So, your dad leaves you an old Dobro........
My dad, who was my biggest supporter when I was starting out in bluegrass music, died in November of 1999. His most prized possession, besides his kids, was a mid-1960's Dobro that he had bought brand new in Charlotte, NC. Now, for you enthusiasts out there, you know that the mid-60's Mosrite version of the Dobro, by today's standards, are lacking uh, pretty much everything. Every one of them seems to have been built just a bit differently. This cone, or that cone...a LARGE neck block rest or a tiny one...woods, finishes, WHO KNOWS what would show up on these puppies but one thing was (is) evident...these guys needed a little help to reach their potential.
First things first, I am NOT a Dobro player by the furthest stretch of one's imagination, but I do know a man that is, and knows what to do to an instrument, old or new, to breathe the breath of life into it....Mr. Bobby Wolfe.
Now Dobro or Resonator Guitar aficionados are very familiar with Bobby and his skills as a player and luthier...but some may not know about Bobby's prowess as a set-up man for reso's. I have known Bobby since I was a kid. We were in a band together way back around 1977 (when I was a mere 16 years of age) called the Southern Partners from Huntersville, NC. This was the first Bluegrass Band that I was an official member of (check out that hair) and I still have a cassette of one of our shows at the Mineral Springs Music Barn in Mineral Springs, NC (gotta get that transferred to cd soon).
(L-R) Rick Briggs, Bobby Wolfe, Joe Ranson, Howard Rorrer, Buddy Pender (c. 1977 ish)
We didn't always wear the same clothes. Sometimes I would change clothes with Joe, and Joe would change with Howard and so on. Anyway, as I said, my dad passed away and left me his little brown Martin and a Mosrite style, 14 fret to the body, Dobro.
As luck would have it, we (Jimmy Bowen & Santa Fe) were playing a gig in Lumberton, NC this past October 22 (2005). I hadn't been home since dad had passed away so I decided to leave a few days early and meet up with some old friends, view the "new" Huntersville, Davidson and Cornelius, NC sites and pay a visit to my old friend Bobby Wolfe. He had insisted (via emails) that I bring dad's old Dobro and... "we'll work on it". So, after a 7.5 hour drive and a good night's sleep at "The ROOF" (that used to be a vacant field) in Huntersville I ventured through the roads, that were once SO familiar to me, to Bobby's house. I parked the jeep, stepped out and immediately heard the sound of Bobby playing in the shop....my God, it just don't get no better than that!
I walked into Bobby's shop and there was my old friend. After a quickie look-around of the shop it was off to the kitchen for a fresh cup of coffee.
Coffee and conversation made its way back out to the shop where Bobby began surgery on the old box.
De-stringing De-facing De-liberating
De-ciding: The opening was a bit small for the newer Quarterman-Style cone so the box was masked to protect the finish and the router was turned on.
Routing complete and reassembly begins with a new spider, new bridge, and new stainless screws for the face plate (that I polished). Bobby made the new nut and bridge at this stage.
Lining up the spider correctly. The neck was just the teeniest bit 'off-center' from the factory so we compensate with spider placement. Tuning it up and letting it sit a spell. While we're waiting, check out some of Bobby's creations........
MAN! Now these Wolfe's can HOWL!!!! You would not believe the amount of air pressure coming from those ports when the guitar is played. Yeah, that's a Wolfe-Bass on the end.
Click here for Wolfe Resoport Apparel
And here we are.. a mid-sixties box with new guts and a killer set-up.
Wolfe Resonator Guitars - 18601 Shearer Rd - Davidson, NC - 28036
Thanks Bobby and I promise not to be so long in getting back to see you again!
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