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As I'm completely enamored with my '75 Dobro Ampliphonic mandolin, I decided to pick up this metal-bodied one as well. I looked through Mark Makin's book, and it looks like the only metal-bodied Dobro mandos were the Safari-branded ones that Rudy Dopyera commissioned in 1975. This one, despite also having a 1975 serial, seems to have a number of differences from the ones described in the book: 3-piece neck, adjustable truss rod, engraving pattern, brand name, headstock veneer, hand rest, cover plate, neck binding, fret markers, scale length (13 5/8")... the list goes on for quite a while.
I assume that each of the Safaris were a bit different, kind of like the Dopera banjos in the '60s, and this is just one variation. Or am I wrong, and did OMI make a production model like this?
Hi Noah THat's a great find. I think you're absolutely correct on most of the points. Certainly everyone of these things that has turned up has been a different scale length, pattern etc. Since I finished the book, another one of these has appeared (apart from yours). It is effectively a Model 1000 pattern (but different) on a Safari body. Fancy fret markers, also "Dobro" branded with a large engraved Dobro on the back as well. The serial number on this one puts it in 1980 so it certainly looks like the dies and bodies that Rudy left after his death in 1978 were utilised for a "new" high end custom metal mandolin whenever it was required. As you say, these were never "in catalogue" instruments.
I think yours is interestingly different because a) this is a Dobro brand during Rudy's lifetime and b) it seems to be the only one with a different, simpler handtrap on the coverplate.
It all goes to prove Noah, that a lot of the fine details of the "Dopyera story" are still going to take some time to discover. Best wishes Mark
Thanks for the reply, Mark! I ran across another one recently, with the same headstock veneer as mine but a simpler neck construction and "Safari" engraved on the body. The store says it's a '76. Alas, it was already sold, but I saved the photos (link here).