I've been playing around with 'bottleneck' (slide) banjo and would like to buy a metal or glass slide that fits on my little (pinky) finger. This is to free up my other fingers so I can still pick with them. Does anyone know where I can get a slide small and narrow enough? My local music shop's were all far too big. I am female with small hands. But I suppose I would still need one pretty long so that it covers the fret?
We have the same problem. I just adapted and switched to the ring finger. You could try "stuffing" the slide. I once put strips of tape inside to narrow it down. I also tried a short piece of brass tubing, which was a little rough (various slides have differing degrees of smoothness for different sounds). Copper plumbing pipe (may be too small)?
And you could try the original way and cut the top off a wine or liquor bottle. Some old glass pill bottles may work (Duane Allman used a Coricidin bottle).
Good luck! Be sure to post when you find the solution.
I use the 2" deep socket I bought to use on guitar. I like the extra weight - most commercial slides seem too light to me, but my biggest problem is a small hand. Building up the inside of a slide never seemed to work, and I haven't seen a glass pill bottle in years. Merle Watson used a socket for his slide.
The material from which the slide is made will affect the sound you get. What kind of sound do you want? Steel, copper, and glass, for example, all sound different. You can even use PVC pipe, but it too will have its own sound (dead, as far as I'm concerned, but I've seen folks use it).
Length matters. You have to decide whether or not you want to be able to cover all the strings simultaneously--including the 5th string--with your slide. If you don't, a longer slide can seem unwieldy and may inadvertently land on the 5th when you don't want it to.
Weight matters. I have used the socket wrench version, for example, but it is heavier and requires a lighter touch on the strings, especially if the action is low to the fret-board. With a heavier slide you may need heavier gauge strings to compensate. This too can affect the sound of your banjo.
Joints matter. A slide that covers the entire finger down to the knuckle will require different hand maneuvers than one which fits just to the PIP joint (the first joint beyond the knuckle). One version may be more comfortable for you than another.
I'd suggest thinking about these considerations, then going to the local hardware store and seeing what you can find that just might work. That's what alot of us slide players have done.
Let us know if you come up with something really quirky. Best wishes.