I’ve been working on my slide playing lately and have been fascinated by all the mystery and folklore associated with slide guitar. The choice of a slide seems to be one of those things that brings out the curiosity, the experimentation, and the tinkerer in all sorts of people.
Get people talking about their slide and you quickly find yourself in arcane discussions of metal vs. glass, copper vs. steel, wine bottles vs. medicine bottles, store bought vs. old craftsman socket wrenches.
All the discussions got me wanting to try out various sizes, shapes, and materials of slides. Only problem is, there doesn’t seem to be any good local outlets for them. It makes sense, I guess. We are talking about a category of good that generally sells for $5 to $20 (generally — they can be MUCH more expensive!), has hundreds of permutations and variations, and very few people will walk in to your store and buy one in any given month. So everyone seems to stock the same few middle-of-the-road options.
Of course, there is always the internet. But given the very personal nature of the quest you can go through a lot of options before finding that right fit. And since — so far — there is no Zappo’s for guitar slides — you order it, you keep it.
So today I dug through our mound of recycling looking for glass bottles that might be converted into slides. New Orleans is no longer picking up glass and K doesn’t want to throw it out so I had a pretty good selection to choose from.
After some internet research — again countless methods for separating wine bottle necks from their bottles — I got ready to try the most promising options. I started using a method of scoring the neck with a glass cutter and then running hot water on the score, shifting to cold water and then tapping the neck to break the score. This method didn’t work for me.
The successful method involved scoring the neck, then rotating the scored neck above a candle flame until sooty all the way around. At that point, you put the bottle under cold water and it pretty much snaps right then. While this method works fast and easy, the results are still what you might expect. The break is simultaneously amazingly crisp and clean and still more jagged than you would like. I don’t know if this can be improved with technique. Or do you just do enough bottles until one breaks perfect?
After the break, I used the dremel tool to ease the edges to make sure there were no sharp points. And voila! My first glass slides.