One fact that seems clear is that John Dopyera was the bright spark who came up with the idea of the resonator guitar in the first place. Pictured above we see perhaps one of his rarer instruments. It's a lap-style resonator (hence the non-traditional guitar shape) with a square neck and with fret position markers instead of actual frets on the fingerboard (numbered up to 26). The eBay seller of the guitar in question tells us that:
John Dopyera [..] claims to have built nine of these guitars with the "Penetro" label on the headstock before they were licensed to "Regal" to market under that name. So this appears to be one of the nine Penetros, and it may well be the last one on the planet. I pulled the resonator long ago and inside, scrawled in pencil it says "made by John Dopyera, March 1, 1940, The Guitar House, 3201 W. Florence Ave., Los Angeles, Ca.".and goes on to say:
I took this guitar to the Antiques Roadshow in Pittsburgh last year. Although the appraiser appreciated my story, and in fact was pretty knowledgeable regarding the Dopyera resonator guitar legacy, he told me exactly what I thought he was going to. The guitar is so rare, nobody even knows what they are and thus has little value except to a resonator guitar afficianado whose collection has everything Dopyera except for this. So I am not going to give this guy away...Indeed! The guitar is currently listed on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $5,000. That's a lot of money but you can't argue with his logic. This is a rare, possibly unique, guitar and an important part of the history of the guitar - and the resonator guitar in particular. It really is a museum piece.
G L Wilson
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