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Dobro Lessons: Intonation

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In this lesson, I'm gonna be talking a
little bit more in depth on intonation.
Now we all know that on the Dobro all we
have is our slide.
There's no frets to keep us in tune so
staying in tune as you play can be a
challenge sometimes.
So I'm gonna give you all the tools I can
to keep you on the right track as
far as intonation goes.
[SOUND] one way you can make sure you're
in tune.
Well, the first thing you should do is
always check your tuning.
If, if you're not in tune with your open
strings, it's gonna be much harder for
you to play in tune with the bar on the
So the first thing I recommend is,
and this is something very simple that you
can do before each time you play.
That's gonna really help you over time,
which is just to make sure you're in tune.
A lot of times, you know, you, your
instrument might be
leaning against the wall or on a stand and
you just grab it an start to play.
And I do that too.
It's nice though to just check your
It'll only take you 30 seconds.
And it's gonna really help you over time
to develop your ear and
to get you playing properly.
Because, you know, you might be playing
correctly, but
if the instrument isn't in tune it's going
to be more challenging.
Once you're sure you're in tune, there's a
few things you can do to help you and
to practice intonation.
So, and this is to use some of your open
strings as a reference point.
So for instance, [SOUND] if I play this G
note here
on the fifth fret of the high string
It's hard for me to tell if that's in tune
not cuz there's no other notes going on.
So one thing I can do [SOUND] is play
another open string.
I can play this open G string, [SOUND] a
third string.
And then, play this fretted note, [SOUND]
it can really help me understand if it's
in tune or not.
If it's not,
I can hear it.
[SOUND] So you can listen to the waves,
that kinda beating effect.
And once it stops, then you know you're in
tune [SOUND].
So, if you wanted to play a major third in
G up here [SOUND] on the ninth fret.
Instead of just playing this note on its
own [SOUND] where it's hard to tell if
it's really in tune or not.
You can play an open string, once again
this is open G string.
[SOUND] To help guide you.
So if it's not in tune [SOUND] you can
sorta slide it,
and, and get it really in tune.
[SOUND] And then, and then you can look
visually and see, okay,
that's what that note looks like when it's
in tune.
And when I say what it looks like, I mean,
the relationship of your bar to the fret
[SOUND] And you can do that up on all the
way up to the 12th fret.
[SOUND] See when I first played that note,
it was just a little bit out of tune, and
then once I played the open string,
[SOUND] I was able to get it right in
So that's in the key of G, but you could
also use other strings.
For instance, in the key of D, you can use
your open D string [SOUND] which you have
here your fourth string open.
[SOUND] So for instance, if I wanted to
play an A note which
is on the seventh fret [SOUND] I can play
this open D string.
And that's gonna help me get that note in
[SOUND] And then visually I can look and
say, oh, okay,
well that's what it looks like when this
note is in tune.
And I'll try and get my fingers out of the
way so you can see.
And from my point of view,
I get real familiar with what the bar
looks like in relation to the fret marker.
Because it changes.
As you go up higher, [SOUND] your hand
starts to cover the bar.
And you're not exactly able to see it.
Once I get up here, to like the 15th fret.
[SOUND] I can't really see the bar so it's
a little bit of memorization but
when I'm down here, [SOUND] I can see the
bar clearly.
But using these open strings or
other notes to help guide you when you're
checking your intonation,
that's, can be very helpful, so.
That's just one technique.
Another thing you could do is use some
sort of reference pitch.
If you have a tuner with a tuning note on
it, you could do that.
Or you could even play along with a CD.
Figure out the pitch of a song, and that's
gonna help get you in tune.
But it's just good to have these
to help you with your intonation and
some of these techniques are gonna help
you along the way.