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 Post subject: DB Original Dobro
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:35 am 
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Cocobolo
Cocobolo
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Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:25 pm
Posts: 239
Location: Bozeman, MT
First name: Tony
Last Name: Thatcher
City: Bozeman
State: MT
This quick, but interesting, job came through the shop this weekend. It's a DB Original Dobro from the late 1950s. The owner filled me in on the back story. The Dobro name apparently been bought and sold many times throughout the history of the instrument. The Dopyera brothers (DB) developed the single cone with spider design after selling rights to National. At some time in the late 50's they started assembling wood-bodied dobros from spare parts and selling them under the DB Originals name. This is one of those.

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At some point, the neck started separating from the body. The owner took it to the local shop and was given the one of the Dopyera brothers' phone numbers. After describing the instrument to him, he knew exactly which dobro he was talking about. The owner sent it directly to the Mr Dopyera himself for the neck repair.

It's far from a mint instrument. At some point, the owner stripped the original finish and tried to refinish it himself. The fret board is warped and cracking (not a big deal with a dobro). And the binding where it sits in the player's lap was held in place with many layers of masking tape. He also wanted a Fishman Nashville Series Spider Pickup installed.

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The cone was filled with dust bunnies and some sort of spilled goo. I think cleaning this out brightened up the sound greatly!
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The pickup replaces the maple bridge. I had to add shims on either side to get the pickup to fit snugly.
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I needed to drill through the sound well to make room for the jack, enlarging the hole with a dremel.
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The pickup is grounded to the cover plate.
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I removed the tape with come careful scraping, heat, and naptha. The binding had shrunk enough that it was impossible to stretch it back into place at the waist. So pealed it up (easily) all the way to the seam at the neck. After scraping out the binding channel, the binding glued easily back into place. There's a small gap at the neck, but the owner is ok with that. A few coats of shellac were applied to the buckle rash/tape damage area, then buffed with a pad to blend the sheen into the other finish.

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Overall, not a big job, but fun to have this little snapshot of Dobro history on my bench.

_________________
Tony Thatcher
Bozeman, Montana



These users thanked the author mountain whimsy for the post: DanKirkland (Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:43 am)
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 Post subject: Re: DB Original Dobro
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:42 am 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:54 am
Posts: 665
State: Texas
Country: United States
Focus: Repair
That is absolutely cool! I've seen that "splatter spider" all too often on old ones. Really neat piece of history you had there.

I'm curious what the tone was like?


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 Post subject: Re: DB Original Dobro
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:11 am 
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Cocobolo
Cocobolo
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Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:25 pm
Posts: 239
Location: Bozeman, MT
First name: Tony
Last Name: Thatcher
City: Bozeman
State: MT
I'm absolutely the wrong person to ask about dobro tone. I just don't have a lot of experience with them. I will say that before the pickup install, the tone was a little dark, but still with that old bluesy jangle. After the install, it seemed a lot brighter and crisper. I don't know if that was due to the new saddle/pickup (the old saddles were somewhat loose in the spider. Of if I added some tension to the cone/spider with the set screw. The owner was quite excited, though. I'll get a report over the next week and see what he thinks.

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Tony Thatcher
Bozeman, Montana


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 Post subject: Re: DB Original Dobro
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:45 am 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 1880
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Nice story and nice old guitar. I have an old Style 27 round neck Dobro that was basically a basket case when I got it - spray painted black, cone and cover were crushed. It had come to my local music store by a woman who said her dad had bought it when she was born in 1932. After I fixed it up I took it back and played if for her (not very well I'm afraid) - she wept.

A couple of minor things - most of these have a neck stick, on Dobros they are pretty short and end at the cone well. You can loosen and shim the neck stick to change the neck angle. Also be a little careful with that cone tension screw - if you get it too tight you can choke off the cone. As I recall the instructions I have read you just want to snug it up and then give it a quarter turn more.


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 Post subject: Re: DB Original Dobro
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:00 am 
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Cocobolo
Cocobolo
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Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:25 pm
Posts: 239
Location: Bozeman, MT
First name: Tony
Last Name: Thatcher
City: Bozeman
State: MT
Freeman wrote:
Nice story and nice old guitar. I have an old Style 27 round neck Dobro that was basically a basket case when I got it - spray painted black, cone and cover were crushed. It had come to my local music store by a woman who said her dad had bought it when she was born in 1932. After I fixed it up I took it back and played if for her (not very well I'm afraid) - she wept.

A couple of minor things - most of these have a neck stick, on Dobros they are pretty short and end at the cone well. You can loosen and shim the neck stick to change the neck angle. Also be a little careful with that cone tension screw - if you get it too tight you can choke off the cone. As I recall the instructions I have read you just want to snug it up and then give it a quarter turn more.


Thanks, Freeman. I'll probably dial back the tension on the set screw a little bit to get some more of the rattle back.

And, Yes, there is the neck stick. It did have a small shim in it. And I didn't mention before that the neck repair (supposedly by Mr Dopyera, but likely further 'repaired' by someone else) has a couple of what look like drywall screws running from the inside, through the neck block and into the heel! It seems to be stable, and hidden from view unless you pull the cone, but a clumsy looking repair.

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There are places on the neck where it looks like someone used the neck to write a note to someone, leaving an imprint of the writing in the finish. Perhaps a note to adoring fans! Regardless, it's got a lot of mojo.

_________________
Tony Thatcher
Bozeman, Montana


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 Post subject: Re: DB Original Dobro
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:35 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 1880
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Yours is like new inside, here is mine

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There are frequently two small flat head screws under two of the fretboard maker dots that hold the extension down to the top. Otherwise the neck isn't glued in place - setting is a matter of shimming. Kind of ironic, you have almost no action adjustment at the saddles, only how deep you cut the slots, so you have to do it all with neck angle. Not all that important on a square neck lap player but on a roundie you need to worry about action if you are going to play fretted. Oh, and they intonate terribly, but for lap slide, again, no biggie.

Since I happen to have a file of resonator pictures open, here is the neck stick on a metal biscuit bridge. It extends all the way to the tail block and the height is adjusted with the little "mushrooms"

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These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: Johny (Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:46 pm)
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