Setting up an electric guitar to be used exclusively for playing slide. Would anyone know if their is recommended, suggested or standardized string height utilized for setting up a guitar this way?

3 Answers 3


For slide guitar, you'd want a relatively high string gauge and/or low frets, and higher tension strings (heavier strings). That is because you do not want your slide to touch the frets, as it will create an unwanted, percussive sound each time the slide touches a fret.

There have been people who use both the slide and their remaining fingers (to fret, not just mute or create percussive thumps) so I would suggest not going over the top so your guitar will still be playable even when not using a slide.

I would suggest experimenting with finding the bare minimum so it will be playable both slide and standard.


There are actually a couple of things you need to take into account:

  • Height:

Ideally you want strings as high as possible, so you don't touch the frets at all, but this doesn't match well with normal playing so best plan is to use a separate guitar, as you are doing. So look at how high your bridge can go and raise it up.

People often forget about raising the nut as well, otherwise you will clatter around the first couple of frets if you aren't really delicate on the slide.

  • Radius:

Typically the strings aren't in a straight line, but follow the curve of the fretboard. You really want them to be flat so that you aren't pressing the centre strings more than the edge strings, so use the edge of a ruler to check as you raise them. Some guitars allow you to raise bridge pieces individually, but others may need the high ones to be filed down.

And you are likely to find you need to raise the pickups to match the new height, but this may not be needed.


Bob: As several people have already commented you will need to raise the action on your guitar. If you really want to do it right you probably need some work on the nut. Just raising the bridge is not sufficient since your strings will then be at an angle to the fret board. At Stewart-Mcdonald they sell a small device that fits over your nut which lets you raise the strings from that end w/o any corrective work on the nut. You will need to increase the thickness of your strings some play with as much as 13's. Since you will be using the guitar for all slide I suggest trying some open tuning such as d or g. Use your fingers and thumb on your right hand to both pluck and mute strings. Pretty soon you'll be just like Duane or Sonny Landreth.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.