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Looking for the best dobros and the best resonator guitars on the market? Ready to get started playing the squareneck resonator guitar?
While the term “Dobro” actually refers to a specific brand of resophonic guitars owned by Gibson, it’s often used interchangeably with the terms resonator guitar and resophonic guitars.
Whatever you decide to call it, there’s no denying that these unique guitars offer a sound that can’t be beaten. As opposed to round neck resonators, which are ideal for the blues, square neck resonators and dobros are usually used more often in bluegrass music.
The instrument is well-known for its presence in bluegrass music and legendary players such as Jerry Douglas. However, it can work well with blues, jazz, country, and many other genres as well.
If you’re looking for the very best dobros and resonator guitars out there today, you’ve come to the right place. Below we’ll give you our complete list of the 5 best dobros and squareneck resonator guitars on the market.
Best Resonator Guitars and Best Dobros – Quick View
|Gretsch G9210 Boxcar Squareneck Resonator Guitar||A resonator guitar with a simple, natural design and a sound that is a great example of what a resophonic guitar should sound like.|
|Regal RD-40BS Studio Series Squareneck Resophonic Guitar||A killer option if you're looking for a professional squareneck dobro-style instrument that delivers on its promises.|
|Recording King RM-991-S||A high-quality resonator guitar that has great looking nickel plated design and offers some stellar projection capabilities.|
|Regal Studio RD-30MS Squareneck Resonator||A squareneck dobro that has a well-balanced sound and would make a great choice for the country and bluegrass musicians out there.|
|Rogue Classic Spider Resonator Guitar - Squareneck||A classic option for anyone who wants a well-rounded instrument with a nice mix of warm and metallic tones.|
Understanding the Basics
Before buying a dobro, you need to understand what it is you’re buying. Here are a few basic things that you should understand about this instrument.
What Is a Dobro?
As mentioned above, the word “Dobro” is actually a brand name but is now synonymous with a squareneck resonator guitar. It’s also known as a resophonic guitar. All terms are correct.
A dobro is an instrument that is popular in several genres but is most notably used in blues, bluegrass, and Hawaiian music. It’s similar to a lap steel or steel string guitar because players play the notes with a slide.
How Is a Dobro Played?
The dobro’s unique sound comes from the way you play it. Instead of placing fingers on frets like with a normal guitar, players use a dobro slide to play different notes. The slide moving up and down the strings and the resonator that is built into the instrument’s body create a unique droning slide sound that’s very different than other instruments.
In addition to this, a dobro sits on a player’s lap with the body and strings facing upwards instead of sideways like a guitar.
Roundneck Vs Squareneck Resonator Guitars
When purchasing a resonator guitar, it’s important to differentiate between round-neck resonator guitars and squareneck resonator guitars.
Both of these instruments feature a resonator in the body. However, a round neck resonator guitar can be fretted in the same way as a guitar and is held the same way, with the strings facing outward instead of upwards. While the round-neck resonator guitar can be fretted like a guitar, it can also be used with a slide as well in the same way that a normal guitar can be used with a slide.
A squareneck resonator guitar can’t be fretted with the fingers but will instead rely on the slide to form notes and chords. A squareneck resonator guitar will also be placed on the lap with the strings facing upward, unlike a typical guitar.
The most common tunings used with these instruments also differ as well. While there are many tunings for both instruments, a round neck resonator guitar is typically tuned to a standard guitar tuning (EADGBD), open G (DGDGBD), or open D (DADF#AD). Primarily, players tune squareneck resonator guitars to a specific form of open G (GBDGBD). This tuning is particularly common in bluegrass music.
Best Dobros and Squareneck Resonators – Our Top Choices
If you want to find a great squareneck resonator guitar, there are some great choices out there. Here are the top instruments to consider.
1. Gretsch G9210 Boxcar Squareneck Resonator Guitar
The Gretsch G9210 Boxcar Squareneck Resonator Guitar is a great option if you’re looking for a high-quality dobro that won’t let you down. It’s one of the best dobros on the market today.
This is an affordable guitar option with a simple design that is very beginner friendly. The instrument also has a great natural look with a vintage semi-gloss finish.
The resonator guitar creates a sound that is a great example of what a resophonic guitar should sound like. The instrument has plenty of sustain along with some amazing warmth and a tone that’s hard to beat.
The instrument’s build includes a mahogany top, body, and neck, along with a rosewood fingerboard that feels great on the fingers. The instrument achieves a lot of volume due to Gretsch’s Ampli-Sonic hand-spun spider cone.
Overall, both beginners and more advanced players will find a lot to love in this Gretsch squareneck resonator.
2. Regal RD-40 Studio Series Squareneck Resophonic Guitar
Next on our list is the Regal RD-40 Studio Series Squareneck Resophonic Guitar. This resonator guitar is a very high-quality instrument and is a joy to play.
The squareneck resophonic guitar features a nice-looking spruce top along with mahogany back and sides. This Regal brand guitar has a bright and stunning cherry finish.
It has a unique squareneck design that does a good job at providing a worthy bit of resonance and sustain for players. This resonator guitar also provides a lot of comfort to players due to the extra wide spring saddle.
Although you may want to tweak it a bit, this instrument plays pretty well straight from the box.
Overall, this is a killer option if you’re looking for a professional squareneck dobro-style instrument that delivers on its promises.
3. Recording King RM-991-S
The Recording King RM-991-S is a great choice for anyone looking for an excellent squareneck resonator guitar. This is a good quality resophonic guitar that would work especially great for intermediate and beginner players, but advanced players will probably love it as well.
The instrument features great playability due to the 3 x 6 spun continental cones on the guitar. This Recording King RM-991-S resonator guitar includes six continental cones that serve the instrument well and allows it to have a loud and great-quality sound.
The tone of the resonator leaves little to be desired and the instrument is well-built. The instrument boasts a unique sound that has a lot of volume and long sustains. The tuning of the instrument also remains very stable while playing.
The resonator guitar has a nickel-plated design that looks great and offers some stellar projection capabilities. The instrument simply looks beautiful. Although, this design does come with a cost. It is a bit heavier than similar options and it is a bit on the expensive side as well.
Overall, however, the RM-991-S is a great choice that more than deserves a place on this list.
4. Regal Studio RD-30 Squareneck Resonator
The Regal Studio RD-30 Squareneck is another great instrument if you’re ready to play a resonator guitar and make some beautiful music.
This Regal resonator boasts a modern design that provides a lot for players. This squareneck-style guitar offers a smooth finish that feels and looks great.
This dobro guitar offers a good amount of volume and a great tone that will please the ears. The instrument can really project and also offers some good sustain.
If you’re looking for a tone that is crystal clear, this instrument can provide what you’re looking for. The squareneck dobro has a well-balanced sound and a high volume. This will make a great choice for the country and bluegrass musicians out there.
The instrument also comes in at a reasonable price, especially considering its quality.
However, while it has a good look, it is a little bit on the plain side compared to some other options out there.
But overall, if you’re looking for a great little instrument that will be great for playing in a band or solo, the Regal Studio RD-30 Squareneck guitar is one of the best dobros money will buy. It will provide just what you need.
5. Rogue Classic Spider Resonator Guitar – Squareneck
The Rogue Classic Spider Resonator is another classic option, particularly for those on a budget who still want a well-rounded instrument.
This dobro guitar has a traditional shape and a wood body design that gives out a pretty good tone. The chrome-plated bell helps the instrument offer a strong volume. It’s a well-balanced instrument that has a good mix of warm and metallic tones. This Rogue guitar offers plenty of projection.
The resonator guitar features spruce on the top but has mahogany construction on the back, sides, and neck. The instrument also has a 10-1 spun aluminum resonator cone.
The Rogue Classic Spider Resonator is a well-priced budget option compared to many resonator guitars but offers a lot for the price.
While it’s not as loud as higher-end models will be, it still provides what most players will need. However, it may be a better option for beginners and intermediates, rather than advanced musicians.
Overall, the Rogue Classic Spider Resonator guitar is one more option you should definitely consider if you’re ready to get your hands on a resophonic guitar.
Finding a Great Instrument for Your Needs
If you’re ready to have a great resonator guitar at your disposal, all of the above options will give you what you need to play at home or on the stage. The above instruments are really at the top of the bunch and are some of the best dobros you can find.
While great-sounding mandolins and twangy banjos have been part of the bluegrass genre from the beginning, the dobro is a relative newcomer. However, it has also become a staple of the genre in recent years.
Whether you’re an advanced player or a beginner, it’s important to have a quality instrument in your hands. By choosing one of the instruments above you’ll have everything you need to make some great music and have a lot of fun doing it.
Looking for a banjo instead? Check out our list of the best banjos for beginners now.
Hi, I’m Harrison! I created this website to help musicians navigate the ins and outs of their craft and to help them choose new instruments and gear to add to their collection. I have 15 years of experience as a guitarist and singer and have also played many other instruments throughout the years including the bass guitar, piano, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica.