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Interesting odd discovery lets me play again.

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Jan 22, 2020 - 12:15:48 PM
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232 posts since 4/22/2015

I recently had a neck injury that has left me with nerve damage in my left arm and hand. From what I gather, my hand imact seems to be very similar to carpel tunnel syndrom, except it can't be treated. I've been doing this and that, the best option so far was playing my Dobro bottleneck style, but my wrist was giving me fits so I didn't really pursue it. Yesterday I picked up the Dobro (a 1935 Model 25 round neck, with a well warped neck so actually a great slide guitar) and was tuning it with it laid flat in my lap, got it done, and since I had my bottleneck slide handy, gave it a try lap style and it was great! The slide is a Dunlop Glass tube, 1.25" OD, and it just fit in my hand so comfortably, my wrist was relaxed and the slide was at 90 degrees to the neck, I could even do slants. I can't hold my other bars well at all, I have a Shubb that I can't hold, but this big old glass tube seems to fit the bill.

Now my problem is what to play? I don't seem to hear things I can bring out on this so far, tuned EGDGBD which is a variation on low G tuning that gives you minor 7th chords root on the E string. I've been playing scales to get the note placement and intonation under a bit of control, but I need to get some tunes in my head that I can try to play. I was playing "A Foggy Day", the old jazz standard, finding the notes and the chords was kind of fun. With my tuning, are there any usable chords with the root on the D 4th string? I'd like to be able to play a usable F chord at the third fret, for example. I see a root, 4th, 6th, and maybe a 2 or 9 on the low E string?

Jan 22, 2020 - 4:22:58 PM

502 posts since 8/29/2013

I'm not really into the technical stuff you are inquiring about but I can only tell you this.

You are fortunate to find that glass bar you can use learning to play lap style. I've found that if you can hum or play it in your mind you can play it with your hands.

The only limit you have is your creativity and willingness to commit. The fact that you've made the effort to begin is proof enough that you'll eventually succeed.

That goes for any music genre you wish to pursue from bluegrass to jazz.

Stay the course and good luck.

Jan 22, 2020 - 5:43:05 PM

36 posts since 11/24/2019

You and I are in the same boat, Brian. I played the 5-string banjo fairly well, and could get around on a standard guitar. Then I had open heart surgery, and when they cracked my chest, there was a nerve pinch that really messed up my left hand. It's coming back slowly. However, I found that I could get around fairly well on the autoharp.

Then it struck me. About 50 or so years ago, I played the Dobro on a couple of numbers with a folk group I worked with. So I got myself a Dobro and took some lessons with a local slide guitar player who has helped me immensely. I don't have any trouble holding onto a Shubb steel. I use the one with the wooden grip. But I've found that there is a lot of leeway in what works for a given player.

Listen to as much Dobro music as you can. I find Mike Auldridge to be quite inspiring. Don't worry too much about complete chords. Chord fragments, such as thirds and sixths, can fill out a lot of what you want to play.

All I can say is "Go for it!"

Jan 22, 2020 - 6:12:40 PM

219 posts since 11/28/2012

Hi Brian, congrats on finding the right mechanics that allow you to play and express. While I don’t have any nerve injuries, I stumbled into lap style in a similar fashion...flipping the thing horizontally and playing with a glass slide was so much easier for me than upright bottleneck slide.

Are low-bass G (DGDGBD) and Open D (DADF#AD) not your thing? Only reason I ask is there are lots of song arrangements, instructional material, etc. available on both tunings. And not just blues.  I’m primarily an Open D player these days in a host of genres.

If not, all good, you have a cool tuning with some unique possibilities. You may need to trail blaze a lot more, but that can be very fulfilling as well!

Best of luck and looking forward to hearing about your journey smiley

Jan 23, 2020 - 9:15:43 AM



232 posts since 4/22/2015

Uncle Jack, I think of my tuning as low G but with a minor chord option, I don't know how you play minor or 7th chords in either D or G tuning. Maybe you use open strings, but what if you are playing a song in key of Bb with open G tuning, what do you do then?

Jan 23, 2020 - 4:11:30 PM

219 posts since 11/28/2012

Hi, sometime ago I posted some of my “go to” minor chord positions in Open D. I can’t find that post, and I’m traveling and don’t have time to recreate. Off the top of my head, I can get Dm (Open strings but bar 3rd string 11th fret), Em7 ( bar bottom 3 strings on 2nd fret, mute 3rd string, leave top 2 strings open...not “pure” but close...), F#m (bar bottom 3 strings 4th fret, 3rd string ring open), Gm (bar strings #2 and 3 on 1st fret, ring open strings #4 and #1), Am ( bar strings #3 and 4 10th fret, ring open strings #5 and 2), Bm (bar bottom 3 strings 9th fret, ring open strings #3 and 1).

And in general, you can “cheat” any minor chord at the barre fret by simply avoiding picking the 3rd in a pinch. It’s neither major nor minor, but sounds minor in the right context. Easy to do at all frets in Open D since there is only one third in the tuning.

I’ve done similar mappings for 7th chords which are tougher, but as a cheat I use strings #2 and #3 moving up 3 frets from the barre position. Gives you the 5th and b7 of the chord. As I said, a cheat interval.

Apologies if I made any errors, this is off the top of my head. Could do same drill for Open G tuning of course.

You may have better options in your tuning, I haven’t thought thru those laugh

Best regards


Edited by - UncleJack on 01/23/2020 16:12:23

Jan 24, 2020 - 10:13:41 AM

93 posts since 4/17/2014

Three eyed Willy: My predicament exactly. I woke up from heart surgery with left hand gone. Never came back..My doctor relatives tell me the fault lies with anesthesiologist who didn't move my arm during surgery.. Anyway- here I am a pseudo reso player.. Been fun..

Jan 25, 2020 - 12:55:13 PM
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25 posts since 12/9/2019

Check out some of Greg Booths youtube videos, he uses that EBDGBD tuning to great effect. I have started messing with that tuning myself, as minor chords are the Achilles heel of standard dobro tuning IMHO.

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