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Diamond Bottlenecks glass slides - the 'Ultimate' and the 'Blue Diamond'

Diamond Ultimate slides
Two Diamond 'Ultimate' slides (c) Diamond Bottlenecks

Blue Diamond slide

The Blue Diamond slide (c) Diamond Bottlenecks

The 'Ultimate' lead glass and the 'Blue Diamond' soda lime glass slides - Reviewed

Bottles, or at least the right kind of old style bottles for glass slides, are made using a soda lime glass. This is quite a hard glass and the surface is left with a slightly uneven surface produced by the bottle molding process. This type of bottle glass is what guitar slides would traditionally have been made from.

Lead glass is a glass used for more up-market products such as cut glass. It is softer than soda lime and makes a brilliant and clear glass that polishes well. Diamond Bottlenecks have introduced hand blown lead glass as a new alternative for custom made slides.

The 'Ultimate'

Because the stock for the Ultimate slides is hand blown from the raw glass there is much more scope for customisation and various colours and patterns can be produced. If required quite thick and heavy slides can be made.

In use the highly polished surface and slightly softer lead glass produce a liquid and smooth, refined sound.

The 'Blue Diamond'

The Blue Diamond slides are cut from the necks of specially sourced Italian bottles that are as close to the old style bottles as could be found today. Because they must be selected from the available bottles there is less opportunity for customisation with these slides compared to the 'Ultimate's. The Blue Diamond slides are named after the deep cobalt blue of the bottles they are cut from. Length, weight and thickness are all determined by the original bottle.

In use the harder glass and textured surface provide a brighter, sligthly rougher 'blues' sound than the Ultimate.

Conclusion

Both slides have perfectly cut, bevelled and polished ends. I have only reviewed the Diamond Bottlenecks 'Blue Diamond' and 'Ultimate' slides here because these are the two slides I have actually purchased and used. Diamond Bottlenecks offers various other models which can be seen on their web site.

These are top quality products and are backed up by truly excellent service from Ian McWee at Diamond.

Terry Relph-Knight 11-03-2010

  Price in the U. K. - 16.95 the 'Blue Diamond' 24.95 the 'Ultimate'
PLEASE NOTE, THIS IS A REVIEW ONLY - Acoustic Masters does not sell slides.

Pros- All Diamond Bottlenecks slides are carefully thought out and made by hand, often to the customers specifications.

Cons - They are so good that losing or breaking one can be really traumatic and as always you have to pay a little more to get the best.

Verdict - For glass slides it doesn't get any better than those available from Diamond Bottlenecks.

Availability - www.diamondbottlenecks.com

   
 

Slides - What they are and how they work

A slide operates somewhat like a moving fret, altering the vibrating length of the string and therefore changing the pitch. A slide can be almost any fairly hard, smooth object held against the strings by the fretting hand. Early country blues players are said to have used steel knives, probably fairly heavy work knives. The knife handle would have been held in the hand with the thick, blunt back of the knife against the strings. However the favourite weapon of choice was the broken off neck of a wine or beer bottle, slipped over one of the fingers of the fretting hand.

Like so many things today, modern glass bottles often don't resemble the sturdy glass bottles being made in the 1920's when the slide style was born. The musicians of the time were just being practical and using what came to hand that seemed to do the job, but it turns out that the old bottles were almost perfect for slide playing. The hard heavy glass had plenty of inertia and Its internal acoustic damping factor was low, so notes would sustain well. The glass surface moved easily over the strings and did not wear. The outer curvature was just right to serve as a witness point for one end of the strings and the inner diameter was right for the finger.

Many cheap glass slides made today are too light and soft and don't have a bottle neck's natural flare, which allows for playing inside slide notes with the outside strings open. The extra weight at the top of a bottle neck slide due to the flare also helps develop a smooth vibrato.

Some people prefer brass or steel slides and Lowell George, the slide guitarist with Little Feat, used a steel socket wrench. Most metal slides don't have the bottle necks organic shape and have parallel sides.

There has been a recent vogue for ceramic slides and these can offer a slightly different tone to glass or metal.

For lap style playing as distinct from bottle neck slide, a solid slide is used. These are either in the form of a bullet slide - a 17 to 20 mm round bar about 80mm long with one domed end - or a 'Stevens bar' a solid metal bar that looks a little like a piece of miniature railroad track, also about 80mm long. The bullet slides can be made of metal - often plated steel - glass, or even plastic.

Which Finger?

For the slide beginner  there is always the question of which finger to use for the slide, and this does affect choosing the right slide since the inner diameter that's right for the small finger will be too small for, say the ring finger. There isn't really a right or wrong choice of finger, but using the small finger does mean it is relatively easy to slide up over the body, particularly on a 12 fret to the body neck.

Using the other fingers frees up fingers in front of the slide for fingering fretted notes and the slide is arguably in a more secure positon between the fingers. However the little finger does seem to be the most common choice and if the player chooses to both fret and slide (most do) using one of the other fingers for the slide does mean that the playing technique varies a little, depending on which finger is chosen.