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Dobro Lessons: Making Rolls Musical

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All right.
In this lesson,
we're gonna focus on getting our rolls to
sound a little bit more musical.
And, what I mean by that is getting them
to flow a little bit better and
getting the certain notes that we want to
stand out that are important to do so.
So, if we're playing a roll, and
incorporating a melody into that roll.
What we wanna do is make sure the melody
stand out a little bit more than the in
between rolling notes.
And as I've taught rolls in the past, I've
noticed, and
I hadn't thought about this until
But I've noticed,
people getting really good at playing
their rolls, real even and in time, which
is awesome.
But one thing I've sorta neglected to
focus on is getting certain notes to
stand out more than the others.
You know, a roll actually comes from a
banjo roll, and with a banjo,
they can play all the notes the same vine
because their instrument doesn't have much
So all the notes stay separated, and you
can hear the melody within the roll, and
they don't have to worry about changing
With us, we have so much sustain that when
we're rolling the notes can kinda
blend into each other if we're not
And I'm sure you've noticed that you may
hear, you may roll on the Dobro or hear
somebody roll on the Dobro and it sounds,
it's a little bit of a wash sometimes.
So what you wanna do is, get certain notes
to stand out a little bit more.
So let me see if I can give you an
Let's use this song Nine Pound Hammer, and
I'll play the melody with a roll, and I'll
try and make it so
the melody notes stand out a little bit
more than the backing roll notes.
So, here we go.
So you can
hear there,
when I play
the melody notes
Those stand out, and then when I do the in
between rolls I try and
quiet those down a little bit you know?
So, you know, and
the way I do that is I really just,
I focus on the melody, and I don't
worry as much about if my roll is perfect
if I miss a note here and there.
You've got so much sustain that you don't
have to
worry about every rolling note being loud
and strong and perfect.
What you want is the melody to be loud,
strong, and perfect, and
the rolls in between will just drive that
So, yeah, this is something from getting
all these video responses.
I've been seeing people get really good
with their rolls and
it's really exciting to see all the
improvement, and
I love getting to see the video responses
and video questions.
But this is one thing I've seen,
sorta through a lot of them is the
roboticness of the roll.
And, so this lesson, hopefully, just be a
reminder for
myself and everybody that we want to focus
on the melody.
Use those volume dynamics to sort of give
the song a little bit of a feel and
have that melody stand out.
We've got a lot of sustain on the Dobro,
it's a great asset, and so, we
don't need to feel like we have to have,
you know, every note be the same volume.
So, this will hopefully get you down that
path a little bit.