Slide Guitar Vs. Steel Guitar: What’s The Difference?

Although many people consider Slide Guitar and Steel guitar to be almost the same, there are certain differences that make them unique in their own way. Depending on your preferences, you might choose Slide Guitar over Steel Guitar or vice-versa.

Slide Guitar is mainly played using a cylinder to slide over the strings in order to find the right notes. On the other hand, Steel Guitar can be played by creating pressure on the string using a metal bar. In both cases, they use something to pressurize the strings to find the selected notes. 

In this article, you will get to know about Slide guitars and Steel Guitar in detail. You will also learn various facts about Slide Guitar and Steel Guitar. I will also mention information on various types of Slide Guitar.

Slide Guitar Overview:

In Slide Guitar, a cylinder is used to slide over the strings in order to find the correct note. The cylinder of Slide Guitars can be made of metal, ceramic, plastic, or sometimes glass. The cylinder is put on one of the fretting hand’s fingers and then played on the guitar. 

Guitarists wear the cylinder on one finger and restrict the strings from moving until they find the perfect note they want. There is no rule for putting the cylinder on a definite finger. However, guitarists mainly put them on the pinky or ring finger. 

You can play a variety of songs there, for example, hard rock, blues, or even country songs. Slide guitars can come in a variety of materials, weights, and sizes. Most of the Slide Guitars are made of glass, Steel, and brass. 

Steel Guitar Overview:

Steel Guitars are guitars with ten strings that are played while pressing the string with a metal bar. Back in the 19th century, it was Hawaiians who played the first type of Steel Guitars. However, they did not use the metal bar. 

They did not use the specialized slide guitar; rather, they used the regular guitars and played them using a steel bar. Nowadays, people recognize these Steel Guitars as a technique of playing guitars or an instrument to be played with a steel bar. 

There are different types of Steel Guitars, such as Lap Steel Guitars, Console Steel Guitars, and Pedal Steel Guitars. Each comes with a different purpose and facilities. 

Differences Between Slide Guitar & Steel Guitar:

To be honest, both Slide Guitar and Steel Guitars have slight differences but trust me, and they are completely different instruments. Slide Guitars usually come with a cylinder, whereas Steel Guitars have a Steel bar with it. 

The purpose of using the cylinder and the steel bar is the same, which is to press the strings to resist the sound and find the exact notes. They even look different from any regular guitars. 

They have different sounding qualities; as a result, they can be easily recognized. Many guitarists can just listen to the song and recognize the type of guitar. When it comes to Steel Guitars, you can either buy Lap Steel Guitar or Pedal Steel Guitars. 

As the name suggests, Lap Steel Guitars are the ones that are kept on the lap and then played. On the flip side, the pedal Steel Guitars come with pedals so that you can stand them. The pedals and levers can also be used to change the notes, cords, and other effects. 

Slide Guitars, on the other hand, have very similar tonality, and there are no options to modify the pitches mechanically. You need to rely on specific tunes, string combinations, and playing positions. 

Which One Is Actually Better?

The bars in Steel Guitars can be a cylindrical shape and are mostly made of Steel or metal. On the other hand, Slide Guitars come with cylindrical slides, but they are usually hollow inside. They can either be hollowed out all the way, or one side of the cylinder might be closed. 

Mostly the bar for Steel guitars is made of metal, whereas the cylinders of Slide guitars are made of glass, metal, plastic, ceramic, or other materials. 

Now which one will be comfortable for you completely depends on your preferences. So, you can try both of them and find out which one will be more comfortable. 

Related Questions

Can You Play Slide Guitar On Any Guitar?

Slide Guitars can be played on any guitar. You can use the cylindrical slide on any regular guitar and then search for the desired tone. However, you might feel some discomfort since the guitar will be in low action. 

The frets and the fretboard might come in contact with the slide and interfere with the playing process. This might affect your play and produce unwanted noise.  

Is A Steel Guitar The Same As A Dobro?

Steel Guitar can be considered the same as Dobro; however, there are some differences. Dobro is a resonator guitar and is an acoustic guitar by design but does not produce a traditional round acoustic sound. 

There are two types of Dobro Guitars which include Square Neck and Round Neck. Square Neck can be played keeping on your lap, and the round neck one can be played keeping on your lap or any other convenient manner. 

On the other hand, Steel Guitar is a guitar that comes with a steel bar. The bar is used to change the pitching note while holding it on top of the string. 

Then again, Steel Guitar comes in two types; Lap Steel Guitar and Pedal Steel Guitar. The initial one can be played by putting it on the lap, and the other one can be played by keeping on the pedal. 

Is A Metal Or Glass Slide Better?

When it comes to choosing the slide, metal slides are heavier and harder, which makes the sound brighter and sustains longer. On the other hand, the glass slide sounds a bit mellow. 

However, which one should be your preferable one completely depends on your personal preferences. 

What Is The Point Of A Guitar Slide?

Guitar slides are mainly used to manipulate the tone of the strings to achieve the perfect sound. You can find glass, metal, or ceramic slides, and choose the one you find more comfortable. 

Using the slide will make the sound different and gives you the privilege to mix two or more notes.  

Final Thoughts

Slide Guitar and Steel guitar come with the same purpose, which is to resist the strings and find the desired sound. The slide guitar comes with a metal, plastic, or ceramic cylindrical slide, whereas the steel guitar comes with a metal bar.

Although people tend to think Slide Guitar and Steel guitar are almost identical, some core differences remain. They even have different sounds and deliver different notes. 

Both Steel and Slide guitars come in two different kinds of guitars. They also have different kinds of purposes. You can play them and choose the one that fits your preferences. 

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