2003 Clinesmith Koa Dobro-Style Resonator Guitar

Rumor has it that Mr. Clinesmith built this for himself and it appears to be the guitar on the splash page of his website! Anyone into boutique Dobro-style guitars will know the Clinesmith name and, let's face it -- this thing is definitely boutique. Every inch of it is dripping in highly-flamed, solid Hawaiian koa wood and its simple appointments are classy as heck. While most of the maker's guitars lean towards the bluegrassy market, I can't help but think what old Sol might've done with the tone of this thing.

This is a consignment instrument and the owner dropped it off the other day. After a few adjustments to the cone and saddles, I tuned it back up and vroom it went. This thing has the clarity, sustain, oomph, and carrying power that most Dobros only dream of. There are a variety of interesting design elements in the body itself that, of course, probably assist -- but the quality of the materials and the build itself are the big first step to getting there.

The instrument appears to have an "oil finish" in something similar to a semi-satin/semi-gloss look. It really pulls the gorgeous figure out of the wood and, overall, the guitar is essentially in "mint" condition. I only spotted a few of the tiniest little scuff/scratches and it took a good hunt to find them.

The hardware is all top-notch and the soundhole rings, tailpiece, and coverplate are plated in a glossy take on "gunmetal." It looks quite nice against the koa.

A big old nut, Waverly tuners, and a slab of rosewood veneer give the headstock an elegant look.

The dots are abalone and, as you can see, all the flamed koa binding is offset against the body and neck wood with black lining.

It's impressive, isn't it?

So... much... figure!

While all of the Clinesmith "koa standards" are gorgeous, this one is several steps up the "pretty ladder." The koa itself is fantastic and there are extra details here and there that put it a cut above.

I'm thankful for the bigger sheet-metal screws used on the coverplate.

The guitar is strung quite heavily and in GBDGBD "bluegrass open G" tuning.

It's like the guitar is on fire...

The three-piece neck means it's stable, stable, stable.

The builder uses a bolted-on neck accessible through the soundwell.

It comes with a high-quality, Cedar Creek fitted hard case.

Here are some under-the-hood pics.

I'm not sure if the soundposts are original to the guitar or not as they're dabbed-in with bits of some sort of foamy glue. Perhaps he was moving them around until he got the sound the way he wanted?

At any rate, do you see the clear plastic sheet? That's a deflector! Hot damn, right? Some early Selmer-Mac gypsy-jazz guitars used them and, yes, it works! Punch, punch, punch!