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How to Choose the Right Guitar Slide For You

acoustic guitar slides

So you’ve decided to play slide guitar, have you? Perhaps you were just curious after seeing your favorite player don a slide or maybe you were listening to some blues rock and your fingers were itching to emulate the sounds. Whatever the case may be, welcome! Here at Rocky Mountain Slides, we are overjoyed when a musician young or old, inexperienced or experienced, decides to venture into the world of slides. It is our business, passion, and mission to make the best guitar slides the world over and offer them up at a competitive price! That being said, how do you know which one is the right one for you? While it can take years of playing and trial and error to finding the sound you most enjoy—and that process is the fun part, believe us, here are a few questions to get you started.

How Does It Fit?

It doesn’t matter what kind of slide you get, if it’s ill-fitting, that’s no good. Playing guitar is first and foremost about feeling comfortable and being able to concentrate on the music, if your slide is bothering you midway through then it defeats the purpose of enhancing your sound and play.

There are two aspects to a good fit:

  1. Finger Diameter – This measurement is critical to how the slide fits around your finger, too tight and it will be uncomfortable. Too loose and you simply won’t be able to play effectively with it due to the tool sliding on your finger instead of your guitar!
  2. Length – Choosing a length for your slide is also important as it will dictate how you choose to play and fret. Take a look at our handy mini-guide to diameter measurements and lengths over here!

As an aside, remember that the length of your slide of choice is also highly determined by which finger you choose to use the slide on. But really, whatever finger “Feels Best ” to you is always the right choice. It’s about making the tool fit your needs, whatever that is.

Choose Your Slide Type

Now that you’ve got your fit figured out. There are a few factors to consider that differentiate one slide from another.

    1. Weight – Weight or “Mass” plays a part but ids not only aspect in choosing a slide. These Stoneware slides are unique in that Thet offer Density over Mass. What this means is that you get a lighter finger slide that offers lighter weight and can be played on ANY Guitar. A major misunderstanding is that you need a heavy slide to get tone, the slides that I make defy this notion as even our lighter slides can produce dramatic results.
    2. Wall Thickness – While it isn’t always the case, generally speaking, a slide with a thicker wall will most likely also be heavier. This means that slides with thicker walls can be considered to have similar benefits as heavier slides. Overall though, the most important aspect of wall thickness is how it feels to play, and what materials they’re made from. The thicker the wall, the warmer the tone with RMSC slides.

Most Common Slide Materials

The Mass and Density create the sonic properties of your slides tone produces, all end up being most influenced by which material you use, of course!

Some common materials for slides are glass, metals, ceramics, bone, woods, and stone.

Glass – Glass is smooth and light, which leads to a sound as equally smooth and light. For this reason, players who desire more sustain will have to opt for a considerably thicker glass slide to counteract that softness it possesses. *Real Glass (Silica) never use Boracilicate (Pyrex) most “Glass” slides out there is Pyrex!!

Metal – Metal is as expected, much heavier than glass and offers a long sustain and a “harsher” sound that is one option, but with this, you have to make adjustments to your rigs and acoustically you have no choice except what type of metals you use. Steel – very shrill aggressive tones. Brass- much warmer than brass but very heavy on the finger. Aluminum -softer sound, warmer ton but not as loud. Titanium – light and sounds like a cross between steel and Brass but almost the weight of aluminum…but very costly to buy and hard to work with. We offer a flared Aged (heat Tempered)Brass slides in 2 beautiful designs and 2 different spec settings. Balanced and with a comfortable 5mm wall thickness is one choice.

Ceramics – We specialize in custom ceramic slides that are created with several ergonomic features so our patrons can enjoy a much more comfortable and diverse playing experience. Our slides are crafted out of a solid block of Stoneware clay— which is far denser than most clays used in other ceramic slides, which use a clay called “slip”. We take that hunk of Stoneware and wrap around one of our signature glazes which are created in-house. The glazes are comprised of various rare earth elements such as microcrystalline deposits and metals. Due to this, the combination of Stoneware and our custom glazes, high in Silica(Glass)creates a wonderfully diverse range of tonal possibilities.

We have expanded our line to encompass our original Stoneware slides as well as bring on board our “Elements Series” featuring a variety of Real Stone finger slides and tone bars with their own sonic personalities. And with the “Orgains Series”, we are venturing into the worlds of Metals and Alloys creating hundreds of slides that offer an immense and uncompromising range of sound for our musicians to use.

Rocky Mountain Ceramic Slides

So, now that the question of how to choose a suitable slide is out of the way, here are some slides that we offer that can satisfy some different needs.

For those who are looking for a thin and light slide, look no further than the Cochetopa Finger Slide.

Cochetopa guitar slide

It has the same outer diameter as our popular Columbine model—which is a great lightweight fit with moderate thickness, but the Cochetopa is significantly thinner and more secure-fitting.

If you’re looking for something with a thin wall but isn’t an ultra-thin model, look no further than our Blues Boy slide model.

blues boy guitar slidl

Thick Walled Slides

The Shavano is a slide we designed for players who wanted a tighter fit. It has a more traditional feel and suits players with average-sized fingers.

Shavano guitar slide

The Salidan has a very thick wall that aids in belting out warmer tones. The inner diameter is the same as the Blues Boy but it is a great alternative if you want a thicker slide.

Salidan custom guitar slide

Custom Ceramic Guitar Slides

With over 17 years of loving dedication to creating custom guitar slides, Rocky Mountain Slides is the best purveyor of these wonderful tonal instruments. Our patrons who have had the pleasure of trying our slides have had nothing but good things to say!

When we set about making our slides, we didn’t want to make slides that are “good enough”, we wanted custom, slides worthy of being called artisanal. Though we preach diversity in the sounds our slides can create, we fully embrace specializing in our craft. That’s why we chose to only create guitar slides because we wanted a better tone tool, and are committed to that ideal.
If you have any questions about our slides or would like to inquire about a custom piece, we’d love to hear from you today. Contact us here or give us a call at (719)-221-1030!

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The Rocky Mountain Guitar Slide Story

Shavano Guitar Slide

One of my proudest moments was seeing Bryan Bassett’s face light-up after playing one of my slides. On the stage that night, he looked like a three-year-old in a candy store, completely in-love with the sound of the Rocky Mountain tone. For those not in the know, Bassett was the guitarist for Wild Cherry (“Play that Funky Music White Boy”), Molly Hatchet (Flirtin’ with Disaster), and now plays for Foghat, an English rock band known for their electric slide guitar sound. As a slide player myself, I shared similar sentiments with Bassett about the state of the average guitar slide: they just weren’t vocal or expressive enough! Since one of the main ideas of slide playing is to create a warmer vocal-like presence, it didn’t make sense to me that many companies mass-produced Pyrex and metal slides: materials which often create a shrill, steel-on-steel sound. Take a look at Bryan Bassett’s signature guitar slide! He believes in the product and uses it on-stage and in the studio.

What Led to My Custom Guitar Slides?

Every slide player has a box of slides lying around the house somewhere; if you’re a slide player, I think you can agree that most slides just never offer enough. This quest for finding the perfect tone tool resulted in the birth of my company, Rocky Mountain Slides. Rocky Mountain Slides has been in business since 2002, but I was working on slides 3 years’ prior with my father (who has some serious skill in ceramics). My only purpose was to create a product that other slide guitar players would love; to me, it’s all about the quality of the product and what it can do for an individual’s sound. At Rocky Mountain Slides, there is no disconnect between the maker and the player.

Like many other slide players, I was tired of my never-ending search for the perfect guitar slide. So, I decided to make my own. While I believe that the guitar tone comes from the fingers, hands, brain, and heart of the player, I also believe that the right tool can help every guitarist reach their full potential. The guitar slide has always been a tool of opportunity… just think of how Dwayne Allman used to use old glass Corcidin bottles as slides! If you have the right tool for the right job to make the right sound, there really is nothing better…

Tools of Opportunity

Rocky Mountain Slides will always be a small, artisanal company that is dedicated to high-quality, affordable tone tools. Unlike other major guitar accessory brands, guitar slides is all I do… and I truly believe in my product and “quality over quantity”. I hand-make every small batch right here in the good old United States and have been doing so for over 15 years. Our slides offer a warmth and unique vocal-characteristic that you won’t find in any other slide…. you don’t have to take my word for it either, just take a look at how fellow slide players think of the sound of my guitar slides.

Our Custom Guitar Slides

At the end of the day, my mission is simple: make a great product that other slide players will love (without breaking the bank). If you’re looking for a slide that is radically different from the ones you can buy in any of the big-box stores, head on over to our online slide store to get a feel for what we do. If you have any questions about the slides that I carry, you can call me personally at (719) 221-1030. In the next blog, we’ll take a look at what exactly sets our slides apart from the competition.

Happy Sliding! – Doc

 

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Custom Guitar Slides: What Our Customers Think

Fender guitar

At Rocky Mountain Slides, we build our custom guitar slides, picks, and guitar accessories under the principle of “more with less”. Our innovative tonal tools expand the presence, sustain, and color of your tonal pallet to create something that mass-produced slides simply can’t offer; large companies often use cheaper materials to cut their cost. However, this cost-cutting also reduces the amount of tonal color a slide can produce.

We’ve produced innovative guitar slides for nearly two decades by tailoring our products towards the discerning guitar player; but don’t just take it from us, here’s what Robert Johnson Jr. of Moses Jones & The Dirty Southern Souzl has to say:

“Doc, good morning! I’m not sure if you remember me or not, but you sent me a slide about 4 years ago. Well it rolled out on the concrete floor and smashed into lil pieces. The reasons I’m telling you this is because I just ordered a brand new one and I’m excited to be playing your slide again. Seriously, your product is so far superior to anything I’ve ever used. I’d love for you to check us out sometime and I plan on doing a promo showing the difference in the quality of your products compared to the competition. Rocky Mountain Slide-Co. and Moses Jones coming soon to a venue near you! I also ordered a pin for my guitar strap can can’t wait to rock that. Thanks for putting your heart into what you do sir. I can appreciate it and I can feel it!”

Unique Custom Guitar Slides

Professionals and hobbyists alike love our slides for the comfort, tonal qualities, unique ergonomic design, and control that our tone tools offer. One of our customers tried our Elements Series Stone Slides and gave it flying colors: “This slide gets that sound but with more sustain and a tone that I just can’t describe… Really unique. Might be perfect for some old delta blues stuff that I do.”

Unique is exactly the right word to describe our Elements Series, as they are made out of real stone; in addition to our stoneware clays, these tools will prove to be a staple in any guitar player’s tone arsenal. These beautiful slides are a pleasure to play, and they look just as sweet as they sound. The Element Series is just one example of the many innovations we bring to the world of custom guitar slides and it’s what Rocky Mountain loves to do – creating tone tools for slide players, by slide players.

Along with innovation, one of our biggest beliefs is that the customer comes first. If you have any questions about or guitar slides, do not hesitate to contact us at (719) 221-1030. We can help you decide which slide is the right fit for you – both physically and stylistically. Our customer service doesn’t end there. Customers often find a few surprises with their shipments:

  • Hi Doc, I received my shipment yesterday. Thank you so much for the note and for sending both the green and the voodoo! I can’t believe you did that!! Thanks for the great customer service, and for helping me pick the right one – the fit and feel is amazing for my pinky! I absolutely love both of them. Thanks so much!! – Best, Abbie B.
  • Hey Doc, the new slides arrived today. They are so beautiful and feel so great – just what I had hoped for Also, thanks for the freebie – II know it says it’s a 2nd but I can’t tell why. You do amazing work and I’m happy to let everyone know about it. Best, Mark W.
  • Hey Doc, just wanted to let you know I received my order on Sat. 4/27, and was surprised to find an extra slide included! I’ve been playing guitars for about 50 years now, but slide playing is a new endeavor for me. I’m trying out some different slides to see what works best for me, and receiving the extra, standard length slide is very helpful – I think I may actually like it better! Just wanted to say “Thanks!”

Essentially, the longer and thicker the wall of the slide, the warmer the tone; the shorter and thinner the wall of the slide, the brighter the tone. We have a wide selection of custom guitar slides to choose from, so give us a call if you need advice on which one to choose!  If you’re looking for a great place to start, take a look at our Shavano guitar slide, at 19mm & ¾ inner diameter, it’s one of our most popular models.