The National-Dobro Guitar Company; How the Resonator Guitar Survived the Age of Electric Amplification Open Access
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John Dopyera, who was attempting to increase the sonority of the acoustic guitar, invented the resonator guitar in the mid 1920s. Dopyera's invention was responsible for the single largest leap in volume in guitars since the instrument first appeared some 2000 years ago. The resonator first appeared in Hawaiian music but later spilled into other genres such as blues and country. Professional musicians coveted the resonator guitar and its advent caused innovations in style and playing method that continued on into the age of electric instruments. The instruments that were supposed to replace the resonator in the evolutionary chain, the lap steel and the Spanish electric guitar, actually had the effect of insuring its ultimate survival. For ten years, the resonator guitar was in the hegemonic position among musical instruments when opportunities for musicians were disappearing by the thousands due to technological changes in the field of entertainment and the entire world was mired in an economic slowdown never seen before or since in the modern world. The resonator's history intertwined with the Folk Revival, racial discrimination and intense drama among the partners of the National String Instrument Company. It is fraught with contradictions and ironies.