Volume I, No. 2, Winter 1973
The Dobro, a guitar that is more than a guitar, is a different kin d of instrument used in some bluegrass bands. Even though some say it does not belong with the basic Five instruments used in bluegrass music, the Dobro is appearing more and more often in festivals throughout the Ozarks.
The Dobro guitar is both a unique and original instrument. Created in 1928, it was put on the market in 1929 by three brothers named Dopera. They arrived at the name by taking the d-o From Dopera, and the b-r-o from brothers.
The guitar itself, made from rosewood, hardwood or maple that mellows the tone as it ages, is much the same size as a regular guitar. But built inside the body is the thing that sets it apart from other musical instruments-the metal resonator that sends its tone one and a half times louder than other acoustical guitars. Because of this resonator, some say it was the forerunner of the electric guitar.
Though the size and shape of the guitar is the same as other guitars, the playing methods are completely different. The guitar, held flat like a table top by a strap around the player's neck, is picked with steel finger picks instead of being strummed. A slide bar is moved up and down the neck in place of chording.
The lonesome and homeless tones of the Dobro range From tenor to low bass and add a special effect to bluegrass music. The sound itself, a mixture of Hawaiian and flat-topped guitars, can display the moods of the songs whether happy or sad, slow or fast.
A variation from the traditional guitar in manner of playing, sound projection and tone, the Dobro guitar is not only a music maker, but a mood maker, too--a welcome addition to bluegrass instrumentation.
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