Blues Guitar – Sliding Chords
Learning how to slide chords will provide beginning blues guitarists with a great technique for playing blues licks and solos. Unlike sliding individual notes, sliding chords gives guitar licks a fuller, harmonized sound. These can be incorporated into guitar solos, but they can also be used by themselves and played in different positions throughout entire chord progressions.
This lesson will introduce the basic blues chord sliding technique. We will also learn how to use this technique to play a very simple “solo” based on a twelve-bar blues.
Single Note Sliding
Before sliding chords, guitarists should learn how to slide single notes. To do this, a single note is picked. Then, this note slides either up or down to a different fret. Let’s try this by sliding a single note from the 5th fret to the 7th fret on the G-string:
The “sliding” action needs to happen quite fast. If it is done too slowly, it will sound as if the 5th, 6th, and 7th fret notes are ALL being played.
Once this technique can be played, guitarists should practice sliding up, and then sliding down. To do this, play the above slide technique, but as soon as the 7th fret note is hit, quickly slide back to the 5th fret. The sliding should be done as smoothly as possible.
Sliding chords works the same way as sliding single notes. The only difference is that multiple notes slide at the same time. In this lesson, we will be learning how to slide minor 7th chords. These chords are based on a twelve-bar blues in the key of G.
Below are the minor 7th chords that slide on the G, C, and D chords of the twelve-bar blues progression. Practice sliding these chords individually. After sliding down to each original chord, this last chord can be strummed again.
Once you can slide these chords comfortably, try to slide them in the context of the twelve-bar blues.
G – C – G – G
C – C – G – G
D – C – G – D
It is not only minor 7th chords that can be used to play the sliding chord technique. The same thing can be done, for example, with 9th chords. Minor 7th chords have a “bluesy” quality, while 9th chords have more of a “jazzy” quality. If you want to learn blues guitar at a higher level, this is a great skill to have down, as it will make your playing sound mature.
In the exercise above, chord slides are used throughout an entire twelve-bar blues progression. This can sound quite nice, but sliding chords can perhaps sound more interesting when interchanged with other lead guitar techniques. Playing other types of guitar licks at times, and sliding chords at other times, can make guitar solos sound more interesting and mature.