dog whistles

I sometimes refer to the subtle differences between tools (like guitar pickups or camera lenses) as “dog whistles”, not audible/visible to normal people.  But one of my dog whistles isn’t so whistly.  I have two different slides I normally use when playing lap steel.  One is a generic Dunlop bullet slide, basically a chromed steel rod with a rounded dome at one end.  The other is a glass slide I picked up from some guy on Ebay who makes them.  It’s much lighter than the Dunlop, a bit bigger in diameter, and rounded on both ends.  I strongly prefer its sound and feel to the Dunlop.  Unfortunately, glass being, well, glass, it has developed many tiny chips where it gets hammered onto the first string.  These chips sometimes catch the string, which I can both hear and feel.  So lately, I’ve been using the Dunlop more.

But in two different cases now, I’ve had other musicians insist I use the glass slide, after hearing both… even if it meant the chip-scrape sounds winding up on recordings.   So the tonal difference isn’t just a dog whistle, I guess.

I should take it to a jeweler sometime and see if they can polish out those chips for me.


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