Did you ever want to know the sizes of guitar slides? Or maybe how much they weighed? I recently attempted to find out the dimensions of a Dunlop slide I was considering buying. No one had the information. Dunlop has a PDF on their website that gives a ring size conversion but nothing about how long the slide is.
I’ve been playing guitar for about 60 years and have owned one or more guitar slides for most of that time. I decided to take the measurements of my collection of slides. The first thing I realized is I have collected a lot of slides over the years. Considering I’ve misplaced, lost or discarded a number of slides and even the measurements I took excluded a few, I feel embarrassed at how many I own.
Why so many? Well, like guitar strings and picks, slides are rather inexpensive when compared to a new guitar. So every now and then, trying a new slide is fun diversion. Another reason is I am hunting for the perfect slide. I know what it would be but no one seems to make it. So I keep trying for almost perfect.
Slide Measurements - Metal Slides
|Slide||L mm||L inches||min ID||wall thickness||Weight oz|
|Dunlop 231 |
Haris Slide Brass
|65||2-9/16||19||2 to 4.5||3-3/8|
|Dunlop 224 Brass||60||2-3/8||22||3.5||4-1/2|
Legend Measurements in mm except where indicated. I measured each dimension once with a caliper and once with a metal ruler. Error is about 1 mm.
I go back and forth between metal and glass or ceramic slides for acoustic guitars. In general, I like metal better for acoustic because the weight keeps down unwanted buzzing when you slide.
The first slide pictured above is a Craftsman 11/16″ deep socket. You can buy one for about $5. It is easy to customize the fit by choosing the size of the socket. This might be my favorite slide if only it wasn’t too long and too heavy (because it is too long). It sounds great. It is a good heft and diameter for playing lap steel as well but lacks a bullet nose which I prefer. In spite of the things I like about using a socket, I don’t use this much. If someone would chop it down to about 65 to 70 mm it would be perfect.
Note that I wear my slide on my pinky. Most of my slides would fit my ring finger too, but the fit is tight on the few smaller inside diameter slides
The next slide, the Dunlop 228, is a chromed brass slide. It too would be perfect IF ONLY… The if only qualifier in this case is the opposite of the deep socket. The 228 is on 50 mm long which doesn’t quite stretch across all six strings. If you play single notes or only a few strings when you slide, this isn’t a problem. But if you’re doing an alternating bass on the low strings while barring all six strings on the 12th fret, the 228 is too short. But I do love the chromed brass feel of the slide on the strings. It’s smooth like glass with a good heft.
The Acousta-Glide and the Dunlop 231 Harris slide are nearly identical. In fact, I think I purchased the Acousta-Glide slide when I thought I had lost the Harris slide. These are my favorite slides for acoustic guitar and I use them interchangeably, although I might prefer the Dunlop by a mite. Both are flared externally although the internal diameter doesn’t vary (or not by much).
The Dunlop 221 is a chromed steel, thin walled, short slide. I never use it. It might be good for single string soloing on an electric guitar and might be perfect for you.
My newest slide is the Dunlop 224. It has straight walls. The marketing copy online described it as a medium slide with heavy walls. I missed where it gave the inside dimension as being 22 mm or a ring size of 12.5. That is not a medium sized diameter according to Dunlop’s PDF where ring sizes 9 and 10 are listed as medium. I’m quite unhappy with the confusing copy used to market the slide. Ideally the slide could be another 5 mm in length, but ignoring the large inside diameter, I like the slide. I’m going to try the 222 model which is a size 9.
Glass or Ceramic Slides
Glass & Other Slides
|Slide||L mm||L inches||min ID||wall thickness||Weight oz|
|Dunlop Moonshine |
|75||2 15/16||19||5||2 3/4|
|68||2 11/16||19||4.5||2 3/4|
|Dunlop 215 Heavy Wall |
|67||2 10/16||20||3||1 5/8|
|Bottleneck 1||70||2 12/16||19||7||2 3/8|
|Bottleneck 2||65||2 9/16||18||5||2 1/4|
|Bottleneck 3||63||2 8/16||20||4||1 7/8|
I own both commercial glass and ceramic slides as well as bottleneck slides I made from wine bottles. I discuss how to make a slide in this post. The main difference among these is all the commercial slides above are straight while all the wine bottlenecks are flared to some extent. The bottlenecks have imperfections and scratches I didn’t completely polish away, but as long as they are oriented with the bad parts up, they’re fine. I have a preference for the bottleneck slides but all are good. I prefer the glass bottlenecks for slide on electric guitar.
Lap Steel Tonebars
|Slide||L mm||L inches||Weight oz|
|Dunlop 918 |
|Shubb GS1||76||3||4 1/8|
|Shubb SP1 |
|87||3 7/16||5 1/2|
I’ve owned the Shubb Pearse SP1 tone bar for a long time even though I only recently acquired a lap steel guitar. When I purchased the SP1 I used a nut raiser to turn my old Gibson into a lap steel guitar. It is still my favorite tone bar for lap steel.
The Dunlop 918 bullet tone bar would be my second favorite. I love it until I don’t. When I’ve been playing with it too long, it begins to give my hand cramps and feels as if it might slip out of my grip. Until that happens, it is great. Maybe if I used a larger diameter bullet tone bar it would be better.
The Shubb GS1 seemed like a good idea when I got it, but a bullet nose makes playing single notes on the middle strings much easier and cleaner than can be done with the GS1.
My Perfect Slide
So, if you can’t discern what would my perfect acoustic slide be from the above, here’s the answer, as of now. My first choice would be a straight-sided, chrome-plated brass slide like the Dunlop 228 but about 65 to 70 mm long instead of 50 mm. My second choice would be a chrome-plated brass Harris slide. A thick-walled chromed brass or stainless slide such as a shortened socket would be my third choice. None are commercially available and it isn’t worth it to me to try to have them made.
Hi Dan it’s a fascinating site I came to read the article on the Gretsch alligator as I’ve got one in n order – I’m stuck out in china and have been learning slide for a year or so I was frustrated for ages due to the high string buzzing on the fifth fret – this I finally realized was the combination of too light a string and low action. I’ve literally just found I can play and almost perform a half dozen favorite tunes. In my travails I began the slide sleeve purchasing – steel brass glass clay and porcelain . All frustrated me (I haven’t tried them since the adjusted my parlour action while waiting on the alligator so I should do so) I made a couple of way out but awesome buys. A Taylor ebony slide (comfy life and easy to handle if a bit quiet), and a weighty chinese soap stone slide (like a marbled glassy Stone) it rings like a bell with clear notes and makes the porcelain look like a runner up. Only issue with s the weight – couldn’t keep at it too long. Worth a investigating the ebony and soapstone if you’re curious.
Thanks for your comments. I’ll keep your suggestions in mind for the next time I’m ready to experiment with new slides. I may never find the perfect slide, but I enjoy the search just the same.