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    • #6335
      Joe Xiques
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    • #6373
      Todd Borger
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    • #6380
      Craig Spinney
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      Todd!  Great question!  I’m not sure Rob has seen it but I’ll message him right away for a response.  At the risk of stealing some of Rob’s thunder, you may want to check out the “Rhythm” video in the “Technique”section.  Rob lays out very clearly different ways to play when you’re not soloing.  Thanks for being the first to ask a question in Rob’s Reso Room!  History has been made here today folks!  We’ll get you that response asap.

      Best,

      Craig

    • #6381
      Craig Spinney
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      Todd,

      I know Rob’s been busy and has two all-day studio sessions today and tomorrow, but I’ll email him and he’ll respond soon.  Promise.

      Craig

    • #6382
      Rob Ickes
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      Great question Todd! “What to do when you’re not playing a solo?”

      When I’m in a playing situation, I’m continuously asking myself, “what does this need?” Depending on the makeup of the group and the style of song, and many other factors, the answer to that question will be different. For example, if there’s no mandolin in the band, I might do more “chopping” rhythm.  If there is a mandolin, but no banjo, I might play more rolls and kind of take over the “banjo” role in the band.  If it’s a slow ballad, it may not need either of those things, but more of a simple, sustained note approach.  So listen to what’s happening in your playing situation, see what it needs, and respond accordingly.

      Another recommendation would be to study great records that feature great Dobro players. I spent a lot of time with the early Seldom Scene records, the Bluegrass Album Band records, and all the Tony Rice records.  Those records meant a lot to me and I listened to them so many times that I learned every note that was played on them (even on the other instruments!). Each sound is etched into my memory…So dig into the records that you really enjoy and listen for what the dobro player is doing during the entire song, and not just the solos. This will give you a lot of ideas for what to do when not soloing.

      And check out what the other instruments are doing also,  this will give you even more ideas, options.  I’ve stolen a lot of musical ideas from Tony Rice’s rhythm playing, Sam Bush’s mandolin chop, and Stuart Duncan’s fiddle playing. Hope this helps, really great question!

      • #6419
        Todd Borger
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        Rob,

        Thanks for the answer. That helps a lot. I am just reading the response now, but it is interesting that I went to a bluegrass jam last night so all the events of last night are fresh in my mind as I am reading your answer. Here are my observations from what happened last night.

        1. There were several banjos and at least one mandolin for much of the evening. Mostly guitars, one bass, and one fiddle. I was the only dobro. When I was chopping, I was aware that I might be playing on top of the mandolin, but in a setting like that, everyone is playing on top of something, so I don’t think it was a big deal. There were times, though, went I could hear us getting out of sync. The mandolin player was the one leading the group, so I knew I had better get out of his way! I had a very good, and very loud, banjo player sitting next to me. When I played my rolls, I knew I was going to get in his way. He was hard of hearing any way, so I don’t think I bothered him.

        2. Honestly, what I was doing much of the time was figuring out the song and how I could play through it. I kind of quietly played through the chord patterns, finding the melody and how I could roll through the patterns. Then when they had me do a break, I basically did what I had been doing, but louder. It was a good learning experience in that regard.

        3. There were a few slower numbers that I tried to do a counterpoint with the vocalist. I think I have a pretty good ear for harmony and melody (if that’s okay to say), and so this part of the instrument is perhaps my favorite and comes the most naturally for me.

        4. Finally, one perhaps humorous story. They kept asking me what song I wanted to do. I said no thanks. No thanks. No thanks, again. Finally I broke down and said, “Well I’ve been working on Tom Dooley.” Immediately I heard, “Which one?” “Kingston Trio or the mountain version?” Before I could say anything, the man next to me started singing the Doc Watson version. Another man yelled at him, “No, he wants the Kingston Trio.” Finally the leader told me to just start playing and they would follow. At that moment, I forgot everything I ever knew about the dobro. My thumbs couldn’t find any gaps between the strings.  My picks started to fall off.  I tried to start it three or four times and finally said, “I think we’d better move on to something else.” They obliged.

        5. So, one more question. If I am starting a song, am I playing just the bare melody at the beginning? If I am doing Tom Dooley, for instance, would I play the break from your lesson right out of the gate, or am I saving that for later? Should I just sing the first verse to begin? And is it my responsibility to call our the breaks and end the song, etc.? I guess this is a question about the music, but also about jam etiquette, I suppose.

        This went on much longer than I anticipated. Sorry to hog the space.

        And finally, a very Merry Christmas to you all.

    • #6388
      Jake Keegan
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      Hey Rob– I’m looking for clarification in the “C Minor Scales in Harmonic Thirds Up & Down the Neck”(2nd and 3rd strings) Lesson in “Mastering the Fretboard Course.  The other exercises made more sense to me mentally, and I’m having trouble grasping why the notes are sequenced in that way (at times it doesn’t seem to be moving through the minor scale in the same way the other harmonic Third exercises were progressing through scales. the tab for minor third excercise for example lists it as: C – A, D-F, D#-C).  I can mechanically move through the patterns efficiently, but am trying to gain more mental understanding of why they are sequenced in the way that they are. Maybe I’m missing something, but hope you can give me clarity.

      thanks,

      Jake

      • #6401
        Rob Ickes
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        Hi Jake,

        I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking about.  Can you re-phrase the question, or tell me exactly which spots in which videos you’re referring to?  I’m happy to check it out, just not sure where to look.  Thx,

         

        R-

    • #6410
      Rob Ickes
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      Hi Y’all,

       

      I received a great question thorough my messages page, so I thought I’d share my answer here.  The question is from ralf wolterhoff

      Hi Rob, can you say something about Arpeggios ? I know the Arpeggios over the hole fretboard but I can’t bring it in a musical sense.Best Regards Ralf

      Hi Ralf,

      Great question, a lot of people ask me how to APPLY arpeggios, scales, etc…which I think is the essence of what you’re saying when you say, “bring it in a musical sense.”

      A few thoughts come to my mind-

      1-Don’t force it.  I think these things should work there way into your playing naturally. I’ve found that after I’ve worked on a technique for a while, it drops into my playing unexpectedly, and that’s always a great feeling when it happens. Don’t put any pressure on it, it will happen. It’s like the saying, “a watched pot never boils.” Don’t “watch” the arpeggio “pot,” just do the work and let it happen naturally.

      2-Practice playing arpeggios over one chord with another musician, or a rhythm track.  This will help bridge the gap between learning and applying (making music) with the new technique.

      One thing I really like about arpeggios is they get me to start using the whole fingerboard for one key, not just the root position. Just seeing that and learning about the other positions on the fretboard is a mind-blower and can help you get out of your “box” that you may be stuck in. Check this video out and you’ll see what I mean.

      I’m playing all over the fretboard, but it is all key of A.  So now I’m not limited to the 2nd fret when playing in the Key of A.  That is a good thing and gives you a lot of musical freedom!

      3-Listen to, and learn some musical examples of what you’re trying to do. When you mentioned arpeggios, I immediately thought of Bill Monroe.  He used them (or pieces of them) a lot in his playing, and some of his most famous licks/ songs are based on them. For example-

      Roanoke, Wheel Hoss, The Old Crossroad, The First Whippoorwill intro

      Mike Auldridge also did a lot with them, although mainly at one fret position. Here are some examples from his playing-

      “Little Rock Getaway” intro-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnXRahPmhlA

      “It’s Over” intro-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rcKscUDU10

      “Greensleeves”on the F and E chords-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpSlMIShLIo

      LMK if this helps!

      R-

       

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by Rob Ickes.
    • #6495
      Rob Ickes
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      Hi Todd,
      Great observations! A few thoughts-
      In #2-you mention how you spent much of the song time figuring out what you were going to play when it was time for your solo, and that is great! Use that time to try and quickly work something up.  This situation is also GREAT ear training. You’re learning how to quickly put a solo together, and this is a skill that I learned from playing in jam sessions.  And I use the same skill today when I’m in the recording studio and I have a short a mount of time to put a solo together.  It’ll get faster/easier the more you do this. You are starting to connect your ears, your mind and your hands, good stuff…
      BTW-It’s fantastic that you are starting this process by playing with people. There are some things you cannot learn by yourself, you must go out into the “real world” and experience all this great stuff.
      In #4-If you’re playing the “Tom Dooley” solo from this website, that is from my version, which is similar to the Doc Watson version.  I learned it from Doc’s recording.  I never cared much for the Kingston Trio version, even when I was a kid! (:
      No worries that you “forgot everything you knew about the Dobro,” it’ll get easier!  You’re still very new to this game.  And like I said before- There are some things you cannot learn by yourself.  You cant practice how to deal with nerves if you only play by yourself. You have to get out there and do it!
      In #5-RE: starting a song-there is not one answer to this question, it just depends on the situation. For most songs I am kicking off, I will try and play a solo that sticks close to the melody. It gives the band something to grab onto and minimizes confusion, especially if you’re at a jam session where maybe some people aren’t familiar with the tune. So the solo you learned here on the site would be perfect for kicking that one off.
      Re: calling breaks out, you can certainly do that. At a jam, I like it when the solos just go around the circle in a linear fashion.  This keeps the confusion (re: when to take a solo) to a minimum, but I realize that it is not always possible to do this. Eye contact comes in very handy for things like this, which can be tricky on the Dobro because we tend to be looking down at the fretboard a lot…So everyone-look up as much as you can and make some eye contact with your fellow jammers!
      Great questions Todd, I’m sure many of our folks on this site will get a lot from this discussion!
      Rob

       

    • #6496
      Rob Ickes
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      Hi Jake,
      Okay, it might just be terminology were getting confused on. When I called these scales “in thirds up and down the strings,” it just means that each of the consecutive pairs of notes is either a major or minor third apart. So in the notes you mention-C is a minor third above A, D is a major third above Bb, etc…Does that make sense?
      What I love about learning all these scales patterns is that it starts to unlock you from being tied to the root positions for all these keys. These scales we’re talking about are C minor, but as you can see, C minor scale notes can be found all up and down the neck. Normally we would just use what we can find around the root position (in this case the 5th fret.)  But now we have options all over the fretboard.
      Hope this makes sense, feel free to try me again if I didn’t answer your question. You can also post a video of your question if that would help.  Great stuff Jake!

       

    • #6420
      Jake Keegan
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      Yes– its in the “C Minor Scales in thirds up & down the strings” in the “mastering the fretboard” Course. I can technically perform the exercise, but I’m trying to wrap my brain around it more. I’m mainly getting hung up on the change in pattern & intervals from the other harmonic thirds exercises. For instance, it is going from C to A, then next D to Bb (which is technically the minor 6th, not the minor 3rd). I might just be missing something here. I enjoy the exercise, but am trying to understand it a bit more.

      this is the vid im referring to: https://www.bigmusictent.com/lesson/c-minor-scales-harmonized-in-thirds-up-and-down-the-strings/

      thanks

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