John and Rudy Dopyera's beautiful collection of stringed musical instruments is now for sale in its entirety. Not only aesthetically incredible, these guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, violins, and basses have great historical significance. John Dopyera is perhaps best known as the inventor of the Dobro and he and his brother's innovations helped shape the sound of most America music, from Blues and Hawaiian to Bluegrass and Country. From Elderly Instruments:
The Dopyera brothers were born in what is now Slovakia, and came to the U.S. with the wave of Eastern European immigrants around the beginning of the 20th century. (In fact, the word “Dobro” is both a contraction of “DOpyera BROthers” and the word for “good” in their native tongue.) Engineers, tinkerers, businessmen, and accomplished musicians (their family had a history of violin making going back centuries, and Rudy was by many accounts an exceptionally talented and soulful Gypsy-style violinist), the two Dopyera brothers combined their Old World skills and traditions with the booming technology and futuristic tastes in art of pre-WWII America. Who else thought that spun aluminum might be a good material for sound projection? Who else engraved beautiful Art Deco designs on the bodies of their guitars? Only the Dopyeras.
The unusual, experimental, and mostly one-of-a-kind instruments in this collection – John’s unusual (and spectacular sounding!) resophonic violin, Rudy’s balalaika-inspired Lullabyka, the Art Deco-influenced steel body uke and tenor guitar, even the actual workbench on which John perfected the fabled tri-cone resonator system – are uniquely American (and uniquely Dopyera) innovations.
I asked Amy Parness, the co-founder of Sparkle Labs, maker of fantastic educational electronics kits, to write a Medium post about gender and the business of being a maker business person. Her terrific essay calls out the problems with “pink girly engineering kits.” From Medium:
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