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I don't like to play this but once in a while, you know, but sometimes I get the Blues - Napoleon Strickland

Author Topic: Unusual Guitar Slides  (Read 2159 times)

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Offline Gus Z.

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Unusual Guitar Slides
« on: May 26, 2013, 02:00:03 PM »
Hello to all fellow blues enthusiasts!

I'm new to the forum and I thought I'd start by discussing a topic I'm very curious about and that is, the unusual materials or types that have been used as slides for guitar.

First of all, the various knives or spoons that were used by the very early blues players. I'm sure it's been reposted so many times but you can't ignore W.C. Handy's reference about the man he saw on the train station in 1903: "A lean loose-jointed Negro had commenced plunking a guitar beside me while I slept... As he played, he pressed a knife on the strings of the guitar in a manner popularized by Hawaiian guitarists who used steel bars....The singer repeated the line three times, accompanying himself on the guitar with the weirdest music I had ever heard."

It seems it was popular between the slide players and some later bluesmen have been seen playing with pocket knives like Bukka White and Mance Lipscomb, a performance of whom you can watch below. It has been suggested that even Blind Willie Johnson played with a pocket knife (the other suggestion is he used a brass ring) to achieve his trademark ringing tone.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=Fcsaq5S5hYs

I also heard that Hoyt Axton used to play slide guitar with a straight razor! He appeared playing this way on the Johnny Carson show many years ago. I would love to see that if anyone has the footage.

Another type of slide that interested me is the bone slide. I have watched some videos on Youtube of people playing with bone slides and I always considered it a "newer" material, until I heard about King Solomon Hill using a crow bone. Is that really true? And if it is, how in the world did he find and use that crow bone? I absolutely love the haunting recordings of King Solomon Hill and I would be thrilled to know more about his playing!

Other unusual slides include railroad bars, plumbing tubes, zippo lighters, various rings and generally every object that can resonate. What else have you seen of heard?

Offline jrn

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Re: Unusual Guitar Slides
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2013, 03:46:38 PM »
Seems like I've read in the past that KSH used a cow bone. I couldn't see any bones from a crow being heavy enough. :)

Jason
Quitman, Mississippi

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Unusual Guitar Slides
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2013, 02:15:09 AM »
I seem to remember that Fred McDowell said the man who taught him played slide with a bone. I have seen Roy Book Binder play with a bone slide and based on the sound he got, I would recommend sticking to glass or metal.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2013, 12:53:53 AM by Parlor Picker »
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline Gus Z.

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Re: Unusual Guitar Slides
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2013, 03:41:47 AM »
Seems like I've read in the past that KSH used a cow bone. I couldn't see any bones from a crow being heavy enough. :)

I was thinking the same; that's why I asked for more information. It'd be cool to find more about this legend.

By the way, how can you embed Youtube videos to your posts?

Offline harriet

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Re: Unusual Guitar Slides
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2013, 10:05:59 AM »
I have seen Roy Book Binder play with a bone slide and based on the sound he got, I would recommended sticking to glass or metal.

I have heard that comment before but I don't understand what is wrong with his sound, I liked it. In general I don't like the sound I've heard from the bone slide. Keni Lee Burgess played with a bone slide for a while, and it sounded pretty good, but he seems to be able to get great tone from most materials IMHO.

Offline Gus Z.

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Re: Unusual Guitar Slides
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2013, 12:12:55 AM »
So, does anyone have any information about KSH's technique?

Offline frailer24

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Re: Unusual Guitar Slides
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2013, 03:16:46 AM »
To my ears, it sounds like KSH is using a piece of pipe, perhaps copper, a la Son House. Anybody else want to chime in as his recordings sound whupped?
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline harriet

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Re: Unusual Guitar Slides
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2013, 05:50:53 AM »
I have no idea what he used - I have been playing tell me baby for a year or two though - the guitar part - learned from the Guitar workshop version and now I am developing from the original, and his guitar part, playing the notes is not that difficult but his sense of urgency that he's able to convey with a note, he mimics the vocal entreaty to my ear, is something that I don't think can be taught and IMHO thats an important part of his technique
« Last Edit: June 08, 2013, 08:19:53 AM by harriet »

Offline harriet

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Re: Unusual Guitar Slides
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2013, 08:29:25 AM »
On the topic though I was just reading on Jas Obrecht's website that Elmore James had used the cover from a tube, very light, quoting Homesick James from his article:

Quote
In 1993, Homesick James and I discussed the 1959 Chicago session. Regarding Elmore?s slider, Homesick explained. ?He used a tube cover. Elmore used a light piece of metal, and Elmore had some big fingers too. He?d take one of those slips ? protector tubes ? from an old amplifier and put it on his finger. If he got a smaller one, then he would split it open ? take a hacksaw and saw it open. That?s what we played with all the time. I don?t think no man should use them big old heavy slides. You can?t. The sound ain?t there. Like you go to a store and buy them ? whew, that?s too much weight on your hand.?

The whole article is here:
http://jasobrecht.com/dust-broom-story-song/

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