Slide Differences

A discussion of techniques, and equipment for guitar. Fretted, bottleneck or slide, acoustic or electric, this is the place.

Slide Differences

Postby Disciple » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:20 am

So I started with a Dunlop, probably pyrex slide. It was fine except it caused a painful callous at the base of my finger.

So I ordered a Redhouse, it was then I realized the difference in sound, much richer cleaner overall sound than the lighter pyrex Dunlop.

Unfortunately the Redhouse didn't quite fit the way I had hoped, the notch to avoid the callous issue was on the narrow end of the bottleneck and just didn't quite make it onto my finger. So I put it on "backwards" (notch at the finger tip end) and played away. It was great, worked well and helped bring my playing along to another level.

So last week it dawned on me that my Tile Saw would likely cut glass so I found a bottle that appeared a little bigger than the Redhouse and started cutting. I basically recreated the dimensions of the Redhouse and then polished with emery cloth both the cut ends until it was smooth enough to be safe. I haven't bothered just yet to go all the way and finely polish the thing but I'll get to that.

In the end I cannot hear any difference between it and the Redhouse, I've tried all sorts of different things, held the guitar facing me directly lap style and there is nothing I can hear that separates the two.

I'm not knocking the Redhouse just wondering if maybe after a point we're just splitting hairs with some of this stuff. I see other posts here mentioning slides that are valued way past what I'd pay and have to wonder if there is really that much difference.

I get that the thinner and different grade of glass that the Dunlop is would have a different sound but once you get into typical bottlenecks with the kind of average thickness most bottles have, how much difference in the sound could there possibly be?

Does glass type factor in a lot or is it weight or perhaps it's density. I guess different combination's have an effect but again after a certain point do we really hear it?
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby leftyguitarman » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:47 am

Whether or not your ears hear it, is questionable and debatable. I have a Diamond Ultimate and a wine bottle neck and the two sound nothing a like, on any guitar. Then I have a Dunlop Brass which sounds even more different, then a Paloma ceramic which is also unique. Ian over at Diamond Bottlenecks sent me this material a while back, and I'll post it again. Here are some sonic differences of slides. So yeah, they all sound different to a computer, but to the human ear, maybe not so much.

Image

Image
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby zhyla » Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:25 pm

Wow, some actual data... you know it's illegal to bring data to this kind of discussion. You're only allowed to use vague terms to describe different materials ("aluminum gives a slightly brighter, round tone...").

I suspect the total weight of the slide has a lot to do with the sound. The hardness of the material is meaningful, but probably less so. The texture matters too - glass is (usually) quite smooth, whereas a brass slide may be mirror polished when you get it but quickly oxidizes and wears.

I think it's more important that the slide fit well (velcro tape!) and look awesome. As long as the slide is some decent material (glass, brass, ceramic) it's up to your fingers to make things work.
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby Disciple » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:04 pm

If those computer charts are generated by hand held slides on hand held guitars picked or strummed by hands they are pretty much meaningless in a scientific sense.

That said they definitely demonstrate exactly what I was trying to get at, we're really just splitting hairs for the most part.

Obviously different materials make different noises and density or texture factor in as well.

I can easily hear the difference between steel / brass and glass.

I don't hear the difference from one piece of glass to another when they are similar in size and shape. I'm sure the same thing occurs with metal. Thin walls sound different than heavy walls etc.
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby jellyroll baker » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:00 pm

Of course the weight and shape of the slide can also impact on your vibrato which is where your personal tonal "signature" often comes from so there's another factor to consider.
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby kiwiblues » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:14 pm

A lot of slide talk is mumbo jumbo just like a lot of 'organic food' and 'natural healing' talk.
A lot of it also has the role of decreasing cognitive dissonance (ie helping people feel good about something they've already purchased).
Slide makers also need a point of difference for marketing purposes and some types will be more expensive to manufacture than others.
There are subtle differences between slides but there are also massive differences in technique and individuals hearing quality which are often not subtle and make a great deal of difference to perceived sound.
If only my dog or cat could talk they if anyone, could tell the difference between my slides.
I have four made of different materials and they do sound a little different.
Which one I use depends just as much on my mood as anything else.
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby Neal » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:23 pm

And more below to obfuscate things further...

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11858

Having put that review up, I still hear very little difference in the quality slides, the most telling difference to me is the control.
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby diamond » Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:16 am

Hi Guys! Just sticking with glass here, you'll certainly notice a tonal difference between Pyrex, soda-lime (bottle glass) and hand blown lead crystal ~ but regarding soda-lime bottlenecks i personally always struggle to tell the difference between dark green & cobalt blue...although many professional slide players i've spoken to reckon it's blatantly obvious :lol:

If you've found a good quality, thick dark green glass bottleneck then cut and shaped it yourself, it'll sound indentical in tone to one of our own 'Redhouse' bottlenecks ~ what you're buying from us is the shaping, de-seaming & fine-polishing services that only professional glassworking equipment can create safely & consistently. I've seen a couple of e-bay-sold bottlenecks that come up to par with our own bottlenecks ~ but have cost the seller twice the price of one of ours to make due to purchasing the gear required (polishing discs; wet 'n dry cloth; cerium pastes etc) to offer a nice slide, and has then taken days to create!

That said, everyone should make their very own bottleneck at some point in their playing lifetime (should be a made a law!) and we regularly receive e-mails from folks asking for tips on how to final-finish a home-made bottleneck project...we're always happy to help if we can :wink:

The above soundwave info was created by the Ultrasound Department at Keele University in the U.K. using sonic microphones designed to measure the mating calls of bats....one guy spent a week using a '34 National Trojan to make this as a project to show what their recording equipment could also be used for! We tried to re-create this for our website using one guitarist, one guitar and a couple of days in a professional recording studio to make 'soundclips' of each different glass slide ~ it didn't work because there are so many discrepancies...the guy picked harder after every Espresso :roll: !!!!

Thanks folks & Slide On!

Ian (D.B's)
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby leftyguitarman » Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:15 pm

diamond wrote:The above soundwave info was created by the Ultrasound Department at Keele University in the U.K. using sonic microphones designed to measure the mating calls of bats....one guy spent a week using a '34 National Trojan to make this as a project to show what their recording equipment could also be used for!


Thanks for that info! It's good to know where it originally came from!
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby tinsmith » Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:28 am

What does it prove.....nothing. It's still a matter of taste, what an individual likes & is comfortable with.
Although, that lil experiment was probably fun.
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby OldWailer » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:06 pm

If you need to ask this question, you don't own enough slides. . .
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby jayseibert » Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:08 pm

OldWailer wrote:If you need to ask this question, you don't own enough slides. . .


Well said!

I had the rare opportunity to spend an hour with Paul Franklin, steel guitar player extraordinaire, talking about tone and slide/bar materials. When he walks into a recording session, he has a "kit" filled with a vast array of bars. He chooses the bar to use that best fits the tone he is looking for to best compliment the song he is laying tracks on. It is most important to him to have a selection available to him rather than be "stuck with", as he put it, just one bar. Paul is known for his amazing playing technique, musicality, and sense of "taste". He will use glass, brass, steel, composite, wood, plastic, and ceramic (he has 6 different Palomas).

Time and time again, we hear comments from professional and casual players who carry a good number of slides and bars in their cases... just to be able to pull out the right "tone" as required by the instrument and/or song. There is no question that different materials yield different tone. Yes, players like to collect slides and bars and many have settled on using a particular slide for an acoustic instrument and they'll use a different one for an electric instrument. Tone matters to them.

I might suggest that if you have been using just one type of slide or bar, you try something different for a change. Typically these don't cost an arm and a leg to purchase. And you might find that by using something different on your strings, you just might re-kindle some "lost energy" and spend a bit more time playing your instrument. You might find a new "tone" for yourself. You might discover a new lick or two. You might even write a new song with your new "toy".

"Variety is the spice of life."
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby ricbleu » Wed Apr 27, 2011 3:15 am

diamond wrote:The above soundwave info was created by the Ultrasound Department at Keele University in the U.K. using sonic microphones designed to measure the mating calls of bats....one guy spent a week using a '34 National Trojan to make this as a project to show what their recording equipment could also be used for! Slide On!
Ian (D.B's)


Did they have much trouble clearing the lab of randy male bats after the tests were run......? :D Peace
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby Django3 » Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:40 pm

HY"yall"
I Have foundI Get the best sound from a spark plug socket [$1 from a pawn shop] it is short, but i like single string riffs I am a real fan of Mississpi Fred
sounds really good on the "Vintage" tricone, upgraded with "hotrod" cones.
Jim.
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Re: Slide Differences

Postby flatrockmobile » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:52 pm

I've made several slides from wine bottle necks also. Used a diamond blade on a dremel and lots of H2O on slowest speed. Sound wise, not much different than other glass slides I've used. Most bottle necks, even though long and straight, have a slight curve to them. The trick for me is finding one dead straight.

Control is another issue. I play with my pinky a lot leaving my other digits free. I get better control with a small/short/thick wall Dunlop. If I'm playing nothing but slide in a tune, I prefer one of my homemade bottlenecks on my ring finger...heavier, but better control with that finger.

I've got clear, green, and brown homemades and cannot tell one bit of difference in sound, my favorite being a brownish/green one that is straight and fits perfectly (more control=better sound).
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