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|Type|| Private (1929–37)|
|Fate||Merged with National to form "National Dobro Co." in 1935, brand then used by Valco and other manufacturers|
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 term 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.
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, but also in many Slavic languages. 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 ), 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 Bashful Brother Oswald, who played dobro with Roy Acuff starting in January 1939.
The first and second prototypes of the Dobro created by the brothers reside at the invention's birthplace of Taft, California, in a museum about the town's oil production history.
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.
Current and past models of resonator guitars manufactured by the Gibson Company are:
Rickenbacker International Corporation is a string instrument manufacturer based in Santa Ana, California. The company is credited as the first known maker of electric guitars – a steel guitar in 1932 – and today produces a range of electric guitars and basses.
National may refer to:
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Epiphone is an American musical instrument brand that traces its roots to a musical instrument manufacturing business founded in 1873 by Anastasios Stathopoulos in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire and moved to New York City in 1908. After taking over his father's business, Epaminondas Stathopoulos named the company "Epiphone" as a combination of his own nickname "Epi" and the suffix "-phone" in 1928, the same year it began making guitars. In 1957, Epiphone, Inc. was purchased by Gibson, its main rival in the archtop guitar market at the time. Gibson relocated Epiphone's manufacturing operation from its original Queens, New York factory to Gibson's Kalamazoo, Michigan factory. Over time, as Gibson moved its own manufacturing operations to other facilities, Epiphone followed suit; Gibson has also subcontracted the construction of Epiphone products to various facilities in the US and internationally. Today, Epiphone is still used as a brand for the Gibson company, both for budget models of other Gibson-branded products and for several Epiphone-exclusive models. Aside from guitars, Epiphone has also made double basses, banjos, and other string instruments, as well as amplifiers.
John Dopyera was a Slovak-American inventor and entrepreneur, and a maker of stringed instruments. His inventions include the resonator guitar and important contributions in the early development of the electric guitar.
Kramer Guitars is an American manufacturer of electric guitars and basses. Kramer produced aluminum-necked electric guitars and basses in the 1970s and wooden-necked guitars catering to hard rock and heavy metal musicians in the 1980s; Kramer is currently a division of Gibson Guitar Corporation.
A resonator guitar or resophonic guitar is an acoustic guitar that produces sound by conducting string vibrations through the bridge to one or more spun metal cones (resonators), instead of to the guitar's sounding board (top). Resonator guitars were originally designed to be louder than regular acoustic guitars, which were overwhelmed by horns and percussion instruments in dance orchestras. They became prized for their distinctive tone, however, and found life with bluegrass music and the blues well after electric amplification solved the problem of inadequate volume.
The National String Instrument Corporation was an American guitar company, that first formed to manufacture banjos and then the original resonator guitars. National also produced resonator ukuleles and resonator mandolins. The company merged with Dobro to form the "National Dobro Company", then becoming a brand of Valco until it closed in 1968.
The Regal Musical Instrument Company is a former US musical instruments company and current brand owned by different companies through the ages. By the 1930s, Regal was one of the largest manufacturers in the world.
Original is an American brand currently owned by Gibson through its subsidiary Epiphone. The company uses the brand to produce and commercialize resonator guitars.
National Reso-Phonic Guitars is a manufacturer of resonator guitars and other resonator instruments including resonator mandolins, and resonator ukuleles. Though the name, branding, and product line resemble the original National String Instrument Corporation, this company bears no historical connection to the prior company.
Kay Musical Instrument Company was a US musical instrument manufacturer of the United States, in operation from 1890. Kay was established in 1931 in Chicago, Illinois, by Henry "Kay" Kuhrmeyer, from the assets of the former Stromberg-Voisinet.
The Rickenbacker Electro A-22, nicknamed the "Frying Pan" is the first electric lap steel guitar. Developed in 1931/1932, it received its patent in August 1937. A previous attempt, the Stromberg company‘s transducer-based "Stromberg Electro", was introduced in 1928. It used a "vibration-transfer rod" from the instrument's sounding board attached to magnets inside the guitar, and was not successful. George Beauchamp created the "Fry-Pan" in 1931, and it was subsequently manufactured by Rickenbacker Electro. The instrument gained its nickname because its circular body and long neck make it resemble a frying pan.
Supro is an American brand, currently owned by Bond Audio, a manufacturer of effects units. Formerly, Supro produced musical instruments as a subsidiary of Valco. The brand entered into disuse after the closure of Valco in 1968, being later revived in 2013.
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A resonator ukulele or "resophonic ukulele" is a ukulele whose sound is produced by one or more spun aluminum cones (resonators) instead of the wooden soundboard. These instruments are sometimes referred to as "Dobro ukuleles," however the term "Dobro" is currently trademarked by the Gibson Guitar Corporation.
A resonator mandolin or "resophonic mandolin" is a mandolin whose sound is produced by one or more metal cones (resonators) instead of the customary wooden soundboard. These instruments are sometimes referred to as "Dobro mandolins," after pioneering instruments designed and produced by the Dopyera Brothers, which evolved into a brand name. The trademark "Dobro" is currently the property of the Gibson Guitar Corporation. When Gibson acquired the trademark in 1993, they announced that they would defend their right to its exclusive use.
A phonofiddle is a class of stringed musical instruments that are played with a bow and use a phonograph type reproducer as a voice-box.
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