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Old 10-18-2017, 04:02 AM   #1
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Default Square vs Roundneck Dobro-Help me Understand the Difference in Playing Them

Hello, I would like a to buy a spider Resonator Guitar; exactly which style, however, I need some help with. I have no intention of buying one and then trying to put on and remove modifications from it so that I can change the style in which it is played, I will either play a squareneck lap style with a Dobro bar or a roundneck Spanish style with fretting as well as a hollow finger slide. So what I am really trying to decide upon is what style I'd like to play in (lap or Spanish). I'll probably have more questions in the future, but right now I only have three I'm immediately concerned with.

(1) I know that lap/squareneck is played with finger picks on the middle, index, and thumb (like the bluegrass banjo), is the Spanish/roundneck played the same way, or is it typically played with just a regular pick? If the roundneck is played with a guitar pick that would be a plus in it's favor as that is the style I know on the mandolin and would require less of a learning curve. But I guess if they both require finger picks then I'll definitely have the three finger picking down should I ever decide to learn Bluegrass banjo in the future.

(2) Generally speaking, squareneck/lap style Resonator Guitar is a bluegrass and old country instrument, while roundneck/Spanish style is a blues instrument. Both of those facts are equally appealing to me. I have a mandolin which means I'm already involved in Bluegrass and also branching out into old time country. If get the squareneck then I'll have an excellent bluegrass and old country instrument which has also been proven to quite capable at blues, and that is great. If I get roundneck then I'll have an instrument which seems to be more blues orientated and will open that door wider for me (blues is something I would like to get into) and also overlaps some into bluegrass and country, and that is also great. So what I want to ask is what style seems to be more popular and appropriate in modern country and rock (considering the nature of the instrument we're obviously talking about folk, root, blues, and country rock). These are two genres I would eventually like to get involved in, and while I'd certainly need to learn something like regular acoustic guitar, electric guitar, or electric base before I could become very submersed in either, if one style of Dobro was more conducive to me at least getting my toes wet then that would be a very large positive in it's favor.

(3) A squareneck, from what I understand, is typically tuned to open G. That's just fine with me, regardless of what Dobro I get I hope I'l be able to play it that way. However, in regards to the roundneck, it seems it's more common to tune it different ways, mainly standard, open G, and open D. On the roundneck is any tuning more, I guess, expected than any other (especially in certain genres) and does any tuning have any natural disadvantages or advantages compared to the other ones?

I'll really appreciate any feedback I get. Thank you.
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Old 10-18-2017, 04:13 AM   #2
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I think that the way you play is about personal preference and the sound that you prefer.

Players change tunings sometimes. Open G is often used.
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Old 10-18-2017, 04:39 AM   #3
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Hmmmmmm..... Well, if you go with the square neck and have to use a steel, then you're also going to have to learn to play to a different tuning(usually G). If you don't want to have to learn all over again, you should go with the round neck fretted instrument and use a bottleneck for the slide stuff. To quote Forest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."
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Old 10-18-2017, 04:54 AM   #4
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You can use a roundneck in the lap position, but you can't really use a squareneck in the spanish position. This means that if you are undecided or want versatility, go for a roundneck. It can easily be converted for lap steel use by using a higher nut, a nut raiser or a conversion capo such as this one I made:

That is just and ordinary capo and a piece of brazing rod.

This is a nut raiser made from a piece of aluminium channel:

Be aware that a squareneck is sturdier than a roundneck and will safely withstand higher string tensions

You can use any tuning you like on either, though open G, GBDgbd, is popular for country and bluegrass. I mostly use open D in both the Spanish and lap positions. Thumb and fingerpicks are also commonly used in country and bluegrass, but again aren't mandatory. I play folk and blues and fingerpick with my nails.
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Old 10-18-2017, 01:49 PM   #5
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I used to have a round neck resonator. You can play it like a regular guitar. And like a regular guitar you can tune it any way you like. You can play it with a regular ick, finger picks, no picks.

A friend has a square neck resonator. Play it on your lap. The slide is a bar like used for pedal steel guitars. You can tune it any way you like. You can play it with finger picks, flat pick or fingers.

I used to bring my resonator to a big monthly pickin' party jam because it was a lot louder than my other acoustics and I would play slide only about half the time. I liked it but was not playing it enough and sold it to pay for a Telecaster to play in my country band.
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