The dobro is a stringed chordophone of the guitar family of instruments. It’s also known as a ‘resonator guitar’, as it has a central metallic plate that creates its distinctive sound when using a steel tube or bar to slide across the strings. The dobro is often tuned to open G and is commonly featured in country, bluegrass, folk and rock music.
History of the Dobro
The dobro is a relatively young instrument in the history of musical instruments. In the early 1920s, guitar instruments were on the rise but they weren’t yet amplified; musicians required an instrument that could create a louder sound and cut through at the right level among jazz bands and brass bands of the time. Guitarist George Beauchamp worked with American instrument maker John Dopyera to create an instrument using a single metal cone resonator to amplify sound. This design was perfected with a tri-cone prototype and soon Dopyera went into business with his brother to create Dobro Manufacturing company in 1928. The banjo-like sound of the dobro was originally used and best suited towards Hawaiian music but it soon gained popularity amongst jazz, blues, country and bluegrass players during the early 20th century, owing to its portable design. Blues musicians such as Joe Bonamassa helped to popularise the instrument for the modern pop music era. The original dobro guitars are now manufactured predominantly by Gibson guitars and they are still regarded as integral instruments in many genres of American music.
Inventor: John Dopyera

Where to Buy

$300 - $1,500

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How to Play

A type of resonator guitar that uses a metal cone to amplify the sound. Played using a slide or by fretting the strings directly.

In Popular Music

The dobro was featured heavily on Dire Straits’ album ‘Brothers In Arms’ including songs like Romeo and Juliet. The instrument was also the centerpiece of the album cover. The dobro has been a popular instrument for bluegrass and folk artists as well. Dobro player Jerry Douglas plays the instrument live often with artists such as Alison Krauss, for example, on their cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Boxer.

Famous Players

Jerry Douglas, Josh Graves, Mike Auldridge

Close Relations

Resonator Guitar, Lap Steel Guitar
Video Credit: Greg Booth
Understanding the Dobro










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