10/12/2013

c.1992 OMI Dobro "Hound Dog" Resonator Guitar


This is a big, warm-sounding Dobro and was in the shop for a pickup install (K&K). At the same time I gave it a light setup, though I'd worked on it a few years ago so there wasn't a huge amount to do there. It's dated to March of 1992 on the inside under the cone and that means that this was still built under the OMI plant (US-made) leadership rather than the Gibson ownership. Supposedly that means the quality is higher.

Well... it does sound great (now) and it does play well (now), but there were a few quality problems with the guitar... mostly with the fact that the routing for the cone put the spider bridge a whole 1/4" too "north" of the lower bout for the 24 1/2"scale (and thus making it intonate too sharp at the 12th). I fudged the spider enough backwards and then fudged the saddles a bit to intonate it better, but I couldn't get it perfect. It's still a tiny bit sharp at the 12th fret, but to correct it I'd really need to re-route the upper "lip" where the cone rests in the body.

OH WELL, good enough for government work!




Regardless of the bad factory cone install, the guitar has a good warm and rich voice and feels really comfortable in the lap with its shorter scale and thinnish 12-fret body. It fits like a glove! The maple fretboard also looks smart, too, against the brown-burst body.


So, I have a special way of installing K&Ks in resonator guitars. K&K makes their own curious spider-cone sensors that fit at the joint between the center of the cone and spider and have a pass-through for the attachment bolt. I think those sound really sort of cruddy and nasal, so a couple years ago I experimented on spider-cone guitars around the shop with some K&Ks on hand and came up with this solution...

I use a K&K "Twin Spot" (two smaller sensor) pickup and super-glue the sensors directly to the center plate of the spider cone, one fore (on the bass side) and one aft (on the treble side). This provides the most natural sound of any reso acoustic pickup I've heard and it's no surprise since it works similarly to how K&Ks work on a regular flattop guitar: they're in a similar spot to where the transducers would normally be glued under the soundboard and bridge on the inside.

Anyway, thought that might be interesting! You can mount pickups in a similar manner on biscuit-cone guitars, too, and if you use a 3-sensor model (the "Mini Pure Western") you can actually mount two fore and one aft to get an even bigger sound out of the things. The trick, however, is taping-off the leads from the pickups under the coverplate after the install so they don't hit the strings at all while you play.




The current Dobro "Hound Dog" models are imported rather than US-made like this'n.







The neck is a sort of medium C shape. It feels an awful lot like a slightly-minimized 30s guitar.


Despite the old-repaired heel crack, I installed the original strap button (from the tailpiece area) at the neck to let the owner hang his strap like a proper gentleman!


Fortunately, on Dobros, the dowel on the neck only goes halfway through the body, so I could drill and ream out a hole right at the endpin to install this endpin jack in a traditional fashion. Brownie points, too, for installing it through a (freshly enlarged) tailpiece hole for a clean look!

1 comment:

bullet said...

It's a shame that this American made instrument was so poorly constructed that it required the work you did to partially correct intonation.
We are generally led to believe that Made in USA products are of better quality than imported copies while, obviously, it is not necessarily the case.
I hate that American manufacturing has fallen to the point that a bargain priced Chinese or Korean product is superior.
This country is going to hell in a handbasket.