|Birth: ||Jul. 6, 1893, Slovakia|
|Death: ||Jan. 3, 1988|
Inventor, entrepreneur, and maker of stringed instruments. Born Jan Dopjera in Strazia, Austria-Hungary, he learned to construct violins from his father in Dolna Krupa (now in Slovakia) where the family relocated in about 1896. In 1908 he immigrated to the United States and by the 1920s had his own instrument and repair shop in Los Angeles, California. In 1925, at the request of vaudeville promoter George Beauchamp for a louder guitar that could be heard over other instruments in an orchestra or combo, he invented a guitar that used three spun aluminum cones and a metal body to mechanically amplify the sound. His invention became known as a resonator guitar and was the first successful amplification of a stringed instrument (although there had been previous attempts by others). His metal resonator guitars soon became popular among jazz and Hawaiian vaudeville musicians and in 1927 he, along with brothers Rudy and Emil and a number of investors including George Beuchamp, founded the National String Instrument Corporation and began manufacturing and promotion in earnest. He soon left the company due to differences with Beauchamp but in 1929, with brother Rudy, formed a new company to produce their cheaper, wood-bodied resonator which was sold under the DOBRO brand name (which is short for Dopyera brothers). The dobro would later be made popular in country music by artists such as Josh Graves who played with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs on the Grand Old Opry and is now a staple in bluegrass and other genres. Although electronically-amplified instruments replaced metal-bodied Nationals by the 1930s, they were soon re-discovered by country blues musicians such as Tampa Red, Son House, and Blind Boy Fuller. The 1960s folk revival led to the discovery of Nationals by a new generation of musicians such as Taj Mahal and Johnny Winter and original Nationals are prized and still played today by many well-known recording artists. This popularity led to the re-creation of the National company in the 1990s which, although no longer associated with the Dopyera family, builds faithful recreations of many of the same models originally manufactured by them. Dopyera lived for many years in Escondido and, later, El Monte, California but in 1980 moved to Grants Pass, Oregon to be closer to family where he lived until his death at the age of 94.
Cremated, Ashes scattered.
Specifically: Scattered in the southern Cascade Mountains of Oregon
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: John McGlothlin
Record added: Feb 20, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 105513180