Learning the Nuts and Bolts of Blues Slide Guitar

This month on AcousticGuitar.com we are having a look at all things bottleneck guitar—from choosing the right slide to learning how to use it in a variety of styles. The focus of this installment is on what you can learn from blues slide guitarists, and how you can borrow from them to enrich your own playing. In other words, this is what you need to start building a good slide vocabulary.

Check out more articles on slide guitar here

Jontavious Willis

At 25, Jontavious Willis is one of today’s great young blues guitarists. In this exclusive video lesson, complete with standard notation and tablature, Willis teaches how to play his clever open-G arrangement of “Poor Boy, Long Ways from Home.” Be sure to check out the source material for Willis’s arrangement—a 1927 recording by banjoist Gus Cannon.

Kelly Joe Phelps

Kelly Joe Phelps is the total package. He’s not just an excellent guitarist and singer, but a songwriter of depth and complexity. In this lesson you’ll adapt Phelps’ open-D ideas to bottleneck style, with some examples inspired by “The House Carpenter” (from 1999’s Shine Eyed Mister Zen). Then, you’ll delve into his open-G work with some figures like those heard on 2012’s Brother Sinner & The Whale.

Jimmy Page

The legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, like most rock musicians, is heavily indebted to the blues. Check out this lesson to learn his slide moves in such classic Zeppelin songs as “When the Levee Breaks,” “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” and “In My Time of Dying,” and how to put it all together in a concise and tasty 12-bar solo.

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