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The best guitar slides for acoustic and electric playing
Top 3 Picks for Metal, Glass, and Ceramic Guitar Slides
Never used one? Check the guitar slide basics in our buying guide
Quick Preface:This post recommends ceramic, metal, and glass guitar slides for acoustic and electric guitars. We won’t be covering steel bars (tone bars) used for resonators or lap steel guitars.
Often overlooked and unfairly derided, guitar slides are synonymous with twangy, melodic guitar playing reminiscent of southern blues and country music. Slides had a righteous role in defining the sound of Muddy Waters, Son House, Robert Nighthawk, and a whole generation of Delta and electric blues guitarists.
Today, guitar slide playing has broken free from its blues shackles. It has seeped into rock, jazz, fusion, metal, and indie/folk music. Whether you are out to be the next Derek Trucks or Duane Allman or just want a recreational guitar accessory, having a guitar slide is essential.
Not all slides are created equal. They are categorized by material: metal (steel/brass), glass, and ceramic. Thickness (inner diameter), size, and weight play a crucial role in determining the tone and sustain of the resulting sound. That will dictate the best guitar slides for each style and genre.
What Are The Best Guitar Slides?
If you’re after a metal slide, our top pick goes to the Rock Slide Swamp/Tarnished Brass. It’s hefty, gorgeous, and intelligently designed with ergonomic tapering that makes it fit like a glove. If you’re after a 3-material multipack so you can decide which you like best, the Be Valiant Set is a great option. If you’re after a ceramic one on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Dunlop 263 Mudslide.
If you are not sure about what to look for in a slide, check out our buying guide section first down at the bottom.
Let’s get real. If you’ve never held a guitar slide in your hand, all my gibbering about brass oomph, silky ceramic warmth, and tempered glass bite is just talk. You must, in good faith, get a generic guitar slide set to dip your toes in the pond.
Try each material to find out what it feels/sounds like and if it works for you. To that end, this Be Valiant set is one of the best ‘slide kits’ out there. It has three reasonably good slides (glass, chromed steel, brass) to help you understand the relationship between material, playability, and the resulting tone.
Plus, they have thrown in some picks, fingerpicks, thumb picks, and a carry case to sweeten the deal. This makes it even better for new guitarists who are experimenting with different playing styles.
Once you get familiar with the different materials and what works best for you, return to this article and pick out a new slide that is more suited to your tastes. But also, these might just be all you need.
2. Dunlop DT01 Derek Trucks Medicine Bottle Guitar Slide
It’s good to mention Jim Dunlop early as it is going to be a recurring name in this roundup. Dunlop offers the Derek Trucks DT01 – a Coricidine bottle-shaped glass slide that is well-balanced and stylish.
The weight distribution makes it a joy to play with. Plus, the medicine bottle aesthetic makes it stand out from the run-of-the-mill glass tubes.
The DT01 is our top recommendation for a full-length slide if you enjoy crisp sounds. Derek Trucks is a versatile tool so this slide isn’t just made for blues music.
It sounds warm on the low notes and has some bite when used on the treble strings. You can use it on an acoustic and electric guitar.
The weighted ends help with precision and the polished surface is super smooth over the strings. Glass slides have relatively short sustain. Being lightweight, they are preferred by low-action guitarists because they do not bear down on the strings.
While it is one of the best guitar slides out there, don’t expect a miraculous transformation to your slide sound. It will take more than a decent slide to sound like Derek Trucks, but this one is a great place to start. Approved and designed by the man himself, it can help you achieve a killer tone regardless of your style/genre.
The Moulded Glass Rock Slide is designed and carefully crafted with your needs as a player taken into careful consideration and is simply unmatched in comfort, thanks to the design's contoured finger rest and knuckle cutaway.
Rock Slide’s premium glass slide features a finger rest, knuckle cutaway, and tapered interior. It is hands-down the slide for those who value comfort, innovation, and stability. For a premium price, of course.
This glass slide is light, fast, and hand-forged. I’ll attest to the claim that it ain’t ‘ just another cut-up piece of pipe’. The sound is bright, crisp, and mid-rich. Professional players will enjoy the ergonomic design as it improves control, especially at high speeds.
The annealed surface is scratch-proof and accentuates the mids, enriching their clarity. With a 19.5mm inside diameter and 60mm (2.3-inch), it has medium wall thickness and length. It works great on a thin Strat-like neck. It is a fantastic glass slide for choppy slide blues playing and acoustic blues music.
Rock Slide offers some of the best glass and metal guitar slides. Their catalog boasts of a wide range of choices in terms of size, wall thickness, material, and type. You should easily find a snug fit for your hand and playing style.
The Moulded Glass Guitar Slide that we reviewed is nothing short of a premium item. The clever design, lighter weight, and smooth finish make it ideal for any style of music. If the price isn’t prohibitive, it might be difficult to go back to regular slides once you get your first Rock Slide!
Made from durable borosilicate glass, this sleek, handsome slide produces crisp, bright tones on your higher strings and warmer, lower tones from your bass strings — great for blues or any style you're into.
The Ernie Ball Glass Slide is a modest offering that is ideal for a curious or casual guitarist. Although a tad run-of-the-mill, it is a no-frills version of the more expensive glass guitar slides. It is available in small, medium, and large – ample options to find a good fit.
While it may not appease a slide-snob, the Ernie Ball offers a great glass slide for the money.
Keb Mo is a good enough reason to get this for your six strings. But when you are as close to the Tropic of Cancer as I am, sweat is a real problem. That’s when the moisture-absorbing interior of the Dunlop Keb’ Mo’ Signature guitar slide seals the deal.
Most beginners start with a ceramic guitar slide because they are versatile. The Dunlop KM slide isn’t for beginners per-se. Although, if you can afford it, there is no reason why a novice should pass on it.
Just bear in mind that ceramic is rather delicate and will crack/smash easily. It also doesn’t have the same bright tone as brass or steel slides.
The Dunlop KM signature is a top-notch ceramic guitar slide with an ultra-smooth surface and a warm/creamy tone. The sustain is neither short nor long – it’s right in the middle. Tone-wise, it sits between glass and metal, but it pairs beautifully with both acoustic and electric guitars.
The Dunlop Keb Mo Signature is a shoo-in for Keb’ Mo’ fans, electric or acoustic blues guitarists, songwriters, and country/folk/indie music. The comfort and playability are fantastic, even when the string action is low. It’s slightly bigger than a medium size slide and pretty thick too. It might take some time to get used to it.
6. Dunlop Billy Gibbons Mojo Guitar Slide (Ceramic Slide)
Mind you, it has a warmer tone than the usual ceramic slide and tames the highs on a Strat to quite an extent (which can be a good thing). Stay away if you enjoy treble-mayhem in your slide tone.
The Gibbons slide weighs a good two and a half pounds because of heavy wall thickness (22mm-ish). The resulting tone is thick and dark with bags of warmth in the low mids. In a nutshell, it is a refined version of all the goodness one should expect from a stylish ceramic cylinder.
Sadly, it’s only available in two sizes: Large and Extra-large.
The Dunlop Billy Gibbons Mojo Slide does not ship with any mojo. Now maybe – just maybe – you need to hack at the strings with a coin a la Gibbons, but even with a regular pick, the tones are soulful and bluesy.
Designed with a tapered interior to fit snugly on the finger, and prevent wobbling and is cut away at the knuckle to prevent pinching and adjacent finger rest for added stability, these thick solid brass walls provide unparalleled smooth sustain.
When you are new to guitar slide playing, every brass slide looks the same. They feel like an overpriced chunk cut from a metal pipe. Not the Rock Slide Swamp.
The Swamp Brass version is a heavier slide than chrome steel and can knock against the guitar’s fretboard if you don’t have good control. It’s hefty, gorgeous, and intelligently designed with ergonomic tapering that makes it fit like a glove.
The RS brass guitar slide has is well balanced and very responsive. It has a mellow, mid-rich flavor that lights up the vibratos. If long, slinky sustain is your thing, this brass slide is a “cut” above the rest.
It has a uniquely affable effect on the guitar, giving you a suave sound infused with deep vibratos and peerless glissando. The slide is available in a medium diameter but I prefer mine wide enough to cover all the strings for open tunings.
The Rock Slide Tarnished brass slide is pricey but sounds smooth and looks gorgeous. It has all the bells and whistles one can imagine and is available in a plethora of finish options and sizes. Frankly, if one of them isn’t good enough, then you are probably looking at the wrong material to begin with.
If you are not willing to splurge on burnished brass, the Jim Dunlop triple-two is an industry-standard when it comes to brass slides with medium wall thickness. It’s only available in a medium-size, but Dunlop literally has a brass slide for all four fingers.
The 222 (and 223) feel balanced and have the requisite heft for producing rich lows and deep sustain. At under $10, it’s a worthy addition to your guitar accessories kit if you find a proper fit.
3. Wolfram Martin Simpson Signature Slide (Premium Option)
Wolfram have distilled the essence of their no-compromise, award-winning tungsten carbide slides into the affordable Artist Series, delivering amazing tone and feel in a precision stainless steel guitar slide.
If you don’t mind shopping across the pond, Wolfram Guitar Slides are definitely worth a shot. They look flawless, play effortlessly, and sound exquisite.
They are pricey as heck and probably beyond the scope of an amateur. Still, they are a labor of love made with cutting-edge sintering, fanatical QA, and a ton of passion to boot.
The Martin Simpson metal guitar slides are incredibly ergonomic with unbelievably low friction. The marine-grade steel is so polished that it significantly reduces playing effort and improves control. The tone is resonant, bold, and precise – with great sustain and better volume than the average metal slide.
A Wolfram steel guitar slide is an ultra-refined version of a seemingly simple piece of equipment. It’s so refined that it might just be overkill for non-professional slide guitar, especially if you factor in the price.
The steel slide frequently receives rave reviews from amateur and pro guitarists. Due to a serious case of GAS, I jumped through a lot of hoops to score one.
What were my thoughts upon using it? I ordered another, just in case something happens to this one.
The Fender chrome steel electric guitar slide cuts through a band like a hot knife through country butter. Its sustain really makes those high notes sing, and its steel bite gives low strings added presence and harmonic complexity.
You have options for ‘ring size’ or partial slides if you want to retain the ability to bend your fingers while playing. A ring size slide is a shorter slide that uses a hook-and-loop setup. You can strap it to your finger but it isn’t designed for conventional slide techniques.
A chromed steel knuckle slide or reversible slides such as the Shubb AX Bras Slide is better suited for transitioning in and out of slide guitar while soloing.
Light slides are typically made from glass. Thinner walled slides will always be lighter than their thicker counterparts. Light slides glide smooth but thin walls don’t produce a lot of sustain.
I recommend light slides for fast electric playing and acoustic guitars with low action.
Heavy slides, especially the metal variety, are better if you prefer high-action or thick strings on your guitar. Heavy slides are typically brass or steel, especially the lap steel variety.
A hefty brass or steel slide has tremendous sustain but can push acoustic guitar strings against the fretboard. Generally, heavy slides demand better control to avoid unwanted ‘knocking’ noises as they rub against the fret wires.
Slide guitarists prefer the middle, ring, or little finger to play slide guitar.
The little finger is the most common choice, followed by the ring, and then the middle finger (shout out to Joe Walsh). As you may have guessed, the finger size will dictate the length and width of the slide you buy.
Use this quick guide to help you figure out what slide material is best for you:
Warm, smooth, low sustain
Tempered Glass or Pyrex
A middle ground between glass and metal
Bright, gritty, dark w/ infinite sustain
An aged and dented family heirloom
Chrome or Nickel plated
Bright, rounded w/ endless sustain
Supremely durable but may get scratched
If you aren’t using a cigarette lighter as a guitar slide like Jimi Hendrix or Pink Floyd, you will find that Jim Dunlop dominates every best guitar slides segment. If you are picking up one of their products, you can use their handy (printable) slide chart to find out your ring size.
Slide guitar playing is challenging but guitar slides are cheap and fun to play around with. Whether you use one for your primary style or you are looking for an off-the-wall experience, this post points to the best guitar slides to ensure that your curiosity “sustains”.
And if you get a signature guitar slide, remember, the printed side always faces away from the strings.