Guitar Sliding Technique - Fluid, Faster and Freer Soloing
this lesson is about sliding as a standard finger technique, commonly known as legato slide,
not the kind of sliding done with a bottle neck or other
implement. The latter is often referred to as slide guitar,
whereas this lesson is about sliding using your
There are two main applications of a slide - sliding into
a note (hear example) or sliding out of a note.
This lesson will take you through the necessary steps for applying the
guitar sliding technique properly. Using slides will instantly inject
life into your soloing phrases, give your solos more
fluidity (playing "through the frets" rather than dancing over
them) and allow for more economical fingering when moving across large
areas of the fretboard (e.g. sliding between patterns/positions).
The Basic Sliding Technique
Some slides will span just one fret. Others will span a lot more of the
neck. You should be confident with long and short slides.
Sliding Into A Note
Start with this simple exercise.
Fret the G string
at the 1st fret
using your index finger.
This will be our starting position for the slide.
Next, choose your target
note. This is the note you want to accent
as part of your solo. The starting note won't register as much because
in most cases
you'll be sliding out of it immediately.
I'm going to target the 2nd
fret (same string!).
So, pick your starting note and immediately slide to the 2nd fret
(so that's a half step slide). Once you reach that 2nd fret target
note, hold your finger there as if you're playing the note as normal...
Listen to that held target note. It should resonate cleanly and
clearly, just as it would if you'd picked it.
To make sure it resonates cleanly, the slide needs to be quick and smooth,
with a constant pressure on the fretboard.
You also need to make sure
your finger comes to rest in the same position it would if you were
fretting the target note as normal - just behind the fret wire.
Try not to press down harder or softer as you slide.
Keep your fingers and hand relaxed.
the above would be presented in a tab. We use a / forward
slash for sliding up
the fretboard and a \
slash for sliding down.
So 1 / 2
means "slide up from the 1st to 2nd fret".
Next, try a whole step
slide. That's the equivalent of two frets. So, starting at the same
fret), this time we're sliding up to the 3rd fret...
We don't have to move off the starting note that quickly, however. We
hold the starting note a bit longer and still use a slide to the second
Exactly the same pointers from before apply to longer slides. Quick,
smooth and constant pressure.
You can probably guess where this exercise is going!
Increase the distance of your slides by one fret at a time, until you
reach the octave of the starting note (13th fret in this case)...
Now, most of these are unusually large slides and unlikely to be used
solo, but what this exercise does is train you to slide to any given
target note accurately.
This is about hand-eye co-ordination.
Once you can do this comfortably, without mistakes, try the same
exercise using your other fingers, as there'll be times when you need
to slide using your middle, ring and even your pinky finger.
You should try the same exercise on the other strings.
We can also slide down
the neck into a target note.
This time, our target
note will be at the 7th
Similar to the process before, try sliding down to that note from one,
two, three, four etc. frets above
Remember, try both sliding as soon as you've picked the starting note
and holding the starting note before you slide.
Sliding Out Of A Note
This is less about specific target notes, but it gives your solos a
little extra spice.
Start higher up the fretboard for this exercise. For example, the 12th fret will do.
Pick the note as usual. Hold it for a second or two (add a vibrato
if you want) and then slide down
the fretboard towards the headstock...
It's up to you how long you make this downward slide, but try taking it
down to the 1st fret.
You'll most often want to mute
the string once you reach the end of your slide out. To do
this, simply mute the string by touching it with any part of your pick hand.
However, if you want to give your slide out a new target note, slide
down to that fret and hold your finger in that position. The
note, again, should sound cleanly.
Basic Guitar Sliding Exercises
In another lesson, we'll look at how to apply slides in the context of
scales and note selection. But for now, try the below exercises to help
you get physically
comfortable with sliding.
Click the tabs to hear examples. Fingering
First, a technique whereby we use slides to repeat a picked target
You could call this "slide to repeat"!
Next, a single string exercise where we're alternating our
ring and index fingers for each slide as we work our way up
the fretboard - great for moving between scale positions.
Using this technique alone can give your solos a very unique sound.
This next exercise shows you how you can use up and down slides to move
through pentatonic scales in a more interesting, slurred way...
I've used a slide as an alternative to a hammer-on/pull-off sequence.
Some (like me) prefer to use slides when playing legato within the
space of one or two frets, as it sounds smoother. We slide up and then
immediately back down to the starting note, creating a kind of "knee
Some final things to think about...
Don't over-slide! Use them sparingly in your music to keep
them special and not trite.
You can slide more than one note at a time! For example,
two strings together, or even entire chord shapes (more on chord
sliding in the rhythm section).
slides to help you move smoothly from one scale position to another on
the neck. For example, if you're playing around a box scale pattern,
slide from the edge of the box up into the next position for that scale.
Find interesting ways of combining slides with other
such as bends, vibrato, hammer-ons, pull-offs, tapping etc.