5/18/2012

c.1935 Gretsch-branded Round-neck Dobro Resonator Guitar




Update: I've added current photos of this instrument because I recently found a matched set of 1930s tuners to replace the mismatched (similar) ones that came with this guitar.

This is a genuine Dobro instrument, but sold under the Gretsch banner around 1935. It has a Regal-made body and neck with the big v-shape typically seen on Dobro "Spanish"-necked guitars. I've been using this one with a raised nut for myself for the last few months but have returned its setup to regular play since it's easily convertible to lap play with a raised nut if desired.

The spider cone is original Dobro stock and the coverplate is a Pat Pend type with a modified hole pattern that was typically used on these Gretsch-branded resos from this time (and also seen in the brand new knock-off Gretsch resos that came out this year). There is one tiny puncture in the base of the cone but it doesn't effect the cone at all in terms of structure, stability, or tone -- and speaking of the tone, this has that perfect, balanced, big and rumbly/bluesy response that one expects from these guys. New cones simply sound nothing like it.


My work on this guitar included a neck reset, fret level and dress, and full setup. I also installed new bone saddles and recently found a set of period-correct replacement tuners for the headstock. Otherwise, the hardware is all original, with a few changed-out screws here and there.

The guitar itself is in great shape -- the thick plywood body has no surface cracks or veneer lifting and the sunburst finish looks great. The painted-on "binding" shows wear and tear and it definitely shows use-wear throughout, but considering how most 1930s Dobros look, this is in the "A" crowd.


Bone nut (original) and cool pearloid headstock veneer.


Dyed-hardwood fretboard, pearl dots, original frets.


The f-holes are real cool.


Here you can see the bone saddles I installed. The original wood ones were simply too worn. In addition, if the buyer wants to play this as a lap guitar, the saddles can be turned over and the slots for the strings are higher, which combined with one of those removable conversion nuts, raises the action equally on both sides of the instrument so a Dobro capo can be used if wanted.


Note that I added small foam pads to the tailpiece struts to mute rattles and also a leather pad at the edge of the tailpiece to mute extra string vibration at the tailpiece. These are the areas where, after all else is setup correctly, that rattles tend to develop.


Stamp on the coverplate.

Strings are 54w-12 D'Addario "flat top" phosphor bronze, with a smoothed-out surface on the wound strings which makes bottleneck or lap-style playing smoother in tone. Action is spot-on at 3/32" at the 12th fret and the neck is good and straight, with only the tiniest hint of relief (under 1/64").




This is roughly a "00" body shape with a 14"+ lower bout. The narrow middle makes it very comfortable to hold.




Tuners are lubed and work great.







Original end-pin. No doubt about it, this is a great, rare guitar and perfect for blues or old-time players seeking a louder, more projecting tone with rumble and bite as well as balance. This sounds super fingerpicked but also gives a great flatpick lead tone as well.

And... it looks hecka awesome.

1 comment:

Aaron Roberts said...

What makes u so sure it is a 1935 ?