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Rollin' & Tumblin': Gear & Tone

 

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Rollin' & Tumblin'

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Before we get into the details of the guitar tones that I'll be using for this tutorial, it's important for me to say that you don't need any specific gear to be able to play this song. The old blues guys just used whatever they had lying around, and so can you! An acoustic guitar with steel strings is preferable, but it could even work on a nylon string guitar or an electric as well. So always keep that in mind!

For the main slide guitar I'll be using this resonator guitar. A resonator guitar is an acoustic guitar with a built-in cone, almost like a speaker cone, which acoustically amplifies the sound and adds that signature nasally sound that I'm sure you recognize from classic blues records. If you don't have a resonator guitar, you can always just use a regular acoustic. I'll be using a metal slide, because I like the extra treble I get from it, but you can also use a plastic, glass or ceramic slide. The most important thing is to have high “action” on your guitar meaning that the strings are somewhat high off the fretboard, so you don't have to worry about the slide hitting the strings. Sometimes you have to be able to fret normally as well, so you have to find a compromise where the action is high enough for the slide playing and also low enough for the regular fretting. But in this case we're only using slide and open strings, so you can use a guitar with very high action.

For the supporting rhythm guitar I'll be using this old "Harmony" acoustic guitar. You'll notice that this guitar has F holes instead of the typical sound hole, but it's the same basic idea. The sound is a lot thinner and works perfectly on this song with the slide guitar. If he played a regular acoustic it would be more “in the way” frequency-wise. That being said, you absolutely don't need a guitar like this to play this supporting rhythm guitar part- any acoustic or even an electric guitar will do. The sound you're hearing in the video comes from the overhead mic that I'm also talking through, so the tone is completely acoustic in the room.

I'm using a medium pick for both guitar parts, 12 gauge strings on the slide guitar and 11's for the rhythm guitar.