Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Resonator Guitar Lovers Online

 All Forums
 Reso-Related Topics
 Product Reviews and Shopping Advice
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Gretsch Sho-Bro?

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

JC Dobro - Posted - 12/23/2020:  08:46:39

I’ve read the background on these...Shot Jackson originally building Sho-Buds with Buddy, then switching over to Sho-Bro and selling the interest to Gretsch for mass assembly. Gretsch apparently discontinued production in the 70s.

I found a few tidbits in searching the forum, but not a whole lot on playability, tone, and overall impressions. I saw that forum member Phaedrus collects them and is not overly impressed with the workmanship. I saw that Tommy White played one professionally on the Opry.

I’m in the hunt for a 7-string and these seem to pop up from time to time on various selling forums. I see one in Seattle for $899 but that’s a 3-hour drive. I’d want some info before making a day of it.

Anyone own one and/or have thoughts on these? Thanks much.

Edit:  My interest is mostly based on these being available as 7 string models, which I am in the market for.

Edited by - JC Dobro on 12/23/2020 08:54:33

hlpdobro - Posted - 12/23/2020:  09:09:37


I've played a bunch and have had the opportunity to dig into their guts.

Personally speaking they don't appeal to me. I describe them as "big guitars that sound like small guitars". I think folks would be happier with something like the Goldtone PBS-8 which I think plays well above its pay grade.

This being said, like everything else, it's all subjective.

Good luck with your search.


lakeview - Posted - 12/23/2020:  09:12:05

From a few years ago

lakeview - Posted - 12/23/2020:  09:21:26

It caught me by surprise when Jake posted that because I hadn’t previously read many positives about them. I know that there have been a couple of threads on steel guitar forum and there were several on reso-nation. I have no direct experience although I have one of the 1938 Regals they were modeled after.

JC Dobro - Posted - 12/23/2020:  11:09:09

Thanks guys, helpful.

Shot played in an E tuning. Wondering if his Sho-Bro design lends itself toward a lower bass tuning like that, since it's what he played.

Jake's demo (link above) is using Open D tuning. Hard to tell with the mic, but it sounds alright to me in that clip. Coincidentally, that's also how I would tune it (with an extra third on the top for the 7th string).

Just thinking out loud.  I'll need to figure out if it's worth a day of time to demo.

Again, thanks.

Edited by - JC Dobro on 12/23/2020 11:12:42

Phaedrus - Posted - 12/23/2020:  11:47:58

Where to start, where to start...

Okay... I bought my first Sho-Bro in 1997. I had started playing some two years earlier and now felt I needed something better than the Korean guitar I was saddled with. I saw a Sho-Bro on E-Bay listed for $400.00... one which, as the story goes, was purchased from Shot Jackson at his store in Nashville around 1967 but never played. It was stored under someone's bed for about 30 years. I believe that to be true as it arrived with the original bill of sale and the guitar was pristine... not a mark on it. I think it even had the original strings.

I played that Sho-Bro as my main guitar for about 10 years, even though I had purchased an MA6 around 2004. The only thing I did to the Sho-Bro was have Paul Beard do a set-up... new cone and Beard parts.

Here's the thing. I've heard and played various resonator guitars from that era and, compared to what is available today, they all sounded pretty bad. In that context, the Sho-Bro was no better, and no worse than any other reso on the market at that time. What made me continue playing the Sho-Bro was a session with Mike Auldridge just after the turn of the century. That Sho-Bro, when played by Mike, was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard... and I became obsessed with getting that same sound out of it.

In that light I developed some sort of strange affinity for the Sho-Bro. If one came on the market and I happened to run across it I'd by the damn thing. I tried very hard to only purchase Sho-Bro's made by Shot. Gretsch bought the name in 1969 and built them until around 1973, at which time Shot started building them again. Problem was that Shot obtained a lot of left over parts from Gretsch, so it's sometimes difficult to tell if a "Gretsch" Sho-Bro is really a Gretsch or an "after Gretsch" Shot build.

So... I do have seven Sho-Bro's in my inventory, one of which is a seven string. I don't plan on getting rid of them any time soon. If you search the web for Sho-Bro's it seems that many of the sellers are asking ridiculous prices, playing the "rare" and "classic" card to the hilt. Sho-Bro's are relatively scarce, true... and they have a history with an early reso playing, country singing demigod, but I don't think they are worth anywhere near what some of these folks are asking.


lakeview - Posted - 12/23/2020:  11:58:29

lakeview - Posted - 12/23/2020:  12:08:24

It looks like Howard has visited this topic before ??

lakeview - Posted - 12/23/2020:  12:09:49

The question marks were accidental and i cant delete them

hlpdobro - Posted - 12/23/2020:  12:28:17


Originally posted by lakeview

It looks like Howard has visited this topic before ??


20 years ago. Original content is tough to come by!  cool

lakeview - Posted - 12/23/2020:  13:45:12

Why not convert a gold tone 8?

JC Dobro - Posted - 12/23/2020:  13:52:20

Thanks, good info everyone, I read all the links. So even in the subjective world of guitar tone, these seem to run the extremes LOL...2 accounts of holy grail / excalibur type tone, a couple total junk, and a handful in the mediocre realm.  I guess that's why it's so important to demo.


Did anyone use Shot's tuning, or otherwise a tuning with a lower bass than GBDGBD?  (Open D etc.). Still curious if that's a factor, as Shot would have presumably optimized design for his lower registered tuning.

Thanks all!



Edited by - JC Dobro on 12/23/2020 13:53:14

JC Dobro - Posted - 12/23/2020:  13:54:32

Lakeview, I might indeed convert an 8. Just wanted to press on the Sho-Bro option a bit...thanks.

SamCy - Posted - 12/24/2020:  08:53:05

According to Bev King, the original Sho-Bros had sound wells. But there were later models marketed as Sho-Buds with a ring-and-post cone support system that in her opinion sounded louder and deeper. Phaedrus, have you played one of these?

Phaedrus - Posted - 12/24/2020:  13:46:08

SamCy wrote:

According to Bev King, the original Sho-Bros had sound wells. But there were later models marketed as Sho-Buds with a ring-and-post cone support system that in her opinion sounded louder and deeper. Phaedrus, have you played one of these?

Only the very early Sho-Bro's had sound wells. Post and ring construction is easier, cheaper and, in at least Sho-Bro's case, better sounding. Shot would build as many guitars as he could in between shows, then take what he could to gigs and hawk his wares between sets.

One has to be careful with the "Sho-Bud" and "Sho-Bro" names. Sho-Bro was the name of the guitars built by Jackson and his Nashville crew until he sold the name to Gretsch in 1969. Gretsch built Sho-Bro's until around 1973, when Jackson regained the moniker along with many left over Gretsch parts. Sho-Bro's built post-Gretsch by Jackson may have Gretsch necks and/or tailpieces.

Sho-Bud on the other hand was the steel guitars made by Shot Jackson and Buddy Emmons. But... and here is where it gets a little weird... Shot made some reso's during the Gretsch years under the Sho-Bud name. Mostly, these Sho-Buds were 7-string, very ornate custom builds. Story goes that Shot built seven 7-string Sho-Buds and only 4 are known to exist today. At any rate, finding a "Sho-Bud" resonator guitar of any flavor would be a real coup. I stopped looking years ago.

The Sho-Bro I played those many years is open post and ring design. In it's original condition, right down to the aluminum nut so favored by Jackson, it could hold it's own against most any contemporary reso. After some years of playing the thing I bit the bullet and had Beard's shop do a setup. There was noticeable improvement, particularly on the bass side.

Of the seven Sho-Bro's I own only one has a soundwell, and I'm pretty sure it's the only Gretsch made Sho-Bro in the bunch. It's also the only guitar I ever regretted buying... it has no social redeeming value. Hell... it's too ugly to be a wall hanger.

SamCy - Posted - 12/24/2020:  14:28:23

Thanks much for the tutorial. Was Shot the first to use a ring-and-post system, instead of a soundwell? I read that Shot got his big body design from Ray Watkins who built Rabros, including 7 string and double-neck models. Is that your understanding?

Edited by - SamCy on 12/24/2020 14:33:39

Phaedrus - Posted - 12/24/2020:  19:18:23

Two good questions for which I have no answers. In all my research on Shot Jackson I have never seen a reference to or association with Ray Watkins. It’s possible of course, but I haven’t run across anything to confirm.

As for Shot being the first to evolve into sound posts is again something above my pay grade. Maybe one of our many historians can answer this...

Doug Schuch - Posted - 12/25/2020:  17:06:38

I own a Sho-Bro 1978 7-stringer I got at a reasonable price a couple years ago. I decided I wanted a 7-string reso, as I play pedal steel double neck, and also a little 8 string lap steel tuned C6, and figured putting a 6th note in the middle of the tuning would give me more chord options and relate more to the instruments I was already playing. When Covid hit early this year I finally found time to really focus on reso, and after a while I figured out that I wanted a 6-string also - I began to see the logic of the tuning for a lot of tunes that I missed when trying tunings on my lap steel.

It sounded good to my ears. After all, it was one of if not the first large-body reso, and one of the first to do posts - design ideas many incorporate today. But when I got my Warner 6-string I realized how much the tone could be improved. Remember, the cones in these things are typically 40-50 years old!

So, I ordered a Legend cone to put into it. WARNING: the original cone is smaller than Legend cones, so you have to modify to get a fit. I chose to rout the edge of the top just enough to fit the new cone. And I must say, it greatly improved the tone. Still not comparable to the new Warner (although I gather all 7-strings are slightly less responsive than 6-string resos due to more pressure on the cone). But sounds darn good!

I have very little first-hand experience to compare tone to other than my own two instruments. As for volume, the Sho-Bro is approaching the Warner now that the new cone is installed. The Warner, which is a large body composite build (lam front and back, maple sides), has the more modern tone, which i would describe as falling somewhere between a classic Dobro and an acoustic guitar. The Sho-Bro is a little bit more towards the classic Dobro in tone, but closer to the Warner. I wonder how a baffle might change the tone.

I love the vintage look of the Sho-Bro, with the white fretboard and card suits (not like a vintage Dobro - just a classic Sho-Bud look). But since buying it, I've seen several McKenna 7-strings for less than the Sho-Bro that have none of it's charm, but would probably have served me better in the long run. But it's at minimum an acceptable instrument.

JC Dobro - Posted - 12/25/2020:  21:18:53

Thanks for the detailed write-ups on the Sho-Bro. Unless a 7-stringer pops up here locally for me to demo, I’m inclined to hunt down a McKenna or Deneve instead. (I just missed a 7-string Deneve on Reverb last week...).

If that doesn’t pan out within a couple months, I’ll probably convert an 8.


SamCy - Posted - 12/26/2020:  08:30:14

Do the 7-stringers use an offset spider with a string down the center? If so, how do you get to the tension screw for adjustment?

SamCy - Posted - 12/26/2020:  08:50:50

Found this custom 7-stringer at the Beard web site.

JC Dobro - Posted - 12/26/2020:  09:06:19

That’s a sweet looking Beard. Wow, koa. Out of my price range for sure. I’m looking to spend less than a grand, so it will be a “used” search. The Deneve 7 went for $600.

From the looks of it, Beard kept very similar string-to-string spacing as a 6-string model. I like that. At one time I had an 8-string, and I really could not play it as the spacing was to narrow. Couldn’t dig in. And ironically, the spread from bass to treble was a bit too wide with 8 strings. Couldn’t execute skip grabs.

This is why I’m hunting a 7-string. Looks like a good happy medium, and I know exactly what I want to do with the extra string.

Terry Harris - Posted - 12/26/2020:  13:33:00

I have a Dobro brand 8 string I bought from a member here. It's very good sounding and has a lot of "spank". I often think about dropping the 8th string as I really never use it. If I ever get another it'll be a 7 string. I'm not sure of the year of manufacture but I believe it was in the mid 80's.
Oh ya, it's loud too

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Privacy Consent
Copyright 2024 Reso Hangout. All Rights Reserved.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories