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Old man backing in to dobro playing advice

May 13, 2024 - 9:38:31 AM
8 posts since 1/23/2024

I’ve been backing in at old age to dobro jamming in old folks jams and always looking short cuts in jam playing. I am having a ton of fun but need an opinion…..on my style I self constructed. Here goes ……I’m using the 3 or 4 string to pick out melody notes and adding forward roles to whatever string I’m using. I have been laying the bar down on all strings at all times where I’m at on the 4 or 5 string making the roll. The old folks think it’s great but laying the bar just on the melody note has crossed my mind and playing the roll on open strings. Any comments on this style ?????

May 13, 2024 - 12:05:32 PM

8 posts since 1/23/2024

Made a mistake , 3 or 4 string making 3 finger forward roll , bar across all strings in that fret for clarification

May 13, 2024 - 5:30:27 PM
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Andy B


159 posts since 11/4/2008

If I am reading your post right, you are barring all the strings at whatever fret you are playing a melody note at on strings 3 or 4, then rolling over barred strings 1, 2, and 3. This may often result in your playing notes that don’t harmonize your melody notes or don’t agree with the chords of the song as played by the others in the jam. As you mentioned, you may be better off not extending the tip of the bar past the melody note you are playing on string 3 or 4 and leaving the higher strings open. If you roll on the open strings then you’ll have a better likelihood that those notes will fit in more of the time, at least for songs in G, C, or D.

May 13, 2024 - 8:28:47 PM
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1749 posts since 4/27/2009

I would really suggest you find a good teacher and get some in person lessons. You will be glad you did. I held off and finally went to get some lessons and had to get bad habits straightened out before I could really go on. I live in a pretty small town so I had to drive 3 1/2 hours to get there. Luckily I hooked up with Mike Witcher and he got me off to a good pretty good start and foundation.
It really does make a difference.
Also, if you could get down to the ResoGat in Wilkesboro, NC. this July you would learn and see a lot. Good people too
And have fun!!! The most important part

May 14, 2024 - 10:30:57 AM

814 posts since 8/8/2008

I agree with Terry re finding someone who can help you and attending ResoGat. All skill levels are welcome and there are many players who will help you. There will be 100 or so players, a few wives or husbands plus musicians other than dobro players there. You are welcome in any jam group regardless of your skill level. I learn a lot just watching other players. There will be free lessons offered. It is like a family reunion for most of us. Check out for more info.
ResoGat is at the Holiday Inn in Wilkesboro, NC. I suggest making a reservation soon if you decide to go. There will be other places to stay if the Holiday Inn is full and it usually is. If you make a reservation be sure and tell them you are attending ResoGat to get the discounted room rate. I hope to see you there!

May 15, 2024 - 6:42:49 AM
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8 posts since 1/23/2024

Sent my name in for Resogat……hope someone will help me ……tell my pickin friends I want to be “jam” and I don’t have to be “dayem” good …… having fun …….please keep sending me help when you can thanks a million……Russell “Rusty” Davenport Nashville NC……Andy B got my question perfectly

May 23, 2024 - 12:26:25 PM

8 posts since 1/23/2024

I’m going to try asking this to help understand and Andy I am not disagreeing with you …..your help is important……when playing the 3 or 4 string as the melody note, would not the bar down on all strings play the notes of a “bar” chord ??? How could that be wrong or sound bad ???

May 23, 2024 - 2:53:20 PM

2532 posts since 8/3/2008

Just because you are playing an "A" note does not mean it is part of a "A" barred chord.

You need to understand a wee bit of theory and how the dobro neck "works".


May 30, 2024 - 8:41:32 AM

8 posts since 1/23/2024

Not every note sure……but the bar at every G string note for all 6 strings does produce a chord at every fret location for the G string note ????

May 31, 2024 - 4:48:49 AM
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641 posts since 11/28/2012

You should re-read what Andy and Howard have posted - these replies answer your question.

Perhaps this fretboard diagram (attached) will also help you.

As an example, let’s say you are picking a B melody note on the 4th string at the 9th fret. If you were to lay the bar across all 6 strings at the 9th fret, you would be barring an E major chord. This could sound very “wrong” depending on the song’s actual chord progression, in spite of the melody note being at the 9th fret.

As Andy said, you’re likely better off leaving the higher strings open during your rolls. It minimizes the chance of clashing notes.

Have fun with it, use your ears, and supplement with some instruction and/or basic fretboard theory.

May 31, 2024 - 4:31:47 PM

8 posts since 1/23/2024

OK ……let’s play the melody note on 4 string 9 fret……if we forward roll what other 2 strings are you using ????

May 31, 2024 - 6:14:56 PM

641 posts since 11/28/2012

If in the Key of G, try different combinations of open strings across #1, #2 and #3 (to add to your "fretted" 4th string melody note) and see what rolls sound best. It totally depends on the specific song, chord progression, "feel", etc.

Heck, try your barred chords also. Some of them will sound great, when your melody note happens to coincide with the major chord in use by the song at same fret. Just be prepared to hear some clunkers, and learn to course correct.

Nobody can give you a "recipe" to apply to all possible songs in a jam. I'm sure you understand that.

Definitely get some lessons and include some basic theory and fretboard mapping. Good luck!

May 31, 2024 - 11:18:51 PM
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1054 posts since 1/10/2009

Originally posted by Bigdaddydobro-732

Not every note sure……but the bar at every G string note for all 6 strings does produce a chord at every fret location for the G string note ????

Obviously, there is a major chord at every fret. Not every fret has a G note. But there are 3 chords that do have a G note in the triad, a triad consisting of the root, major 3rd, and the 5th tones. They are G of course (GBD), Eb (EbGBb) at the eighth fret, and C (CEG) at the fifth fret. So there are G notes in those locations serving as a different note of the triad. 
Im not sure if this helps but most of us that play music for awhile acquire some simple understanding of how chords are built and why they sound the way they do, and it's not that complicated or scary. 

Jun 2, 2024 - 4:39:23 AM
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8 posts since 1/23/2024

Maybe I’ve been watching and over exposed to old time banjo players using DGBD rolls for most of what they play ……..I’m going to retreat and try to regroup the banjo JAM style of playing……..I’m making spontaneous breaks on 9 out of 10 jam songs, playing a complete song just isn’t on the menu but it sure is fun for any jam environment !!!!!

Jun 2, 2024 - 2:07:18 PM

4735 posts since 7/27/2008

I have been following the thread and have re-read it from the beginning - but it's making my brain hurt. wink

Rusty, when you mentioned every G string note in an earlier post, I'm guessing you're referring to the note that takes place on the high G (third string) at different frets (like C is the third string note on the  fifth fret) - and not the actual note that sounds as G. In the top three strings between open and up to the 12th fret where it starts over,  the G note occurs in only 4 locations. 

As far as the banjo rolls in the most recent post, I'm not a real banjo player like  some here, I've only dabbled in the instrument in the  past. You mentioned the note names  from the fourth string to the first string, DGBD. Are you saying that you have been in jams with banjo players and they are playing those strings as barre chords up and down the neck while playing rolls, and they don't use open strings while playing rolls? 

If I'm interpreting the comment correctly, this is highly  unusual for the typical banjo player with even minimal playing experience. 

Jun 5, 2024 - 8:28:45 AM
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8 posts since 1/23/2024

This website is great……someone absorbed the issue and really helped me……hold it out long enough somebody is holding a light !!!!!!!!

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