Dobro is an American brand of resonator guitars, currently owned by Gibson and manufactured by its subsidiary Epiphone. The term "dobro" is also used as a generic trademark for any wood-bodied, single-cone resonator guitar.


The Dobro was originally a guitar manufacturing company founded by the Dopyera brothers with the name "Dobro Manufacturing Company". Their guitars designs, with a single outward-facing resonator cone, was introduced to compete with the patented inward-facing tricone and biscuit designs produced by the National String Instrument Corporation. The 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. 


Background information From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



The roots of Dobro story can be traced to the 1920s when Slovak immigrant and instrument repairman/inventor John Dopyera and musician George Beauchamp were searching for more volume for his guitars. Dopyera built an ampliphonic (or "resonator") for Beauchamp, which was patented in December 1929. In mid-1929, Dopyera left the National company to start the "Dobro Manufacturing Company" along with his brothers Rudy and Ed, and Vic Smith. National continued operating under Beauchamp, Barth et al. 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 language." In 1930, the Dobro company name was changed to the "Dobro Corporation, Ltd.", with additional capital provided by Louis and Robert Dopyera. Dobro was, during this period, a competitor of National.


The 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, which had three ganged inward-facing resonator cones, the Dobro had a single outward-facing cone, with its concave surface facing up. The Dobro company described this as a bowl shaped resonator.


The 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 to produce a single-cone version was a motivating factor for leaving.



Since National had applied for a patent on an inward-facing single cone (U.S. Patent 1,808,756 ( s/US1808756)), Dopyera developed a design that reversed its direction: Rather than having the guitar's bridge rest on the apex of the cone as the National design did, it rested on an eight legged cast aluminum spider sitting on the perimeter of the 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 1932 the Dopyera brothers had gained control of both National and Dobro, which they merged to form the "National-Dobro Company". By the 1940s, National-Dobro had been purchased by Valco. Valco ceased production of Dobro-branded guitars after World War II; however, the Dopyera brothers continued to manufacture resonator guitars under various other brand names. In 1964, the Dopyera brothers revived the Dobro brand name. They sold the name to Semie Moseley in 1966. In 1970, the Dopyeras' Original Musical Instrument Company (OMI) yet again reacquired the Dobro name. The Gibson Guitar Corporation acquired OMI in 1993, along with the Dobro name. The company became Gibson's Original Acoustic Instruments division, and production was moved to Nashville in 2000. Dobros are currently manufactured by Gibson subsidiary Epiphone. The Dobro was first introduced to country music by Roy Acuff.


The first and second prototypes of the Dobro created by the brothers reside at the invention's birthplace of Taft, California (https://www.taftmidway, in a museum about the town's oil production history. 

Generic usage 

The term "dobro" (lower case) is widely used as a form of generic trademark to describe resonator guitars. Gibson, however, owns the registered trademark Dobro (upper case), and uses it for its own product line.


Gibson now attempts to restrict the use of the name Dobro to its own product line. The name is still used generically for any resonator guitar, as indicated in such songs as "The Ballad of Curtis Lowe" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Valium Waltz" by the Old 97's, "When Papa Played the Dobro" by Johnny Cash on the "Ride This Train" album, or "Gold Dust Woman" by Fleetwood Mac from the album "Rumours". 

Epiphone Dobros

Current and past models resonator guitars manufactured by the Gibson Company are:


Hound Dog

•Round neck

•Deluxe round neck

•Deluxe square neck

•M-14 metal body



•Phil Leadbetter resonator series


Modern instruments

As of 2006, 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. 

In addition to modern versions of tricones and single cone resonators, National Resophonic also produce Dobro-style guitars. This company made the Model D during the latter part of the 2000s. Production of the Model D guitar has now ceased, but a few dealers in the UK and USA have stock available. National Resophonic are now producing their Smith & Young "Spider Cone" models and the Model 11 is built on traditional Dobro lines. Also, Goldtone, Paul Beard and a number of custom builders are producing good guitars. 

As well as recreating the traditional sounds and look, resonator guitars have also become the foundation for even further developments in the world of guitars. Many Dobro-style guitars are now hybrid electric guitars, and some manufacturers add strings to create seven and eight-string resonator-style guitars. 


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*Immanuel Kant


Created: 20170824

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Wikipedia: This page was last edited on 14 March 2020, at 19:02 (UTC).