Most people naturally associate slide guitar with the blues. We all know it was invented by those late great bottleneck players, using those tunings that drip with the blues. Such a distinctive sound. I certainly got caught up in open tunings way back when. It wasn't long before I'd found all those positions, and was coming up with some of my own.
|"One day I tried Drop D tuning and fell in love with it. I've been playing in that tuning ever since."|
Trouble was, I never really considered myself a blues player as such. Being a studio player, it was only one style of music with which I should be familiar. My own personal taste leans more toward country and rock than what the purists consider The Blues
. But I love the sound of a slide guitar.
In order to get away from that familiar bottleneck sound I went back to normal tuning. Then, one day I tried Drop D tuning (DADGBE) and fell in love with it. I've been playing in that tuning ever since, no matter what key I'm in. All my landmarks were back in place (apart from the bass string) and I started looking for the music. To my delight, I found I could state any quality I wanted -- major, minor, augmented, diminished, sus4... It's all there. No big six string chords, but bits and pieces of music that line up for my slide. Triads, double stops, sixths, and a million and one ways of linking them together.
I know there are players out there who can play anything in open tunings. I always seem to wind up playing the blues. (Where would I find, say, a C# minor7 in open G? I don't have the faintest idea).
Drop D tuning seems to me to be a kind of neutral tuning. If a really major sound is required, like an anthem, it's easily done. Minor key? No sweat. Blues? Just as easy. Jazz? Getting a bit trickier, but only a bit.
There is a certain genius to standard tuning that is missing when you tune to an open chord, a richness of possibilities that vanishes. The "chord of the moment" gets smeared out. If you're like me and love the sound of the slide but want to play more than the blues, try Drop D.