Dobro is an American brand of resonator guitar, currently owned by the
Guitar Corporation. In popular usage, the term is also used as
a generic trademark for any wood-bodied, single-cone resonator guitar.
Dobro was originally made by the
Dopyera brothers when they formed
Dobro Manufacturing Company. Their design, with a single inverted
resonator, was introduced in competition to the patented
biscuit designs produced by the National String Instrument
Dobro name appeared on other instruments, notably
electric lap steel guitars and solid body electric guitars and on
other resonator instruments such as Safari resonator mandolins.
2 Generic usage
4 Modern instruments
6 External links
1928 "Dobro-style" 37 tenor guitar
Resonator guitar with single inverted resonator
Spider resonator detail
Dobro-style resonator guitar made by Hohner
The name originated in 1928 when the
Dopyera brothers, John and Emil
(Ed), formed the
Dobro Manufacturing Company.
Dobro is both a
contraction of "
Dopyera brothers" and a word meaning 'good' in their
native Slovak. An early company motto was "
Dobro means good in any
Dobro was the third resonator guitar design by John Dopyera, the
inventor of the resonator guitar, but the second to enter production.
Unlike his earlier tricone design, the
Dobro had a single resonator
cone and it was inverted, with its concave surface facing up. The
Dobro company described this as a bowl shaped resonator.
Dobro was louder than the tricone and cheaper to produce. In
Dopyera's opinion, the cost of manufacture had priced the resonator
guitar beyond the reach of many players. His failure to convince his
fellow directors at the
National String Instrument Corporation
National String Instrument Corporation to
produce a single-cone version was part of his motivation for leaving.
Since National had applied for a patent on the single cone (U.S.
Dopyera had to develop an alternative design. He
did this by inverting the cone so that, rather than having the strings
rest on the apex of the cone as the National method did, they rested
on a cast aluminum spider that had eight legs sitting on the perimeter
of the downward-pointing cone (U.S. Patent 1,896,484).
In the following years both
Dobro and National built a wide variety of
metal- and wood-bodied single-cone guitars, while National also
continued with the
Tricone for a time. Both companies sourced many
components from National director Adolph Rickenbacher, and John
Dopyera remained a major shareholder in National. By 1934, the Dopyera
brothers had gained control of both National and Dobro, and they
merged the companies to form the National-
From the outset, wooden bodies had been sourced from existing guitar
manufacturers, particularly the plywood student guitar bodies made by
the Regal Musical Instrument Company.
Dobro had granted Regal a
license to manufacture resonator instruments. By 1937, it was the only
manufacturer, and the license was officially made exclusive. Regal
continued to manufacture and sell resonator instruments under many
names, including Regal, Dobro, Old Kraftsman, and Ward. However, they
ceased all resonator guitar production following the United States
World War II
World War II in 1941.
Dopyera (also known as Ed Dopera) manufactured Dobros from 1959
under the brand name Dopera's Original before selling the company and
name to Semie Moseley. Moseley merged it with his
company and manufactured Dobros for a time. Meanwhile, in 1967, Rudy
Dopyera formed the
Original Musical Instrument Company
Original Musical Instrument Company (OMI)
to manufacture resonator guitars, which they at first branded Hound
Dog. However, in 1970, they again acquired the
having gone into temporary liquidation.
Gibson Guitar Corporation
Gibson Guitar Corporation acquired OMI in 1993, along with the
Dobro name. They renamed the company Original Acoustic Instruments
and moved production to Nashville. Gibson now uses the name
for models with the inverted-cone design that the original Dobro
Manufacturing Company used. Gibson also carries biscuit-style
single-resonator guitars, but it sells them under names such as "Hound
Dog" (through its subsidiary Epiphone). The
Dobro was first
introduced to country music by Roy Acuff.
Dobro is generically associated with any and all resonator
Gibson, as the owner of the trademark, reserves the use of the name
Dobro for its own product line. The name is still used generically for
any resonator guitar, as indicated in such songs as The Ballad of
Curtis Loew by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Valium Waltz by the Old 97's, When Papa
Johnny Cash on the
Ride This Train
Ride This Train album.
Hound Dog Roundneck
Hound Dog Squareneck
Hound Dog Deluxe Roundneck
Hound Dog Deluxe Squareneck
Phil Ledbetter Series
Gibson Phil Ledbetter Signature Resonator
Gibson Phil Ledbetter Mahogany "Limited Edition"
As of 2006[update], many makers, including Gibson, were manufacturing
resonator guitars similar to the original inverted-cone design. Gibson
also manufactures biscuit-style resonator guitars, but reserves the
Dobro name for its inverted-cone models. These "biscuit" guitars are
often used for blues and are played vertically instead of horizontally
like a "spider" bridge.
Contemporary manufacturers of the inverted cone design resonator
guitar other than Gibson include Tim Scheerhorn and Paul Beard.
Virtuoso resonator guitarist
Jerry Douglas has primarily used guitars
from these builders for nearly three decades. Both Scheerhorn and
Beard produce instruments of a radically different structural design
to the original
Dobro instruments, while retaining the inverted cone
and spider bridge.
^ a b Bluegrass instruments at
^ US Trademark Registration Number 0950801, January 16, 1973
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dobro-guitars.
Dobro products on
"History of the Pre-War Dobro" by Randy Getz
Dobro Valpro (1997) at Elderly.com
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