02-Dobro Guitar

Dobro resonator guitar

I got my dobro-style resonator guitar
when my husband and I moved to the Lower East Side of New York City. He came to New York to try his hand at being an off-Broadway actor, more on that later.

Across 2nd Street and down a ways towards Avenue B, Sammy Blank had a little hallway of a store. The store was long and narrow, an Aladdin’s cave of stringed instruments. Guitars, mandolins, zithers, violins and banjos hung from the ceiling like musical fruit. I picked up a Dobro-style guitar with very high action and rusted steel strings – at a bargain price. I took that thing home and started to woodshed (practice).

High action means the strings are further from the frets and it takes more force to push them down and play.

I was used to the unchallenging gut strings of a ukulele. I liked that steel sound but “Oh my goodness!” pushing those dobro strings down was something else. I worked at it day by day until the tips of my fingers literally turned blue. I made myself practice every day, even if was for only 5 minutes, every day! Learn this chord – play it. Learn the next chord – play it. After a while the ends of the fingers on my left hand became almost like wood. Tapping them on the plaster walls of the apartment and they sounded like drumsticks tapping on a plaster wall

I started to play some of the blues numbers I had learned then and they helped make my load easier. Somehow or other, the blues made it easier to deal with the things that were going down.

Trouble in mind I’m blue,
But I won’t be blue always,
That old sun’s going to shine

On my back door someday.

I later switched to a regular guitar but the Dobro broke me in and made a musician of me.

NOTE: The term “dobro” has come to refer to any acoustic guitar with a metal resonator set into the body (also known as resonator guitars or resophonic guitars).

The bridge of a resophonic guitar over which the strings pass is attached to a metal resonator which produces and amplifies the sound; the body of the guitar does not play a significant role in sound amplification.

wavy line

© Sonia Brock 2005