1. #1
    JarredMcAdams's Avatar Ubisoft SF Game Designer
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    BackTrack Spotlight: "Slow Ride" by Foghat



    Each week we showcase an existing song from our extensive Rocksmith song library on the weekly Twitch stream, in addition to the current week's offerings. We’ll announce the BackTrack here each Wednesday and offer some thoughts about the featured song.

    This week's BackTrack Spotlight comes from me, notetracker Jarred McAdams.

    Foghat -- “Slow Ride”
    Released as Rocksmith 2014 DLC on November 3, 2015
    Notetracked by Jarred McAdams
    Lead in Open E, Rhythm and Bass in E Standard Tuning


    Foghat minted a solid gold Rock and Roll classic with 1975’s “Slow Ride.” Its laid back groove, instantly recognizable riffs, and gritty vocal performance have helped it become a greasy, sleazy tour de force of 70s arena rock. Musically, it takes much of its vibe from the intertwining of three distinct musical performances – a trashy, bluesy rhythm guitar, a grooving bass line with memorable slap and pop passages, and an iconic slide guitar performance that ties the whole thing together.

    For anyone out there unfamiliar with the basics of slide guitar, the idea is that you wear a glass or metal tube over your finger and rest it on the strings to change their pitch—so instead of the discrete notes you'd get by fretting, you get a very smooth slippy, slidey sound. The slide just rests on top of the strings without pushing them down the way you normally would.

    Guitars are often set up with higher action (i.e., with the strings further from the fretboard), to accommodate the sliding action. It’s also common for guitars to be in an open tuning when playing with a slide. This means that all the strings are tuned to the notes of some common chord, so that when the slide lays across all six strings at any fret, the notes will all belong to a chord. Open tuning is the key to many classic slide guitar licks, including the ones in “Slow Ride.”

    The slide is often worn on the third or fourth finger. This leaves the other fingers free to do some normal fretting as needed (which does happen occasionally in “Slow Ride”). This also leaves the first and second fingers free to mute the strings behind the slide, which would otherwise vibrate and cause unwanted noise.


    As with natural harmonics, you want to rest the slide directly over the fret you’re playing, and not behind it as you would with normal fretting.


    Vibrato is also an important element in slide guitar. It is accomplished by moving the slide quickly left and right around the target fret. Not only does it add a powerful expressive element to the performance, but it also helps to mask any inconsistencies in pitch that might arise from having the slide slightly out of position.

    Slide guitar is often fingerpicked. The style involves moving between strings a lot, and fingerpicking helps facilitate this. It also allows you to mute unwanted notes and to stop them from ringing out. Notes don’t stop when you lift your finger as they would when playing without a slide, because the slide stays in contact with the strings throughout, so they need to be muted with the picking hand.

    Slide guitar licks are usually constructed by sliding into the chord tones from beneath or, less frequently, from above. In particular, the two frets behind the chord tones are full of interesting and useful bluesy tones. They want so badly to resolve into the chord tone, and with the slide they can do so in a very silky, smooth, satisfying way. Take a look at the main lick from the breakdown that happens in the middle of “Slow Ride.”


    The song is in open E tuning, but it’s in the key of A. This figure is all built around the notes on the 5th fret, which form an A major chord. He starts on the first string with a high A, then dips down and comes back up to the starting pitch. He then does the same thing on the 2nd and 3rd strings, playing the chord tone, dipping down, and then coming back up. Finally, he plays a quick descending triad, with a long scoop up from the minor third to the major third before landing on the root --all classic slide guitar moves.

    We get a different but related figure in the outro solo:


    This is built around the 17th fret, so one octave higher than the fifth (but still an A major chord). In measure 106 (3:38 in the above video) he scoops into position from the 15th fret and then leaps up to the high A. Then he oscillates between the 3rd and 5th of the chord with heavy vibrato before tagging the lick with the same descending triad with a scooped third as he did before.

    There’s much more to explore here, but it’s all built around this same idea of parking the slide over the appropriate fret and then bouncing around the notes of the chord while sliding into and out of them to give the riff some shape.

    A slide is a great tool to have in your arsenal as a guitarist. It can be a lot of fun to play around with, and gives you instant cred as somebody who knows what to do with a guitar… if you know how to use it.
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  2. #2
    rcole_sooner's Avatar Moderator
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    Such a great job on the note tracking of this song. I just loved playing the slide part last night.

    Fantastic song!
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  3. #3
    JarredMcAdams's Avatar Ubisoft SF Game Designer
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    Originally Posted by rcole_sooner Go to original post
    Such a great job on the note tracking of this song. I just loved playing the slide part last night.

    Fantastic song!
    Thanks! It's just an all around fun song, with really distinct and interesting parts for lead, rhythm and bass. We're very excited to finally have it in the game!
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    rapplebee's Avatar Member
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    Guess I'll have to stop by the LMS on my way home and get me a slide! Used what was handy last night (a USB->SD adapter) and it just whet my appetite for a real slide.
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  5. #5
    Jarred,
    Thank you for this write up and your reply to my questions about the slide and this song in another thread. It's great work like this that makes me happy to spend my money here.
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  6. #6
    I tried to play it first without reading this and before your twitch video... very difficult for me without a slide. Thank you for the write up... I am excited to go get a slide and try it out!
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  7. #7
    How difficult is it to play with a slide with low action (how my guitar is setup)?
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    toreyj01's Avatar Member
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    Originally Posted by tof00 Go to original post
    How difficult is it to play with a slide with low action (how my guitar is setup)?
    Good question! I was going to ask the same thing! I love playing this song but playing it with a slide just ramps up the cool factor to the nth degree.
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  9. #9
    JarredMcAdams's Avatar Ubisoft SF Game Designer
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    Originally Posted by tof00 Go to original post
    How difficult is it to play with a slide with low action (how my guitar is setup)?
    The main difficulty with lower action comes from the possibility of accidentally pushing the strings down onto the frets, causing buzzing or preventing the strings from vibrating at all. So, if you have lower action, you'd want to be extra careful not to press down too hard, and make sure that the slide is gliding smoothly along the strings. It's totally that doable - the guitar I used in these photos and on the stream has relatively low action and I was able to make it through the song. It just requires a slightly lighter touch.
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  10. #10
    lots of fun to play rhythm guitar part - great song, one of the better DLCs this year
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