February 08, 2004

#71: The 2-3 slide

Bob and Julio on the [email protected] list, write:

I just have to pay attention and just release the pressure from the 3rd fret as soon as I am done with it.
--Bob

Here's a trick: Do not move your *entire* hand when doing this slide; rather, plant your hand securely, and just slide with your middle finger. Stretch it as far as it can go and the feather-off will happen automatically. with a little practice it becomes quite natural.
--Julio

My two cents:

Even though Earl's book and other teaching materials refer to the slide as 2-4, it rarely is. You can see that just by observing almost any pro or experienced picker. What really happens, is that the A# is muted by the finger lifting (just as when shopping chords), so the string contacts only the fingertip instead of the hard surface of the fret. Just as that happens, the open 2nd string B is hit, taking over for the sound of the sliding note.

The sound of a 2-3 hammer-on is about the same as a slide. Both are suddenly changing the active fret from 2 to 3, and I don't hear any difference, and don't differentiate in my playing or teaching.

A common beginner problem with either move, but especially the slide, is that the player doesn't make clear contact with the 3rd fret. The "feathering-off" advice Julio gives makes good sense, but only if the 3rd fret is contacted clearly. Many basic level players lift off as they head toward the fret, and essentially mute the string before it makes its sound at the 3rd fret. This makes the playing sound choppy and incomplete. A hammer-on is less likely to do that, and can still be lifted back off at the right time to mute the string before it has a chance to clash with the open 2nd string.

And by the way, if you don't have compensation on your bridge or nut, there is *not* a good match of the 4th fret of the 3rd string with the open 2nd. Which is why many players only slide to 3, then mute. That is unlike the slide to 5 on the 4th matching to the 3rd open, or the match of the 2nd string 3rd fret with the open 1st. Those notes *do* match up, and are often heard as good unisons, not needing muting of the fretted string.

OK, that was more than two cents, but I hope it's helpful.

Pete Wernick