There are a variety of guitar slides on the market including polished porcelain, brass, anodized aluminum and chromed steel; however many professional players favor glass. Dunlop Manufacturing Inc. makes a popular tempered glass guitar slide, model number 212, that can be used for either electric or acoustic playing.
Dunlop’s 212 Glass Slide is Suitable for Acoustic or Electric Playing.
Dunlop’s tempered 212 “Heavy/Small Short” glass guitar slide, made of boron silicate in the United States, can be used for either acoustic or electric guitar playing. The 212 glass slide, tonally consistent on acoustic instruments, resophonic and otherwise, is often the first choice for electric guitar players attributable to the pure tone it provides when the music is amplified.
Advantages of the 212 Glass Guitar Slide.
Dunlop’s size 7 of model 212, usually worm on the small, or pinky finger, is a seamless open-ended clear glass slide, 4mm thick and 51 mm long with comfortable rounded edges.
When the 212 is worn on the pinky it liberates the remaining four fingers to facilitate chord fretting, if desired. Many guitarists prefer wearing the slide on their ring finger because it’s a stronger phalanx than the pinky, though the technique is less conducive for fretting.
Some glass slides, including the celebrated Coricidin® bottle used by blues rock icon Duane Allman, have a closed end. Duane’s legendary slide playing on “Whipping Post,” “Ain’t Wasting Time No More,” “Done Somebody Wrong” and many other Allman Brothers Band classics, was done with nothing more than a plain, empty glass medicine bottle, the kind that used to be purchased in the neighborhood drug store.
Duane Allman created music history when he stuck that little medicine bottle on his finger, but for some other slide players the closed end glass prevents hand and finger perspiration from evaporating. Yes, fingers and hands do perspire, which can create excess moisture inside any closed end slide, a potential slippery-grip situation in humid playing venues.
For musicians fond of the open end style, Dunlop Manufacturing Inc., established in 1965 by Jim Dunlop, conveniently came out with a full line of glass slides. Coricidin® discontinued its bottle in the early 1980’s.
The Length and Thickness of a Slide Are Important Sound Elements.
In general, chunky guitar slides contribute to a fat sound; the 212’s 4mm thickness produces a convincingly heavy volume on either acoustic or electric guitars, depending on the gauge of the strings.
The short length of the Dunlop 212 permits players to reach exact locations on guitar strings with somewhat greater accuracy than the longer, more conventional glass slides. In simple terms, the shorter slide is less cumbersome on the finger and the guitar.
Tested on a National Tricone
When the 212 was played on an acoustic steel body National Tricone in open G tuning —DGDGBD —and then in open A capoed at the second fret, the notes rang out with a warmer definition than the chromed metal slide it was tested against.
The metal provided a “scratchier,” “down home” string quality when compared to the tempered glass slide. Both metal and glass offered the same opportunities for lingering string vibrato, sustain and overall volume when played on the Tricone.