style though. On my flat top, I use 12's straight out the box.

I always recommend students start with a standard action & strings, this builds up technique rather than relying on string tension/height to control the slide. When you get more experienced, you can make more of an informed judgement about the setup you'd like.

Let us know how you get on.

Offline frailer24

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2012, 01:08:08 AM »
In response to those who may have thought I was stretching the truth, I was not remembering correctly. It was not a Martin, but a good copy of a pre-war 0-18. I also found out from searching my repair log, it was about a decade old. The glue joint failed beforehand, so string tension may have not been the big factor. I have, however, watched decent classicals strung up that way turn into a nightmare as the neck pulled away from the body and yes, the top of the bridge broke off. Sorry for the memory loss! Hard to keep things straight after the wreck.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 03:33:48 AM by frailer24 »
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline uncle bud

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2012, 07:48:31 AM »
Sorry, a 16 on a wooden parlor guitar? What is this, a macho string gauge smackdown? "For great tone that lasts 15 minutes, at which point your guitar folds in half, I recommend a 21. Those things sing!"

Geezus. Start with a 13 and see how you like it. Or start with a PoS guitar you can afford to have buckle.



Offline Stuart

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Re: How do you set up your guitar for slide playing?
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2012, 10:13:58 AM »
It depends on the setup, Ryan, along with the radius and other factors, including the slide. I have a Ted Thompson guitar that I string with lights (12 on top), and it works just fine, but my D-35 with a slightly lower action wouldn't work no matter what strings and slide I used. Scale length is a factor as well as it affects string tension.

It's a combinations and permutations thing, but in the end technique is what you'reafter. However, you have to practice and develop it on a guitar that will work for slide (and fretting as well) and "you can't polish sh*t," as the old saying goes.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 12:03:41 PM by Stuart »

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