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Dobro Lessons: Basic Rhythm Chops

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All right.
Well, we've been doing quite a bit of
melody stuff here so far, and
it's been going really well, but you might
be wondering what we're gonna do for
some rhythm, and I said earlier that the
Dobro isn't necessarily known as a rhythm
instrument but it certainly can be and if
you're not playing melodies or
solo you're probably gonna be doing some
back up.
So especially if you start going to jam
sessions maybe you get
into a big circle jam circle or whatever
and maybe there's 10 people in there
a lot of what your going to be doing is
playing backup rhythm, strumming cords or
chopping, so those are a few different
techniques were going to talk about now.
The first is going to be strumming chords,
and this is just real basic exercise.
So, to strum a chord,
one really easy way is to just use your
thumb and
strum straight down the strings.
That's be a G, C, D.
So, you can just, get this rhythm going.
just make it nice and clean.
Just try moving that around.
The one, four, and five chords in G.
So that's one way to strum.
You can also strum using.
The, the metal pick's coming backwards.
It sort of
has a different tone.
I wouldn't use that as much, but, it's
certainly something that,
may help you later on but,
just strumming
chords is no big
Now one thing that I do actually is,
a lot of times I'll strum sort of
up and down, like this.
That's a little more of a complicated
strum, we'll get into that later.
the basic strum you're just gonna wanna
use your thumb, just forward, like this.
Easy enough.
So, the next thing we're gonna learn is
about chopping.
And, this is gonna come in a little bit
more useful.
This is the offbeat sound that you hear in
The boom chick, boom chick, this is the
chick part.
The boom is generally played by the bass.
And that's the downbeat.
The first beat.
The off beat, the next beat is generally
played by the mandolin or
maybe a Dobro chop, that's the chick so
boom, chick, boom, chick, boom, chick.
And that sound is really
it's a rhythmic element that's almost
emulates like a snare drum.
What a snare drum might do.
So, in a bluegrass band you've got the
bluegrass instruments.
Generally you don't have a drum.
So that rhythmic element gets emulated by
the different instruments.
The bass is sort of like a kick drum
hitting on the down beat.
And the dobro chop or
a mandolin chop or maybe even a fiddle
chop will be on the off-beat.
So, I'm gonna show you a chop here that I
call a pinch chop,
and what this is, is you're not really
trying to make a melodic sound here.
It's more of just a rhythmic whack.
You're just trying to create a rhythm,
you're not trying to create a lot of
a lot of sound here, just a quick, strike
that's gonna notate rhythm.
this is what it sounds like.
And this is on the off beat.
So if I were to count one, two, three,
four, one.
One, two, three, four.
One, two, three, four.
So, the two and the four you could say
you're going to be chopping on.
So how we do that, let's say we're gonna
be chopping in the key of C,
we'll pick a nice chord right here in the
middle of the neck and
we place our bar there, and what we do is,
the pinch chop, it's like a pinch chord.
You can try this chord these I'm using
the second, third, and fourth strings.
Just like this and
instead of letting them bring out I'm
gonna lift the bar up of the strings
just a little bit to create a muted sound.
Sort of like that.
Maybe you get just a little bit of that
chord sound, but you lift the bar.
It takes a minute to get used to and
you know, it can make for
some pretty pretty unpleasant sounds when
you first get into it.
And, and on its own it doesn't sound like
But in the context of a band, it's really
gonna come in useful.
So, so what I'll do is, not only will I
use the left hand to lift the bar and
create a mute, muted sound,
I might even use my right hand a little
bit to mute those strings.
Like, I'll kinda roll my hand.
You know, when I,
when I close the fingers and do the pinch,
the hand kinda rests on these strings and
mutes 'em so it's kinda like the right
hand looks like this.
And the left hand looks like this
So, for me, I actually tend to use more of
the right hand muting
If I do it right, I don't even have to
use, move my left hand that much.
Other people will lift the bar
with the left hand.
So, you wanna just practice that and find
out what's comter, comfortable for you.
It might take a little while.
But what you can do is you can try maybe a
one, four,
five progression in the key of C.
So what I would do is, be something like
A one, two, three, four.
So that's like a 1 4 5 progression use,
progression using the chop.
So that's C on the 5th fret, F on the 10th
fret and G on the 12th fret.
And the strings I tend to use are these,
the second, third, and fourth,
they have just sort of a middle of the
road tone.
If you use the highest strings you can do
that too,
it's a brighter sound
you know, little more ticky,
real metallic.
For me, I like it one string in, that's
just my preference, you know, you can
sorta use your, discretion on that, but
this, I think, would sound the most even.
If you can say that sounds even.
And like I say,
it doesn't sound like much on it's own,
but in the,
context of a band it's gonna serve a nice,
musical purpose.
Now, there's one
other chop that we can use.
I've gone over the pinch chop.
This is a strum chop.
So, it's a same concept, you're still
playing on the same part of the beat,
but instead of pinching the strings,
you're gonna be using a thumb pick,
[SOUND] to sort of mute like this.
This is the, the strum chop, I call it.
[SOUND] It's actually a little bit of a
thicker sound.
So depending on what you're looking for,
if you want a brighter sound,
you might use the pinch chop, if you want
a thicker, meatier sound,
you might use the strum chop.
So, what this is, is say we'll use the key
of C again,
you place your bar on the fifth fret right
there in C.
And, this is just using the thumb pick
now, and it's like a strum,
[SOUND] it's like as if you were to strum
the chord like so.
But instead of just strumming it, you lay
your hand down on the strings,
and sorta close your thumb across so it
just, [SOUND] so it's all muted.
So, at the same time your hand lands on
the strings, your thumb goes across.
[SOUND] Now when you first try this you
may lose a thumb pick or
two off into the onto the floor.
It's okay, don't worry about it, it
But it's a good chance for you to make
sure your thumb pick is on nice and
tight and have one that fits you properly.
[SOUND] chopping is where you can you can
really get kinda jumbled up with
your picks.
But [SOUND] it's a pretty simple motion,
should be relaxed, again your
posture should be le, relaxed, and your
right and left hand should be relaxed.
It's just a motion like this.
[SOUND] So, if I were to do this in time.
One, two, three, four.
And then, tenth fret, you're not really
hearing the chords, but I'll move my bar
along with it anyway.
[SOUND] So that's just chopping on the off
beat, again it's just,
I'm not even lifting the bar on the left
hand, it's mainly just all the right hand.
Now, one other thing you can do, to add to
So we're just doing the chick of the boom
chick, boom chick.
You can add the boom in there if you want.
And do something like where you would,
[SOUND] hit the base note, [SOUND] and
then, do the chop.
So it'd be like.
And then,
you start to get the whole
rhythm section going.
Now you may not need to do that if you've
got a bass player or if you're in a,
you know, if you're playing in a context
where there is plenty of rhythm going on.
But maybe in a smaller context it's nice.
I mean, you can just, so
you just use your thumb pick to strike the
lowest string of the chord you're on.
That's your root note, that's a C.
So boom, chick, boom, chick, boom chick.
And so, I kinda, I strike that and then
lay the hand down and strum across.
And, what I would do is,
use a metronome and start real slow,
you know, just a nice, [SOUND] easy tempo.
[SOUND] And increase the tempo over time.
Next thing you know,
you're chopping along at a good clip.
[SOUND] And usually what I'll do is like
ten beats a minute is about the increment
that I'll raise it.
I've got some chords here on some
If you wanna use those to practice you
you can just make up your own chords,
I'm using one, four, five in the key of C,
but this can be done in any key.
One other note about chopping that I'll
say is so what do you do in G?
So you've got the open strings, your bar's
not on the strings.
So you can chop, just not even using your
bar because you're laying your hand down.
So, it doesn't matter that much although,
this doesn't create much of a sound.
So a lot of times what I'll do to chop in
G, is put my bar up on the twelfth fret,
on that G, you get a lot more sound that
So, if I'm chopping in G, I might go
twelfth fret, right like that.
[SOUND] So, that gives you a nice
introduction to some rhythm chops.
You practice that with a metronome, and,
see how you do.
All right.
At this point,
you might wanna send me a video.
We've been covering a lot of different
We've talked about melody, some scales,
exercises, some rhythm.
We've kinda covered, a lot of the basic
stuff, so, if you want to,
you can send me a video.
Before you send it in, check out what I've
said to the other students cuz I may have
already covered what you're interested in.
And if you want to, send a video, I'll
take a look,
and I'll give you some feedback.