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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 9:49 am 
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First name: Darryl
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I have a friend who would like me to build him a "Dobro". He doesn't know a lot about them and I don't either unfortunately. He is a very talented musician......can play about anything......and is an awesome steel guitar player.

I've never even held one. I assume a Dobro is a brand of resonator guitar. Do some have square necks and others have round necks?......why?

What body size is typically used? What scale length? Does teh neck join the body at the 9th fret? What woods are traditional? Do you use spruce for the top wood? Does the choice of wood have a large impact on the tone?

Can you suggest plans? Any buiding suggestions appreciated? I haven't as yet committed to this build but I would like to learn more.

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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 10:42 am 
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A simple Google search will get you pictures and some basic info. Resophonic Outfitters sells a square neck blueprint, plus all the parts and pieces you need. The library over at the MIMF has a lot of info too.


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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 10:41 am 
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Anyone care to define "national style" and "dobro style"? Are their any other "styles"?

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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 11:19 am 
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resonator_guitar
explains the major differences - round or square neck and the various cone types.

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 9:34 pm 
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Thanks for that link Pete. I guess mostly what I've seen and heard is the Dobro style.

How does the tone and volume of the spyder bridged Dobro style cone compare with the biscuit bridge, National style cone?

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 6:26 am 
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In general the dobro sound is not as harsh as the biscuit bridge sound, although some of that is down to materials and construction. Volume is about the same (unless you're Rob Ickes).

It's only a generalisation and there are some notable exceptions but in the kind of music where you are most likely to have heard resonator instruments you've probably heard spider bridge playing bluegrass/country lap-style and biscuit bridge playing blues in an upright or "Spanish" style. If your friend is a steel player then I guess he'll want a square necked instrument. When people use the term "dobro" in the USA they usually mean a 12 fret squareneck played lap-style with a steel, although here in the UK the terminology is a bit less precise so sometimes people mean a 14 fret roundneck played with a bottleneck.

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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 12:29 am 
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Thanks a lot Pete, that was helpful. I've only watched folks playing a Dobro bluegrass style.......with the top faceing upward and using fingerpicks and a slide. I guess that is "lap style" though they were played in a standing position with a stap to hold the instrument in place.

As far as hardware, I've seen quite a variation in price.......is their a lot of variation in quality as well? Any suggestions on hardware for producing a good tone on a spiderbridge, dobro style instrument?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:19 pm 
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The parts that will make a difference are the cone and the spider bridge. Quarterman were reckoned to be the best cones for many years, but the supply became a bit problematic a while back and Paul Beard began to make his own. I haven't compared the sound but I am sure they are good quality like the other stuff he does. When you buy a cone make sure you get the tension screw that goes with it (imports have a different thread from US-made ones).

The spider should be a US-made "number 14". The imports are heavier, don't ring the same, have a narrower bridge slot and the tension screw head is set so low that it won't keep the two bridge halves apart the way it should. I think they're only fit for the garbage.

You can get Beard cones and #14 spiders from Resophinic Outfitters http://www.beardguitars.com/resophonic-cover.html

Janet Davis music is still listing Quarterman cones and also sells #14 spiders http://www.janetdavismusic.com/dobparts.html

You can also get them from Custom Inlay http://www.custominlay.com/SearchResult ... egoryID=99

The other metal parts can be imports without any detriment to the guitar, although I have to say Paul Beard does some very pretty US made coverplates. Just bear in mind that because of the inch/millimetre difference the sizes of the US parts on which your plans are based will not be exactly the same as import parts. It's always wisest to get the parts and measure them before you start cutting holes in things!

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:10 pm 
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Thanks for that information Pete! Janet Davis Music store is about 10 miles from my house so I'll probably buy hardware there.

I almost bought a new Dobro with no hardware over the weekend. It had a couple of finish dings and was marked as a second. It was for sell on e-bay but went for a little more than I was willing to pay.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 0055312482

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:55 pm 
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Darryl, use a Scheerhorn cone, they are available from Elderly instruments. Also, the saddle material will make a huge difference in the sound of the guitar as well. Ebony capped maple is very popular. Proper set up is important, get the Beard video for the basics of this. Most of the hardware is available from Beard. A lot is more expensive, but much higher quality than the import stuff, I recommend staying away from that. Get a #14 spider from Beard.

The Beard plans are for a soundwell guitar, but you can leave out the soundwell, brace the back like a six string and put in round posts from the cone support (plywood) to the back braces. The better sounding models (to my tastes, ymmv) also have a thin plexiglass baffle in the upper bout that directs sound out of the sound holes in the upper bout. These guitars are much louder than biscuit bridge guitars, they have to be to compete with banjos!

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 6:57 pm 
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Darryl Young wrote:
Thanks a lot Pete, that was helpful. I've only watched folks playing a Dobro bluegrass style.......with the top faceing upward and using fingerpicks and a slide. I guess that is "lap style" though they were played in a standing position with a stap to hold the instrument in place.

As far as hardware, I've seen quite a variation in price.......is their a lot of variation in quality as well? Any suggestions on hardware for producing a good tone on a spiderbridge, dobro style instrument?


Darryl -

I would suggest going to National's web site and listening to sound samples under the media tab:

http://www.nationalguitars.com/index.html

there is a huge array of sounds available - it is far more complex that just biscuit vs spider. and NationalResophonic has good examples most styles -Don, who runs NRP, used to work with the Dopyera Bothers and is a walking encyclopedia of all things resophonic

besides the Dobro (wood body, spider cone) style, lots of people use squareneck tricones for slide

Different cones sound different as well. cheap inport cones sound like pie plates. In a Reso the cone is the soundboard.

BTW I play blues on a NRP style 0-14 and it is simply an amazing instrument.

-jd


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 9:43 pm 
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Not to mention the tone differance between metal bodies material, German Silver (the best as far as I'm concerened) and steel( my second choice) and yellow brass. Also the type of slide material makes some differance too.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:41 am 
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Chris, What is your choice of cone for a spider bridge / wood bodied reso? I've heard the argument about Quarterman vs Scheerhorn vs Beard cone for years. Last I knew, Scheerhorn was using a Quarterman cone, but some claim the newer Beard cones are just as good. Thoughts?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:11 am 
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Can't really give you an answer about it Don. I haven't built a reso for 8 years and they were tricones which I have 2 bodies, one plated and one not that need necks and are packed away right now. I like the National cones for the tricones. But I put a Quarterman cone in my spider dobro. I used the straight walled one that has more of a vintage sound compared to the curved bell shape walled one they sale. From what I've read most like that bell sounding one these days. Mike Dotson might have an opinion about it though. Personally I'd probably give Paul Beard's a try and see if I like them just because he has been helpful to me in the past. But like I said I haven't heard enough of them to give an opinion. I'm trying to consentrate on acoustics these days and I'm wanting to try building a classical next if I ever get my J45 done. Building jigs is taking up my time now and some repair things plus my day job.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:52 am 
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When I built my reso a few years back, I used the Beard cone and was happy with the results. But I had nothing to compare it to, so it was a non-issue. For someone wanting to build for professionals, it might matter. But that isn't me, so no big deal.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:06 am 
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I might leave the cone choice up to the client in that case if you know what I mean. Changing the cone is simple enough. :)


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