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Post new topic Dobro cast aluminum lap steel - restoration
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Author Topic:  Dobro cast aluminum lap steel - restoration
Aaron Jennings


From:
Montana, USA
Post Posted 22 Mar 2017 5:01 pm     Reply with quote

Howdy folks. I was so taken by the posts about the old cast nationals that when something similar popped up I couldn't resist. This one is branded Dobro and has a single volume knob. A previous owner had painted most of it gold. Underneath the gold is a gold tinted laqeur.

The pickup has been disassembled, and I think it was abandoned mid repair. The blades look very crude compared to the rest of the instrument. I'd like to get the original pickup up and running. I have a local luthier who I think is up to the task - and he can recharge magnets as well.

Can anyone offer advice on how to rebuild this pickup? This is going to be a player, so I'm not above some discreet upgrades in the name of practicality. I'd also be really interested in any information about when this might have been made. Based on the serial number, single knob, and the Pat. Pending stamped on the body I am assuming around 1936?

Thank you, steel gurus. I can't wait to bring this old beauty back to life.



Serial number A 246.





Always wanted a cast aluminum guitar. Never played one before, even acoustically it has a pleasing tone and lays on the lap very well!
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Lee Holliday


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 23 Mar 2017 2:06 pm     Reply with quote

Fantasic guitar, I have had several cast Nationals and a supro, from experience introducing a tone circuit opens up the variety of sounds available, to keep the originality(not drilling any more holes) a stacked pot can be substituted.
I think I still have an original pot from an earlier upgrade if you want to add a second pot.
The pickup you have a multitude of guys stateside and it would be best to get US recommendations as I am in the UK.

Good luck & great guitars.

Lee
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Ralph Czitrom


From:
Ringwood, New Jersey
Post Posted 23 Mar 2017 2:45 pm     Dobro cast aluminum Reply with quote

Aaron - Cool guitar. Have a great time with it; that's a piece of history. I have a 1935 National cast aluminum guitar which was in rough shape when I got it. Jason Lollar rebuilt the pickup, which appears to be similar to the one in yours. Not sure if he's still taking this type of work, but it's worth a call or email.
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Michael Greer


From:
Ontario, Canada
Post Posted 24 Mar 2017 3:10 am     Reply with quote

Aaron

Nice find of v1 of the Dobro cast guitars.

Yours is a late 1935 model clearly distinguished by the "Lyre" cast into the top of the body.

Great to bring this one back to life.

Mike
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Lee Holliday


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 7 Nov 2017 10:42 am     Reply with quote

The A series Chicago serial numbers are a 1936.

I have just acquired another Dobro today although slightly later than yours as it has the longer fingerboard and the chrome palm rest. I have yet to clean it up but it plays as it should.

Curiously I wonder if the lyre casting is under the longer fingerboard???

I will get some images up soon.

Lee
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Eric Dahlhoff


From:
Point Arena, California
Post Posted 7 Nov 2017 9:00 pm     Reply with quote

Here's a picture of the pickup in my National of the same vintage. Hope this helps see where all the parts go! Great looking steel Whoa!


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"To live outside the law you must be honest." (Bob Dylan)
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Lee Holliday


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 8 Nov 2017 2:29 pm     Reply with quote

This is my purchase from yesterday, it needs a good clean up but it is in pretty good shape under the grime. I like the X men moulding on the back of the rear disc.




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Aaron Jennings


From:
Montana, USA
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 12:07 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing Lee, what a cool new find! I have not seen that 'X-men' mark on the back before either.

It is interesting to see how fingerboard length varies between models. I have seen the fingerboard stop above the Lyre entirely , stop/fit right into the lyre, and extend all the way past it.

Mine is at a local luthier getting the final touches, but I did indeed add a stacked pot for a tone circuit. I'll try to post a little sound clip when I get it back!
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Bill Creller


From:
Saginaw, Michigan, USA
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 1:22 pm     Reply with quote

Very interesting guitars !! Very Happy Thanks for the pics !
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Michael Greer


From:
Ontario, Canada
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 7:05 pm     Reply with quote

Lee

Nice find

The reference material suggests your Dobro cast to be a late 1936 version....probably the last variation.

Key indicators being the circular vol/tone buttons moving to top of body and the wine red coloring of the inserts.

Beautiful guitar.

Mike
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Lee Holliday


From:
United Kingdom
Post Posted 9 Nov 2017 10:13 pm     Reply with quote

Yes it is 36 and up I will have a closer look at the serial numbers later next week.

The house currently has a smell of auto paste polish where I have been starting to clean up the stripped aluminium of the body that is no longer painted/laquered.This is a tricky operation as the wife may get wind that there is a new guitar on the go!!!

As I do this I have seen some images of an engraved Lap steel similar to the Tricones. Coincidentally at the guitar show where I met the owner of the Lap steel there were guys who engrave guitar tuners & plates etc, also doing high end work for Purdy shotguns which is similar to the guy Danny O,brien who did some work for Zematis electrics in the 70,s.
We shall see, just my ramblings at the moment.

Here is the image that caught my eye.

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