For an early guitarist learning scales is a groundbreaking moment when you can set yourself free to open expression on the instrument. The chords and shapes that you had worked so hard to form make so much more sense when you find the minors and majors that give that note or key its character. The knowledge of scales allowed me to idly run my fingers across the board and play notes that fit right in the progression that was being played. Once you have played those scales a time of two you can start to recognize how what your fingers are plucking will actually sound. In my guitar playing journey this was the most rewarding moment I had come across. To actually make the guitar sing in a sense allowed me to execute the sounds that were in my mind and make them a reality.
A decade of guitar playing down the road, I discovered another form of integrating scales one that pushed my guitars voice a little farther. Slide guitar was something I always saw but never really gave it much thought. But when I started delving deeper into 70’s blues based rock it was unavoidable to hear the influence of the slide guitar style. It wasn’t until I began to listen to dobro and pedal steel players until I made the connections and really started to crave the sound a fluid moving note on a stringed instrument.
Slide guitar was inaugurated by the early bluesmen of the south and had its roots in African based instruments. The slide sound was glamorized and began to be a staple in country and Hawaiian music with the pedal steel. In my option the slide guitar was mastered and made renown by the rock guitarists such as Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Joe Walsh, Johnny Winters and bands such as Led Zeppelin, Canned Heat, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
In a way, the guitar is transformed to a fretless instrument capable of emulating the human voice just by touching glass, brass, or smooth metal surface to its strings. The slide guitar is a foundational sound of American music and is still alive in today. Let it Slide!
Be sure to check out this amazing Jas Obrecht Music Archive. Special thanks for the photo of Duane.