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Dobro is an American brand of resonator guitar, currently owned by the Gibson Guitar Corporation and manufactured by its subsidiary Epiphone. In popular usage, the term is also used as a generic trademark for any wood-bodied, single-cone resonator guitar.

Dobro Manufacturing Company
IndustryMusical instruments
FateMerged with National String Instrument Corporation, then sold and renamed Valco
FounderJohn Dopyera
Defunct1932; 87 years ago (1932)
(merged to National String Instrument Corporation)
United States
ProductsResonator guitars

The Dobro was originally made by the Dopyera brothers when they formed the Dobro Manufacturing Company. Their design, with a single inverted resonator, was introduced to compete with the patented 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.



1928 "Dobro-style" 37 tenor guitar
Resonator guitar with single inverted resonator
Spider resonator detail
Dobro-style resonator guitar made by Hohner

The name originated in 1928 when the Dopyera brothers, John and Emil (Ed), formed the Dobro Manufacturing Company. Dobro is both a contraction of "Dopyera brothers" and a word meaning 'good' in their native Slovak. An early company motto was "Dobro means good in any language."[citation needed]

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, the Dobro had a single resonator cone and it was inverted, 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 the single cone (U.S. Patent 1,808,756), Dopyera had to develop an alternative design. He did this by inverting the cone so that, rather than having the strings rest on the apex of the cone as the National method did, they rested on a cast aluminum spider that had eight legs sitting on the perimeter of the downward-pointing 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. In 1932, the Dopyera brothers had gained control of both National and Dobro, and they merged the companies to form the National-Dobro Company. By 1934, National-Dobro had been purchased and renamed Valco.[1] 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.[2]

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.[2]

The Gibson Guitar Corporation acquired OMI in 1993, along with the Dobro name.[3] The company became Gibson's Original Acoustic Instruments division, and production was moved to Nashville in 2000.[2] Dobros are currently manufactured by Gibson subsidiary Epiphone.[4]

The Dobro was first introduced to country music by Roy Acuff.[citation needed]

Generic usageEdit

The name Dobro is generically associated with any and all resonator designs.

Gibson, as the owner of the trademark, reserves the use of the name Dobro as a registered trademark for its own product line.[5]


  • Hound Dog Roundneck
  • Hound Dog Squareneck
  • Hound Dog Deluxe Roundneck
  • Hound Dog Deluxe Squareneck
  • Phil Ledbetter Series
  • Gibson Phil Ledbetter Signature Resonator
  • Gibson Phil Ledbetter Mahogany "Limited Edition"


  1. ^ October 17, Chris McMahon; 2013. "24 Windy City Gems".
  2. ^ a b c "Gibson brands". 5 July 2014.
  3. ^ US Trademark Registration Number 0950801, January 16, 1973
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "DOBRO Trademark of DOPERA, EDGAR E. - Registration Number 0950801 - Serial Number 72394267 :: Justia Trademarks".

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