Dobro Guitar

Description (Brief)
This resonator guitar was made by Dobro in Los Angeles, California around 1933-1937. The name originated in 1928 when the Dopyera brothers formed the Dobro Manufacturing Company. "Dobro" is both a contraction of "Dopyera brothers" and a word meaning "goodness" in their native Slovak. John Dopyera was granted a patent (U.S. Patent #1,896,484, February 7, 1933) for a musical instrument with a conical metal resonator. This six course (6x1) guitar has a squared-off neck with raised strings for Hawaiian-style playing.
Frederick John Wright (1926-1985) was a classic amateur country music performer. He was born in Detroit, Michigan and a year later, his family moved to Toronto, Canada. In 1938, a door to door salesman offered a Dobro guitar with lessons for $5.00 per week, for thirteen weeks. Fred played this guitar and with his father entertained veterans in hospitals in the Toronto area. In 1947, Fred returned to the United States with his treasured guitar.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
overall: 39 in x 14 1/2 in x 5 in; 99.06 cm x 36.83 cm x 12.7 cm
place made
United States: California, Los Angeles
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

11/19/2015 8:38:58 AM
Sterling Ruark
How can I identify the model, and year of manufacture by the numbers on the end of the peg head of my Dobro guitar.
1/3/2017 8:13:06 PM
Tim Wilhelm
Help, please? During the mid-1930s, my Dad and his siblings were all taught music, in their home, by a professor from nearby Oberlin College. They played publicly, under the name, :"The Buckeye Buckaroos." In the late 1950s, my brother and I, and a few cousins, were given all the old instruments. I ended up with a Dobro. The only marking I can find on it is a serial number stamped into the resonator cover: 1,896,484 -- the patent granted to John Dopyera. I would love to ID the guitar more precisely -- year of manufacture, etc. Can you advise me on what to look for and where to look for identifying characteristics? Many Thanks!
2/3/2017 3:38:01 PM
Culture and the Arts
Dear Tim, Thank you for sharing the story of your dad's group, the Buckeye Buckaroos! While we generally cannot answer questions about the history of instruments that exist outside of our collections, knowledgable members of online resonator forums such as can often provide assistance in determining an instruments model and year of manufacture. You might find it helpful to join one of these groups and then share photographs and the story of the instrument on their forum. Thank you for reaching out to us-- best of luck in identifying the guitar! Thanks!
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