Exactly how sliding a note on your guitar fretboard is SUPPOSED to sound

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 16, 2022

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A slide is a legato guitar technique where the player sounds one note, and then moves (slides) their finger up or down the fretboard to another fret. If done properly, the other note should also sound.

This is commonly known as a legato slide. Alternatively, a player can accentuate a note by performing a small slide from an undetermined fret into the target fret.

This can be performed from above or below the target fret, and it is called sliding into the note (or grace note slide).

What is a guitar slide

A player can also play a note and, after letting it ring for a time, slide up or down the fretboard to end that note and move on.

This can be done up or down the fretboard, but it is most often done down the fretboard (towards the headstock). This is called sliding out of the note.

A guitar player can also combine sliding both up and down while leaving or entering a note, although it is uncommon to slide into a note in such a way. In guitar tablature, it is common for a slide to be represented by a forward slash: / for sliding up the neck and by: \ for sliding down the neck.

It can also be represented by the letter s. Often a slide is performed using a tool called a slide. The slide is a tube of metal, ceramic or glass that fits on the finger, and is used to slide along the string.

This creates a smoother slide than can otherwise be achieved, because the note is not fretted, as the slide “becomes” the fret.

A slurred slide is performed by striking the string and then sliding up to the target note without restriking the string. A shift slide is performed by striking the target note instead of the original note, without moving the slide.

Slide with your fingers

Another technique often used to make a sliding sound when moving across the fretboard and across notes is to just use the fingers of your fretting hand.

You can slide the finger from one note to another without lifting up your finger so the strings will keep ringing. This will cause the note to change from one note to another.

Difference between sliding with your fingers or a slide

Both techniques can be cool to use, but using your fretted finger will result in the note to go up with each passing of a fret. So there are no gradual note changes.

Sliding with a slide will also change the pitch slightly when moving up and down the fretboard, kind of like it would sound not having frets at all.

Every little movement will cause the pitch to change slightly, even when you’re not crossing a fret.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

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