Rocco DeLuca says his favorite instrument is his baritone lap steel, but he frequently plays 12-string pedal steel as well. He says that, while it lacks the bottom end of the baritone, he can "achieve a lot of the same things, but it'll give me other colors or textures that I like and want to explore."

Photo by Teresa Critchlow

Hopping between 6-string, baritone lap steel, and pedal steel, the SoCal guitarist has collaborated with the legendary producer on everything from cosmic guitar soundscapes to the dub-infused gospel of the new Heavy Sun.

Rocco DeLuca has learned to hear the complexity within simple musical gestures. "An orchestra tuning up at the beginning [of a concert] … that's the most exciting part for me," he says, deep into our conversation. "How's it gonna get better than that? Everybody's reaching for the note, right? It's exotic because they've abandoned the Western philosophy when they're tuning up and they're pulling everything. There's all this microtonal information. Things are rubbing and harmonizing all over the place, there's a billion worlds, and then they're gone as they achieve it."

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The Review Demo maestro walks you through a descending lick that's a cinch to transpose to any key.

Photo by Andy Ellis

Intrigued by the sweet ’n’ searing sounds of slippery-fingered guitar? Here’s how to choose the right slide and start exploring this timeless technique.

If you don’t play slide guitar, start now. It’s easier than you might think. Just follow the Funkadelic principle: “Free your mind and your ass”—or in this case, your fingers—“will follow.”

There are no limitations of genre or technique with slide. The slide empire extends from the stab ’n’ slice of Delta blues granddaddy Son House to the whinnying cries of Muddy Waters, the bare-knuckled rumblings of J.B. Hutto to the righteous roots of Ry Cooder, the infinite sonic universe of India’s Debashish Bhattacharya to the modernistic wail of the Edge, and the free-flying jazz of Sonny Sharrock to the omnivorous odyssey of Derek Trucks, with all kinds of artistic stops between. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a shred master or just learning basic chords. Everybody can do it—trust me. You only need two things to play slide: a guitar and, of course, a slide!

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