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Author Topic:  dobro bar
Danny Kuykendall


From:
Fullerton, CA, USA
Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 2:44 pm     Reply with quote

I have played pedal steel for quite a few years and now am buying a dobro, just to learn and fool around with. Is it important to use a dobro bar, that is shaped differently? I would kind of like to use my own bar, but are there major advantages to using a dobro bar? Appreciate any input.
Danny
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 2:57 pm     Reply with quote

It depends on what kind of music you want to play on it. For Bluegrass or if you want to play like Jerry Douglas, Mike Auldridge, or Rob Ickes, it is essential.

If you want to play dobro more like a lapsteel and you are already used to a bullet bar, you might want to try a smaller one so you can move around the neck more.

Pedal and lap steel players are used to keeping that bar on the strings all the time. dobro players spend more than 50% of their time with the bar tilted, and touching one string, lots of open strings, hammer ons, pull offs. All those techniques are nearly impossible without a dobro bar.

But if you are used to gliding the bar across the strings back and forth, well, much easier to do that with a bullet bar.

you'll find most people here that double on dobro, use some sort of bullet bar. you'l find that most people on dedicated dobro sites like resonhangout, use a dobro bar.

I use a Scheerhorn, Beard, or Lap Dawg dobro bar exclusively and wouldn't think of using anything else.
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 2:57 pm     Reply with quote

...discussion in progress here: https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=325628
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Danny Kuykendall


From:
Fullerton, CA, USA
Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 3:14 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks for he input. I did look at the other thread. That was very helpful.
I noticed trying a couple of bars out at the music store yesterday that the dobro bar definitely is a different tone than the bullet bar. And with the hammer downs and pull offs I think that's what I will go with.
My father played in the late 40s with a tapered bar I think. That worked for him but I'm sure technology has gotten a lot better over the years.
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 5:53 pm     Reply with quote

It makes a huge difference playing bluegrass. You simply can't play pulloffs with a bullet-nose. Some players - who rarely play bluegrass - have made do with the back end of a bullet bar, but the shape is still different from almost every "resonator" bar.

If you are planning to play bluegrass and are even half serious about it I suggest either a Beard or Scheerhorn bar - but they are quite a bit different, plus Beard makes a few different types. Differences are primarily in the angle between the contact surface and the top of the "grip" part of the bar.

A more severe angle provides more of a "snap" when playing pulloffs (which, for the most part, are poorly named as the string is actually pushed down and "snapped" off the end of the bar).

But before buying one of the higher-end bars I also suggest trying them first - you can find other players at bluegrass festivals, and nearly everyone will let you test-play their bar.

The old standby "Stevens Steel" bar is cheap but many players find it limiting; the "Lap Dawg" is sort of shaped like a Scheerhorn but is cheap chromed steel - some think it's OK, others dislike it - but it might make a good starter bar and can be ordered easily from several sites. Shubb makes several bars but they are a bit outside the norm. And stay away from cheapos found on eBay - most are roughly made with poor quality plating.
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 6:27 pm     Reply with quote

I actually like the lap dawg a lot. It has become my main bar and I have both scheerhorn and beard 2010.

Mike Auldridge played a dunlop 925 https://www.amazon.com/Dunlop-Ergo-Tonebar-Chromed-Brass/dp/B0002D02SU
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Beard MA-6, Beard MA-8, Beard R model, Beard R Vintage Model, 3 Eharps, Clinesmith aluminum cast 8 string, Adams 8 string dobro, Duesenburg Fairytale, Sonny Jenkins custom 12 string lapsteel.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 6:43 pm     Reply with quote

Another vote for the 925.
Given that I've DONE it, I dispute the claim that you can't play the bluegrass Dobro licks with the heavy bullet bar.
It's not as easy, but it can be done
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 7:24 pm     Reply with quote

Maybe for you Lane, but not for us mere mortals.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 4 Jan 2018 9:18 pm     Reply with quote

Tell you what: hide your Stevens-style bar, and then set about playing TIFKAD with a bullet bar.
It's not my choice, but with practice, it CAN happen.
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2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Danny Kuykendall


From:
Fullerton, CA, USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 6:09 am     Reply with quote

Thanks for you help. I will get a Lap Dawg and also play some with my bullet bar. I just need to remember to practice.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 6:22 am     Reply with quote

To revise my remarks, playing TIFKAD with a bullet bar is kinda like getting good pedal steel music out of a 3&1 Sho-Bud Maverick. It's fine if you're already a player, adapting your knowledge to the tools at hand.
I would NEVER recommend a student steel player get a Maverick, nor should you learn TIFKAD with a bullet bar. It steepens the learning curve. But if you already know how, the challenge is fun.
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2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 6:54 am     Reply with quote

Smile I have enough problems practicing with my Scheerhorn bar. I'm getting rid of the last of my electric instruments, 100% dobro for me, so your suggestion will need to remain in the theoretical arena for me. Smile
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Bob Watson


From:
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 1:28 pm     Reply with quote

Bill, when I play an 8 string Dobro, I use a Jerry Byrd bullet bar or a Tribotone bullet bar that's the same size of the JB bar. I'll grab a 6 string to play Bluegrass on, so I consider an 8 string Dobro to be akin to playing an acoustic version of an 8 string non pedal steel. Off topic, but if you are tuning to G6 (E,G,B,D,E,G,B,D low to high) you can turn it into the Jules Ah See (Noel Boggs) E13 without changing strings. Here's it is, low to high (E,G#,B,D,F#,G#,C#,E). It takes a little time to get used to, but you can get some really cool chords out of it. If you're not familiar with it, give it a whirl.
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Rick Barnhart


From:
Arizona, USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 1:48 pm     Reply with quote

I admit I had to google tifkad, gotta say resonator is less awkward to say and easier to remember. That said, this is my solution to the oft debated "which bar to use" for dobro. It's a modified Scheerhorn. The polished bullet end makes playing 2 string stuff a breeze. The other end is slightly relieved to reduce my tendancy to go submarining on the backstretch...while not losing the capacity for pull-offs.

I almost sold it a few years ago, thank goodness I came to my senses.


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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 1:55 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks Bob; My mentor and teacher was Mike Auldridge who always used a Dunlop 925 (basically a stevens bar) for his 8 string. If it was good enough for him....

Right now G6 is more than enough to keep me confused for a while. I do have a second 8 string coming next week but I'll probably put Aldridge's C6 on it (with the top string a D). The advantage of that is that it is the same intervals. Very cool to know that the alternative tuning is there if I ever get bored.
_________________
Beard MA-6, Beard MA-8, Beard R model, Beard R Vintage Model, 3 Eharps, Clinesmith aluminum cast 8 string, Adams 8 string dobro, Duesenburg Fairytale, Sonny Jenkins custom 12 string lapsteel.
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 1:58 pm     Reply with quote

That is pretty cool Rick. Is that commercially available or is that a DIY?
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Beard MA-6, Beard MA-8, Beard R model, Beard R Vintage Model, 3 Eharps, Clinesmith aluminum cast 8 string, Adams 8 string dobro, Duesenburg Fairytale, Sonny Jenkins custom 12 string lapsteel.
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Rick Barnhart


From:
Arizona, USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 2:10 pm     Reply with quote

Bill McCloskey wrote:
That is pretty cool Rick. Is that commercially available or is that a DIY?


Bill, my brother polished this one down for me. He's got some considerable skills that I lack. A few have asked if he would similarly modify their Scheerhorns, too. He said he didn't mind taking the risk of ruining my bar, but preferred not to risk ruining anyone else's.
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Mark Eaton


From:
Sonoma County in The Great State Of Northern California
Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 2:30 pm     Reply with quote

One thing that frequently comes up in these "grooved" - "sculpted" - "Stevens or Stevens-like" dobro bar discussions is "it really makes a difference if you're playing bluegrass."

It's not just about bluegrass - it's about playing the dobro or lap style resonator guitar, period.

The dobro, like playing the most prominent member of the acoustic family, the flattop guitar, is often at its best when one combines open and barred strings.

Unless one just can't fathom a grooved bar and is 100% bullet bar dependent, most players find the control they have in their bar hand is superior with a grooved bar. See my comments about this in the other current thread linked above.

The following examples I have seen live multiple times over the years. Jerry Douglas playing the classic jazz/pop tune from Weather Report, A Remark You Made or Rob Ickes on The Allman Brothers Midnight Rider or Stevie Wonder's Isn't She Lovely.

It's not like, "Oh - I guess I can switch to a bullet bar for this number because it's not bluegrass."

Particularly in the case of Rob on Lovely, there is a lot of bar hand dexterity required to play it successfully, more so than many faster bluegrass songs.

This is the key - the grooved bar gives one control and dexterity. The genre doesn't really matter.
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Bill McCloskey


Post Posted 5 Jan 2018 2:55 pm     Reply with quote

I have to agree with Mark on this. A dobro is just played fundamentally differently, regardless of genre. right tool for the right job. The reason I gave up trying to play lap steel is that I could never get the sound I wanted out of it, because I approach it like a dobro player. Lap steel, especially with distortion, might be cool for a song or two played that way, but not for long. I'm really of the belief, find your hole and stay in it. Certain geniuses can go back and forth....maybe, but to be honest, I've never heard them.
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Beard MA-6, Beard MA-8, Beard R model, Beard R Vintage Model, 3 Eharps, Clinesmith aluminum cast 8 string, Adams 8 string dobro, Duesenburg Fairytale, Sonny Jenkins custom 12 string lapsteel.
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Brett Day


From:
Pickens, SC
Post Posted 6 Jan 2018 1:49 am     Reply with quote

I just got a dobro recently and because of my cerebral palsy in my left hand, I have to use my Sacred Steel grooved bar that I use for pedal steel. I decided to add dobro to pedal steel, so that I can play songs I usually play on steel acoustically, and so far I've played at three jam sessions with the dobro. The dobro I play is a Gretsch Boxcar squareneck, and I've already taught myself how to play one of my favorite dobro solos, the solo on Steve Wariner's song "Life's Highway". I haven't stopped playing pedal steel, just added the dobro to it.
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 6 Jan 2018 4:17 pm     Reply with quote

I have been known to just turn my bullet bar end for end. It's a little limited, but you can still do a lot.
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"74 Bud S-10 3&6
'73 Bud S-10 3&5(under construction)
'63 Fingertip S-10, at James awaiting 6 knees
'57 Strat, LP Blue
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Jim Bates


From:
Alvin, Texas, USA
Post Posted 7 Jan 2018 8:05 am     Reply with quote

When playing at local oprys. sometimes I would switch from pedal steel to dobro in same song, but would always have a Shubb-Pearse SP-1 (with bullet end) laying on top of amp to grab and use on dobro. Then go back to steel and use a BJ bar. My steel is through my amp and dobro is through a mike into PA system. I have a switch on mike cord so I can turn it off when not in use.

The reso guitars do not need the longer sustain as the steel does, so the lower mass of the Shubb-Pearse lets me play faster without worrying about sustaining the notes.

Thanx,
Jim
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post Posted 7 Jan 2018 1:13 pm     Reply with quote

I think what Howard P. wrote over in the other thread is a comprehensive overview. I think style does matter.

I'm using a bullet nose Chase tapered bar for resonator and lap steel. I've been playing square neck resonator guitar since 1988, but it's an alternate instrument for me along with guitar and I've done maybe a dozen or so actual appearances with it even though I play it a lot.

No Jerry Douglas here, but that style and modern sound is what I look for.

I play hammer ons with it no problem. Pull-offs are not as smooth.

I always liked Josh Graves' playing and became really interested with Jerry Douglas back in the early days. Guys like Jerry and others who play a very modern percussive style use a sharp ended dobro bar almost exclusively. It you watch them play, you can barely see the bar. It's almost like it's a part of their hand.

Randy Kohrs, Rob Ickes, Gaven Largent, Phil Leadbetter, Gravyboat Graves, et. al. I wouldn't say it's impossible for them to play with a bullet nose, being the hosses they are, but I doubt they'd consider one.

Players like Deacon, Os, Clarence Jackson et al did a lot of sliding up and down the neck playing notes out of chord positions, more like a steel player would. So did Jerry Byrd.

Tut Taylor grasped the bar by the grooves with like his thumb and maybe one or two fingers leaving it to hang out in full view.

So, I think it does depend on how you want to play and the styles of music. I'd say Hawaiian music or old time music might lend itself more to a bullet nose bar than say barn burning bluegrass tunes like, say, Wheel Hoss ala Rob Ickes for example. Might be hard to cover that with a bullet bar at speed.

The nice thing is that you can play whatever and however you want to please yourself and others around you. People play lots of different styles and tunings on resonator guitars. It's just that right now, generally what we are exposed to is the bluegrass style, the progressive things we hear from JD and his ilk notwithstanding.

If you're being hired to cover modern bluegrass tunes you'd better be able to do lots of hammers, pulls, rolls etc. and use a capo. The open position on resonator has become the equivalent of the crowbar G shape of bluegrass guitar whereby one maintains the same positions by capoing for several keys. If that's the style of playing you aspire to, then by all means follow your idols' methods. This seems to be the path most youngsters coming up are currently seeking out.

But that's not the law. It's just what we are mostly seeing and hearing now through the available media. Doesn't mean everybody else is following the same route. Plenty of players are still using bullet bars and various tunings and I expect it will remain so.

There are no absolutes here. I believe that saying there is only one way stifles experimentation, creativity and innovation. Just think where it would be if Jerry had stopped where Josh did.

You can choose your own way and carve out your own niche....but you have to be really good at what you do to sell it to the community.

These are my observations going on 30 yrs. messing with resonator guitars. FWIW.

The Chase tapered bar works well for me. It has a very natural feel and it fits the hand so nicely. Easy to pick up and maneuver with single strings and hammers.

I've had 2 or 3 Stevens type bars, and a bullet nose with a grip attached. I never felt comfortable with the normal big 7/8 steel guitar bar on resonator or lap steel. The Stevens is OK. I just have to spend some time to get comfortable with it, but I don't use it anymore since I found the Chase. I just keep it for a spare.

This little bar is about 1/2" at the tip and 3/4" at the rear which makes for easy single string work and hammers-on.
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