How to play perfect slides on your guitar with a bottleneck ?

How to play perfect slides on your guitar with a bottleneck ?


Ain’t nothing like a good resonator guitar and a bottle neck to sing the blues with an open heart. The perfect combo that smells good rural America and saloon’s cowboy. A great mix to highlight your bottleneck play. Ideal to enjoy some good slides.

A bottleneck, a slide ? What’s that ?!

To make it easy, the slide is a guitar playing technic consisting in sliding your finger from a note to another (higher or lower) on a same string. By letting it vibrate, you get a well-used technic, hearable in many famous songs like Enter Sandman from Metallica or Samba Pa Ti from Santana.
A bottleneck, on the other side, is a small hollow tube usually made of glass that guitarists slip around their left ring finger (or right for left-handed). By scrubbing it against the guitar strings, a metallic, sizzling sound is hearable. The expression Bottleneck comes literally from the neck of glass beer bottles bluesman were drinking. By smashing them and keeping only the neck, they discovered great sounds coming from the scrubbing. Nowadays bottlenecks are made from different type of material. Accordingly, the sounds produced will be either warm or cold.

Playing with a bottleneck

The bottleneck playstyle is quite particular. To get a right note, the bottleneck must be placed over the fret of the desired note. The sound will be identical to the fretted note but will be muted if you press too much with the glass part. To create perfect note, the bottleneck needs to brush against the string without being too far. You will need to tune you guitar in a special way to get the best out of your bottleneck experience. The point is to play freely with open chords modes. The Open G tuning is the most used in this case : D G D G B D. It’s a great reminder of blues melodies from the 1930’s.

A bottleneck playing example

Many famous guitarists are bottleneck experts. It’s for example the case of John Butler, Jack White, Ben Harper or even Eric Clapton.


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