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The differences between lap steel guitars and dobros are often a cause of confusion.
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Posted 5 Aug am. Posted 7 Aug pm. Posted 12 Aug am. Posted 13 Aug pm. Posted 14 Aug am. Posted 14 Aug pm. Posted 15 Aug pm. Please review our Forum Rules and Policies. The Steel Guitar Forum S. Cloverdale Blvd. Next oldest topic :: Next newest topic. Hey all- I've been playing lap steel for several years without following any real technique.
I'm wondering what, if any, differences there are between 6-string lap steel and dobro technique. It seems to me that I could simply apply traditional dobro technique to 6-string lap steel.
Any suggestions or insight into this question? Jim Pitman From: Waterbury Ctr. VT USA. My thoughts are as follows: One can let a dobro note sustain without blocking, pluck some other notes and it doesn't become the cacophony of dissonant notes like it can become on a lap steel. I think this is just the nature of electric vs acoustic instruments in general.
On the other hand a lap steel can sustain longer than a Dobro. I'll play Sleepwalk on both and the lap steel sounds better. I 'll play Foggy Mountain Breakdown on both and the Dobro sounds better. Keep in mind one can aggressively damp or not damp at all and any thing in between on either instrument to get a different timber or sound.
Generally I find myself palm blocking on the lap steel and pick blocking on the Dobro. I've noticed on recordings that Dobro gets lost if there are more than a few instruments mixed in compared to a lap steel.
However, it's overtones occupy a lot of bandwidth and the dobro sounds wonderful with just an acoustic guitar and bass for example. I love slants on a lap steel - Jerry Byrd. He was the master. I don't believe Jerry Douglass ever plays a slant on the dobro. He's also a master. I think you can bring your Dobro technique to lap steel but if you keep at it you'll find you change your approach out of necessity.
Joel Bloom. I think Aubrey Guent plays dobro tuning on sacred electric lap steel music. Wilson From: Manitoba, Canada. I play both as well, at an intermediate level, and I would say that the thing I notice most is that lap steel requires a far more stalwart pick-blocking technique than dobro, which I find as more forgiving that way. I blend both palm and pick blocking techniques myself. I find the lap steel more sensitive But if I had to say which I found fussier, I would definitely say the steel.
Love them both to death tho HowardR From: N. I play in G and G6 tunings I really try to be as smooth as I can and play in a more glissendo style On dobro I use a Dobro lap steel guitar bar and play in a more staccato style I also play harder with a stronger attack Either style, I sound like crap I suppose my angle on all of this is that i've been considering buying some type of instructional supplement, either a DVD or book, and was considering purchasing one for the Dobro rather than the 6-string lap steel since there seems to be more solid instructional materials for the dobro.
Depends on what you want to learn. If you want to learn lap steel, purchase instructional material for that. If you want to learn dobro, purchase instructional material for that.
John Mulligan From: Ontario, Canada. I started out this way too, playing lap steel in dobro tuning. It worked out pretty well, but I was frustrated with the voicings I couldn't get. I got into C6 and liked the richer voicings right away.
I still like playing in open G or open D on my resonator and I keep a second lap steel in open E. I have moved on from C6 to Don Helms E6 tuning. There is a lot of good instructional material available for C6 tuning that you are apparently not aware of.
Some great insights on the responses here. Just to add to the discussion - there is a ificant difference in the string tension between dobro and lap steel, with much greater string tension on a dobro. As a result dobro players tend to use more hammer-on's and pull-off's to voice licks and melodies. They sound good on dobro but you can't get quite the same effect trying to use those embellishments on lap steel.
I also find that I have to work harder to pull good tone out of a dobro than I do when playing lap steel. Not that playing lap steel doesn't involve working to pull tone, but you can get by with a lighter touch due the difference in string tension and the mechanics of the instrument.
Of course as in all things, YMMV. I'd say the main difference between lap steel and dobro playing is the greater sustain of individual notes on the steel. Your blocking and muting have to be extremely well developed for steel playing. You can get by on the dobro with some ringing notes and, in fact, allowing notes to ring is desirable in some cases.
On the subject of hammer-ons and pull-offs, I remember some of the older non-pedal steelers, like Kayton Roberts, using them on steel to good effect but, once again, if you do use them you have to be able to damp the ringing tones so your notes are clear. I've always liked the Jerry Douglas analogy of dobro vs. What is the scale of your steel, and what string gauges are you using to bring it to G tuning? HowardR wrote:. Bill McCloskey From: Nyack.
Dobro playing for me is all about the banjo like "roll", and when i play it I'm often taking on the role of the time keeper, keeping a steady roll going under the tune to drive the music forward.