1970s Gretsch Sho-Bro Dobro-Style Squareneck Resonator Guitar

Oh, man, does the video clip not do this Sho-Bro justice! It's always hard to mic a Dobro to really hear it, though, anyway. The fact is that this guitar is fuller-sounding and ballsier than most Dobros I've ever played. The low-end is very present and full and lacks the sort-of nasal thwop you get from smaller-bodied Dobros. This thing feels like it has a V12 purring-away in there.

Part of that is the wide lower bout (16 5/8") and thus the increased airspace in the box, but part of it is also probably due to the Dobro cone and bridge tucked inside and a very-well-made soundwell and internal cut. It also has a longer scale length than a normal Dobro (25 1/2" vs 24-24 1/2") which gives the instrument more overall oomph to begin-with as a longer scale means higher tension.

Let's also note that the "deck of cards" fretboard position markers definitely adds to how good it sounds, too, no?

Sho-Bro instruments were a resonator guitar sideline for the Sho-Bud pedal steels and were built by Gretsch for the company. This is a "Hawaiian" model as it's a squareneck made for raised-strings slide/lap playing like a generic "Dobro." While there were "Spanish-necked" (normal-style) Sho-Bros made, most seem to have been made in this style in the 6 or 7 string variety depending on player preferences.

Thankfully, this one has survived unaltered from its original specs, though it does show usewear throughout, binding rot, and some annoying "lender" marks on the back of the headstock and heel. A lot of these seem to have been modified in one way or another from original (pickups added, cones swapped, etc.) and it's nice to see one that wasn't savaged.

Repairs included: recutting/reslotting the saddles, cleaning, minor seating adjustments to the bridge/cone, a restring, and setup.

Setup notes: it's currently strung with 56w, 42w, 32w, 24w, 17, 14 gauges for DADF#AD (open D) tuning, but I can restring for whatever tuning the next owner desires. The neck is straight and action is an even ~3/8" or so above the board.

Scale length: 25 1/2"
Nut width: 2"
String spacing at nut: 1 3/4"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/8"
Body length: 19 3/8"
Lower bout width: 16 5/8"
Waist width: 10 3/4"
Upper bout width: 11 1/4"
Side depth at endpin: 4 5/8"
Top wood: ply spruce
Back/sides wood: ply maple
Neck wood: two-piece hard maple
Bracing type: ladder, full soundwell
Fretboard: reverse-painted clear
Bridge: Dobro spider-bridge, ebony saddles
Neck feel: flat board, big D/rectangular shape

Condition notes: the binding is missing in a few small spots (near lower bout and on the heel cap) and the rest of it is beginning to show signs of typical Gretsch binding rot. In general I think it's best to just leave this alone and either like it/hate it. It can always be replaced if desired, though. There's some discoloration to the finish around the top edges due to this binding rot outgassing against the top's finish. There are scratched in vendor numbers on the back of the headstock and heel and a sticker-plaque on the rear-upper-bout. The finish is all-original otherwise and looks pretty good but does show usual weather-checking throughout as well. The tailpiece has discoloration/oxidation at its hinge.

It comes with: its original, grey, hardshell Gretsch case. It's in good order, functionally, but shows plenty of wear and tear.

The big, tall metal nut definitely helps with sustain.

The fingerboard looks excellent.

I'm pretty sure the coverplate, cone, and bridge are all Dobro in origin. They look and sound like the real thing.

The tuners work nicely.


Phillips said…
Yes Jake you waved your magic wand
Or was it the pixey dust but what ever you did..sounds more betterer
..nice ..
Ivan said…
They modeled them after the late 30's regal Chicago body (Norwood Chimes)
Jake Wildwood said…
Really? Because it's a lot bigger than a Norwood! I guess the waist is similar but this thing is sooooo oomph vs a Norwood. :)