Django Dobro - Les Yeux Noir

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Django Dobro - Les Yeux Noir

Postby HowardR » Sat Dec 31, 2005 2:22 pm

The only instrument I play is the Dobro. I love Gypsy Jazz. It's kinda like having a car without tires.

Well, if Django isn't an inspiration, then I don't know who is.


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Postby radiotone » Sun Jan 01, 2006 3:27 pm

Very cool. Thanks for posting.

I'm a big fan of hot Hawaiian steel guitar, and King Bennie Nawahi in particular.

On records, the way Bennie snaps through licks on his National guitar reminds me of Django's vigor when he plays.

I've got a (new-made) National myself, though it's been neglected since I picked up my Selmeroid guitar. I've speculated what it would sound like in a Django-jazz context, as a replacement for violin maybe. On Bob Brozman's Hawaiian instructional video, when he plays demonstration tunes, he's got Happy Traum sitting beside him pumping out basic rhythm guitar, and he suggests players try to rope someone in as their "rhythm guitar slave." Sounds a bit familiar, this rhythm slave role :wink:

Maybe you can be the breakthrough player for this synthesis.

Cheers,

Neil
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Postby HowardR » Mon Jan 02, 2006 1:02 am

I'm enjoying this because it's different and outside of the box with regard to the instrument I'm playing. It's very interesting.

When I first sat down to this, it sounded like "Foggy Mountain Dark Eyes." I quickly realized that I'd have to look to the older Hawaiian Tricone players, like Sol Hoopii, King Bennie, and even Roy Smeck to approach Gypsy Jazz. Sol Hoopii was a master of the single string chromatic run.

Django had two + fingers to get around with. I have a bar which is like having one finger. Some things I can copy, other things, I have to modify while keeping the essence in order to remain as close to authentic as I possibly can. I had to learn new techniques like thumb & index up & down strokes and effective muting with both picks & skin. I had to unlearn using dobro techniques all the time like banjo rolls, hammer ons, pull offs, vibrato, and too much open string playing. They're effective when used sparingly and within context. I'm learning new scales & modes (to me) that I never used before. I'm learning how to hear and think Gypsy Jazz by immersing myself in it. It's a slow process and I have a very long way to go, but it's very enjoyable.

As far as the dobro being a seriuos instrument in this genre, it would take the talents and virtuosity of musicians like Jerry Douglas, Mohan Bhatt, Debashnish.....and even then, it's not all about speed all the time. Speed without soul is empty.

Oh well, it's all good. I'll forge on and if I can decently learn and play many Gypsy tunes with fluency and feeling, I'll be happy with that accomplihment.

Neil, check this out.....it's in your neck of the woods. This promises to be a great time with great people & music. There'll be some hot Tricone playing at this one.


http://steelguitarforum.com/Forum2/HTML/008151.html
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Postby AJ Azure » Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:24 am

Howard we have to stop meeting like this lol

I am also a steel guitar gypsy player. Look out for this instrument coming more in to gypsy jazz. not just by myself and Howard. it's going to be a happening sound.

I am working on a book of techniques for steel guitar for jazz but, especially for gypsy jazz.

it sound 'right' in the style :)
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Postby Verchacho » Wed Jan 04, 2006 5:40 pm

I had the chance to listen to Bob Brozman play with Michael Dunn, Both playing Dobro style guitars and it sounded awesome.
It was incredible to see Bob solo with the slide bar.
I would love to see a recording of gypsy jazz with this style of guitars.
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Postby nwilkins » Thu Jan 05, 2006 1:42 pm

forgive my ignorance, but could someone explain to me about steel guitars, pedal steels, slide guitars, Hawaiian guitars, dobros, resonators, etc.? I have always been kind of fuzzy on the terminology. I'm wondering which ones do you play on your lap, etc. Thanks a lot.
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Postby Rich » Thu Jan 05, 2006 2:42 pm

Here is the extent of my knowledge:

A lap steel is like the really thin wierd looking guitars, they look like a plank of wood with strings.. they are played on ur lap (they have no frets just markings).

A lot of lap guitarists (such as blind willie johnson and more recently kelly joe phelps) just use a normal guitar but raise the action to about half an inch so the frets are effectively just markings (they then use a steel bar that u grip in ur hand rather than a slide that fits on ur finger.. i think that blind willie johnson actually used a knife).

Hawian guitars are any sorta of slide guitar i think. People tend to say it when its slide played in that slow hawian style..

A resonator guitar is any guitar with a resonator cone in it.. national and dobro are the famous makes (think of the cover of *that* Dire Straits album). A tri-cone resonator is one with 3 smaller cones in it. I'm thinking steel guitars are just the metal resonators.. i think its just a general term.

Pedal steels are those wierd table like construction things u see in guitar shops sometimes.. u have to use ur feet on pedals kinda like a piano. (i've never played one so couldn't tell u what they do). You hear them on a lot of dylan tunes..

Hope that helps,
Corrections welcome..
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Postby AJ Azure » Thu Jan 05, 2006 6:15 pm

Rich wrote:Here is the extent of my knowledge:

A lap steel is like the really thin wierd looking guitars, they look like a plank of wood with strings.. they are played on ur lap (they have no frets just markings).

A lot of lap guitarists (such as blind willie johnson and more recently kelly joe phelps) just use a normal guitar but raise the action to about half an inch so the frets are effectively just markings (they then use a steel bar that u grip in ur hand rather than a slide that fits on ur finger.. i think that blind willie johnson actually used a knife).

Hawian guitars are any sorta of slide guitar i think. People tend to say it when its slide played in that slow hawian style..

A resonator guitar is any guitar with a resonator cone in it.. national and dobro are the famous makes (think of the cover of *that* Dire Straits album). A tri-cone resonator is one with 3 smaller cones in it. I'm thinking steel guitars are just the metal resonators.. i think its just a general term.

Pedal steels are those wierd table like construction things u see in guitar shops sometimes.. u have to use ur feet on pedals kinda like a piano. (i've never played one so couldn't tell u what they do). You hear them on a lot of dylan tunes..

Hope that helps,
Corrections welcome..


Rich, you definitely touched on the basics.

Slide guitar is definitely not what we're talking about. That is a bottleneck style playing. the guitar is in the same standard guitar position. Known as spanish style for no reason I know of. Kelly Joe plays lap style slide since he doesn't officially use a lap steel (acoustic or electric). Within lap steel there are electric and acoustic, hollow neck weissenborne style and resonator styled squarenecks. then there are single cone spider bridge wood body resonator, tricone metal body and biscuit bridge resonator but, those are usually round neck.

Pedal steel was born of the electric version of the acoustic steel but, it has a varied amount of pedals and knee levers that bend notes up and possibly down as well.

Howard and me are mainly talking about single cone wood body spider bridge resonators or metal body (there are wood body ones but, to a lesser extent) tricone guitars. The original ones had hollow necks. newer ones do not unless you get them custom built. They also can have more than 6 strings and often do. Howard shoe them the pics of the terrifying reso three :)

Hawaiian guitar could technically be used in all these instances and in India any slide guitar played on lap is called Hawaiian.

The other guitar type is a Weissenborne and is a hollow necked guitar use by people like Ben Harper and David Lindley.

The steel guitar was actually extremely popular in the late 20s to 40s in swing and jazz. More than the guitar in many ways. it just died out and was pigeon holed in to mainly bluegrass and country but, it's coming back in to many styles. It fits really in to swing because, it came from swing. In fact the original resonator guitar was created for standard guitarist to be heard in loud bigger bands.
Hawaiian music isn't necessarily slow. That's just the tourist vanilla-izing of the music. Although, the motion of the ocean IS key to the music. there is also a sub-set Hawaiian swing. Check out Sol Hoopii or King Bennie Nawahi for a period example. OScar Aleman first played with a steel guitar player from Brazil.

Well I've barely scratched the surface but, thats a crash course :)
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Postby frater » Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:49 pm

Verchacho wrote:I had the chance to listen to Bob Brozman play with Michael Dunn, Both playing Dobro style guitars and it sounded awesome.
It was incredible to see Bob solo with the slide bar.
I would love to see a recording of gypsy jazz with this style of guitars.


Bob would be great at that even if the pompe is not exactly his cup of tea being the incredible polyrithmic guitarist that he is!
Anyway, he has already recorded a lot of standards usually associated with GJ like Dinah, I'll see you in my dreams and Limehouse Blues.
"Et pas besoin d'avoir de fines moustaches pour jouer cette musique!" B. Lagréne
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Postby HowardR » Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:20 am

A lap steel is an electric steel that is either played on the lap or on a stand. It may also have legs. No pedals. Could have one to four necks & 6 to 12 strings.

A pedal steel (electric) has foot pedals & knee levers that alter the pitch of the strings. They're either a single 10 string, double 10 string, or a universal 12 string.

A dobro, resophonic guitar, Tricone are either metal or wood body acoustic guitars that have either a single ampliphonic aluminum cone, or three small cones. Six to eight strings, some 10 strings.

A Hawaiian guitar is usually a "Weissenborn" style acoustic guitar with a hollow neck, no cone.

These all have squarenecks and are played with a solid metal bar.

I used a dobro, 6 strings, open G tuning. There are many tunings that are used with this genre of instruments.

I've always equated Sol Hoopii and Django as being on the same level in terms of technical skill. They both really swung outside of the box. They both played their traditional music and both adapted the hot swing stylings of their day. They were masters of the chromatic run. Sol played amazing chromatic runs which is extremely difficult to do, guitar in lap, bar in hand, playing a virtually fretless instrument.

Django, however, was a wonderful composer of songs. Sol Hoopii, was not. That's where they went their separate ways. Django had creativity and originality in composing. Sol played what was there.

Django in his later years, dabbled in bebop. Sol went religious with gospel. Me, I just have a pair of panties over my face.
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Postby nwilkins » Sat Jan 07, 2006 2:36 pm

so do you guys play your guitars on your lap? do dobros always have square necks? I have seen resonator guitars that seem meant to be played like a normal guitar - where do those fit in?
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Postby HowardR » Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:54 pm

The acoustic steel guitars can have the standard Spanish roundneck for standard and slide guitar playing. A glass or metal slide fits over a finger and is played in the standard upright position.

These guitars can also have a squareneck for Hawaiian playing, which is not necessarily Hawaiian music, but set on the lap and played horizontally with a solid steel bar.

The sound clip I posted was with the squareneck dobro on my lap.


Image


Image


A Selmerloha?
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Postby radiotone » Sun Jan 08, 2006 1:04 am

Though I'm not much of a steel player, I use an extension nut to jack up the action (at the headstock) on my National for steel-style playing. My Radiotone is a roundneck marketed (I guess) primarily at bottleneck blues players and other resophonic players who hold the guitar normally. I sometimes try to play a little swing guitar on it when it's set up normally. It's got a short scale length -- I think 25 inches. I really notice the difference after playing my petite bouche.

I believe Brozman says in his Hawaiian steel instructional video that the term 'steel guitar' refers to any guitar, acoustic or electric, played with a steel bar. So there is plenty of room for confusion here. I think for most of my musical life I didn't differentiate between steel guitar and pedal steel guitar -- I must have assumed that the first was simply shorthand for the second. A few years ago I got a little into the genre and began to sort the various instruments, styles, and histories of steel guitar.

Sol H. is the master, no doubt. I've got his stuff on Rounder Records and recomend it.

King Bennie has a certain something that I really like too. Brad's Page of Steel reports that Bennie played many of his acoustic solos on a single cone Triolian (though whether this was wooden or metal bodied, Brad's doesn't say). I like the rawer sound of the single cone Nationals myself, especially for single-note swing lines.

Brozman obviously feels that the tricones are the instruments to play swing-era Hawaiian music on, and in his hands the tricone can sound sweet and hot. The single cone Nationals will never sound as refined as the tricones, but I think they are sort of the Selmer Maccaferris of resonator instruments -- lots of bark and quick response.
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Postby Cuimean » Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:21 pm

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Postby HowardR » Thu Feb 09, 2006 2:36 am

Yes, I ordered it and am anxious to receive it, as it is not yet in stock. I have never seen anything like this and I hope that it's good.
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