How to Install the Quarterman Cone in a Dobro

Written by tom becker
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The steel or "resonator" guitar has made its name in countless musical genres from Country to Hawaiian. The steel guitar gets its metal body and distinctive tone from the days before electronic amplification, when the metal design helped augment the guitar's acoustics. Even after the advent of electronic amplification, guitarists still play resonator guitars like those produced by Dobro. These instruments have the distinctive, metallic resonance umatched by other guitars. If you wish to install a Quarterman resonator cone in a Dobro, you can do so in a few steps.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Screwdriver set
  • Clean cloth
  • Guitar strings
  • Chromatic tuner
  • Wire clippers

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  1. 1

    Turn a tuner button on a Dobro's machine head clockwise to loosen the string.

  2. 2

    Remove the string from the guitar. Repeat this step with the remaining strings.

  3. 3

    Unscrew the screw holding the guitar's tailpiece with a screwdriver.

  4. 4

    Remove the tailpiece.

  5. 5

    Unscrew the screws around the edge of the guitar's coverplate with a screwdriver.

  6. 6

    Remove the coverplate.

  7. 7

    Unscrew the spider tension screw attaching the spider bridge to the existing resonator cone.

  8. 8

    Lift the spider bridge out of the body of the guitar. Make sure both saddles stay in place on the bridge to avoid having to readjust them later.

  9. 9

    Lift the existing resonator cone out of the body of the guitar and put it aside.

  10. 10

    Tip the guitar and gently shake out any dust or debris. Wipe away any dust on the interior of the instrument and the lip on which the cone rests with a clean, lightly moistened cloth.

  11. 11

    Insert a Quarterman resonator cone into the body of the guitar so the point of the cone points away from the body. Rest the edge of the resonator on the recessed lip of the guitar body.

  12. 12

    Place the spider bridge back in its original position on the new Quarterman resonator cone, insert the spider tension screw through the bridge into the resonator cone and tighten it in place with a screwdriver.

    Set Up

  1. 1

    Put the tailpiece back in place and screw it in place with a screwdriver.

  2. 2

    Insert the lead of a low "E" guitar string through the leftmost string hole in the tailpiece, wrap it around its corresponding machine head and turn the machine head button counter-clockwise to raise the string to pitch. Check your pitch with a chromatic tuner and repeat this step with all remaining strings and their corresponding machine heads.

  3. 3

    Strike any string and listen for a fuzzy, distorted reverberation.

  4. 4

    Loosen the spider tension screw with a screwdriver until you hear the distinctive fuzzy sound produced by the resonator.

  5. 5

    Remove the strings.

  6. 6

    Put the coverplate in place and screw it in position with a screwdriver.

  7. 7

    Replace the strings and tune them to the desired pitch.

Tips and warnings

  • Measure the width of your Dobro's resonator cone before purchasing a replacement. Dobros have standard sized cones, so you must make sure you purchase the correct size for your model.

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