Resonator vs. Dobro Guitar: Unraveling the Differences

When it comes to acoustic guitars with unique and distinct sounds, Resonator and Dobro guitars stand out from the crowd.

Both instruments fall under the category of Resonator guitars, but they have some crucial differences that set them apart.

In this article, we’ll explore the disparities between these two fascinating guitars to help you understand which one suits your musical preferences better.

What is a Resonator Guitar?

A resonator guitar belongs to the family of acoustic guitars and stands out for its ability to produce a significantly louder and distinct sound when compared to a regular acoustic guitar. Unlike electric guitars, a resonator guitar operates without electricity, but it features a special component known as the speaker cone inside its body.

As the strings are played, they come alive with vibrations that travel through the guitar’s bridge, transferring these musical ripples to the speaker cone. Ingeniously, the cone acts as a sound amplifier, akin to a speaker, magnifying and enriching the guitar’s sound, resulting in its trademark loud and distinctive tone.

What is a Dobro Guitar?

The dobro guitar is a special type of resonator guitar that stands out from acoustic guitars with its unique design.

Typically, a dobro guitar has two sound holes on either side of the fingerboard.

This one-of-a-kind design makes the dobro guitar much louder than regular acoustics. It creates a distinctive banjo-like sound that’s loved by bluegrass, blues, folk, and country musicians.

Differences between Resonator and Dobro Guitars

Differences in Body Material

The primary difference between a Resonator and a Dobro guitar lies in the material of their bodies.

Dobro guitars come with a wooden body, resembling the conventional acoustic guitars in appearance. On the other hand, Resonator guitars boast a sleek and striking metal-made body, setting them apart with their distinctive look.

Differences in Sound Quality

Due to their body materials, Resonator and Dobro guitars produce different sounds.

The metal structure of a Resonator guitar enhances its volume and clarity, giving it a distinct and powerful presence. They can even cast a slightly electric guitar-like vibe, making them suitable for genres like blues and jazz.

Conversely, Dobro guitars, with their wooden bodies, offer a mellower tone compared to Resonator guitars. While they may not match the volume of Resonators, Dobros still provide exceptional sound quality, making them a favored choice for country music and various other genres.

Differences in Cones

Both Dobro and Resonator guitars boast a specialty in their cones, which significantly impact their sound quality.

Dobro guitars feature a single metal-plated cone responsible for enhancing the sound. In contrast, Resonator guitars are equipped with multiple cones, all made of the same metal material, contributing to their impressive sound projection.

Due to the presence of several cones, Resonator guitars outshine Dobros in terms of sound quality and projection, requiring less dependence on amplifiers to deliver their vibrant tones.

Differences in Versatility

While both Dobro and Resonator guitars offer versatility and uniqueness in their own ways, Resonator guitars tend to take the lead.

With the ability to produce darker tones and even metal-like sounds, Resonator guitars cater to a broader range of musical styles, making them a favorite among blues and jazz enthusiasts.

Differences in Music Genre

Dobro guitars find their sweet spot in the country music scene, delivering that signature warm and “crying” tone that complements the genre perfectly. On the other hand, Resonator guitars thrive in blues and jazz, providing a deep, resonant, and sometimes metallic tone that appeals to fans of these genres.

Differences in Price

Regarding price, there isn’t a significant variation between Dobro and Resonator guitars. The costs may vary from model to model for both types, making it more of a personal preference rather than a budgetary decision.


Ultimately, the choice between a Dobro and a Resonator guitar comes down to your musical preferences and the type of sound you seek.

The Dobro guitar may be the perfect fit if you are drawn to country music and desire a mellower tone. However, if you crave a guitar with a unique appearance, powerful sound projection, and versatility for blues and jazz genres, the Resonator guitar will likely be your best bet.

Whichever guitar you choose, both Resonator and Dobro guitars are exceptional instruments that offer a memorable and enriching musical experience. Embrace the distinct qualities of these guitars, and let your musical journey take flight with their captivating sounds.


Why is a Dobro called a Dobro?

The name “Dobro” originates from combining “Dopyera brothers,” the creators of this guitar. In Slovakian, Dobro means “goodness,” reflecting the greatness of the instrument they produced.

What are Resonator guitars good for?

Resonator guitars are perfect for music genres like blues and jazz that require loud and clean sounds. Thanks to their metal-made body, Resonator guitars produce magnificent tones that suit these genres exceptionally well.

Can you play a Dobro like a regular guitar?

Dobros with a “square-neck” feature are meant to be played differently. They are rested flatly on your lap, and you use a bar to play them. However, “round-neck” Dobro guitars can be played just like regular guitars.

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