Dobro Player

The Top 20 Dobro™ Players

The Dobro™ is a beautiful, lyrical, and haunting instrument.  Invented in the 1920’s, the Dobro™ was originally produced by only one company:  the Dobro Manufacturing Company.

As the instrument slowly gathered a following, several other companies began to produce them:  National Resophonic, Saga Musical Instruments, and Scheerhorn.  Gibson guitars now owns the Dobro™ brand name and defends the term “Dobro” for marketing purposes.  The term “resophonic” is now used to describe this style of guitar.

The sound of the resophonic guitar is today ingrained into American music through artists like Earl Scruggs, Johnny Cash, Alison Krauss and Union Station, and even the soundtrack work of T Bone Burnett.  As the resophonic’s popularity has risen, the level of expertise has also risen.  Today, there are quite a few top-notch players.  Here’s a look at the top 20 resophonic players out there:
 
**UPDATE:  Be sure to check the comments below for more suggested players.
 

Here We Go, The List!

1.  Eric Abernathy – Not only a good player, but makes lap steel guitars as well.
www.ericabernathy.com

2.  Johnny Bellar – A brilliant, prolific player; does a lot of session work.
www.johnnybellar.com

3. Bob Brozman  – Resophonic player, producer, and author with an emphasis on world musical influences.
www.bobbrozman.com

4.  Curtis Burch  – Was part of the New Grass Revival in the 70’s; also a great guitarist.
www.facebook.com/pages/Curtis-Burch-Guitar-Dobro-and-Space-Invaders-Extraordinaire/297801256933737

5.  Billy Cardine  –   An active session player and producer with a long string of credits.
billycardine.com/BillyC/Billy_Cardine.html

6.  Jerry Douglas  –  Considered the best resophonic player in the world, he’s definitely the most well-known with 13 Grammy’s and a long list of big name gigs.
www.jerrydouglas.com/

7.  Ed Gerhard – Actually plays a Weissenborn (slightly different than resophonic), but has such a soulful style that his playing is an inspiration.
www.virtuerecords.com/index.html

8.  Martin Gross – Great German reso player.
www.martingross.com/

9.  Rob Ickes –  A prodigy with an extensive knowledge of bluegrass and jazz; his instructional videos first got me playing reso.
www.robickes.com/

10.  Andy Hall – Resophonic player from the Infamous Stringdusters
artistworks.com/dobro-lessons-andy-hall

11.  Jimmy Heffermnan – A Nashville session player; also works as a sideman and producer.
www.jimmyheffernan.net

12.  Naughty Jack – Gives a bluesy edge to the instrument.
www.naughtyjack.com

13.  Orville Johnson – A player, instructor, and author.
www.orvillejohnson.com

14.  David Lindley – Worked with Jackson Browne and emphasizes world music.
www.davidlindley.com

15.  Stacy Philllips -A great resophonic player, fiddle player and instructor.
www.stacyphillips.com

16.  Ivan Rosenberg – An award-winning bluegrass player with numerous songs in TV and film.
www.ivanrosenberg.com

17.  Tut Taylor – A veteran player; known widely for using a flat pick on the instrument rather than finger picks.
webpages.charter.net/tuttaylor/

18.  Sally Van Meter – A great reso player leading the contemporary bluegrass music scene.
www.facebook.com/pages/Sally-Van-Meter/55594339223

19.  Lou Wamp – According to Ivan Rosenberg, “Lou Wamp is the best dobro player you never heard of.”
www.louwamp.com

20.  Andrew Winton – An Australian player who excels on a lot of instruments: acoustic guitar, lap slide, resophonic, and seven-string lap guitar and bass.  Has won many awards.
www.andrewwinton.com/Andrew_Winton/Welcome.html

While these players are no longer with us, they are some of the greatest players of the instrument:

Josh Graves (1927 – 2006)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josh_Graves

Gene Wooten (1953 – 2001)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Wooten

Mike Auldridge (1938 – 2012)
http://www.mikeauldridge.com/

Pete “Bashful Brother Oswald” Kirby (1911-2002)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashful_Brother_Oswald

Did I miss anyone?  Let me know in the comments below!

More Resources:

If you’re just getting into Dobro, Andy Hall has some great lessons available here.

I’ve also written a post on the beginner’s gear that got me started with Dobro.  It’ll give you a sense of the basic equipment necessary to get going.

 

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  • Ken B.

    Luboš Novotný of Druhá Tráva should be ranked high in the list.

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  • Steve Langford

    I’d suggest adding Cindy Cashdollar to the list

    • Hey Steve,

      Thanks for the suggestion. You’re right she does some great stuff. There’s a nice video of her playing Oh Susanna… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDQ-Z19zgzw. Looks like she also has some educational material, too.

      Jesse

    • guitarjournal

      Hey Steve,

      Thanks for the suggestion. You’re right she does some great stuff. There’s a nice video of her playing Oh Susanna… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDQ-Z19zgzw. Looks like she also has some educational material, too.

      Jesse

      • Steve Langford

        Sounds great

  • Douglas Smith

    Serious omission: MIke Witcher. Plays with the Peter Rowan Band, longtime Nashville session musician, teaches annually at Rob Ickes’ Reso Summit, author of two dobro instruction manuals.
    See more in his biography at http://mikewitcher.com/about-mike/

    • Hey Douglas,
      Yes! Mike Witcher needs to be on this list! And I’m a big fan of Rob Ickes as well. I used his instructional material to get started on the resonator. Thanks,

      Jesse

    • guitarjournal

      Hey Douglas,
      Yes! Mike Witcher needs to be on this list! And I’m a big fan of Rob Ickes as well. I used his instructional material to get started on the resonator. Thanks,

      Jesse

  • ron

    How about Anders Beck of Greensky Bluegrass?

    • Hey Ron,
      Thanks, I just checked out the Greensky Bluegrass site, they sound great. And does Anders Beck play the lap steel on Track 2, “Handguns”? I don’t see the credit in their band page, but I’m guessing it’s him.

      Jesse

      • Ron

        I’m sure it’s him.

        • Mark Lavengood

          Anders is a hoss! On Handguns, the title track, that’s Captain Midnight (Drew Howard) on pedal steel. You can hear Anders still shredding on dobro on the track though too.

  • Ron

    There is also Chad Jeffers who is with Carrie Underwood now and Chad Graves of The Hillbenders

  • Sean Feder

    With all due respects to the great slide player David Lindley, of whom I’m a big fan, I don’t believe he’s known as a resophonic player. While I’m sure he can play the heck out of a “dobro”, he rarely if ever does in public, so perhaps he doesn’t belong on this particular list?
    In addition to M Witcher and C Cashdollar, who are mentioned by other commentors, I would consider Lloyd Maines, and Greg Booth.

    Thanks for the article!

    • guitarjournal

      Hey Sean,

      Thanks, you’re right. When I was researching this list, I was also looking at Weissenborn players, of whom David Lindley is one (Ed Gerhard is another awesome Weissenborn player). But when I narrowed the list to strictly dobro players, I probably should’ve taken Lindley out.

      And thanks for the suggestions on Lloyd Maines and Greg Booth!

      Jesse

  • Joseph

    No discussion is complete without Phil Leadbetter, IBMA Dobro Player of the Year and 2X cancer warrior! His haunting “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” on THE NEXT MOVE is so touching and it stands out, even tho the album is filled with great music and collaborations with guest artists. This one song, one man, one instrument is simple and compelling.

  • Shelley Paulson Singleton

    Don’t forget Jack Martin. He played for Lester Flatt and The Nashville Grass back in the ’70s. He’s still playing today and is one of the best in my book!

    • guitarjournal

      Hey Shelley, thanks for adding him to the list!

  • Mark Lavengood

    What about Michigan resonator players, Joe Wilson (of Steppin’ In It) and Drew Howard (multi-instrumentalist out of Lansing, MI). These two were single-handedly my initial influences on the resonator guitar and the reasons for which I’ve been playing for the last almost 9 years! Though they may not be world renowned, they should certainly be checked out! That “Huggy Bear” character from Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys (www.lindsayloumusic.com) isn’t too shabby either 😉

    • guitarjournal

      Awesome, thanks for the links. I need to check these guys out, haven’t listened to them before.

      And album cover : )

  • Shamu

    What about Phil Ledbetter in Tennessee?

    • guitarjournal

      Hey,
      Thanks, yes, Phil Ledbetter is amazing. Joseph (in the comments below) specifically mentions “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” on THE NEXT MOVE album as being amazing.

  • Stian Jørgen Sveen
    • guitarjournal

      Hey Stian, thanks for the suggestions and the videos. These guys are great!

  • Stian Jørgen Sveen
  • Stian Jørgen Sveen
  • Jim Nagle

    Junior Barber, Roger Williams and Mike Esposito

  • John Erb

    There was a female dobro player on the folk/bluegrass festival circuit mid90s. I saw her at port Townsend around 1998-99. Any idea who she is/was? Thanks

    • guitarjournal

      Hmmm, not sure. Cindy Cashdollar?

  • Leslei Fisher

    Where would you rank Tom Swatzell? I aske because our museum has a small display on him.

    • Luke Clarke

      One of five people selected for Gibson’s Artist Signature Series Dobros and author of several instruction manuals including at least 4 for Mel Bay. I would think any Top 20 List without Mr. Swatzell would be dubious.

  • bernie

    Cindy is so great! what about Donnie Herron, Bucky Baxter and the late Rory Gallagher?

  • David Whitaker

    The late Dave Giegerich deserves to be in this list. Both Mike Auldridge and Josh Graves were amazed at Dave’s musicality with a bar in his hand. Take a listen for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrXjeBhuaiM

  • Mary Lyn Dias

    David Dias Fret Magazine early
    80’s
    present Laurel Canyon Ramblers with Herb Peterson

  • Ted Lehmann

    Where are Phil Leadbetter and his son Matt on this list. Phil is two time IBMA Dobro Player of the Year, while Matt is a comer……

    • i was just gonna mention both those gentlemen Ted Lehmann …. they are two of the best in bluegrass for sure!

  • Wendy C Hart

    May be too mainstream for you folks, but love the sound of Dobro by Lindsey Buckingham on Rumours Album

  • Susan Cavey

    For Johnny Bellar, you might want to change brillian to brilliant so that it’s spelled correctly!