How to Play w. Drone Note or "Pedal" Tone in Country Guitar

Learn how to play with a drone note or a "pedal" tone in country guitar from musician Boo Reiners in this Howcast video.

So getting back to what the fiddle does. The fiddle gives us all sorts of ideas when we’re playing country guitar, and one thing the fiddle does really well is it can play a melody on one string and next to that string would be another open string that can be used as a drone or it could be a fretted string, but the effect is something like this.

So I’m playing the melody on the second string while I’m hitting the third string which is just a G that’s just droning against everything I’m playing on the second string. I could do this same sort of effect, moved into the key of G. We could do a similar sort of droning against some melodic motion like we did in the key of C. Here I am on the fourth string which is the D note, and I’ve got the root on the third string.

So I’m kind of getting a little bit of a bagpipe sound, and believe it or not bagpipes figure into traditional country music quite prominently. The sound of a melody note against a droning note maybe below, sometimes above, sometimes that stationary note is called a pedal tone. You’ve heard it in other types of music where say, here’s an opening lick to a country standard. So that’s kind of got two notes droning. You’ve got the root on the third string, you’ve got the root an octave lower on the fourth string, and then you’ve got some melodic stuff going on the second string.

You also might hear something like this holding down a D chord. So there’s all different ways to use this technique, but the way I like to use it is often just in a real traditional way. Maybe I’m playing a fiddle tune. So all those slides and neighboring strings that are droning other chord tones can make the guitar just sound louder. You can just get a little more excitement going when you’re trying to place some melody, just adding in some different techniques to keep it interesting.

So that’s what the droning pedal tone can do for you.