Building a Resophonic (Dobro Style) Guitar

A Pictorial Review

by 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 Dobro Top
A solid spruce top cut to shape
Back Inlay
Book matched rosewood back with exotic wood inlay
Bending Dobro Side
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 Bracing

Gluing the braces

Back with Bracing

Finished back with braces

Glueing Kerfing to Soundwell

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

Glueing Kerfing to Soundwell with Clothes Pins

More kerfing being clamped
on with clothespins

 Fitting Pieces to Top

Fitting the kerfed soundwell
and braces to the spruce top

 Fitting Pieces to Top Angle 2

Here's a shot from another angle
 Neck Block Fit 
Checking the fit of holes
drilled in the neck block
Dobro Neck Fit
Now they fit

 Neck Block Glued 

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

 Neck and Block Glued

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

Kerfing Added To Side

Kerfing is added to
rosewood side

More Kerfing

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

Checking the first side for fit before gluing

Checking the first side
for fit before gluing

Many Clamps

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

 Inside Glued Side

The glued side
seen from the inside

Fitting the second side

Fitting the second side

Glue and clamps to hold it together.

Glue and clamps
to hold it together

Cleaning out glue

Cleaning out glue

Large Sanding Board

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

 Sanding Sides Level

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!

Cleaning out the glue

Cleaning out excess glue

Neck end inlay

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

Bottom inlay

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

 Routing for binding

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

Dremel Attachment

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

Glueing the binding

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

Tape to hold binding

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

Binding the back

After routing
the back of the guitar also receives binding

 Waiting for glue to dry

Now we just wait for the glue to dry

More binding

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

Scraping Binding

A cabinet scraper works well for this job

Etching fretboard

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

Fretboard routing

The fretboard is routed to receive the inlays

 inlaying diamond in headstock

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 inlay

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

Still more sanding

Not Yet. Still more sanding needed

Finished Fingerboard

The finished inlay work on the fretboard

 Setting Fret Wire

 Setting fret wires

Pressing frets

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

Binding fretboard

 Binding is then added
around the fretboard

Cutting the peghead

 Trisha cuts the
peghead shape
at the band saw

Etching headstock

 Here, she is painting
and etching the headstock

 Drilling holes in head

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

Drilling holes in headstock

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

Last check before drilling

Check many times
before drilling and
make sure everything is secure

Peg holes finished

There, that wasn't too bad

Routing for head inlay

Trisha works some magic
with the router

 Dremel for inlays

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

Gooping up the the headstock

Now she messed it up
with that goop

Setting the inlays

Black epoxy is used
to set the inlays

Curing the epoxy

A heat lamp is used
to cure the epoxy

More epoxy for inlays

Ugh, yech!

 Sanding head

 She says
she can fix it

More sanding head

I don't

Still more sanding

Back to the
old sanding board

Finished headstock

I knew she
could do it

Drilling holes for neck bolts

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

 Checking neck fit

Checking to see if
the neck bolts will fit

Tapping with a rubber hammer

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

Allowing finish to dry

After some finish work
the parts were
hung out to dry

Front of finished dobro

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

Back of finished dobro

 ....and the back

After the Accident (guitar dropped on endpin)

 Carbon Fiber Rods Added

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...........

Posts added, posts were added to break up the ringing length of the rods which adds more support to the back.