10/20/2013

c.1981 OMI Dobro Model 33S Squareneck Resonator Guitar



This squareneck, spider-cone, brass-body US-made OMI Dobro really is the bee's knees. I pulled it out of its case and gave it a strum -- not bad for out of tune, bad setup, and ancient strings. Since then I've cleaned it up, intoned the saddle, adjusted the cone tension, and restrung it... and it sounds even better. It's got that warm spider-cone Dobro thing going on but it has a punchier edge and that crisp volume I'd expect more from a National. It's definitely a different vibe from the wood-body Dobros OMI was making concurrently and (to my ears) more exciting to play.

This is the second Dobro-style guitar that's come into the shop on Saturday (see this Jasper for the other) and will likely be on consignment in the very near future. These metal-body Dobros are rarer but can be found from time to time, though the squareneck models seem to be on the harder-to-find side.




What makes this a model 33S is the "sailboat" image etched/blasted into the nickel-silver plating on the back of the brass body. On the front are what appear to be stylized seagulls.

Like the Jasper guit I just posted about, this (actual) Dobro was pretty filthy and had "Bashful Brother Oswald" and Dobro-branded stickers applied all over the sides and back. I gave it a good cleaning but this guitar still shows its many years of use in small scratches, tiny dings, and playwear throughout. Still -- after cleaning -- it sure does look purty and it's shiny enough to blind you if you're looking too closely!


I'll never understand why OMI decided to use a plastic nut and cheapy Asian-made tuners on what's essentially an upscale model, but they did. The nut is just fine and the tuners are, too... but I'd have preferred open-gear Waverly-style tuners instead (hint: modern 18:1 Grover Sta-Tites would be an awesome $40 upgrade).


Rosewood board with faux-pearl dot. The big old maple neck is good-quality wood and is as straight and stable today as it was when it was brand new.


The smaller (vs. National) f-holes are a nice touch. This has a body that joins at the 14th fret.






Here you can see some of the mild figuring and birdseye in the neck.





I'm so glad OMI left the neck on this guy natural -- lets all that nice maple shine through.


...just trying to get that sailboat and sunset etching to show through...





8 = 1980s, 1171 = batch number, 1 = 1981, B = brass body.


I'm pretty sure this hard case that comes with it is original but it's a looser fit (though still works just fine).


Yes, complementary Dobro-brand string packet leavings, too!

The current set of strings is a 56w-12 set that works just fine for open D and "low bass" G but will want for swapping-out if you're going to use this in GBDGBD tuning or similar.

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