Ry Cooder's top 3 tips for slide guitar success: "Get you some control"

Ry Cooder performing
(Image credit: Gie Knaeps / Getty)

When MusicRadar's sister magazine Guitarist was granted a rare interview with slide guitar supremo Ry Cooder - who celebrates his birthday today - in 2012, we couldn't resist asking for his tips for slide guitarists.

Despite being responsible for some of the finest slide work on record, including the legendary Rolling Stones track Sister Morphine (below), Ry denied having any rules of thumb to pass onto other players. He did have these to offer, though...

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#1: Get the right weight

"Everybody goes too far too soon. They turn up too loud and then they don't have control."

"All I know about bottleneck is, what you really want to do is get you one, but get the right weight.

"People use 'em too light and I don't see why they do that. But they do, and you don't get any tone that way."

#2: Learn to play a good note

"You [also] have to learn to play a good note. You have to get a nice note that you can control that's in tune. 

"You get your instrument, you sit there and start practicing [one note]- and learn how to get a really good note out of the deal. 

"Get you some control."

#3: Turn it down

"Everybody goes too far too soon. They turn up too loud and then they don't have control over the harmonics and then they play and it sounds to me, a lot of times, like the emergency entrance to a veterinary hospital. Like all these poor sick cats crying out…"

Jamie Dickson

Jamie Dickson is Editor-in-Chief of Guitarist magazine, Britain's best-selling and longest-running monthly for guitar players. He started his career at the Daily Telegraph in London, where his first assignment was interviewing blue-eyed soul legend Robert Palmer, going on to become a full-time author on music, writing for benchmark references such as 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Dorling Kindersley's How To Play Guitar Step By Step. He joined Guitarist in 2011 and since then it has been his privilege to interview everyone from B.B. King to St. Vincent for Guitarist's readers, while sharing insights into scores of historic guitars, from Rory Gallagher's '61 Strat to the first Martin D-28 ever made.