Thursday, May 20, 2021

Slide Guitar: A Guided Musical Tour

Son House - blues legend
For brevity, we'll do a VERY condensed origin & history of slide guitar, and then a short list of a handful of "modern era" (1955 to now) popular songs featuring slide guitar.

If you find you really enjoy the sound of various slide guitars, I strongly suggest a deep dive into styles and eras touched on below!

Its sometime post 1800 and European sailors have been visiting the Hawaiian Islands for a couple of decades. At some point, they bring ashore an instrument very much like the modern guitar (which was first made in 1850, but there were a variety of similar instruments - some called "guitar" and others bearing different names).

For reasons unknown, the islanders dislike the standard tunings of the 5-string and 6-string instruments, and re-tune them to open chords (they called it "slack-key", as they tuned strings down to achieve this, and we now refer to this as "open chord" tuning). At some point, someone laid a piece of metal across the strings to play it....sliding the metal across the strings. One story is that it was a man named Joseph Kekuku and that he picked up an old rusted bolt and on a whim, applied it to the strings of his "Spanish" guitar. Whatever the truth, the "steel guitar" is officially born.