Monday, November 20, 2006

5 more Tips for Playing Slide Cigar Box Guitar

OK so if you're a raw beginner and you read my first 5 tips you are ready to start making some decent bluesy sounds from your CBG. Don't try to walk before
you can run, take your time, master the basics and build on that.

  1. Hitting the note - You either took up golf because you're tone deaf and came back out of curiosity or to can hear a decent note and figured that
    playing a CBG is far more fun and cool than wearing a naff sweater and whacking a ball around a field. You can do all the usual guitar tricks of pull-offs,
    hammer-ons etc with the slide but for now concentrate on what the slide does best - err sliding! It helps you to hit the note at the right pitch and also
    gives it that swampy, delta blues sound. Try this - Pluck the 1st or thinnest string only just to get the root note into your head as a reference. Now hold
    the slide right over the second fret mark on same string (just angle it so it misses the other two strings but keeping the slide at right angles to the
    neck). Apply just the right amount of pressure to make a clean note. Gently pluck the string and immediatley slide up to the next (third) fret. You might go
    over or stop short but you'll know becasue it will sound wrong. Keep trying it till you can hit it sweet using the open string as your base reference again.
    When you get bored of that, try the same thing over the 4th fret sliding up to the 5th and the 6th fret sliding up to the 7th. Sounds good doesn't it, you
    just found the basis of a 12 bar blues. Practise and practise till it sounds good.

  2. More slipping and sliding - Now you've got the feel of it and can hit the note good try some more slides. Try going from 10th to 12th fret. Use your
    open string again first for reference. The 12th fret is one octave above the open fret so it should sound the same only higher. Now try sliding down the neck
    from 12th to 10th or from 7th to 5th and from 5th to 3rd. Wow - how about that? If that sounded good and you bought some golf clubs you wasted your money!

  3. Vibrato - Now this is what transforms a fairly boring note into something with dynamics. As you slide up to your chosen note, say from 3rd to 5th
    fret, when you hit the note "wobble" the slide up and down the string around that fret. Try to wobble it about one quarter of the distance above and below
    that fret. Try different "speeds" of "wobble" till it sounds right. The trick is to let your wrist go somewhat limp or loose and and do the wobble with the
    hand rather than the whole arm. It will sound too "stiff" and awkward otherwise. This takes some practise but you'll get there eventually. Apply this
    "wobble" or vibrato whenever you want to hold a note for any length of time. It increases the sustain of the note and makes it less important to hit the note
    bang on the fret. Also sounds great.

  4. Playing chords - Don't panic, the great thing about slide CBGs is you don't need to remember any chord/finger combinations. It's already tuned to an
    open chord. All you have to do is what you just did on one string but placing the slide over all three. Just make sure you keep it parallel to the fret line
    so they all hit the note spot on.

  5. Rhythm - It gets a bit trickier now so don't throw the golf clubs out yet. If you never played any guitar before you'll be finding this a bit of a
    challenge anyway but stay with it. Put the slide down for a while and try to develop your right hand rhythm technique by just playing all three open strings.
    If it's tuned up right it will make a pleasant chord on it's own. Try keeping a steady medium tempo rhythm by tapping a foot first or if necessary using a
    metronome. Gently strum the strings in time. Just practise keeping a regular rhythm going. You can use a pick or as I prefer just brushing the side of my
    thumb over them. Try doing just down strokes on the beat then introduce an upstroke between each beat.

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Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


David said...

Margaret, thanks that's all you need to say, glad you're enjoying it.