All three principal types of resonator guitars were invented by the Slovak-American John Dopyera (1893–1988) for the National and Dobro (Dopyera Brothers) companies. Similar to the flat top guitar in appearance, but with a body that may be made of brass, nickel-silver, or steel as well as wood, the sound of the resonator guitar is produced by one or more aluminum resonator cones mounted in the middle of the top. The physical principle of the guitar is therefore similar to the loudspeaker.
Pickups are transducers attached to a guitar that detect (or "pick up") string vibrations and convert the mechanical energy of the string into electrical energy. The resultant electrical signal can then be electronically amplified. The most common type of pickup is electromagnetic in design. These contain magnets that are within a coil, or coils, of copper wire. Such pickups are usually placed directly underneath the guitar strings. Electromagnetic pickups work on the same principles and in a similar manner to an electric generator. The vibration of the strings creates a small electric current in the coils surrounding the magnets. This signal current is carried to a guitar amplifier that drives a loudspeaker.