Catch of the Day: 1933 Dobro Style 15 Ukulele

1933 Dobro Style 15 Ukulele

In previous Catches I’ve talked about the history of Dobro and how it was related to the story of  National so I won’t go into that here. (One day I’ll try and tell the story of how Dobro has also been entwined with Regal, Gibson, Valco and Mosrite over the years, if I can ever untangle that rat’s nest.) Anyway, today’s Catch is a Dobro Style 15 ukulele, a fairly scarce instrument that was introduced around 1929. When Dobro made this Style 15 the uke craze of the 1920s had pretty much passed, but there was still enough of an interest in the diminutive instrument to take a chance on making a new model. The Dobro Style 15 didn’t sell really well, but then again, during the Great Depression, nothing sold very well. This particular Style 15 is in very good condition but it looks like at some point it did duty as a yearbook. If you examine its back it appears that it was signed by a few dozen people. I didn’t spot any famous names so I suspect that it was autographed at a summer camp or maybe at the end of a college or high school year. Because Dobros were made of laminate woods, they actully make pretty good subjects for this kind of thing because the back is less likely to split than solid wood. I’ve played a few of these over the years and I think they sound very good. They have a bright but mellow tone with lots of volume. The aluminum cones in these are very light so they need to be strung with nylon strings rather than steel strings. If you’d like to add this uke/yearbook to your collection just send $1050 to the good people at Intermountain Guitar and Banjo.