Learn to Play: Jeff Massey on George Harrison's Slide Guitar Technique

George Harrison is truly a music legend. He sealed his status as a Beatle, but he also maintained a successful solo career and made music with his legendary peers in The Traveling Wilburys. While one cannot say that Harrison is underrated, his reputation as an incredible songwriter often overshadows his impeccable slide guitar playing.

George Harrison

Harrison's slide technique displayed a knack for melody that created a song within a song, similar to what a string arrangement might provide in an old standard. The uncanny ability for perfect intonation and "outside of the box" slide playing set Harrison apart from a lot of his contemporaries in the slide world who primarily relied on the blues.

Of course, George could play the blues, but he never hesitated to add extra flavor, bringing in other musical influences to get his melodic point across to the listener. Harrison also was known to double his slide parts during the recording process, adding additional overdubbed harmony lines with precise, articulate intonation

I chose the song "Isn't It A Pity" as a perfect example of George's melody and technique. Utilizing the G major scale in a truly original manner and adding passing notes over the C sharp diminished and C chord changes with such a fluid technique is typical of Harrison's slide playing.

He effortlessly slides over the songs structure and never loses his sense of Melody. Because of the precise execution of this particular piece you might find it to be a real challenge to recreate but the results will be rewarding and should offer new ideas for your own slide playing.

George's slide work has been a real inspiration to me and has really opened my eyes to some possibilities I hadn't thought of prior. I hope it does the same for you and your own technique.


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