Guitar players looking to add a unique, atmospheric sound to their playing can benefit greatly from incorporating drone strings into their playing style. Drone strings are essentially a single sustained note that provides a backdrop for the other notes being played. This can add a rich and hypnotic quality to any piece, and is a technique used in many different genres of music.
To play drone strings, you will need a guitar that is equipped with an extra string or two. Many guitars made specifically for playing drone music will have these extra strings. Alternatively, you can add an extra string or two to your existing guitar, or even tune one of your existing strings to a sustained note.
Setting Up Your Guitar for Drone Strings
To set up your guitar for drone strings, you will need to adjust the tuning. This will involve tuning one or more of your strings to a single note, and leaving it to sustain throughout your playing. You can choose any note that you like, but the most common notes used for drone strings are the root note of the key you are playing in, or the fifth of the key.
Once you have determined which note or notes you want to use for your drone strings, you will need to tune your guitar accordingly. You can use an electronic tuner to make this process easier, or you can use your ear if you have good pitch recognition.
It is important to get the tuning just right, as even a slight deviation from the desired note can affect the overall sound of your playing. Make sure to test the tuning of your drone strings before you start playing, and adjust as necessary.
Incorporating Drone Strings into Your Playing
Once you have your guitar set up with drone strings, you can start incorporating them into your playing. This can be done in a number of different ways, depending on the style of music you are playing and your personal preferences.
One common technique is to strum all of the strings, including the drone strings, to create a rich, full sound. You can also pluck individual strings, or play fingerpicking patterns, while the drone strings sustain in the background.
Another technique is to alternate between strumming all of the strings and just the drone strings. This can create a rhythmic and hypnotic effect, especially when you are playing slow and melodic pieces.
You can also experiment with different strumming patterns and picking styles to find what works best for you and the type of music you are playing. The important thing is to have fun with the drone strings and let your creativity guide you.
Common Techniques and Examples
One of the most famous examples of drone strings in action is in the music of legendary guitarist Jimmy Page. Page would often use drone strings in his solos to add a rich, atmospheric quality to his playing. He would also experiment with different tunings and strumming patterns to create unique and mesmerizing sounds.
Another example is the traditional Indian music style known as “Alap”. In this style, the drone strings provide a sustained background for the melody, which is gradually developed over time. The music starts with a slow and meditative introduction, and gradually builds in intensity as the piece progresses.
Another popular use of drone strings is in the music of the British folk revival of the 1960s and 1970s. Artists such as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, and Nick Drake used drone strings in their playing to create a haunting and atmospheric quality.
What are drone strings in guitar playing?
Drone strings are essentially a single sustained note that provides a backdrop for the other notes being played. They add a rich and hypnotic quality to a piece and are used in many different genres of music.
How many extra strings do I need to play drone strings on my guitar?
To play drone strings, you will need a guitar that is equipped with an extra string or two. Alternatively, you can add an extra string or two to your existing guitar or tune one of your existing strings to a sustained note.
What is the best tuning for drone strings?
The best tuning for drone strings is subjective and depends on the style of music you are playing and your personal preferences. The most common notes used for drone strings are the root note of the key you are playing in or the fifth of the key.
How do I incorporate drone strings into my playing?
Drone strings can be incorporated into playing in various ways, including strumming all strings, plucking individual strings, or playing fingerpicking patterns, while the drone strings sustain in the background. You can also alternate between strumming all strings and just the drone strings. Experimenting with different techniques will help you find what works best for you.
What are some famous examples of drone strings in music?
Some famous examples of drone strings in music include the playing of legendary guitarist Jimmy Page, the traditional Indian music style known as “Alap,” and the British folk revival of the 1960s and 1970s.
Is it difficult to play drone strings on the guitar?
The difficulty of playing drone strings on the guitar depends on your existing guitar playing skills and the techniques you are trying to incorporate. With practice and experimentation, anyone can learn how to play drone strings effectively.