GUITAR RIFFS: 3 Ways to Roll Your Drone Tones



If you want to write a captivating guitar riff search no further than the creation of a droning open string against a fretted string. 

This technique isn't solely reserved for Francisco Tárrega... anyone playing guitar (in any style) can add this sound into their playing. Read onward to discover three ways to "Roll Your Drone."

The drone tone principle operates around a very simple procedure. One string of the guitar is allowed to remain open and is hit repeatedly, as either one other note, or possibly a series of notes, are performed around the drone tone. 




The sound is very cool and if you're familiar with the playing of Tárrega, you'll know just how cool it can be.

Francisco Tárrega - Capricho árabe




This isn't a technique reserved exclusively for classical players, Alex Lifeson of RUSH does a fine job of applying this technique in pieces like, "Broon's Bane."

EXAMPLE #1).  Take a run through this second string drone string example with ascending bass-line melody. Play it using finger-style, flatpicking and hybrid technique.

click the TAB image above for full-screen resolution





Example #2). This drone string example applies the drone upon the low 5th-string "A" with a key of "A Major" melody line riding across the notes found on the 4th-string. A turnaround phrase is applied at the final measure. Play it using finger-style, flatpicking and hybrid technique.

click the TAB image above for full-screen resolution


Example #3). In example three, the drone string application is simple and is applied sparingly upon the second string open "B." The sound is made more interesting by way of a broken rhythmic feel developed from the use of sixteenth-notes and sixteenth-rests scattered across the beats of the measures. Play the example using; finger-style, flatpicking and hybrid technique.

click the TAB image above for full-screen resolution




As you can tell from the examples, there’s nothing quite like the effect of open strings on guitar. While barre chords sound great in their own way, guitar really gets to strut its stuff when some open strings are allowed to ring out. In this post we've studied riffs that make open strings, (both low and high), an integral part of our sound.

Experiment with developing a few of your own ideas for using this technique, and be on the lookout for interesting ways that other players are using this idea in their music. Once you know a few ways to apply drone tones, you'll find all kinds of opportunity to slip this in as you compose and arrange your guitar pieces.

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