1960s Mosrite-made Dobro Columbia 12-String Resonator Guitar

Mosrite (the famed surf-guitar builder) acquired the Dobro name from the Dopyera Brothers in the mid-'60s and proceeded to build modernized versions of the Dobro-style resonator guitars until '69 when the company bellied-up. They're relatively rare in the wild, but their design and quality were top-notch. Every one that I've handled has held-up very well and the necks are always comfortable, functional as-found, and without the flaws one would expect of an older instrument.

The normal 6-string version of this guitar is somewhat common when you ping them on the net, but these 12-string Dobros are simply rare. They're out there (especially the variant with a magnetic pickup installed), but I guarantee you that most have not seen enough repair-time to make them shine as they should. Judging by references on other sites, this appears to be the "Columbia" model.

It's built with a hollow, ply-mahogany body and as-built does not have a soundwell, though it does have a small recessed lip that the cone hangs from. I added soundposts around the edge of this lip to connect it to the back and support it better, as it was starting to separate from the top in a couple places.

The neck works like a bolt-on neck in that it's separate from the body and not glued. It rides near the heel on a bigger aluminum pin and then can lever in a slot cut in the body. There's a bolt accessed from the rear of the body that presses-up into the bottom of the neck/heel inside the body to adjust the angle of the neck and thus action height. This is a simple, ingenious system of mounting the neck and makes maintaining a perfect setup very easy, especially when it's coupled with a neck that has an adjustable truss-rod and a zero fret design at the nut.

Now that the guitar's buttoned-up after work, it plays beautifully and has a clean, rich tone with that typical, slightly-honky, Dobro resonator vibe. It sounds a lot better out front than it does from behind, and I imagine it would sound glorious in open tunings.

Work included: a fret level/dress, removal of the neck and modification to the location of the pin that holds the neck to the body, patch-up of the original nut so it could be reused, tuner lube, cleaning, full compensation (for each individual string) of the saddle, modification of the cone to get it to seat in the correct place for the saddle to align with the neck, re-gasketing of the soundwell, soundpost additions to shore-up the soundwell area, and a good setup. The neck is straight, the truss-rod works, and it plays with bang-on 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret, strung with a custom set gauged: 22w/46w, 14/36w, 10/26w, 8/18w, 13/13, 9/9.

Scale length: 24 5/8"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 9/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2 1/4"
Body length: 18 3/4"
Lower bout width: 14 1/2"
Upper bout width: 10 1/2"
Side depth at endpin: 3 1/4"
Top wood: ply mahogany
Back/sides wood: ply mahogany
Bracing type: none, but big bars on the back
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: aluminum spider with compensated ridge, maple saddle
Neck feel: slim-to-medium C, ~12" radius board

Condition notes: it's 100% original and in good order save the addition of soundposts in the soundwell. It's also missing its rope-style "gasket" where the heel meets the body's side. It's just a cosmetic thing, but it would improve the looks to have one added again.


Unknown said…
MoBro! Will it be for sale?
Chris Reed said…
Did you take any pictures of that neck joint? It sounds intriguing, and I've just built a resonator instrument which might have used something like it (mine is bolt on, angle adjusted with shims).