Choosing a Guitar for Slide Playing: Woods, Action and Pick-Ups

For this article a few highlights for guitarplayers who plan on learning to play Silde guitar. Some simple tips about the kind of guitar you may want to use for Slide playing and what the impact is of the various factors such as type of woods, pick-ups and action.


When you plan to make a start with learning to play Slide guitar you may wonder what kind of guitar to use.
Most guitars are fine for this purpose but there are a few things you can look into before you plunge into the deep: Is the action high enough of the guitar you plan to use? If the answer is no it is easy enough to eradicate this issue: Simply raise the action. 
                        Type of Pick-Ups:

What about the pick-ups? Since the sound a slide produces is tinny it may be good to go for a guitar with Humbuck pickups: They produce a thicker sound which may be better at getting the sound to cut through in a mix of bass and drums. Ideally, get a guitar which does have both Humbuck and Single Coil pick-ups. In this way you can experiment with what kind of sound you like best. Often the sound which is most suitable will depend on the kind of song you are playing.

                       Wood of the Guitar:

What about the kind of woods? Should you really look into this?
Woods which absorb your sound may produce a somewhat “lazier sound”. A guitar where  the sound of the strings and pick-ups jump right  out of the amp may give you a more direct sound. This type of guitar may give a, somewhat, tinnier sound, because the woods do not really sustain the natural, acoustic sound of the guitar that well.
If your guitar is made out of a dense type of wood it will help to susain its natural acoustic sound, but it will also absorb the sound somewhat. Choosing bright pick-ups may help you to overcome the issue of absorbing the sound too much.

When it comes to woods you do not really have to become an expert at being able to spot what kind of wood your guitar is made of by looking at the grain of the wood. It will be possible for you to hear if your guitar is bright, absorbing, tinny, thick and sustaining. Once you can hear these wood qualities you may be able to find out later what kind of wood your guitar is made of. The ability to hear the sound quality of your guitar is more important than being able to identify the type of wood.
Playing various guitars from time to time will help you to tune in your ears into the qualities of the woods: Budget guitars (usally) will sound tinny compared to more expansive guitars. Sometimes these budget guitars will have a cetain quality you will not find of the more expansive models. Once you are aware of this you can then choose whatever suits best to your taste and needs. 

Happy Tone Hunting and hope to catch you soon again,