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Dobro Lessons: Breaking Free From Scales

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So I've been getting a lot of interesting
requests from people sending me videos on
to sort of break free from playing just in
a scalic manner.
When you're playing or writing melodies,
how to sort of break out of the,
the common trap of just playing scale
like, and
I totally understand that, it's a great
So I'm gonna address some of that here.
First, one technique you can use to sort
of get out of playing, you know,
in a linear scalic way is by using what
are called approach notes.
What an approach note is, is basically, if
you're going to play a certain note.
[SOUND] Say this G note, say we're in the
key of C, fifth fret, and
you wanna play this note, as opposed to
just going straight to this note,
you can do a couple approach notes that
outline that note.
[SOUND] So you're playing in a C scale,
you're not playing linearly where you're
just going up and down.
You're, you're mixing it up so if,
if you wanna play
you might play
So it's sort of like dancing around the
note before you actually play the note.
Another good example would be say if I
wanna play this
This E note here.
Instead of just playing
I might play
So you're sort of outlining the note
before you play it.
It's a great way to get out of playing
You can do that again if you were to play
the root note C.
[SOUND] You can sort of outline that.
You know, if I was gonna play
Well that sounds pretty scalic but if I
outline that last note with two
notes that surround it,
all of the sudden you've broken free from
the linear movement of scales.
So just think about that, and in this
little box position here,
you know, the, the bar chord position,
you can just practice the approach notes
to all those notes on the fifth fret.
and that's a great little exercise to sort
of get you out of that sort of [SOUND]
frame of mind.
You can also do, you can use chromatic
notes as
opposed to playing just the notes that are
in the C scale.
You can adjust that
maybe by playing a note that's
chromatically one half step below your
ending note.
So if you were to, instead of playing
these notes that are all on the C
that sounds good.
You can also make the second one
chromatic, so
it's just below your ending note, one half
step below your ending note.
So the same thing on the second string
this is scalic version.
The version that's in the scale,
I should say, or you can go
and just play one half step below your
ending note.
On that one, on the third string the scale
note is one half step
below your ending note so
that's sort of taken care of,
same thing here on the fourth string,
within the scales,
or with the chromatic half step note
Same thing on this string
so that's a nice little exercise
So that's just one way to sort of approach
Another thing you can do is by going
chromatically with two notes to your
ending note [SOUND].
So, if that's your ending note
you can go chromatically two,
three notes right in a row,
or three notes chromatically up.
So it's all about breaking the linear
motion and also sometimes even breaking
the rules of the scale.
And if you do a combination of those
things, it's really gonna get you out of
sounding so linear.
It's gonna give you a un, a unique sound,
and I actually have a few other exercises
that I've tabbed out that I'll just play
for you here.
And there's a few others on there as well,
check those out.
Think of the approach notes.
You've got some chromatic ideas, you've
got some approach tones, you know,
within the scale, the chromatic ones,
check that out,
I think it's gonna really help you get out
of playing just in the scale.
In this lesson, we're gonna continue on
the theme we've been working on of trying
to break free from
a sort of scalic monotonous sounding
to making exciting, interesting unique
sounding melodies.
And in the last lesson, we talked about
approach notes, different, different notes
and different combinations in notes to get
out of playing just in the scale.
Well, in this, we're gonna focus more on
the rhythmic element of,
of playing these melodies and how varying
the rhythm of what you play
can actually make it sound less scale
One of the things that that we don't like
about the sound of,
of just playing a scale for a melody, is
the sort of repetitiveness of it and
the monotony of it.
So, not only do you wanna vary the way you
play the notes and
which notes you play, but the rhythm
element of it.
So, if I were to play just this little
scale, let's,
let's go to the key of D here,
seventh fret.
If I play all those scale notes right in
a row, with the same rhythmic value for
each one, it sounds pretty boring.
But if I vary the, just the rhythmic
It, it's the same notes and they're,
it's scalic notes are playing right in a
But by varying the rhythm it creates a lot
more interest.
You know, if somebody's speaking to you
and they speak rhythmically,
just in this sort of monotone rhythmic
way, it's gonna sound sort of boring.
But if you vary the rhythm of what you're
playing so,
one way to do that is by holding certain
notes out longer.
Don't be afraid to let a note sit for a
So if we're in the key of G.
If I were to play this scalic example.
But I just concentrate on changing
the rhythm up, it sounds like this.
So I might hold on a note
and then speed through a couple notes,
then hold another note
Go quickly through a few other notes.
So, it's all about just varying that
rhythm, you know?
You can might do a scale where it's all
played on
the off beat, so if, if the beat was like
[SOUND] one, two, three, four
Where everything's played on the off-beat,
that creates
a totally different feel than just
you know?
So check that out again.
If I'm playing in time.
One, two, three, four.
On the down beats it's pretty boring.
If I change it to the off beats, it gets a
lot more interesting.
One, two, three, four.
So some of these rhythmic variations can
really create something very interesting
in your playing.
And it's, it's the nice thing about this
technique is that it's easy,
anybody can do it, all you gotta do is
just think about, think about it.
You know, think about varying your rhythm.
So, as you write a melody,
as you play a melody think about some of
these techniques of varying the rhythm.
I think that you're gonna find that it's
gonna really liven up some of
your playing.
So in this last part in breaking free from
playing scalic, I'm gonna talk about how
to use all six strings on your instrument
how to use sorta larger intervals to help
melodies sound more unique and less scale
So, [SOUND] most melodies, or when you're
playing, you're playing
notes that are all very close together
in the scale,
even if you're not playing scale like, you
when you're doing your approach notes,
they're all close together.
One thing you can do and the Dobro is
particularly well-suited for
this is to use larger spread, larger
interval between your notes.
And the cool thing about using these large
spreads, is that you've got all six
strings right here,
available to you in a, one chord with your
So you can go from, [SOUND] this low C,
all the way up [SOUND] to this high D,
just, [SOUND] right there.
So you can do a variety of practice
exercises but this one might be,
just walking up, skipping one string,
so you play six and four, [SOUND] five and
three, [SOUND] four and two, [SOUND] three
and one.
Now you can get an even bigger spread by
playing one and three, skipping
two whole strings, [SOUND] playing five
and two, playing four and one.
So, the other thing you can do is use
octaves as opposed to just using, you
your scale, you can use your octave.
You know, you might play one lick here,
and then play it again, an octave lower.
And all of a sudden you've used all your
strings, you've gone from the highest
string to the lowest string and
using those sorta larger spreads really
gets you out of sorta the scalic, ideas,
The other thing you can do is make sure
you don't stay just in one position, so if
I do a few licks down here at the C chord,
go up to your higher position where your
root note [SOUND] is up here, this C root
note [SOUND] on the tenth fret.
So I'm I, I play down here for a moment,
and then go all the way up into this next
you wanna make sure you're utilizing the
whole neck,
you're using all six strings going this
direction, and
you're also using the neck going this
direction, so.
So that's a great practice technique is it
just try and get as much of the neck
covered in your practice exercises and
that's gonna really help you once again,
get out of that linear sorta sound that
that makes things sound sorta monotonous
and scale like.
If you combine your approach notes with
varying the rhythm of the melody you
play and then using wider spreads
sometimes incorporating octaves and
bigger intervals, all three of those
things combined is gonna make for
some really cool, really interesting and
meaningful melodies so
hopefully that's helpful, hope you enjoyed