DB Original Dobro - Pickup Install and Repair
This quick, but interesting, job came through the shop this weekend. It's a DB Original Dobro from the late 1950s. The owner filled me in on the back story. The Dobro name apparently been bought and sold many times throughout the history of the instrument. The Dopyera brothers (DB) developed the single cone with spider design after selling rights to National. At some time in the late 50's they started assembling wood-bodied dobros from spare parts and selling them under the DB Originals name. This is one of those.
At some point, the neck started separating from the body. The owner took it to the local shop and was given the one of the Dopyera brothers' phone numbers. After describing the instrument to him, he knew exactly which dobro he was talking about. The owner sent it directly to the Mr Dopyera himself for the neck repair. It's far from a mint instrument. At some point, the owner stripped the original finish and tried to refinish it himself. The fret board is warped and cracking (not a big deal with a dobro). And the binding where it sits in the player's lap was held in place with many layers of masking tape. He also wanted a Fishman Nashville Series Spider Pickup installed.
The cone was filled with dust bunnies and some sort of spilled goo. I think cleaning this out brightened up the sound greatly!
The pickup replaces the maple bridge. I had to add shims on either side to get the pickup to fit snugly.
I needed to drill through the sound well to make room for the jack, enlarging the hole with a dremel.
The pickup is grounded to the cover plate.
I removed the tape with come careful scraping, heat, and naptha. The binding had shrunk enough that it was impossible to stretch it back into place at the waist. So pealed it up (easily) all the way to the seam at the neck. After scraping out the binding channel, the binding glued easily back into place. There's a small gap at the neck, but the owner is ok with that. A few coats of shellac were applied to the buckle rash/tape damage area, then buffed with a pad to blend the sheen into the other finish.
Overall, not a big job, but fun to have this little snapshot of Dobro history on my bench.