Donation Driven Dobro Instruction

The Bar

Well, you can't play dobro without a bar! Choosing a bar can be overwhelming, especially if you are a beginner. I'm here to help! Here are my suggestions on choosing a bar, and how to hold it!

Holding The Bar

Hold the contoured bar with your left hand. Place your index finger on top, and your thumb and middle fingers on the sides. You should be able to easily lift the bar off of the strings, or angle the bar for single note playing. When I started playing, someone told me this..... "Dropping the bar is against the rules!"

OK, Here are three basic shapes of dobro bars that I can recommend. All of them are contoured bars, which I like for dobro. Contoured bars are easier to hold on to and pick up. Round, full bullet bars are nice for steel guitar, but not great for dobro....

Scheerhorn Bar

Shubb SP2 Bar

Stevens Bar

Scheerhorn Bar

On my 6-string dobro, I use a Scheerhorn bar. It has sharp tips for clean pull-offs, and I would recommend this shape for most players, especially for bluegrass. If you want a bar of this shape, Scheerhorn, Beard, and Dunlop all make them. The Scheerhorn and Beard bars are wonderful, but a little pricey, and the Dunlop Lap Dawg tone bar is an inexpensive sharp tip bar. I don't mind spending a little extra money on a bar, I bought 1 Scheerhorn bar almost 20 years ago, and I'm still using it! There are also some wood / metal combination bars with this shape that some people like. You can try a wood / metal combo bar if you're having a hard time with the grip, but I like the tone of all metal bars better. The weight of the bar contributes greatly to the tone, I think the heavier, all metal bars sound better.... Another benefit of the sharp tip bar is the curved top of the bar. To me, it's a lot more comfortable on my index finger. Sometimes, with the flat top of the other 2 bars shown, my finger will get cramped...

Shubb SP2

Another bar shape I like is the contoured, bullet tip bar. Shubb makes a couple of these and they certainly have their uses. I use a Shubb SP2 bar on my 8 string dobro. The bullet tip bar doesn't get the clean pull-offs like the sharp tip bar, but it glides smoothly across the strings, especially when playing single notes with the bar at an angle. If you're not trying to play real fast, you might like the smooth sound of this bar. I can also do some steel guitar tricks with this bar that don't work with the sharp tip, which is why I like it on my 8 string. You can still do pull-offs with this bar, they just don't come off as clean and loud as they would with the sharp tip.


Ah, the Stevens! This is the classic, and was the only decent bar available for years! I have one from the 50s (I think), still in the box! And yes, they still make them! It has a squared off end that fits somewhere between the sharp tip and the bullet tip. I don't know many people who still use a Stevens, but something about it makes me smile, and there's just nothing wrong with it!

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