View Full Version : Dobro mandolin

Apr-08-2009, 4:26am
[FONT="Georgia"] I've got a Dobro mandolin from (about) 1930.
I inherited it from my grandmother via my father. My grandmother played it in a troup that toured the Rhondda and S/Wales entertaining people (pre-war).
I'm trying to find out how an American mandolin could find it's way to the Rhondda when, so I've been told, people in S/Wales were using British or European mandolins. The only hint I have is that my aunty worked in service for the Guiness family in London and perhaps it made it's way down from there but no-one (my father included) can confirm this.
On an associated topic, I had to have a minor repair made to it. This, sadly, meant that the Dobro label was destroyed. A friend of mine is a graphic artist and he copied it faithfully onto "Lazertran" paper. However, it just seems to disappear when applied to the wood. DOes anyone have a suggestion as to how to get a label onto the head?

Apr-08-2009, 5:04am
I'm sorry I can't help you. Gibson O.M.I. now owns the Dodro name and I have one of their Dobros. The headstock decal is EXACTLY the same as the original 6 decals that I had...they're gone now unfortunately. Maybe you could contact them and work something out with them...or maybe another Cafe member knows where to get one. :grin:

For years, probably 25 or so, I had in my posession a half dozen 'real' Dobro decals that were given to me by Rudy Dopera. The remaining Dopera Bros. had their place of business O.M.I., (Original Musical Instruments) near where I lived in Long Beach...California. :cool:

Back in 1971 or 1972 I inherited an original 1933 squareneck Dobro from an uncle and I took it to them to have it checked out. They took it apart, cleaned it up and adjusted it free of charge...they were tickled to see it. Anyway the Dobro Decal on the headstock was about 75% worn off so he, Rudy, gave me a handful and said "That should be enough to get it right". ;)

I carefully removed what was left of the old decal and replaced it with a new one which left me with 6 others which I kept for years but disappeared during the last move we made to our present hiouse. :crying:

Good luck in your quest. :mandosmiley: BTW, what exactly is the 'Rhondda'? Oh and my father is 1/2 Welsh, is Rhondda in or near Wales? Just curious.

Apr-08-2009, 9:47am
Hello Mark,
Thanks for the posting and your concern shown.
I don't know if you are likely to ask your father or which part of Wales he's from but he should know that the Rhondda is a very famous mining valley in Wales. Relatively close to it's base is Pontypridd (where I now live)- the birthplace of Tom Jones. However, he only seems to get nostalgic when he's got a new album to sell.
If you want to know more about "the Land of Song" let me know.

Apr-08-2009, 10:27am
Peter, my Great, Great, Great Grandfather was born in Wales. He was a soldier in the British army and was captured and held as a POW during the War of 1812. :disbelief:

He rejected repatriation after the war and remained in the States...good thing too or I may not be sitting here typing this. So you see I have a good excuse for my ignorance. Thanks for the info. :grin:

Though I've never been to Wales I plan on visiting sometime in the next couple of years...funny thing, my wife who has no British Isles ancestry has been to Wales and loved it...I'm jealous! ;)


Apr-08-2009, 10:57am
The Dobro Co. was incorporated August 18, 1930 (from Bob Brozman's book, The History & Artistry of National Resonator Instruments), so your mandolin post-dates that. You can do some further date estimation from checking closely for markings; my Dobro mandolin says "Licensed by National Dobro Co." National and Dobro merged in 1934, and officially became National Dobro in 1935, so mine is later than '35.

As to how yours got across the Atlantic, many National and Dobro instruments were sold through mail-order houses such as Sears, Roebuck and Spiegel (Brozman, p. 42). Overseas catalog orders were certainly possible. A resonator mandolin would be an interesting addition to a band playing in Britain, since it would be a bit of a curiosity, in addition to its distinctive sound.

As to the decal, here's a suggestion from the Dobro Hangout website: a British company called Classic Transfers, (http://www.classictransfers.co.uk/) which specializes in motorcycle detail decals, but apparently has a stock of others, including some music-related. If they can't supply one, they might be able to point you in the right direction.

Apr-08-2009, 12:07pm
In Pete Seeger's (and later The Byrds) song, The Bells of Rhymney:

"Who made the mine owner?
Say the black bells of Rhondda..."

In recent shows, Roger McGuinn notes that Welsch friends have corrected the title's pronunciation to what we North Americans would pronounce "Rhumney".

Apr-08-2009, 5:42pm
Mark- perhaps when you come over you could tell me where you intend going and I'll send you some details. Our perception of the U.S is that it is huge (similar to Australia) with roads disappearing off into a hazy sun drenched horizon (a stereotype- I know) but our country is a great deal smaller. However, despite its size it can cram a huge amount into it. For example, where I was born- Caerphilly (pronounced "cay, r, fill, ee" there are two major castles- one Norman with the world's only leaning castle tower and another Celtic which was only rediscovered in about 1925. If you like history, our country is the one to see (ignore our noisy, uncouth neighbours E--g--nd. We try not to mention them).

Allen- thank you for the info. I'll be on to them first thing tomorrow. I'll let you know how successful I am.

Ed- Although Pete Seeger was (is) a genius, he couldn't pronounce Welsh names outside of the Anglicised ones. For example "Rhondda" is pronounced Ron, th, a- not Ronda (as in the Beach Boys song). Good luck on your second million, let me know how you do it!


Apr-13-2009, 8:51pm
Thanks Peter, I'll do that.