How To Play a Dobro Guitar

A dobro guitar belongs to the acoustic guitar family and makes a loud, resonating sound when played. This beautifully-shaped guitar comes in roundneck or squareneck type and was invented by John Dopyera more than 80 years ago for lack of something louder to play back in the day. The good thing about playing a dobro guitar is that it allows you to use a slider instead of plucking the strings with your fingers, which can be painful at times.

Here’s how to play a dobro guitar.

  1. Learn the basic guitar strumming styles. It will take a good deal of learning curve to get familiar with a dobro guitar. You must have at least a basic knowledge of playing the guitar before handling this kind of specialized guitar.
  2. Get a dobro type that suits your musical style. The squareneck is an instrument that works well with bluegrass music and is played laid on its back with the strings facing up while the roundneck is pretty much played like an acoustic guitar. Get one or both if you are into guitar collection.
  3. Figure out what kind of tone you want to get out of the guitar. If you want lilting, rodeo-like, and lyrical accompaniment, go for the roundneck. On the one hand, if you like a swampy, haunting, and mysterious melody, use the squareneck. But do not take this to mean that this is about all that both guitars can do. Your skill as a musician will let you discover on your own how versatile and amazing each one can be.
  4. Enroll in guitar class specializing in dobro guitar learning. You may or may not choose to spend money to enroll in a dobro class but the latter would be a smart move. Learning to play the dobro guitar is very different from winging it on an acoustic guitar. Here’s a tip. If you can play Amazing Grace on your dobro without making a mistake, don’t enroll. That’s the challenge for you.
  5. Get a friend to join you on the dobro train. As soon as you begin learning, you’ll get hooked. Playing the dobro is absolutely mind-blowing so get someone on board and start jamming after class.
  6. Sit it on guitar sessions when you have the chance. You know it’s easy to pick out a guitar player in the crowd or in the street. A dead giveaway is the guitar case he’s carrying. Introduce yourself and ask if you could jam with his band if he has one. Okay, walking up to a stranger carrying a guitar case is a little weird and extreme. Banish the though and instead sit in on guitar sessions in your guitar school or at the local bar or club. If you happen to live in New Orleans, Boy, are you in so much luck. The city is haven for music and that’s putting it mildly.
  7. Practice using chords sheets. A dobro guitar needs regular tuning and tweaking anyway so might as well use this time to practice with chords sheets available at many music stores.

Make sure your guitar strings are in great shape. Take good care of your dobro guitar by always placing it back on its case after use.


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