The Best Guitar Slides
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Also known as a ‘bottleneck’, a guitar slide is one of those must-have guitar accessories for guitarists who want to capture the true spirit of blues and country music.
Table Of Contents
- The Best Guitar Slides
- Dunlop 210 Tempered Glass Slide
- Dunlop DT01 Derek Trucks Signature
- Fender Steel Slide
- Dunlop 221 Chromed Steel Slide
- Dunlop 222 Brass Slide
- Shubb Axyx Reversable Slide
- D’Addario Rich Robinson Brass Slide
- Dunlop RWS12 ‘The Rev. Willy’s Mo-Jo’
- Clayton Pork Knuckle Ceramic
- Dunlop 243 Moonshine Ceramic Slide
- What is a Guitar Slide?
- What to Look for in a Guitar Slide
- The Final Word
However, in this article we are looking at bona fide tube slides – those created specifically for that purpose. We will be highlighting ten of the best guitar slides on the market today, before taking a more detailed look at slides and what to keep an eye out for when buying one.
Two things to note before we get started. Firstly, we are only focusing on slides for electric or acoustic guitar, instead of the tone bars used for more specialist lap steel or pedal steel guitars. Also, note that the following chart is in no particular order, although we have tried to group together similar slides for ease of comparison. Enough talk – let’s get started!
The Best Guitar Slides
|Image||Guitar Slides / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| Dunlop 210 Tempered Glass Slide |
Total of 4.58/5
A popular no-nonsense medium-fit glass slide.
|+ -|| Dunlop DT01 Derek Trucks Signature |
Total of 4.73/5
An all-glass slide based on Derek Trucks’ own model.
|+ -|| Fender Steel Slide |
Total of 4.65/5
Simple and affordable steel slide from Fender.
|+ -|| Dunlop 221 Chromed Steel Slide |
Total of 4.60/5
A great steel knuckle model for casual sliders.
|+ -|| Dunlop 222 Brass Slide |
Total of 4.65/5
The definition of simplicity when it comes to brass slides!
|+ -|| Shubb Axyx Reversable Slide |
Total of 4.78/5
Easy reversibility and great fit – a performer’s dream!
|+ -|| D’Addario Rich Robinson Brass Slide |
Total of 4.70/5
A unique tapered brass slide made with Rich Robinson.
|+ -|| Dunlop RWS12 ‘The Rev. Willy’s Mo-Jo’ |
Total of 4.58/5
Cool looks from a thick porcelain slide.
|+ -|| Clayton Pork Knuckle Ceramic |
Total of 4.83/5
Awesome design and uniquely ribbed interior.
|+ -|| Dunlop 243 Moonshine Ceramic Slide |
Total of 4.70/5
An attractive ceramic slide for thinner fingers.
We kick off this list with a no-nonsense all-glass guitar slide. Whereas some on this list offer pretty cool aesthetics, this one from Jim Dunlop is pure simplicity.
While several similar models are available in Dunlop’s extensive slide catalog, the 210 features a medium wall thickness and a medium diameter (fitting an 11 ring size).
It’s made from a heat-treated glass that makes it flawless in its appearance and extra durable (i.e. dropping it won’t result in shatters), while it delivers the warm sound that glass slides are known for. For a budget slide, this shows exceptional value.
Next on the list is another glass slide that comes in at a slightly higher price tag. The DT01 is the signature model of Derek Trucks – one of the greatest slide players ever!
It features a cool medicine bottle design, based on the style of Trucks’ own slide, with a closed, weighted end and Trucks’ autograph engraved into the side of the slide. A nice touch.
This slide fits thicker fingers at a ring size of 12 and – with an all-glass build – the tone is very bright and crisp. It may not make you play like Derek, but at least you can sound similar!
Another in the ‘no nonsense’ category is an all-metal slide from Fender – a brand name you can usually trust. This attractive and durable slide is made completely from well-polished steel.
The resulting tone delivered is quite bright and edgy, with the familiar trebly metallic zing that comes from a steel slide. It’s also incredibly affordable, coming in at well under ten bucks.
It features a length of around 2.4” and a slim finger-friendly internal diameter of 0.75”, so those with thicker fingers (over a ring size of 12) should probably look elsewhere.
This simple and affordable American-made slide comes in at just 28mm (around 1.1”) long, so is classed as a knuckle slide – allowing you to keep the slide on your finger while you fret normally.
The 221 features a medium wall thickness (around 3mm) and a relatively light weight, so it’s great for using with electric guitars.
As for construction, it is made entirely from chromed steel so it provides a bright but smooth tone, with a lengthy sustain. Finally, with a ring size guide of 9 to 10, this slide is great for medium fingers.
Sticking with metal slides we come to another Dunlop model – the 222, which is an all-brass slide. It’s simple and very affordable, making it an excellent choice for beginners.
This is classed as a medium slide with a diameter that will fit people with a ring size of 9. It’s quite a lightweight slide with thin walls, so you get a good feel with this one.
The tone the 222 delivers is top-notch for the low price – it’s warm and smooth, with the classic touch of darkness that brass slides are known for. A steal at under $10.
The Axyx from Shubb is one of the most expensive on this list, but also proves one of the most convenient.
With a solid brass construction, the USP of this slide is that it can sit comfortably behind the finger, allowing you to fret as normal. When you need to add a little magic to a song, a quick rotation of the Axyx gives you a full-length slide to play with.
It’s a clever device and sounds great, with a traditionally crisp and bright brass tone. A bonus is that it comes with a selection of ring adapters, so it will fit most finger sizes quite comfortably.
Next up we have another signature model, this time a unique collaboration between D’Addario and Rich Robinson of Black Crowes.
On the face of it, it is quite a simple slide – made of brass with the signature RR emblem on the bottom. However, the inside is tapered, which fits your finger better and therefore offers more control.
With the taper in mind, D’Addario lists this slide as fitting larger fingers, with a ring size of 13. It’s a tad on the pricey side when compared to other models on our list, but feels worth it for the performance boost.
Now for something a little different – a porcelain slide from Dunlop, with a unique and very distinctive design inspired by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.
It certainly has some heft to it, with thick walls delivering an articulate tone that edges towards the warm end of the spectrum. The interior also features a moisture absorbing material which helps prevent slipping.
The only negative is that, as it’s made of porcelain, it won’t survive being dropped! Available in a few sizes, the large version is 0.77” in diameter (a ring size of 12). It’s a little expensive for what it is, but it looks awesome!
The badass pig on the front of this cool model really hits home that this is no ordinary slide! Starting with the basics, it is made out of ceramic which just glides across the strings beautifully.
However, it’s inside where things really get interesting, as the Pork Knuckle features a unique ribbing pattern that fits snugly while allowing for air to circulate – no more SFS (sweaty finger syndrome)!
On that note, this large and heavy slide is good for meaty fingers, fitting on a ring size of around 12 to 13. Sound-wise, the hefty weight means it offers great volume and sustain.
Undoubtedly the kings of guitar slides, Dunlop features once again on this list with another attractive alternative model – the 243 Moonshine.
As the striking blue color suggests, this is no glass or metal slide, but one made from ceramic (with the Moonshine name emblazed onto the side). Due to the ceramic, the tone sits somewhere between glass and brass – warm and mellow.
Size-wise, you are looking at a slide for petite fingers with a ring size guide of 7, although the large version (the 246) features a more generous 9 ring size guide. It’s not the cheapest on this list, but worth the investment!
What is a Guitar Slide?
In short, a slide is a simple tubular device that slips over one of your fretting fingers (usually the third or fourth) and acts like a movable fret, allowing you to slide between notes as well as create glissandos (think Hawaiian guitar).
The effect is a very fluid and emotive sound, which is why slides are so popular in emotion-fueled genres such as blues and country styles. Slides are very often associated with lap steel guitars, although used just as much on electric and acoustic guitars too.
To illustrate some of the emotion and fun that can be added into a song with a slide, check out this fantastic demo:
What to Look for in a Guitar Slide
As you may have seen from our chart above, guitar slides come in a variety of different sizes and materials, which all offer subtle differences to the overall sound and volume they provide.
Starting with the materials, you will soon discover that every slide is different. In general, the harder the material, the better the sustain but harsher the sound. The softer the material, the shorter the sustain but warmer the sound. This is backed up by the general performance of the following:
- Glass slides offer a smooth and warm sound, with slightly less sustain
- Metal slides (usually steel or brass) give a grittier and brighter sound, with longer sustain
- Ceramic or porcelain slides sit somewhere in between glass and metal in terms of both tone and sustain
The thickness of the slide will also play a part in the overall feel and sound that it offers. A thicker-walled slide usually offers a warmer tone but can be harder to control, whereas a thinner-walled slide gives you a bit more ‘feel’ but tends to be less durable.
If you are sliding on an electric guitar, you should aim to use a lighter slide, as your guitar and amp are already working to amplify the signal. Using something too heavy may result in you touching the frets as you move the slide. However, if you are playing on an acoustic guitar, a heavier slide will be required to help you get the full sound and sustain when playing unplugged.
When it comes to length, you can find slides that cover the entire finger and those that cover just a bit (knuckle slides). The longer the slide, the better it will be at covering the strings – if you want to slide across all six strings at one time then a long slide will allow you to do this. The only disadvantage of a long slide (and, therefore, an advantage of a shorter slide) is that it restricts that finger as a fretting finger. As you may have seen on our chart, you can find short or reversable slides that allow you to slide, then fret, then slide again without having to remove the slide from your finger in between.
You also have to consider the fit of the slide on your finger. If it’s too tight it’s going to end up being difficult to put on, uncomfortable to wear and just as difficult to take off! However, if it’s too loose, applying pressure to the strings takes more effort and you will have less control. Ultimately, aim for ‘snug but not tight’ and you should be fine. If in doubt, buy a slightly larger slide, which you can then stuff with leather or another material to increase the snugness.
However, before you start stuffing, the easiest way to settle with the right size for you is to measure your ring size – either pop into a local jewelry store or use this handy guide from Dunlop. Then simply refer to this number when shopping for a slide. You will find that most product listings or reviews list the correct ring size, allowing you to always end up with something that should fit you perfectly.
The Final Word
We hope our chart and article has provided a bit of inspiration and information ahead of your guitar slide purchase. Thankfully, unlike a good resonator, guitar slides tend to be very affordable, so there is nothing stopping you buying a couple to try out.
You may find you prefer to use different slides for different songs – perhaps there is one slide you prefer for a slow blues number, but would rather the sound of a completely different model for an upbeat country tune. You can always ask to try a few out in your local guitar store first, to see if the fit and tone works for you before you buy.