Play This Riff for 1 min. and See Why it's so Much FUN!

If you want a fun addictive guitar exercise that's also incredibly melodic to play, (an exercise that will have you spending hours in a day creating awesome riffs), then you have to watch this video. That is not some kind of a joke by any means. This exercise is easy and it's a TON of FUN...

The exercise I'm talking about is called an open string drone, and it's not only great fun, but it's also a great way to invent cool sounding riffs, (plus it's also excellent for learning your key signatures and your scales). What could be better!

If you are able to commit to a consistent (but short effort), with this drone string exercise, you will be amazed at how much better your knowledge of musical keys as well as, all your scales will become.

 In just a short period of time you'll be able to combine more focused attention to lateral scales, key signature theory, (even modes), along with having tons of fun being musically creative... What could be better.


This lesson hits the topic of drone string playing. Performing riffs using an open drone string can be a ton of fun. And, it can be great for your scale and key practice as well.

Doing open string drone riffs involves keeping a constant open low string ringing while playing scale ideas above it.

Inventing your own original drone-riffs using open strings is not only great for creativity and musicianship, but it also works out very well for including all kinds of other guitar playing and music theory skills into your studies too.

It is fantastic for guitar players who are still learning their scales, learning Modes, learning how to hear the sound of key signatures, and learning the neck.

Plus, drone riffs are also great for learning about general harmony, which when you add it all up makes this exercise rank as one of the best exercises that you can practice.

Let’s get things started with a quick explanation about what exactly that it is we are doing when we establish open string drone riffs on the guitar.

When our guitar is tuned to standard tuning, (E, A, D, G, B, E), we have low open strings of the “6th-string “E,” the 5th-string, “A” and the open 4th-string of “D.” This means that we can create Major or Minor tonality sound that is based upon any one of those open strings.

Those open string sounds can then be combined with performing the scale that we want to associate to the open string.

For example, let’s say that we take the open 4th string “D” and we simply play the open “D” string underneath the notes of the “D Major” scale based upon our open 3rd-string. We’d end up with this…

Example 1).
Open "D" drone with  "D" Major Scale

This "drone" sound is obviously a lot of fun to riff out on guitar. It produces simple yet melodic 2-note harmony, and if you’re a student who’s new to learning scales, this will go a long way in helping you understand the notes of a scale on the neck.

But, we’re certainly not done! In fact, we’ve only just started with this unique sound of playing drone string ideas. Let’s add a secondary note from the key of “D Major” into the mix and we’ll set out to build another layer of harmony.

When we take our key of “D Major” (3rd-string scale from the first exercise), and we add on more notes from the “D Major” scale that exist on the next guitar string, (for this example, it’ll be the 2nd-string), what happens is that we end up harmonizing the 2nd and 3rd guitar strings into small 2-note chords performed under our 4th-string open “D” drone.

Let me play this for you so that you can hear how this gets organized along the span of the neck. Since this idea is very simple, you can learn it quickly and start jamming riffs with it right away. Here’s how it all works.

Example 2).
Open "D" 4th-string drone with harmonized "D" Major Scale
Key of "D" Major sound

Before we move into a brand new concept with our drone string practice, I wanted to mention that you could certainly move beyond the 2-note chord sounds from our previous example and add a third tone into the mix.

Adding a 3rd tone (by harmonizing our upper-string scale into dyads), would create a larger sound above the open 4th-string drone note of “D.”

What do next involves opening up a whole new sound using this Drone approach, and what I’m talking about involves the world of “Modal” playing.

Before we get started, I would like to mention that even if modes are a topic that you really don’t comprehend right now, there’s no need to be concerned at this point.

In our next example all we’re going to do is add the 5th-string open underneath the “D” Major scale notes found upon the 3rd-string.

At home, (as you study and expand upon this approach), you can try including any open string that you want, with any scale you want played above it.

If you have some basic theory knowledge, try to use whatever theory knowledge that you do understand right now to figure out the mode that is being performed. Otherwise, there's no reason to worry about any advanced music theory at this point.

Basically, if you don’t know what mode is being played, then just have fun performing the scales and playing the drone note underneath. Instead, focus on making some nice music with what gets created out of the result of doing this.

So, with that said, let’s check out what it sounds like to have a 5th-string open “A” note played under a 3rd-string “D Major” scale and create Mixolydian mode.

What we'll do is keep our “D Major” scale off of that 3rd-string for now, but underneath it, we’ll add an open 5th-String “A” to create the sound of “A Mixolydian,” mode.

Example 3).
Open "A" 5th-string drone with harmonized "D" Major Scale
Result: "A Mixolydian"

Let’s take our Modal approach even one step further by returning to the sound of our two-note “D” major scale harmony. But this time, we’ll add in our 6th guitar string’s open “E” to establish a brand new sound for the mode of “E” Dorian!

If we include the low 6th-string open “E” in the bass as a drone note, and then perform the sounds of the “D Major” scale above that open string, we end up with the modal effect of “E” Dorian. Here’s what that sounds like with those Two-note chord patterns we had just learned from within our second example.

Example 4).
Open "E" 6th-string drone with harmonized "D" Major Scale
Result: "E Dorian"

Now you have some practice with the sound of these different drone string approaches to using the “D Major” scale drone riffs, and, you also understand how to add a series of small 2-note chords to create an even larger harmony.

During the lesson we’ve also introduced how to make up some different modal effects as well. So, at this point it’s time for you to go and put all of this information to good use.

Carry on with these ideas and start inventing your own original open string drone note sounds.

It's completely up to you where to go from here. Your next move could be something simple like using the key of “A” and the key of “E” with scales performed above the open 5th and open 6th strings.

Most importantly, start taking all of this drone information further into even more directions. For instance, try using a capo on the neck to offer some alternative keys and variations to the open string drone notes.

Plus, we can’t leave out the incredible sound that we would get from tuning the guitar into all kinds of different open tunings. Open string tunings are pretty amazing for this approach, so definitely spend time trying tunings like; "Open D," "Open G," or "Open C."

This approach is not just fun - the best this about it is that you don’t need to train up to a high level of music theory, or posses a crazy technical stage of playing guitar to apply it. All this idea really comes down to - is being creative and having fun!



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