Slide guitar has been around for a long time, and is commonly associated with the blues and country. This peculiar technique allows you to produce unique glissando effects and profound vibratos similar to the human singing voice.
The use of slides was popularized initially by legends like Earl Hooker and Muddy Waters. Then Duane Allman came along, as well as more experimental players like Ry Cooder, to introduce the slide to a new generation of guitar players.
That tradition is kept alike today, mostly by the exquisite playing of Derek Trucks, which relies heavily on slide guitar. The market noticed this and has done its job, and several companies produce different types of slides to fit all styles and preferences.
With so many types, materials, sizes, etc, how do you make sense of it all? We’re here to help out. Keep reading.
Features: All magnesium construction, Contoured edges, 39.6g Weight
Benefits: Great for light gauge strings, Extremely comfortable, Highly durable
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Features: Porcelain construction, Porous interior, Boneyard logo
Benefits: Great blues tones, Works for electric and acoustic, Won't slip due to sweat
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Features: Pyrex glass construction, Rounded edges, Bottle style design
Benefits: Extremely durable, Shatter resistant, Thick warm tones
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- Our Top 3
- Individual Reviews
- How to Choose The Right Slide For You
- Final Thoughts
Our Top 3
The Dunlop 257 Joe Perry Boneyard is our Top Pick, co-designed by the legendary Aerosmith guitarist. This slide is made of porcelain which is a nice midpoint between the bright tone found on metal slides and the smoothness of glass ones.
The Dunlop 215 Pyrex Glass slide is our Budget Choice. This slide provides a warm tone and a comfortable playing experience. It features renowned Dunlop quality built at an affordable price.
The MagSlide Magnesium MS-2 is our Editor’s Choice. Made especially for professional players, this slide allows you to get the most expression from your instrument. It is made of magnesium, for superior tone and comfort.
Superior sustain from a guitar legend's slide.
Joe Perry has been the lead guitarist of the legendary band Aerosmith for over 40 years. Dunlop developed this slide in order to fit Perry's playing, and made a unique material choice for its construction that benefits tone and sustain.
The Dunlop 257 Joe Perry 257 Signature Boneyard is a great choice for both electric and acoustic guitar. Made of porcelain, this slide provides a nice middle ground between the bright tone found on metal slides and the smoothness of glass ones.
Porcelain also offers an added weight that results in a pronounced sustain that is ideal for longer-held notes. In our tests, we also got a fast attack when trying some blues licks on our Strat, and a great dynamic response.
With a bit of overdrive, the Joe Perry 257 Signature Boneyard gave us great sustain. Although this slide was made especially for the Aerosmith’s legend, the response it offers reminded us of Derek Trucks, with tons of sustain and expressiveness on every note and lick.
The interior surface on this slide is a bit rough in order to fit Joe Perry’s preference. It also helps absorb moisture which is a massive plus for long gigs, especially on those summer festivals.
Throughout our tests, this slide felt secure on our finger and gave us stability and we never felt the risk of it sliding off, pun intended. We also felt comfortable when trying it on our Martin acoustic, where it also remained expressive.
This slide is medium long, measuring 19 mm x 31 mm x 70 mm. It should fit on most fingers and feel relatively comfortable. In short, a fantastic porcelain slide that provides massive sustain and a comfortable grip for both electric and acoustic guitars.
Verdict: The Dunlop 257 Joe Perry 257 Signature Boneyard is a great slide made of porcelain. Providing a middle ground between bright tone smoothness, this slide offers superior sustain and works great on electric and acoustic guitars.
Think tone on a straightforward slide.
Coming from a lineage of slides that have been a top choice for guitarists all over, this model offers you comfortable weight with a warm tone. Well built and simple, it is one of the most affordable options out there, but comes with the quality Dunlop is known for.
The Dunlop 215 Pyrex Glass Slide provides a thick and warm tone while providing a comfortable weight for a diversity of players. Its dimensions are 20 mm x 29 mm x 69 mm. This slide fits ring size 10.5 and gets the job done while remaining quite affordable.
In our tests, we tried this slide with our Strat and our Les Paul. It performed nicely on both guitars, allowing the true character of our instruments to come through while we played several blues slide licks.
We particularly liked how it paired with our Les Paul with some overdrive on it, courtesy of our trusty Tube Screamer pedal. The 215 Pyrex Glass Slide felt comfortable in our hands and had a nice weight that made sliding easy.
Throughout our tests, we got a warm tone that balanced nicely on our Strat, and was pure fatness on our Les Paul. We particularly liked it on the bridge pickup of our Les Paul for distorted bluesy licks.
We also tried this slide on our Martin D12E guitar. Here, we also felt relatively comfortable with this slide and got a nice tone on our acoustic guitar. We played through a few blues shuffle accompaniments involving slides, and the Dunlop 215 Pyrex Glass performed well.
In short, a well-built and affordable slide that gets the job done. It works nicely in both distorted and clean settings, as well as on acoustic guitar.
Verdict: The Dunlop 215 Pyrex Glass Slide is a well-built slide that offers you thick tone and comfort for different electric guitars, as well as acoustics. It fits ring size 10.5 and is a straightforward slide that gets the job done on a budget.
A great choice for dedicated players that need the best.
This slide is made for professional players of different genres and playing styles that want to get the most expression out of their slide work from any guitar. Made of magnesium, this is a premium choice for guitarists that value tone and comfort above all other criteria.
The MagSlide Magnesium MS-2 goes against the grain and avoids years of slide construction and tradition by using Magnesium as its main material.
Throughout history, few materials have been employed for almost all slides constructed. For instance, glass is renowned for providing a light touch and warm tone. On the other hand, metal is known for providing a sharper tone and sustain.
However, metal is also heavier than glass which results in better sustain, while glass is lighter and warmer. The MagSlide Magnesium MS-2 is the result of a year of engineering, designing, prototyping and testing a magnesium tube.
We were very curious to see how this slide would perform and used our Strat on a Deluxe Reverb amp for our tests. We got fantastic sustain even in our clean setting, and a beautiful singing tone with overdrive and distortion.
As nice as that was, we were truly impressed by how light this slide is. To give you some perspective, the MagSlide Magnesium MS-2 is five times lighter than brass and about 75 percent lighter than steel.
Also, this slide is 33 percent lighter than a glass model. With a 2.515″ length, 1.149″ Outside Diameter, and weighing a mere 1.4 oz, you’d be hard-pressed to find a slide that is more comfortable than this. And in all honesty, there is no tradeoff, as the sound, sustain and warmth on the MagSlide are fantastic.
In short, this slide provides ultimate comfort while giving you a warm tone with beautiful sustain, making it an ideal choice for professional guitarists.
Verdict: The MagSlide Magnesium MS-2 employs a novel and ingenious Magnesium construction and is a great choice for dedicated players. This slide is lighter than any other models on the market today and provides a nice and warm tone with loads of sustain.
An innovative design that gives you the best of both worlds.
This guitar slide offers a unique design that allows you to play slide guitar and finger your strings normally by simply turning it around. Ingeniously built and durable, this is a good choice for folks looking for a different and versatile approach to slide guitar.
The Shubb AXYS Reversible Guitar Slide features durable brass construction and has an open design on one side. This unique design feature allows you to reverse the cylinder in order to finger the strings normally as if you did not have a slide on.
The base of this slide is made from Delrin plastic and greatly aids comfort while acting like a protector ring for your finger. This plastic base makes it easy to rotate on your finger in order to make the switch from sliding to normal fingering.
In other words, you can simply use your thumb in order to rotate this slide and get the best of both worlds. This slide is made of brass, which provides a full tone with a nice lower end.
In our tests, we got a warm tone for our slides while testing it on our Les Paul. We then tried it with our Strat, and we added some overdrive and got a full tone with that forwardness in the middle pickup. After playing a few bluesy slide slicks, we then tried to turn it around to see how effective the entire principle of this product is.
We placed it on our ring finger, just like Shubb recommends, and were able to turn it easily to then play in a conventional way. Although it was relatively simple to use, it was a different feel to play “normally” while this slide is still on our hand. This may take some time to get used to.
In short, a well-made slide for folks willing to try something new in the name of versatility and convenience. Those looking for a regular or traditional slide may look elsewhere.
Verdict: The Shubb AXYS Reversible Guitar Slide features a unique design and a sturdy brass construction. This construction allows you to reverse the slide in order to play normally through the cavity on the opposite side, offering you versatility in a novel design.
An effective slide from the ultimate guitar company.
A simple and traditional design and construction that results in a straightforward slide. Also with standard brass construction, this slide offers a warm tone for both electric and acoustic guitars and is made overseas.
The Fender Brass slide features a simple design and a standard medium size. Brass is a very common material to use on slides as it provides a warm and full sound with a nice sustain that has a hint of brightness.
This slide features a standard construction with a length of 60 mm, an inner circuit of 61 mm, and an internal diameter of 19 mm. It was produced in Taiwan and displays a durable construction that will last you for while, and a traditional design.
We tried the Fender Brass slide on our Strat in clean and overdriven settings with our Tube Screamer. We got a nice full sound that is typical of brass slides, and still retained the bitey quality of our overdriven Strat on pickup position 2.
This slide felt good on our ring finger and although it was not particularly light, it did not hinder our agility on the fretboard. This is partly to be expected on slides that are made of brass, which tends to be heavier than other materials.
We also tried this slide on our acoustic, and it got the job done just fine, with a rich tone and a relatively comfortable grip. The model we tried was a medium standard size. However, you can purchase the Fender Brass slide in several lengths and thicknesses in order to fit your hand.
In short, a basic brass slide that gets the job done well. This is a good choice for folks getting started with slide guitar. Professional musicians looking for superior tone and comfort may look elsewhere.
Verdict: The Fender Brass slide features a common material and construction that delivers. Brass provides a full sound that works nicely on both electric and acoustic guitars, and this Fender slide is a good choice for beginners or folks looking for a straightforward slide.
A simple yet effective slide for all your needs.
Ernie Ball made its name as one of the top string brands, and with time has developed other quality products, including pedals, straps and accessories. This slide stays true to this company's mission of providing straightforward solutions for musicians.
The Ernie Ball Chrome Plated Brass ring slide provides comfort and brightness while easily fitting on your ring finger. It features an internal diameter of 0.87″ (22’1mm) with a length of 2.5″ (64 mm).
We started our tests with our Strat and slight overdrive. Here we got a crisp tone with brightness on the top end that fit nicely with the Strat’s forwardness. With higher distortion settings we got a nice sustain and all of our slide work had a nice overall brightness to it.
Switching on to our Les Paul, we still got a bright tone that was mellowed by the characteristics of the humbuckers. We actually preferred how our Les Paul paired with this slide as it was a bit warmer. We especially liked it with a bit of overdrive to give it that rock n roll edge that works perfectly in so many contexts.
This slide is not heavy, especially not for a model made of brass. We felt relatively comfortable on both our Les Paul and Strat and were able to perform our blues slide licks without a hitch.
In short, a well-made slide with the typical characteristics of brass. It does fall on the brighter side of things, so if you prefer a rounder tone, you may want to look elsewhere.
Verdict: The Ernie Ball Chrome Plated Brass ring slide is a good choice for players that like a more aggressive and brighter tone that can cut through a busy mix. This slide was specifically made for the ring finger and displays the expected traits of brass material, including a sharp sound with a bit of rock n roll roughness.
Billy Gibbons' signature slide for that massive Texas sound.
An authentic design from nearly a century ago for a unique and rooted in the blues sound. This slide features tons of attitude on solid construction, much like the sound and overall vibe of guitarist Billy Gibbons himself.
The Dunlop RWS14 Rev Willy’s Sangria Slide is the result of a collaboration between ZZ Top’s guitar legend Billy Gibbons and Dunlop. It features a medicine bottle style that replicates the design of the slides used by Depression-era blues players.
The peculiar design on blues bottle slides is the result of individually hand-blown glass, much like the medicine bottles from the late 20s and early 30s. However, unlike medicine bottles, the Dunlop RWS14 is weighted and with closed ends in order to provide optimum balance.
This is the particular preference of Billy Gibbons, also known as Rev. Willie G., and a part of his unique Texas blues tone and attitude. Besides its unique look, the Dunlop RWS14 can cover everything from Delta blues to pure rock n’ roll, making it a versatile slide.
We tried it on our Les Paul and got a rich and raw tone that is particularly full with a bit of distortion or overdrive. With nice sustain and a forward quality to the sound, this slide was also comfortable to use.
It also paired well with our Strat, giving us authentic single coil bite in the bridge, middle and neck positions. We especially liked it on position four, as the tone was forward and penetrating. We ventured into some of Billy’s licks and got a great tone throughout.
In short, a great slide with tons of attitude much like Billy Gibbons’ playing. If you want a more sophisticated tone or approach, this may not be the slide for you.
Verdict: The Dunlop RWS14 Rev Willy’s Sangria Slide was designed by Dunlop with the input of ZZ Top’s guitar legend Billy Gibbons. Featuring a medicine bottle style used by Depression-era blues players, this slide offers a raw tone and tons of rock attitude for those who gravitate toward that type of sound.
How to Choose The Right Slide For You
Slides come in a variety of styles and employ different materials. The most common are brass and glass, but there are other options like porcelain and even magnesium.
Each material has its own peculiarities and produces a different type of sound. They also feel different, and professionals will certainly tell you that the slide-playing experience can change drastically depending on the material used.
Here we provide you with a guide so you know where to start. It is also important to consider the size of your hands, and which guitar you have (especially if you only have one, or similar ones), in order to match it well with the slide and the tone and feel you’re after.
Glass is a very popular material for slides and for good reason. It produces a smooth, soothing and warm tone and tends to be lighter in weight than metal slides. Glass slides are usually made from Pyrex, although tempered glass is also used.
Brass or Nickel-plated Brass
Metal slides, either brass or nickel, are sought after for their fantastic sustain. They also offer a bright tone that can work wonders for some and seem piercing to others. These slides are also much heavier than glass slides, but many players actually prefer the feel they provide.
Ceramic or Porcelain
If you want something in between glass and metal, then ceramic or porcelain is a good choice. Slides made of one of these materials are not particularly bright or warm and offer a nice balance. Ceramic or porcelain slides may also be a good choice for a guitarist that is looking for versatility.
These slides also offer a nice midpoint in weight between glass and metal. They are not as heavy as metal slides, but not as light as glass slides either.
On the other hand, these slides are not as durable and may crack or even break if you drop them on a hard surface.
Size, weight, chosen finger
The slide is typically placed on your ring or pinky finger. Naturally, the size you choose depends on your finger size, which finger you use to slide and what feels comfortable enough.
Even though all of the above seems obvious, it is hard to overstate it. For instance, you may want your slide to feel quite tight on your finger, or maybe you prefer a bit of wiggle room.
There is no replacement for trying different slides. The same is true for which finger you choose to use, particularly if you’re new to slide guitar.
That said, slides are generally sized S, M, L, and XL. This refers to the inside diameter. Again, you need to try and see not only what fits you, but what kind of grip you prefer to have.
Length is another important consideration. In general, the shorter the slide, the easier to move your slide finger and control it. On the other hand, longer slides cover the entire neck so you have some economy of movement and don’t need to reach, especially when going from a low string to a high one, or vice versa.
Your slide’s weight should be proportional to your guitar’s string height and gauge. If you use thicker strings and a higher action, then a heavier slide will allow you more control and avoid fatigue.
On the other hand, if you play lighter strings with a lower action, a lighter slide will be just fine. A heavy one may just be overkill for this situation. However, this is a call that you need to make, after trying out a few slides.
Learning to play with a slide can be a nice addition to your bag of tricks. Although it may be challenging at first, a well-played slide can have an enormous effect on your expressiveness on the instrument.
Using a slide also gives you a tool that is basically unique to guitar players as it allows us to get closer to some of the artifacts that only the human voice can produce. Furthermore, playing slide well will also make you more employable as a guitar player.
To recap our choices, The Dunlop 257 Joe Perry Boneyard is our Top Pick, made especially for the iconic Aerosmith guitarist and featuring porcelain.
The Dunlop 215 Pyrex Glass slide is our Budget Choice as it provides a warm tone and a comfortable playing experience at an affordable price. It comes with the quality expected from Dunlop products.
Finally, The MagSlide Magnesium MS-2 is our Editor’s Choice. This slide is for discerning players and is made of magnesium, an uncommon choice that produces great tone and comfort.