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Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 7: Incorporating Slides

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 29 **

Hi everyone. This issue we are going to take a look at a very simple and under used technique which is the very simple and humble 'slide'. This is actual finger on fretboard sliding rather than the bottleneck variety. When used creatively, a slide placed at the right point in the run can really be effective and can add bags of character and style to your improvising. It's a very simple technique that is often largely overlooked by inexperienced players, which why I thought it might be cool to take a look at this subject this issue. We have touched on this subject before but not quite to this extent. We also can think of slurring the phrase and notes as a form of sliding.

Largely the examples I have played to camera are ideas that have occurred to me on the spot. Ideally one idea should lead to another when you are exploring your own possibilities, but I know it's not always as simple as that for many players. We have explored 'creative thinking' in early issues of Guitar Interactive where you have seen how I might pick a subject such as string bending or melodic playing for example (we have covered many ideas), and then hopefully you have seen me try to explore on camera, different ways I might apply or practice these ideas. Trying to be creative as you practice really helps the cool stuff to happen, and it's all about how you think about each concept on the guitar.

So for those that can't seem to tap into a way of coming up with ideas using different approaches, then in this instance you can watch me wrestle with some sliding possibilities on camera and mostly on the spot!

The first place to start is obviously how you can make notes that are a tone or a semi tone apart, sound interesting when you slide and slur between them. Then maybe proceed to increase the distance between the notes in your scale of choice. This can turn your box shape pentatonic into something that has a little flare and colour. Even sliding between intervals of the pentatonic on one string can sound great and, dare I say it, has hints of 'Vai'!

Taking high speed high to low note slides sound great but you must be able to accurately hit the note your are aiming for otherwise it can sound random and unmusical. The opposite works great too, going low to high to get to a lick or a phrase high up the neck is very 1980's soft Rock power ballad.

What is much harder, but worth putting the work into, is incorporating those weaving slides and slurs during improvised runs. Carl Verheyen, Larry Carlton, Steve Vai and Steve Lukather are good people to absorb if you want to hear how great it can sound. It's the slides that use passing tones, or interval leaps or chromatic lines that I call 'weaving' and which take an interesting route or path as you play the phrase which really makes things sound cool. Carl Verheyen really stands out at this, especially when he combines it with string skipping. Carl is definitely one of my all time favourite players. We cover an idea like this on film where I create a run that has a slide up, followed by a slide down as you cross the strings.

A couple of trademark things I might do as a player would be my 'Beck style' trem bar usage plus how I might use slides. If you can really make a point of incorporating sliding and slurring more, your playing will have more life and definitely sound a little 'slippery' (which is a good thing). As you read this my album 'Complaints about the Noise' will be available from October 1st for download on iTunes, or to order through Amazon or Lick Library. The album hopefully illustrates many of the subjects we have covered in this Pro Concepts column. If you do get a copy, please let me know if you did or didn't enjoy it through Twitter or Facebook. I would love to hear what you think, because I have the seeds of the next album brewing in my brain.

Use those slides!


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