Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Random Dobro Observations

After my first month or so of steady dobro practice, I’m finding that I spend most of my time trying to make the instrument not sound like a dobro. I was first attracted to the dobro because of the slides and ringing notes, but the further I dig in the more time I’m spending trying to reduce the slurs and transient noises.

The theory of playing an open tuned instrument is pretty easy, but the technique is a killer. Seems to me that the instrument is pretty easy to play sloppily but a real challenge to play cleanly, especially at bluegrass speeds. Sure is fun trying, though.

Only problem is I’ve started getting a severe case of DAS (or is it RAS?). My roundneck Dobro is the only resonator I’ve played and I’m kind of itching to try a squareneck.

And… now that I’m halfway proficient with fingerpicks, I’ve been wondering how those skills might transfer to banjo.

I need more money for instruments and more time to play them. :smiley:

I have a stupid question… if you play the dobro lap style, does it matter if it is a square or round neck? If you are gonna get another one are you thinking like a small shop or a National or what?

I can only imagine how hard it is to do stuff like Ickes or Douglas. That’s a whole different ball game than my picking around and sliding in my 30 minutes of dobro experience.

I am glad you are having fun with the Dobro. I’ll get “WV my home” to you soon. We have the song fleshed out enough you can get a good feel for it.

I don’t know that much about resonators, but from what I’ve seen, the action on squarenecks is usually higher. I have a nut extension on my roundneck but it’s still not as high as I would like (I can barely get my capo under the strings). I guess I could set up my roundneck with higher action, but I wonder about the tension on the neck.

I really don’t know what I might want beyond the squareneck because I really haven’t tried any other dobros. Mine has a shallow body so I’d like to try one of those deep body resonators. At the resohangout people keep talking about traditional sounding resonators vs. contemporary sounding resonators (apparently mine falls in the traditional category), but I’m not really sure what that means.

I’m at a point where I should probably try as many different models as I can. I’ve learned just enough where I can try some test drives at the guitar store without embarrassing myself. Only thng is, finding a local store with a good selection could be tough. Might have to plan a vacation to Nashville.

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Might have to plan a vacation to Nashville.

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Gruhn is moving in May. It might be neat to hit afterwards to see the new place. Of course, beforehand you might get a bit of a better deal (so they don’t have to move it). If I was going there, I’d call ahead and have them pick out some good ones to try. I’ve done that before and they had all sorts of goodies picked out for me.

Hey Mike I was planning on spending some time (and maybe money) at Gruhn’s along with Artisian’s in Franklin while on vacation the last part of May. Where is Gruhn’s moving to?

I haven’t been to Artisan’s, but I have drooled on their web pages a bit. Btw, if you don’t have a contact at Gruhn’s, Billy has been good to me. He has steered me away from multiple guitars that I called about. He wants you to get a good guitar, not get a sale. If he isn’t there, Glen is opinionated too (I like that) and a good guy.

They are moving a couple miles away. Here is the press release from Gruhn:
PRESS RELEASE - Iconic vintage instrument store Gruhn Guitars announces upcoming move to new location

NASHVILLE, TN – Gruhn Guitars is pleased to announce its upcoming move to 2120 8th Avenue South in the up-and-coming Eighth Avenue South corridor. The company will begin renovations on the new space in early 2013 and plans to open in late spring. The store will remain open at 400 Broadway until moving to the new location. The ground floor of the new store will feature a larger showroom allowing the store to display its full inventory of vintage, used and new instruments and providing additional space for instrument trial rooms and an appraisal inspection area.

The 2nd floor will include a high-end showroom, administrative offices, and instrument case storage. The top level will house Gruhn Guitars’ world renowned repair shop, shipping and receiving, and a photography studio. Ample customer parking will be available on site. “We are looking forward to moving to a larger building with a better floor layout and ample parking to permit us to provide a better environment for our customers to view and play our fine selection of vintage, used, and new instruments,” said George Gruhn. “This is an exciting time for us. We will miss being next door to the Ryman Auditorium and other downtown landmarks, but our new location puts us within minutes of all of these attractions plus much closer to Music Row and numerous other music business enterprises. It will be a great new home for Gruhn Guitars.”

George Gruhn opened his first downtown location on 4th Avenue in January 1970 and moved the store to its second location at 410 Broadway six years later. Gruhn Guitars has been doing business in its current location at 400 Broadway since 1993. 2120 8th Avenue South formerly housed the alternative weekly publication Nashville Scene and was most recently occupied by Emma, a local email marketing firm.

Mike’s absolutely right, Billy’s the guy to talk to at Gruhn’s. He’s steered me away from several guitars that he didn’t think were suitable for me. He’s not interested in a quick sale, but rather a long term happy customer. I had a '72 Gallagher G-70 that I was willing to trade for a Collings CW & he told me you’ll regret trading this in. You can find a Collings pretty easily & they’re consistent, but you’ll never find another '72 Gallagher like that. So I took his advice. (at least for a couple years). I don’t remember Glen so much, as Billy’s the only one I’ve really ever dealt with.

I’ve been to Artisan once & would love to go back sometime. They put forth extra effort in treating you right & making you feel as important as a professional musician. They told me that Brad Paisley stops in regularly, as well as other big names. I didn’t see any. They are a smaller store but very well laid out & organized. They carry a huge selection of Collings, Santa Cruz & Beorgouis & other high end guitars. It’s been awhile since I was there, but I don’t believe they were a big Martin distributor, if at all. Check their web-site to be sure. They did have some older vintage Martins.

The store is in an old cookstove factory which has been converted to a mall. Artisan is one of many stores & attractions inside this old converted factory. There’s also dining (more than one) inside the facility. It’s very well done & worth a trip. Make sure you have plenty of time. I had no idea what my first trip there was going to be like & I didn’t know it was in a mall. I spent almost all the time I had at Artisan which isn’t a bad thing, but I didn’t get to see much of anything else. If you do go in May, let us know how it went.

By the way, I don’t have my Gallagher anymore. Sometimes I really miss it. Billy was right.


Thanks for the good info guys. I’ve been to Gruhn’s several times but this will be my first trip to Artisian. Hope to test drive a Collings D2Ha and a Bourgeois Vintage D. Then again I’ll probably get overwhelmed and come home with lord knows what.

I finally got around to attaching a strap to my dobro today and tried to play standing up. It always looked so awkward to me, with the dobro laid flat and the strap wrapped around the right arm, but its is surprisingly stable once it’s set up.

I don’t think stability will be a problem at all, but parallax is. The angle for viewing my left hand is a little different while standing, so I’ll have to relearn the visual cues between my steel and the fret wire. Still, playing standing up seems a lot easier than I expected.

That always looked awkward to me as well, but glad to hear it’s not a big deal.

As far as the parallax, you could just tune it flat to compensate :laughing:

As far as the parallax, you could just tune it flat to compensate :laughing:

Then I’d need two dobros. My sitting dobro and my standing dobro.

After a little more strap usage, I’m finding it’s tough to get a good rhythm chop going with my right arm locked into the strap. Wonder if there is a trick? I’m not sure any other dobro players are on here (other than Ben, of course), so I may have to drift over to the resohangout to see if I can find an quick solution.