Dobro resonator guitars offer a distinct sound you’ll instantly recognize. A favorite of blues men such as Son House and Joe Bonamassa, these guitars are as well known for their look as they are for their crisp tone. One thing is for sure, once you pick one up, you won’t want to put it down.
The Dobro Manufacturing Company was formed in 1928 by brothers, John, Rudy and Emil Dopyera. The name was a combination of the words “Dopyera” and “Brothers,” but also meant “good” in their native Slovak language. John designed his first resonator guitar for use in Vaudeville theatres where the sound needed to be loud enough to be heard amongst the other orchestra instruments. As its sound became well known, the Dobro guitar grew even more popular in jazz clubs around the United States. Eventually it crossed over into bluegrass and country music, where it remains most popular thanks to the likes of Bashful Brother Oswald, who played the instrument weekly on the Grand Ole Opry stage for over 60 years.
What gives a Dobro guitar its unique sound is the resonator that serves as the instrument’s amplifier. The combination of metal strings played against a metal plate gives a Dobro very distinct, almost banjo-esque sound. The wooden body also plays a role in the guitar’s sound, but is secondary when compared to its influence on a conventional acoustic guitar. There are two very different styles of Dobro guitar - one is a round neck style while the other is square necked. Round necks, such as the Hound Dog Acoustic Deluxe, are played like a standard acoustic guitar, while a square neck like the Hound Dog Square Neck Resonator is played with strings facing up like a lap guitar. Square necks are generally setup with high action and an open tuning for that classic bluegrass sound. From its Vaudeville origins to its current place as a staple in the sound of bluegrass and country music, the Dobro has come a long way. What has never changed, however, is the innovative design that helps guitar players from all genres stand out both visually and sonically.