Setting up for slide

spauldingrules

Senior member
Messages
720
Quick question - what are the important things to do when setting up a guitar exclusively for slide?  I'd guess, but I may be wrong:

1.  Flat string radius (you know what I mean, so they are flat instead of arched with the neck radius).
2.  Thick strings
3.  Really high action

Also - how should one adjust the intonation on a slide guitar?  Obviously, you don't want to push down at the 12th fret, so do you just match up the open note and the 12th fret harmonic?

Thanks,

TS
 
R

RLW

Guest
http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/guitar_techniques/slide_guitar.html

http://www.guitarnoise.com/article.php?id=341

http://www.guitarforbeginners.com/forum/art-slide-guitar/9338-setting-up-tele-slide/

http://www.guitarseminars.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/017373.html

Hey, it's a start.
 

GoDrex

Senior member
Messages
3,619
spauldingrules said:
Quick question - what are the important things to do when setting up a guitar exclusively for slide?  I'd guess, but I may be wrong:

1.  Flat string radius (you know what I mean, so they are flat instead of arched with the neck radius).


Also - how should one adjust the intonation on a slide guitar?  Obviously, you don't want to push down at the 12th fret, so do you just match up the open note and the 12th fret harmonic?

hmmm - people have been playing slide on strats and LP's (and others) for decades now and those necks are far from flat - - but I guess a flatter fretboard might be good...

I would say that you'd set up the intonation like you normally would. Matching up the open string and the harmonic seems pointless to me (correct me if I'm wrong) because they are  going to always be the same. There's no way to adjust one or the other independantly. You tune the string and the harmonic will change along with it.
 
G

guitlouie

Guest
I think he meant that when setting up for slide, you don't want to match the stings to the radius of the fretboard.
 

dbw

Senior member
Messages
4,531
spauldingrules said:
1.  Flat string radius (you know what I mean, so they are flat instead of arched with the neck radius).
2.  Thick strings
3.  Really high action

Makes sense to me...

spauldingrules said:
Also - how should one adjust the intonation on a slide guitar?

If you're JUST playing slide, you want the intonation to be basically the same on all the strings, i.e., no stagger in the saddles.  I'd say intonate one string as normal and set the rest to match that one.

spauldingrules said:
Obviously, you don't want to push down at the 12th fret, so do you just match up the open note and the 12th fret harmonic?
You CAN'T set the intonation so the open string matches the harmonic.... or more precisely, you can't set intonation so the open string DOESN'T match the harmonic!  They'll always match no matter how much you change the intonation.

And most important of all, you must post a clip of yourself playing slide!  I'm a horrifically bad slide guitarist but I like listening to it.
 

GoDrex

Senior member
Messages
3,619
guitlouie said:
I think he meant that when setting up for slide, you don't want to match the stings to the radius of the fretboard.

ah yeah you're right - though can't be done on certain bridges - like a TOM
 

spauldingrules

Senior member
Messages
720
It seems that the intonation could be a little off - the 12th fret won't always be right in the middle, which is where you'd think it would be best for a slide setup.  Should the length of each string be identical?
 
G

guitlouie

Guest
Well, I play quite a bit of slide, but I do so on guitars that are not specifically set up for slide, so mine are all intonated as if I were going to play in a traditional fashion.  However, the good thing about slide is that you can make microscopic adjustments to notes by moving the slide by tiny increments.  If you have a good ear, you put the slide where it sounds right rather than where it looks like it should go.  If I were going to dedicate a guitar to slide the most important thing I would concentrate on would be to get the action up a bit. 
 

tfarny

Senior member
Messages
4,481
Thicker strings and higher action, intonation is all done on the fly with a slide. If you're setting up for slide-only, you'd want a new nut with significantly higher action. Mostly you'd want a normal setup with thicker strings and jack up your action a tad, that way you can combine slide and regular licks. My #1 is set up kind of slide-friendly, I just use 11s and don't get too crazy with the action.
If you're having problems getting a good clean electric slide tone, welcome to the club, though switching to a lightweight glass slide may make it a bit easier.
 

Zibethicus

New member
Messages
1
I dunno if this is any help, but it's possible to get tapered slides where the sides curve inwards like a cooling tower.  I have one of these in brass and use it all the time, as I find it much better than a flat slide.  Personal taste, of course, but the way they are marketed sometimes (I think) is on the lines of not needing to change string setup from standard.  Perhaps it would be worth looking for one.

How they would work on a compound radius neck I couldn't say, as I'm still working on my first Warmoth.

Hope this helps,

->Zx<-
 

jackthehack

Senior member
Messages
5,630
Hmmm... Duane Allman seemed to do just fine using the same LP/setup for slide work as everything else
 

tfarny

Senior member
Messages
4,481
Spaulding, just play some slide, you'll find that the intonation is all in how you place it. Slide guitar is so NOT about perfect intonation or setup. Just jack up yer action and let rip.
 

koshersteel

Senior member
Messages
190
No matter how well you set up a guitar the intonation will ALWAYS be off. Guitars are imperfect and imprecise, they aspire to Equal Temperament but in truth have their own distinct sound complete with it's own unique dissonances. Listen to a classical piece by Cascassi or Brauer for great examples of compositions that exploit these traits. The great advantage of slide style is that you can play "In Tune" ie: Just Intonation. This allows you to play pure melodic intervals with all the richness of a vocalist.

As far as setup I agree with what has already been said. A flat radius helps but is not essential and if you are playing melodically a radius can even help with string muting as you won't have the slide directly on strings that aren't being played. Calibrate the G or D string on the bridge and then set all the strings that way.

If you play full chords you will still have some tuning issues (don't blame me, blame the math) but if your bass player is playing the root the you can angle the slide and play two notes perfectly in tune. The 3rd and 5th are the obvious choices but a great Joe Pass trick is to play the 3rd and 7th. Sorry if this is TMI but as a sitarist and pedal steeler tuning is a subject near and dear to me.
 
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