"Slide" into Summertime

Apr 20, 2021

Sliding into and out of notes is an essential part of your mandolin musical toolbox.  

I was first aware of slides as part of that cool song intro you hear at bluegrass jams (I'd later learn that this 4-bar intro has a strange name, which I promise I'm not making up, "the Potatoes").

In the meantime, I have come to employ slides in my playing as a way of getting between the frets. We can't bend (really), so slides are one of our only options to free ourselves from the individual frets.

When learning Irish tunes from flute or fiddle players, I was envious of their ability to sneak up on the B on the A-string in that hoe-downy, bluesy way. So, I began sliding into that note to emulate them.

My love affair with mandolin slides hit epic proportions when I finally heard Jacob do Bandolim, the Brazilian mandolinist. Jacob's slides (and mine now) are more related to the Portuguese guitar licks heard in fado music than to our "potatoes" here in the U.S.

In the video example, you'll hear me play the first phrase of George Gershwin's "Summertime," once straight and once with slides. Then I'll play a particularly slide-drenched chorus of the song just to show you the gamut.

After that, I'll demonstrate the basic technique and then some cool add-ons so you can get the most out of your slides.



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