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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by slide496 View Post
    I study pre-war and North Hill country fingerpicking slide such as Blind Willie Johnson, Fred Mcdowell, Furry Lewis and have touched upon Charley Patton, Son House and early Muddy waters though delta is not my strong suit I still want to know how its done and am working on several Blind Willie Mctell songs on the twelve string. I don't know if there is much interest in that kind of slide.
    Hi slide496, I wanted to remark on your mention of Blind Willie Johnson and ask if you had any thoughts about how he actually played his slide. I was going to say that this would be worthy of a seperate thread in itself, but I've just realised that it does have it's own thread that I started (then forgot about) I'll leave the link here http://www.bluestalk.com/forum/showt...Willie-Johnson It is actually a fascinating interview with Ry Cooder, I would be interested to hear your thoughts about what he says and whether or not you had any thoughts about how Blind Willie Johnson actually played his slide material. I know that it is commonly stated and accepted generally that he played using a pocket knife in the manner that a bottle neck player would utilise a bottle neck, but I'm not so sure it's as cut and dry a matter as that. Anyway see what you think after reading the Ry Cooder piece.

    Welcome to the forum, good to have another slide player with us,

    Cheers,

    Geordie

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    BluesHawk (07-30-2015)

  3. #22
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    Hi Geordie,

    Thanks, I am surprised at the interest in slide and am happy to be here.

    Nobody really knows but I will go with either those opinions that he played with a metal object around from underneath, I think Cooder mentions that. My thought is an example of that style of playing is Mance Lipscomb in Jack of Diamonds. You can get tonal nuances with the angularity and vibratto. There is, I believe, some evidence that the tone of a stella or First Conservatory Hawaiian was part of the equation from a purist point of view.

    Or I can also see him standing and holding it flat like you see Dobro players with a rope around his neck, and a second tip cup beside him - he's shown with one set up for standard playing. Bottleneck Bill plays Jesus Makes Up My Bed in that style.

    I agree with you that its not a cut and dry matter. IMHO given the same equipment guitar, strings and slide object and recorded with the same equipment originally used I don't believe most people would be able to imitate him, the difference being that he also had unique instruments in his hands and voice.

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    BluesHawk (07-30-2015)

  5. #23
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    i use a cheap glass slide that I don't remember where I got - used to have a wine bottle neck that just vanished one day... never used a socket or anything like it - I do have a heavy brass slide that's almost too much vibrato...and too heavy for anything very delicate - I'm also just getting into playing Blind Willie Johnson - such a lyrical player.. Dark was the night is intensely beautiful...

    do people post their own music on this forum... I do so-called original blues with a slide... not that awesome but it's all i got... does anyone here have links to music they play?
    i dont want you to buy me

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    way things are goin, won't be no gas to burn

  6. #24
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    This video shows my recent approach to slide, beat up old brass slide on ring finger of left hand, thumbpick on thumb of right hand.

    I've had this brass slide for years. I love the way all the little dings and scratches provide extra traction on the strings to produce interesting tonal variations.

  7. #25
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    Thanks for the vid, Davey. You are guys are good.

    Geordie, the Delta slide style I've been playing is based on Son House and Robert Johnson. I'm not formally trained, and learned by listening and watching in the folk manner, so my words for explaining how I play may not be the best...

    I wear thumb and finger picks on my first two fingers. I wear my socket wrench on my little finger so I can fret with my first three fingers. Bass is percussive on either of the two or three lowest open strings, thumpin the same note while my fingers play lead on the highest three or four strings. Of course the thumpin bass note changes to another note on another string when the chord changes.

    For the third or more chords, I usually barre with my index finger or with the slide so I can play that bass note.

    This percussive bass, in contrast to the alternating bass of Blind Willie and Mississippi John Hurt, is to me a hallmark of the Delta Blues that is at the roots of heavy Rock like Cream.

    Hope this helps.

  8. #26
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    Of course everything always, I won't live long enough to learn all info about the blues but I'm sure gonna give it my best shot.

    Don't get me wrong, I do love delta blues and I listen to it quite frequently, mostly the two guys you've mentioned Son House and Robert Johnson yet when I play guitar and blues and especially slide I don't seem to try and go for that sound and emulate it. And I've just realised that I haven't even thought about it and the possible reasons why, I suppose it will be a lot to do with me being a finger picker, starting out with the thumb being in control of the three bass strings (like a piano left hand) and the fingers for the treble, and yeah I use three fingers, but I taught myself everything so I didn't realise that I was using a more of a classical technique, the kind of technique that lends itself to playing in the Blind Willie Johnson style and especially also Mississippi John Hurt.

    Another thing I've always found interesting is what people's favourite key for twelve bar blues is in standard tuning and then which open tuning they prefer for playing slide and it mostly centres around the issue of which bass string you want to be your root note. Robert Johnson was most definitely an A and G man, ie the key of A in standard tuning and the open G (probably best to call it Spanish Tuning) for slide he obviously loved those extra bass notes you can get below the root, I've even got the figures to back it up, I gathered all this info myself. Of the 31 songs that I know the tunings and key for (ie his 29 songs plus two of his alternate takes that were don't in a different key) we have

    12 in standard tuning -- Key of A=8 E=2 C=2

    of the remaining 19 --- 12 were in open G (Spanish)
    2 were in open D (Vestapol)
    2 were in dropped D (DADGBE)
    2 in double dropped D (DADGBD)
    1 in open D minor (Crossnote or Skip James tuning)

    Whereas every single Blind Willie Johnson slide tune is in open D (Vestapol)

    I am an E and D man standard tuning key of E blues and open D (Vestapol) for slide stuff, is this the reason why my favourite Robert Johnson tune is the only slide song he did using Vestapol Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)... most probably yes but it's not a conscious choice because of the tuning, which is all now becoming interesting food for thought.

    I'll try and end soonish before I get banned for writing too much... It's interesting that you mention the thumping percussive bass because that is one of the things about seeing Son House play that shook my world. I had been listening to blues for about 4 or 5 years when someone bought me the Martin Scorcese DVD box set "The Blues" and on that first disc "Feel Like Going Home" directed by Scorsese himself there is a clip of Son House playing 'Death Letter Blues' and it blew my mind completely because I'd never seen no-one play like that, apart from the pure real emotion etched on his face I was struck by how active his right arm was coming so high up and crashing down onto those bass strings, it was a revelation to me and changed everything completely in a good way, for me it is the best recorded blues performance I have ever seen, he becomes the song and then lets himself become possessed by some higher power that channels through him, the foot stomp is heavy and constant and becomes its pulse. And this gets me to my final point about you saying that you learnt "watching" as well as listening, because if anyone were to learn bottleneck slide by watching Son House play they might struggle in some ways if they copied that weird angle he holds his slide at in comparison to the frets, he's never straight parallel, not even close to it and I'm talking about all the clips I've seen of him playing. It looks so wrong in so many ways yet he makes it work and it is uniquely 'Son House', I bet that Robert Johnson looked nothing like Son House when he played live. Robert Johnson is without question a far superior technician than Son House yet Son House still has something amazing going on in his sound that isn't in the Robert Johnson sound and Robert Johnson probably knew it. Robert Johnson was less 'primitive' than Son House... and before anyone jumps on me for the word primitive I am using it in it's truest and original meaning which is 'the original' having obvious connections with 'prime' meaning first in quality and first in authority. Robert Johnson was part of first generation of radio listeners and the beginnings of music being boiled down to the most common denominator. It has took me many years to get this, to get why in over 90 years no one has come anywhere close to playing the blues like Son House and the slide like Blind Willie Johnson. Everyone can put forward certain suggestions of artists that they think will prove me wrong, yet though they may be technically on a different planet there's still a little something missing that is I believe unobtainable now, we play exact notes and we play in exact timing, even when we think that we're purposely breaking those rules we are breaking them in an exact precise way. It's no-ones fault in particular. Imagine how many songs you've heard by the age of say 15, something is ingrained by a certain point that can't be undone. If we could go back to the mid to late 1800's and listen to some rural country musicians playing the way that the soul only knows how I reckon it would blow our minds completely. How I managed to get to say this point here at the end of this post when the beginning was a different continent, I have absolutely no idea, but hey that's what happens sometimes. oh here's that performance by Son House that I mentioned...


  9. #27
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    I play with a glass Soy Sauce bottle! (label Half removed) I've tried to use conventional slides on my pinky etc.... but they never felt right to me. I learnt slide playing at parties and the playing with a bottle after finishing it on stage is way cooler! Means I never have to worry about forgetting taking my slide to a gig!lol

    I also love the weight it gives me.

 

 

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