Kirk's Weekly Guitar Lesson: Three Slide Guitar Lessons

Hi, fellow guitar fanatic, I'm back.

I'm afraid I came down with some sort of flu bug that I'm fighting off at the moment, so I don't have a new lesson for you this week. However, I thought I could mention three slide guitar lessons that I have included in the lessons section of Guitar for Beginners and Beyond. As you may know already, most slide guitarists tune their guitars to open tunings, meaning that when you strum the open strings, you hear a proper chord, and when you apply the slide to the strings, you also hear a nice big chord that you can slide up and down the fretboard. The only problem is, of course, you can really only get the flavor of the chord you're tuned to, which is usually major. That can be quite restricting if you want to play music other than simple 12 bar blues. Not only that, as soon as you retune your guitar to a chord, the layout of the fretboard changes completely, smearing out all landmarks and patterns that we put so much time into learning. Yet another problem imposed by open tunings is the fact that you just can't help but play those cliched lines that everyone seems to play in open tunings. It's very difficult to find a unique sound.

I decided way back when to go back to standard tuning. What I discovered, to my delight, is that standard tuning is in fact a whole bunch of mini open tunings living side by side. I could express major chords, major 7th, minor, minor 7th, 9th, sus4, 11th ... 7th, augmented and diminished can be hinted at ... not only that, all my landmarks were intact and the layout of the fretboard remained familiar and friendly. I sometimes drop the bass string down to D (dropped D tuning) also, but that affects just that one string, so it's still basically the standard tuning layout.

What we slide players look for are positions where notes line up, and that's what the lessons are about: 'line em' up' positions, their flavors and how to use them when building a guitar part.

Go to Guitar for Beginners and Beyond, register if you haven't already (it's free) and look for the "Kirk's Slide Guitar Lessons" forum. They come with movies, tab, midi files ... the usual.

If you'd like to listen to a tune played on slide in dropped D, this is a new recording I did called Tropical Low:

lo-fi URL:

hi-fi URL:

It was in fact while searching the fretboard for 'line 'em ups' that I stumbled onto the fretboard map that became my book PlaneTalk. It continues, at an ever increasing rate, to shed blinding light on the workings of music and the guitar for all those still looking for a reliable map, one that can apply to all music, no matter how seemingly complex. Here is what Wayne, who lives in Germany, wrote about it:

Sorry, but I'm a total sceptic when it comes to claims of "miraculous teaching methods" or "I wish someone had taught me this..." when it comes to guitar teaching and learning. In my opinion there are more rubbish books, CD's and DVD's available out there than you can shake a stick at!

So, you can imagine my complete and utter surprise when when I received my copy of Plane Talk (the book and DVD) and started reading the stuff through. Then watching the DVD too... Absolutely Brilliant. And no, these guys don't pay me. Even as a beginner, it is my judgement that every guitarist should have a copy of this material. It'll save you years of frustrating work!

Thanks Kirk!

The PlaneTalkers Forum, where we discuss music and the simple PlaneTalk technique, is a beehive of activity these days, so if you're one of the many who have all the basics down but you're still wondering how it is that some players have total command of the fretboard at all times, drop in for a visit. You won't regret it, guaranteed. More testimonials here.

OK, back to raw garlic and lemon-honey drinks for me, I'm going to beat this bug!

All the best,


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