5 Best Country Steel Guitar Slide Techniques

By: Bryan K.

Slide guitar is a cornerstone of country music. The best players use a variety of techniques to make their music come alive. We're here to break down five of the best country steel guitar slide techniques so you can master them and make your music sing.

From open-string techniques to pedal steel bends and chromatic licks, you'll be adding a new level of depth to your playing in no time.

So let's get started on your road to slide guitar mastery!

Key Takeaways

  • The open-string technique is popular in country steel guitar slide and involves bending strings with a steel bar, with slide fingerings and steel bar position affecting the sound.
  • Creating different sounds and textures can be achieved through techniques such as palm muting, varying pressure for different tones, experimenting with open strings and palm-muted strings, and combining palm muting and finger picking.
  • Pedal steel bends are important for achieving the unique country steel guitar sound, and techniques such as hammer ons, pull offs, and chromatic licks can add complexity and excitement to the playing style.
  • Advanced techniques and variations include chromatic licks, hybrid picking with pick and fingers, experimenting with strumming patterns, developing a sense of timing and groove, and using double stops for a fuller sound.

Open-String Technique

When it comes to country steel guitar slide techniques, one of the most popular is the open-string technique. This style involves using the steel bar to bend the strings, creating a unique sound. It's important that the slide fingerings are accurate and the steel bar is correctly positioned, as this affects the sound of the guitar.

Furthermore, the strings must be tuned in order to produce the desired sound. To master this technique, it's important to practice often and experiment with different slide fingerings and steel bar positions. With enough time and practice, the open-string technique can become a signature sound of any country steel guitarist.

Chords and Melodies

We're combining chords and melodies to create unique country steel guitar sounds. With a few simple techniques we can explore the possibilities of what a steel guitar can do.

  • Palm Muting:
  • Use your palm to mute strings while strumming to create a percussive sound.
  • Try varying the amount of pressure to achieve different tones.
  • Experiment with alternating between open strings and palm muted strings.
  • Finger Picking:
  • Use your fingers to pick individual notes for a more precise sound.
  • Use a combination of palm muting and finger picking to add texture and depth.
  • Try using different techniques such as slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs.
  • Other Techniques:
  • Use alternate tunings to explore new possibilities.
  • Experiment with different effects (e.g. reverb, echo, delay, etc.)
  • Try different chords and progressions to create unique melodies.

Pedal Steel Bends

Building on our knowledge of chords and melodies, let's take a look at pedal steel bends.

Pedal steel bends are important techniques for creating a unique country steel guitar sound.

Hammer ons and pull offs are techniques used to create smooth transitions in the steel guitar sound. They involve pressing down and releasing the strings with the left hand while sliding with the right. Hammer ons require more force and pull offs are more subtle. Practice them to become comfortable with the technique and create a more nuanced playing style.

Chromatic licks provide an additional level of complexity and can be used to create exciting and surprising sounds.

Chromatic Licks

Using chromatic licks, we can add a unique and unexpected twist to our country steel guitar playing. Here are a few techniques to help us get started:

  • Hybrid picking:
  • Utilize both the pick and fingers in precise coordination.
  • Experiment with different strumming patterns.
  • Develop a sense of timing and groove.
  • Double stops:
  • Combine two notes together to create a fuller sound.
  • Create distinct melodies with the combination of notes.
  • Explore different intervals and chord voicings.

These techniques can help us add texture and complexity to our country steel guitar playing. With practice and dedication, we can develop our skills and become masterful players.

String Slides

Next, let's look at four ways to incorporate string slides into our country steel guitar playing.

Dampening techniques are essential for achieving a smooth, seamless sound when playing a slide. We can dampen the strings by lightly laying a finger across the strings, slightly behind the slide, so that the sound doesn't buzz when we slide up and down the strings.

Pull off techniques can also help create a more professional sound. When you pull off from a note, you can use the dampening technique to make sure the note is clean and clear.

Lastly, we should keep in mind that string slides should be short and precise, with our fingers staying close to the fretboard. By controlling the speed and pressure with our fretting hand, we can create a professional sound with our string slides.


We've explored some of the best country steel guitar slide techniques, using open-string, chords and melodies, pedal steel bends, chromatic licks, and string slides.

These techniques are essential for creating the unique sound of country steel guitar and can be used to create a wide range of sonic possibilities.

With a little practice and imagination, you can unlock the power of these techniques and create your own unique sound.

Leave a Comment