BEGINNING DOBRO with Mike Witcher

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About This Course

Learn the basics of the lap-style resophonic slide guitar, with essential tips on right- and left-hand technique as well as arrangements of classic tunes and songs. Includes 15 complete songs, 24 lessons, and 48 videos.

MIKE WITCHER

With his gorgeous tone, dead-on intonation, and musical ideas and solos that are jaw-droppingly creative and tasteful, Mike Witcher is one of the best resonator guitar players in the world.

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The youngest of five siblings (including a twin brother) in a musical and artistic family in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Mike Witcher began playing the resonator guitar at the age of 14. Influenced by the many styles of music he heard at home, he was soon playing with his father, Dennis, and brother Gabe (who currently plays in Punch Brothers) in the legendary Southern California-based bluegrass band the Witcher Brothers. An in-demand session player in LA and Nashville, Michael has worked with Dwight Yoakam, Peter Rowan, Laurie Lewis, Missy Raines and the New Hip, John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin bassist), Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), and many others.

A gifted and caring teacher, over the last 15 years Mike has developed an effective method of teaching the resonator guitar that allows the student to quickly grasp and apply complex concepts. He has written two instruction books (Resonator Guitar—Tunes, Techniques, and Practice Skills and Resonator Guitar—20 Bluegrass Jam Favorites), and teaches at the top acoustic music camps around the world, including Reso Summit. mikewitcher.com

 
Beginning Dobro Course Overview
Watch the video above for a taste of what you’ll learn in Mike Witcher’s Beginning Dobro course.

Sample Beginning Dobro Lesson

Amazing Grace

The melody to the popular gospel classic “Amazing Grace” can be played almost entirely on the first string, making it a great exercise for practicing your intonation on one string. With Tablature

Beginning Dobro Lessons

A subscription to Beginning Dobro includes:

  • More than 24 Beginning Dobro video lessons
  • 15 complete songs to play.
  • Tablature for all lessons
  • High-quality video with multiple camera angles so you can see closeups of both hands in action.
  • Play-Along Tracks so you can practice what you’ve learned.

Get started now! Use promo code “MikeLand” at checkout and get your first month free or $20 off an annual subscription. Subscribe to Beginning Dobro today and get access to all of these beginning dobro lessons.

ALL ABOUT THE DOBRO

Welcome to the wonderful world of the dobro, or resophonic guitar. In this video, Mike gives you an introduction to this popular lap-slide instrument, showing you how it’s tuned and how to get it set comfortably on your lap. He also talks about the strings, picks, and steel (slide) he uses, and gives advice on tuning the dobro.

PICKING-HAND TECHNIQUE

Your first four video lessons get you started on the Dobro with an excellent guide to using your picking hand. You’ll get set up with a good picking-hand position, learn how to get the dobro situated on your lap, how to place your hand on the palm rest, and curve your fingers so your thumb and fingers hover about a quarter of an inch above the strings, ready to play. You’ll also learn some basic roll patterns, the essence of the bluegrass dobro style, and some exercises that will help you play cleanly and avoid getting a scratchy sound with your fingerpicks.

SLIDE TECHNIQUE

The bar is really what makes the dobro unique. In these five lessons, you’ll get tips on holding the bar, with advice on how much pressure to put on the strings, and learn how to mute the strings behind the bar. You’ll also learn some essential techniques that will help you clean up your playing, reduce buzzing, and get a pure tone. Then you’ll learn some arpeggio exercises and the best way to play hammer-ons and pull-offs, an essential technique for dobro players.

EXERCISES FOR BOTH HANDS

Put both hands together on some great exercises that apply the slide to roll patterns as well as a scale pattern using hammer-ons and pull-offs.

FIRST DOBRO TUNES AND SONGS

Apply the techniques you’ve learned to some classic tunes, with step-by-step instruction, tablature, and play-along tracks so you can practice the tunes you’ve learned with rhythm accompaniment.

  • Cripple Creek The bluegrass jam session favorite “Cripple Creek” is a great way to get started on the dobro.
  • Amazing Grace The melody to the popular gospel classic “Amazing Grace” can be played almost entirely on the first string, making it a great exercise for practicing your intonation on the first string. 
  • Carter’s Blues The old-time classic “Carter’s Blues” works well in two octaves on the dobro. You’ll also learn some variations with bluesy slides, harmonized licks, and pull-offs. 
  • Home Sweet Home Venture out of the key of G to the key of C for the classic “Home Sweet Home.” You’ll also learn a few simple variations on the melody, with a few extra melodic embellishments and harmonies. 

PLAYING RHYTHM 

In most bluegrass situations, the dobro fulfills the same rhythmic function as the mandolin, providing a percussive chop on the back beat. You’ll learn a couple of different ways to play the chop, as well as a percussive rhythm that uses more of a roll pattern.

ADDING ROLLS TO A MELODY

  • Long Journey Home Learn to combine roll patterns with the melody of the bluegrass classic “Long Journey Home” to create an authentic bluegrass-style dobro solo.
  • Fireball Mail This classic dobro and banjo tune was recorded by bluegrass legends Flatt and Scruggs, whose dobro player Josh Graves introduced the dobro to bluegrass. You’ll learn the basic melody and then learn how to add rolls to the melody to give it the bluegrass dobro sound. 

PLAYING IN CLOSED POSITION

Being able to play in closed position means that you can move your melodies and roll patterns to any key. You’ll start by taking some melodies you’ve learned in open position and moving them up to the 12th fret so they sound an octave higher. Then you’ll learn to move these positions to other keys. 

  • Amazing Grace You’ll learn two positions for the G major scale at the 12th fret and use them to play “Amazing Grace” at the 12th fret.
  • Long Journey Home Learn the melody to “Long Journey Home” in a closed position the 12th fret and then add a classic Josh Graves roll pattern to the melody. 
  • Banks of the Ohio Learn a closed-position version of the melody for the classic song “Banks of the Ohio” in the key of E.
  • I’ll Fly Away Learn the bluegrass, folk, and gospel favorite “I’ll Fly Away” in the key of F in a couple of positions, with some variations that include some classic dobro double stop harmonies. 

LEARNING THE FINGERBOARD

If you want to start learning to improvise and play melodies in different keys on the dobro fingerboard, you’ll need to know the triad (chord) shapes and scale patterns on the dobro.

  • Triad Shapes  Mike shows you the three triad shapes in the key of G: the root shape, the first inversion shape, and the second inversion shape.
  • Scale Patterns Once you’ve learned the triad shapes, you’ll learn the scale patterns that correspond to those shapes. You’ll learn three closed-position patterns that can be moved to any key. 

MORE DOBRO TUNES AND SONGS

You’ve learned to add rolls to melodies and move around the fingerboard. Now it’s time to apply your techniques to some other great tunes and songs. You’ll also learn to play in the keys of D, A, and C and how to use a capo to move G position to other keys.

  • Reuben’s Train The minor pentatonic scale is essential to bluegrass and blues. You’ll learn it in a closed position (without using open strings, so you can move it to other keys) and use it to play the bluegrass classic “Reuben’s Train” in the key of D.
  • Tennessee Waltz This beautiful country classic sounds great on the dobro. Mike shows you how to use the different chord inversion shapes you learned in the Triad Shapes lesson to find the melody in different places on the neck. 
  • Playing the Blues Get started playing the blues on the dobro using a minor pentatonic scale in closed position. You’ll learn the G minor pentatonic scale at the 12th fret and a couple of typical blues licks.
  • Old Joe Clark In this lesson, you’ll learn the classic fiddle tune “Old Joe Clark,” played with a capo at the second fret. Mike plays the basic melody through and then breaks it down before showing you some ways to fill the melody out and spruce it up with rolls and drone notes. 
  • Flatt Lonesome The Josh Graves slow blues tune “Flatt Lonesome” is great for learning to play in the key of A without a capo and it includes a lot of cool blues licks.
  • Wildwood Flower Learn to play the Carter Family classic “Wildwood Flower,” a popular guitar instrumental and jam session favorite, in the key of C in two octaves.

BLUEGRASS SOLOING: ESSENTIAL TECHNIQUES

At a jam session, you may encounter songs that you haven’t heard before or haven’t learned a solo for. In these lessons you’ll learn some licks you can use in numerous songs and get ideas on creating solos to songs.

  • Harmonized Scale Licks: “When Papa Played the Dobro” Josh Graves solo on the Johnny Cash song “When Papa Played the Dobro” includes some classic dobro licks that every dobro player should know. It’s also a good introduction to playing harmony scales out of straight bar position.
  • Your Love Is Like a Flower The classic bluegrass song “Your Love Is Like a Flower” has a chord progression and melodic shape you’ll find in dozens of bluegrass songs, so it’s important to know this progression how as well as a solo over it. 
If you're finished with the Beginning Dobro lessons, you can move on to the Dobro Workshop or one of the other Peghead Nation Courses.

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