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Mar 13, 2018 - 12:36:06 PM
162 posts since 8/29/2008

With the dire straights Gibson seems be in, isn't it about time they relinquished the Dobro brand to someone like Paul Beard? Assuming he's interested of course. I'm sure now that Gibson has almost completely run the brand into the ground they'd still want to monetize it substantially, and it might not be within Beard's means, but it's just the right thing to do. Stop decimating this historic brand and let someone competent steward it going forward. The other reasonable home would probably be National Resophonic. Otherwise the brand ends up in the hands of creditors and sold to whoever will pay for it. Which could still be a way for the right organization to acquire it, or another very wrong organization. Or maybe the brand has been crapped on for so long we just don't care anymore? These other builders have built up their own brands to almost completely supplant Dobro anyway. I know its all just business, and maybe Gibson will keep teetering along somehow. Maybe its just time to give up on and let go of Dobro.

But Gibson already gave up on banjos and barely make mandolins, I really don't know what Dobro means to them anymore. Hate to see it end up as another meaningless Saga or other Asian brand, which is basically what Gibson has now made it anyway. Maybe that's what Gibson ends up being too.

Mar 13, 2018 - 1:18:52 PM

784 posts since 10/27/2013

Not sure why Beard would want it. His brand is better than dobro's at this point. Trademarks do have value, even if you aren't doing anything with it. If Gibson is sold, having the trademark Dobro would be part of the assets that have value.

Mar 13, 2018 - 2:38:36 PM

2721 posts since 7/27/2008

We had a thread covering some of this 2014.

When Jerry Douglas still had a forum on his website, I started a thread in 2013 sharing a couple of TV videos from the '90s of the Dobro operation after Gibson had purchased the company in 1993 and they still operated in Huntington Beach, California. This was several years before Gibson shut the doors and moved Dobro to Nashville around 1998, which was the beginning of the end.

Some here are familiar with Mike Replogle who makes  resonator components which are available through Stew Mac. He lives a couple hours south of me in San Jose, and his main job is working for Saga Music in South San Francisco - as in Regal resonators, Blueridge Guitars, Golden Gate picks, Quarterman cone distribution, etc. Mike was the guy Gibson put in charge of Dobro when it was still in California.

Jerry didn't write anything publicly about his frustration with Gibson over his signature model for years, and in the thread on his forum in 2013  I guess he felt it was time to share some of the story, which is below. You can see  in his comments that Paul Beard and Tim Scheerhorn were involved in some manner to help Gibson with the Dobro brand:

"Yeah, those were the days huh? When I got to the Huntington Beach shop, there wasn't a single guy in there that played a lapstyle dobro anywhere. Mike Replogle did give it the good old college try though. I liked him. What happened after that pi$$es me off to this day.

The spartan mahogany $1700 guitar went to $5300 by the time they were finished with it. And NO two sounded the same. Every time I taught a fellow to set it up right, they would move him to the Electric division or cleaning toilets or something. Many great guys like Mike, Todd Wright, and Charlie Derrington worked in there where the mando, banjos and Dobros were made. I asked all of them at one time or another if they would let a Loar copy or Mastertone go out like that, and never really got an answer that satisfied me. None of them could make the dobro thing work out. It's a real shame too. Tim Scheerhorn and Paul Beard both gave their time to get it all on track for the same reasons I did: to make Dobro a great brand again. Or at least somewhere a beginner or intermediate player could get a decent guitar for a good price to keep them stoked until they could graduate to a Beard, Scheerhorn, Clinesmith, Guernsey, Rayco or other such boutique supercharged resophonic guitar. 

I was so bummed out for a solid three years because all I heard was how bad they were. Like I built them. It seemed there was nothing we could do to make it past the first few that were pretty good. I have three that blow trees down. But they were set up by the guys that do that kind of thing. One I have covered with signatures that will go on the kids inheritance pile.

I tried but failed on that one. I won't do that again."

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 03/13/2018 14:39:56

Mar 13, 2018 - 7:59:52 PM

162 posts since 8/29/2008

I just think that a place like Beard or National or maybe some others would honor the brand and do something meaningful with it. I also know the business reality that Gibson probably won't be extricating their fangs from it until forced to via a fire sale. To me in Gibson's hands the brand has little value. Nobody really respects it knowing what Gibson is doing with it, unless they suddenly got religion about resonators which can't really be expected or believed. It would take a Beard or a National to build the Dobro name back up. If the brand stays with an acquired Gibson or gets parted out and sold to a boutique brand company then there is no hope for it. It will just continue to be slapped onto cheap guitar-shaped garbage. Now that's harsh I know, the import Dobro models aren't actually bad, but they're nothing special either, nothing to really recommend them, and certainly nothing like their heritage or a good American-made resophonic guitar.

Mar 14, 2018 - 6:45:36 AM

564 posts since 1/18/2012

<p>I say make the word 'dobro' public domain. The Gibson-forced term 'resonator' has always seemed clinical and ...estranged.<br />"Papa played the dobro..."</p>

Edited by - Lounge Primate on 03/14/2018 06:48:14

Mar 14, 2018 - 6:49:50 AM

564 posts since 1/18/2012

Sorry again for the weird heiroglyphics from posting/editing by iPhone.

Mar 14, 2018 - 10:10:56 AM

1237 posts since 8/4/2008

> meaningless Saga or other Asian brand

I think there's a place in this world for inexpensive starter instruments, offering an introduction to playing the resonator guitar and a gateway to better instruments. I think Saga, Recording King, Gretsch, etc. offer a valuable service.

I agree that the Dobro® brand name has been neglected by Gibson. It could certainly be a great brand again the right hands.

Mar 14, 2018 - 10:42:36 AM

162 posts since 8/29/2008

Originally posted by Brad Bechtel

> meaningless Saga or other Asian brand

I think there's a place in this world for inexpensive starter instruments, offering an introduction to playing the resonator guitar and a gateway to better instruments. I think Saga, Recording King, Gretsch, etc. offer a valuable service.

I agree that the Dobro® brand name has been neglected by Gibson. It could certainly be a great brand again the right hands.


I don't disagree.  I own and play the higher quality offerings from these brands and think they are a great value.  I just don't necessarily think that Dobro should be relegated to the same status as Regal.

Mar 15, 2018 - 6:54:58 AM

291 posts since 1/14/2012

It already is. Under the umbrella of Epiphone.

Mar 15, 2018 - 8:39:24 AM
likes this



1026 posts since 9/28/2010

Meanwhile, nobody seems to want anything to do with the old "Oahu" brand name. On the other hand, it just wouldn't be the same without the white lead paint faux binding.

Mar 15, 2018 - 8:58:15 AM

2721 posts since 7/27/2008

Originally posted by FrederickPatterson

It already is. Under the umbrella of Epiphone.

I think Bradley is well aware of that - hence the point of this topic -  it's shame that it's gone that way.

Another example is Guild Guitars. Purchased by Fender in 1995 and shifted around to different locations like a red headed foster child. 

Then Cordoba, a successful guitar company based in southern California purchased the brand from Fender in 2014 in built a beautiful factory out here for Guild. Hopefully it will stay that way with a permanent home. But some nice Guilds were made in the multiple locations under Fender ownership.

The difference between Dobro and Guild is that Gibson pretty much ran the Dobro brand into the ground and it opened the door for other reso builders to gain a strong foothold. So the perceived value of having the name "Dobro" on the headstock isn't what it used to be. 

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