The story behind “Hawaiian” and “Spanish” Dobro guitars hearkens back to the beginnings of the resonator guitar and the styles of music being played at the time. “Since the Beginning” in 1928, Dobro-brand resonator guitars have been available in both Hawaiian (“square-neck”) and Spanish (“round-neck”) versions. 

Hawaiian-style Square-neck Dobros. In the 1920’s Hawaiian music was very popular in the United States, with Hawaiian-style square-neck guitars that are played in a horizontal position, either seated or standing and supported with a shoulder strap. Hawaiian-style slide music features the use of a steel slide in the left hand-  the fingerboard, nut and saddle are all flat so that the strings are level and easily played with the steel slide.  Since the neck is not fretted by hand when played, it is not rounded but rather “square” in shape. To non-reso players, this square-neck design is often misunderstood.

“When I started managing OMI,” recounts Mike Replogle,” I got a phone call from one of the employees at the local Big Box guitar store. The salesman wanted to return a Dobro that they had on display. He complained that it was unplayable- the string action was so high that it was impossible to fret, and the guitar wasn’t finished- he complained that the neck wasn’t even shaped. Obviously he had a squareneck Dobro on the wall and had no idea what it was. Needless to say, we took the guitar back.”

Square Necks & Flat Saddles. To complement the flat fingerboard of the square-neck resos, the nut and saddle both are set up flat to match. Replogle Saddles are available in a flat configuration as needed for both biscuit-ridge cones and spider-bridge resonators that are set up with flat fingerboards. 

Spanish-style Round Necks- Flat or Radiused Saddles? 

Dobro Spanish-style round-neck models were made in two configurations- 

1- Flat fingerboard and Setup

2- Radius fingerboard and Setup

Certain Dobro models were built as a round-neck guitar but with a flat fingerboard, and other round-neck resos had a radiused fingerboard. To complement the flat or radiused fingerboard of the round-neck resos, the nut and saddle both are set up to match. 

Flat Saddles. Replogle Saddles are available in a flat configuration as needed for both flat fingerboard biscuit-bridge cones and flat fingerboard versions of spider-bridge resonators that are set up with flat fingerboards. Flat-fingerboard round-neck models are setup with action low enough to be fretted, but a little on the high-side so that they can be played with a bottleneck slide. These models will need the flat Replogle Saddles.

Radius Saddles. Replogle Saddles are also available in a radius configuration as needed for the both radius fingerboard biscuit-bridge cones and the radius fingerboard versions of spider-bridge resonators. Radiused-fingerboard round-neck models are set up with typical acoustic guitar specs, and are played with the usual acoustic guitar picks and finger-style. These models will need the radiused Replogle Saddles

Remember- Radius saddles are for radius fingerboards and flat saddles are for flat fingerboards.