'Best Kept Secret:' Jerry Douglas' Dobro Wizardry

Dopyera Brothers

Douglas recently honored the Dopyera brothers, Czechoslovakian immigrants who invented the dobro guitar in the 1920s. Dopyera Family hide caption

itoggle caption Dopyera Family

When a musical group needs a dobro guitar player, Jerry Douglas is the go-to guy.

Jerry Douglas at NPR i i

Jerry Douglas' dobro guitar work can be heard on more than 1,500 recordings. He recently added NPR to the list with a visit to Studio 4A. Chris Nelson, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Nelson, NPR
Jerry Douglas at NPR

Jerry Douglas' dobro guitar work can be heard on more than 1,500 recordings. He recently added NPR to the list with a visit to Studio 4A.

Chris Nelson, NPR

Artists from Garth Brooks to Paul Simon to Ray Charles have sought him out to add just the right touch of classic Americana. Douglas can be heard on some 1,500 recordings. And since 1998, he's been touring extensively with Alison Krauss and Union Station. Occasionally, he breaks out to make his own records. His latest, on Koch Records, is called The Best Kept Secret.

Jerry Douglas recently stopped by NPR's studio 4A and brought along his dobro, a six-string guitar with a metal plate, holes and a diaphragm made of spun aluminum. "The sound goes into the guitar and is projected right back out," explained Douglas. "It was meant to make a louder guitar."

Often played with a slide, the dobro was invented during the Hawaiian music craze of the late-1920s by the Dopyera brothers. Douglas recently presented their descendents with an honorary award from the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Douglas recently talked with NPR's Liane Hansen, demonstrated the dobro and performed in NPR's Studio 4A.

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