Steel bar

A steel bar, commonly referred to as a "steel", but also referred to as a tone bar,[1] "slide bar"[2] guitar slide, slide,[3] or bottleneck,[4] is a smooth hard object which is pressed against strings to play steel guitar and is itself the origin of the name "steel guitar".[5] The device can either be a solid bar which is held in the hand, or a tubular object worn around the player's finger. Instead of pressing fingertips on the strings against frets as a traditional guitar is played, the steel guitarist uses one of these objects pressed against the strings with one hand, while plucking the strings with the other to gain the ability to play a smooth glissando and a deep vibrato not possible when playing with fingers on the strings.

Steel bar (tonebar) used to play certain types of steel guitars
Several kinds of steelbars

The solid bar is typically used when the instrument is played on the player's lap or otherwise supported in a table-top position, historically called "Hawaiian-style". It is used in many genres of music, but commonly associated with American country music.

The tubular model is typically used in blues and rock music when the player holds the guitar in the traditional position (flat against the body). It is then called a "slide" and the style called "slide guitar".[4] Early blues musicians inserted a finger in the sawed-off neck of a bottle to use as a slide and the term "bottleneck" became an eponym for this type of blues guitar playing.[4]


  1. ^ Gregg, Jonathan (August 24, 2013). "How to Use the Tone Bar/Pedal Steel Guitar". Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  2. ^ Perez, Fernando (2016). The Complete Acoustic Lap Steel Guitar Method. Mel Bay. p. 21. ISBN 9781619115965.
  3. ^ Haynes, Warren; Levine, Mike. Guide to Slide Guitar/Slide placement (ebook ed.). ISBN 978-1-57560-524-1. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c James, Steve (March 25, 2016). "How to Play Slide Guitar: Bottleneck Basics". Acoustic Guitar Magazine. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  5. ^ Ruymar, Lorene. "The History of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar". Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association. Archived from the original on March 16, 2018. Retrieved May 6, 2020.