Dobro is a member of the bluegrass instrument family, which includes violin, mandolin, acoustic guitar, banjo and upright bass. Dobro is the only one of these instruments to be invented in the United States. It was originally produced by the Dopyera brothers in the 1920s. The brothers, who were Czechoslovak immigrants, got the name of the instrument from ‘do’ in their last name and the ‘bridge’ from the brothers. Gibson acquired the rights to the Dobro name in the 1930s and has restricted its use ever since.
Like a traditional guitar, the sound is produced by a resonator guitar by picking or strumming the strings. Instead of playing upright like most guitars, resonator guitars are played flat on a table or on the musician’s shot with a bar, called ‘steel’ or ‘slider’ and a pick. The slider moves along the strings to change the tone and pitch. The sound is distributed and reasoned by a metal cone located in the body.
Knowing how to play a traditional acoustic or electric guitar is a great start on the road to learning Dobro. The fret card and strings are the same, so the notes on a Dobro are on the same fret as on a traditional guitar.
If you are a musician who is skilled in traditional guitar, remember that the gig style is different for the resonator’s guitar. Do not let your lessons at Dobro damage the skills you have on the traditional guitar.
For right-handed musicians, place the guitar in your lap with your neck to the left, your main body to the right. Hold the slider in your left hand and select or tune the strings with your right hand, like a traditional guitar. Left-handed players must adapt to the opposite position.
The Internet is a great resource for information. Some sites have free videos that include tuning, sliding techniques and picking strategies for Dobro. Music stores also sell instructional videos.
You can also buy instruction books from bookstores, music stores and online stores. Websites, such as sheetmusicplus.com, have a variety of do-it-yourself books with basic song instructions and notes. Find the learning method that works best for you and follow through. For musicians who want to stand out from the crowd, Dobro guitar offers a unique instrument that can produce a sound that measures well with blues, bluegrass and country music. Dobro is a brand owned by guitar maker Gibson. Dobros are also known as resonator or resophonic guitars.