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Dobro Lessons: Beginning Forward Rolls

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All right.
Well, let's talk about rolls a little bit.
A roll is a pretty important part of
Bluegrass dobro, and
I touched on this a little bit earlier on
at the very beginning when I was talking
about Uncle Josh Graves.
But he sort of helped invent the Bluegrass
And he got this basically from Earl
Scruggs' banjo roll.
So, the Dobro's tuned real similar to a
so we can use the fact that we use a
similar tuning and the three
finger picking style means we can use some
banjo technique here on the Dobro.
One of those things we can use is called a
It's basically a few strings in succession
to make
sort of a droning kind of driving sound.
Really cool in Bluegrass.
Before we get too much into this, let's
just check our tuning here.
I've got my tuner, so let's just take a
minute and make sure we're in tune.
Okay, sounds pretty good.
So, what we're gonna do with this roll,
basically it's like I said,
it's three notes in succession with these
three fingers.
That's your basic forward roll right here.
And the reason it's called forward is
because you're playing the strings going
forward in succession, starting with a
lower string, in this case,
the third string, the G string, and then
going forward to the B string, and
then forward again to the D string.
So that's why they call this a forward
So just try that a little bit, just one,
two, three, one, two, three.
Now, that's a, that's a basic forward
Now, one thing you'll notice is, in, in
generally you've got four beats to a
But you've got three fingers here doing a
So, the math kinda doesn't add up, so.
To make a roll work in time, you have to
make one little adjustment.
So, a common roll,
might be two times forward
like that.
That's six notes.
And then two more notes.
So maybe you just play the G and the D the
second time.
Making a total of eight notes.
Makes a nice even number.
It's gonna fit within the bars.
So you play, it's eight total notes, so
you go one, two, three, four,
five, six, one, two.
Like that.
So, you sort of skip a note to make a nice
even eight.
It fits within the bar, and you can feel
that, that, that drive there.
So, once again, it's two forward rolls,
one, two, three,
four, five, six, seven, eight.
And I've got this written, you can see in
the music that you can look at.
I've got this written out, and just take a
minute and
try that
and you can do this on different frets.
You can fret the C chord on the fifth fret
and try the same roll.
Or on the D chord on the fifth fret, er,
seventh fret, excuse me.
Now one thing I'll mention also about
rolls is [COUGH] so
on a banjo when they do a roll they have a
fifth string,
that's their high fifth string that they
use as like a drone.
It's always open and it's always being
struck in that same open position.
It creates sort of a rolling droning
In the Dobro we don't have that high fifth
string the same as a banjo does so.
What we tend to use as a drone string that
we leave open, is the top string,
this top D string right here.
First string.
A lot of times when I'm rolling, I might
be changing chords and
still leaving that high string open.
So, here's an example of playing G, C, and
D while leaving this high string open.
And you can hear what it sounds like.
So this high D string, a lot of times you
can just leave that open, and
it's gonna act as sort of a drone.
So, what we're gonna do now is we're gonna
try this example.
I'm gonna go all the way through the whole
example at a nice medium tempo and,
you can follow along.
But, you can do these exercises, not with
a metronome at first,
just to get the feel of them.
And and so check this out, we'll try the
forward rolls exercise.
[SOUND] Ready?
One, two, three, four.
So there's the exercise.
Now there's quite a few different rolls in
Let's talk about a few of those other
Another common one you're gonna find is
this right here.
It's still the same sort of pattern as the
one we were doing before, but
this is where you actually fret a note
You fret the fifth fret of the fourth
which is the same as the open G string.
So these two notes are the same.
So you play two of the same notes, you can
kinda slide into this first one.
So you'll see this role down on the fourth
And then the next version is,
you fret the fourth fret of the third
string to create this major third sound.
That's the second two bars of that line.
So you can see how you can sort of move
this around a little bit.
You can move the bar around and do
different roles for practice.
And that's one thing I encourage students
to do is, when I teach you something like
this, you don't have to just do what I
show you, you can, and I encourage you to
take the basics of what I'm saying and try
and experiment a little bit with it.
You know, use your own ideas.
Try and expand on it, you know?
Write a little piece of music on it,
or just incorporate it into how you like
to hear the instrument played.
So you might wanna embellish these, you
know, if you don't like the way
this particular roll sounds you can invent
a new one, you know?
That's the great thing about this is
these are examples that I've used to help
me get to where I am but
I've also just experimented endlessly with
all different types of rolls.
So, I encourage you to take these and, and
practice them, but
then also you can develop your own, you
can totally do your own thing with this.
So I, I encourage a little bit of
experimentation here with
these roll exercises.
So at this point, you might want to send
me a video.
Show me some of these rolls.
They're a little bit tricky.
So if you feel like you want some feedback
on them, feel free and send me one.
Before you do check out what I've said to
the other students regarding this.
But if you send me a video, I'm happy to
take a look and
I'll give you some feedback.