Building A Resophonic (Dobro Style) Guitar

A Pictorial Review
Ken & Trisha Brooks

This was our first attempt at building a resophonic guitar.
We thought you might enjoy the pictures and maybe learn from our experience.
This guitar had an incredible sound but we felt it could have used more bracing as it was made of thin solid woods. You will see, in the last two pictures, that extra bracing was added after the guitar suffered an accident which resulted in a cracked top.

Click any picture for a larger view

Spruce Soundboard

A solid spruce top cut to shape.

Back Inlay

Book matched rosewood back with exotic wood inlay.

Bending Side of Dobro

Bending a rosewood side.

Side Forming

The bent side being made to conform to a mold.

Soundwell Placement

Checking placement of soundwell and braces.

Glueing Braces

Setting the location of back braces.
The plywood form underneath is the work board.

Glueing Back Braces

Gluing the braces.

Back Bracing

Finished back with braces.

Kerfing for Sound Well

A glue kerfing is added to the soundwell to give more gluing surface.

Glueing Kerfing for Sound Well

More kerfing being clamped on with clothespins.

Soundboard Bracing the Sound Well

Fitting the kerfed soundwell and braces to the spruce top.

Sound Board Well

Here's a shot from another angle.

Fitting the Block

Checking the fit of holes drilled in the neck block.

Fittingthe Neck Block

Now they fit.

Glueing Neck Block

The neck block is glued in position after checking a dry fit.

Both Blocks are Glued

In this shot, both the neck and tail blocks are glued and clamped in place.

Adding Kerfing

Kerfing is added to a rosewood side.

 More Kerfing

Kerfing gives more area for the glue to hold on the top and back plates.

Checking Side Before Glueing

Checking the first side for fit before gluing.

Gluing Sides

Many clamps make for even pressure.
We made these clamps before starting the guitar.

Glueing Side of Dobro

The glued side seen from the inside.

Fitting Side 2

Fitting the second side.

Clamping the Dobro

Glue and clamps to hold it together.

Cleaning Out the Glue

Cleaning out glue.

Leveling Sides of Dobro

Sides, soundwell and end blocks are leveled with a large sanding board.

Sanding Board

It took a lot of sanding and frequent checking to get everything level.

Attaching the Top

Attaching the top. You can never have too many clamps!

Glue Clean-up

Cleaning out excess glue.

End Strip Inlay

The wood inlay goes around both ends of the guitar. Here it is seen at the neck end.

Neck End Inlay

Another view in which you can see the top and one of the sound holes.

Routing the Binding Channe

Using a Dremel with a binding router attachment to make a ledge for the binding.

Routing Channel Tool

Here you can see the attachment on the end of the Dremel tool.

Binding Top

The binding is glued into the ledge around the guitar and clamped in with tape.

Taping the Top Binding in Place

The pieces of strapping tape hold the binding very well while the glue dries.

Binding the Back of Dobro

After routing, the back of the guitar also receives binding.

More Binding

Now we just wait for the glue to dry.

Scraping the Binding

The binding needs to be scraped flush to the sides of the guitar.

Scraping the Binding with a Cabinet Scraper

A cabinet scraper works well for this job.

Etching the Fingerboard

For visual clarity,
the fretboard was painted white then etched where the inlays will go.

Routing the Fingerboard

The fretboard is routed to receive the inlays.

 Inlay Router

Trisha will use a diamond shaped inlay for this marker.

Curing the Epoxy

She then epoxies the pieces into their holes and places the board under a heat lamp.

Sanding the Fingerboard

After the epoxy dries, the board is sanded to remove excess paint and epoxy.

More Sanding of the Fingerboard

Not Yet. Still more sanding needed.

Finished Fingerboard Inlay

The finished inlay work on the fretboard.

Setting the Frets

Setting fret wires.

Fret Press

Pressing frets into final position with a caul on the drill press.

Binding the Fretboard

Binding is then added around the fretboard.

Shaping the Peghead

Trisha cuts the peghead shape at the band saw.

Etching for Inlay

Here, she is painting and etching the headstock.

Drilling Holes For the Tuning Pegs

It's scary business to have to drill holes in the head but it needs to be done.

Making the Holes

Does a nice piece of curly maple really need all these holes?

Check Many Times Before Drilling

Check many times before drilling and make sure everything is secure.

Peghead with Etching & Holes Drilled

There, that wasn't too bad.

Routing the Peghead For Inlay

Trisha works some magic with the router.

Using the Dremel to Route The Peghead

The router base attachment that fits the Dremel tool does a nice job for inlays.

Filling the Inlay

Now she messed it up with that goop.

Black Epoxy to Fill Inlay

Black epoxy is used to set the inlays.

Curing the Epoxy With a Heat Lamp

A heat lamp is used to cure the epoxy.

The Filling Process

Ugh, yech!

Sanding the Excess Epoxy From the Inlay

She says she can fix it.

Still Sanding The Epoxy

I don't know..........

More Sanding of the Peghead

Back to the old sanding board.

Finished Peghead Inlay

I knew she could do it.

Drilling the Dobro Neck For Bolts

This is the jig used to drill neck holes. The drill was an old Craftsman radial press.

Fitting the Neck

Checking to see if the neck bolts will fit.

Adjusting the Neck Bolts

Using the fine adjuster (don't try this at home).

Drying The Finish On The Dobro

After some finish work, the parts were hung out to dry.

Finished Reso

Here is the finished project with Quarterman cone, bone nut and maple with ebony capped bridge.

Finished Reso Back

....and the back.

After the Accident (guitar dropped on endpin)

 Dobro With Carbon Fiber Supports

2 carbon fiber rods and an extra tail block were added for longitudinal strength. (holes in the soundwell needed to be widened) After the epoxy set, the rods were plucked and gave off a G# pitch. That couldn't be good...........

Support Posts in Resophonic Guitar

...so, posts were added to break up the ringing length of the rods which adds more support to the back.
It's almost like having a 2x4 running down the center of the guitar without the added weight.