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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Northern Kentucky setup

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

Gomer1205 - Posted - 01/07/2023:  21:33:44

I sure would like to know of someone to do a future setup for me in the Northern Kentucky area. My only local option is Guitar Center, which is where I just got my Dobro back from. (cue laughter).

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 01/07/2023:  22:45:32

As you have probably figured out, people who can provide you with a quality dobro setup are few and far between. 

The top guys I like to refer to as "setup wizards." We don't know where you are in Northern Kentucky but here are two possibilities: 

Frank Harlow in Vandalia, Ohio near Dayton. Frank for many years has been one of the top builders in the business, and he is also one of the top setup wizards. Frank is getting up there in years and he's mostly retired. But if he is willing to do the work, your guitar would be in excellent hands. 

The other one in your general part of the country would be Byrl Murdock in Lafayette, Indiana. He builds beautiful guitars and Rob Ickes has been playing his instruments over the past couple of years including his Rob Ickes signature Byrl. 

Not very drivable, but near the Norh Carolina coast if you're willing to pack and ship the guitar is another of the setup wizards, Bobby Wright. And setting up is all he does, he's not an actual builder - but they don't  come any better. 

We can supply you with contact info for any of these gentlemen if you like. 

tomkatb - Posted - 01/08/2023:  07:41:14

Robert Lawrence kind of east of Cincinnati has been around a while.

badger - Posted - 01/08/2023:  11:44:38

A day-trip to see Frank would definitely be worthwhile. Aside from a top-notch setup job, you'll get an earful of great stories, learn a lot about reso construction and upkeep, and maybe end up with a new Harlow as well!

I recently spent $200 in UPS charges to have him do a $50 repair on my reso. Of course, since it was there I had him go through the whole instrument, make sure everything was perfect (he built it in 2011 and nothing had been done to it since) and buff it out. I didn't think twice about the cost, though I could've done the repair myself. He's that good.

LukeL - Posted - 01/09/2023:  05:27:25

Bobby Wright also does mail in setups. If you don’t feel like making the drive. It might be worth contacting him and seeing when he will be at a festival nearer to you… He seems to do that occasionally.

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 01/09/2023:  06:30:56


Originally posted by tomkatb

Robert Lawrence kind of east of Cincinnati has been around a while.

I've never heard of this guy - what's his story?

Tom Jr. - Posted - 01/09/2023:  07:04:39

Frank is close and great. I've played quite a few of his instruments and they all sound good. I am in Verona in Northern Kentucky and have built a few dobros. While not a setup master, I might be able to help you with some things. Always good to meet a fellow enthusiast nearby.

tomkatb - Posted - 01/09/2023:  07:15:05

At one point he had a website with several models. Lawrence resophonics on anglefire.

When I was shopping years ago I visited his shop. Some little town East of Cincinnati.

Ended up buying one of Frank Harlows guitars.

He made a guitar for our local high school to help their bluegrass program.

No contact since 2018.

Frankly, Frank Harlow is really good. First choice.

Tom Jr. - Posted - 01/10/2023:  11:01:19

Another builder nearby is Byrl Murdock up in Lafayette Indiana, just 3-4 hours away. I'm not sure if he sets up other dobros but he does very fine work on his own instruments. And the very finest guy in the business if you want to add hot rod flames to your guitar.

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 01/10/2023:  11:30:50

I guess no one reads my posts anymore when they're more than a sentence or two.  I mentioned Frank, Byrl, and Bobby.

Maybe we should have a reso hangout page on Instagram where the one sentence (or less)  post is king. wink

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 01/10/2023 11:31:57

badger - Posted - 01/10/2023:  11:48:55

Mark - I read every word you post! I was just adding a +1 for Frank.

But this last post about Byrl has got me thinking seriously about hot-rod flames!

MarkinSonoma - Posted - 01/10/2023:  14:47:52


Originally posted by badger

Mark - I read every word you post! I was just adding a +1 for Frank.

But this last post about Byrl has got me thinking seriously about hot-rod flames!

I could tell you read my initial post by the nature of your followup. Badgers are very tenacious ctreatures! smiley

Not to hijack the thread, but there's been no sign of Gomer since he created it - if there is another high end resonator in my future, I'm seriously considering a Byrl. I like what Mr. Murdock  is doing with these guitars in the Hoosier state. But I have yet to see or hear one up close and personal.

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 01/10/2023 14:52:41

Gomer1205 - Posted - 01/11/2023:  21:30:39

Robert Lawrence east of Cincinnati. I'm about 12 miles from Cincinnati. I'll try looking him up. Thanks for all the answers.

JC Dobro - Posted - 01/12/2023:  05:47:08

Looks like OP got the desired info.

To circle back to an earlier question…Byrl Murdock does indeed do setups, tune-ups, and component installs on any resonator brand. I had him optimize a National Scheerhorn, and also do the complete kit install  on a Hipshot DoubleShot for a Beard MA-6.

I couldn’t be happier with the results.

He’s in Darlington, IN, about 25 miles south of Lafayette, which puts him a smidge closer to the Indy metro area.

Also, had I not brought in $7K worth of my own instruments, I would have been seriously tempted on the Byrl deep-body build I test drove. I can see why Rob Ickes has partnered with him.

And a nicer gentleman you will not find…

Edited by - JC Dobro on 01/12/2023 05:49:02

McPickin - Posted - 01/14/2023:  13:59:53

Frank Harlow is still setting up guitars in Vandalia Ohio. Call him at 937 890 7801. In fact he is still producing Resonator guitars, and is building a few Flat Top guitars as well. I own #5 flattop and its simply as great as his Resonator guitars. I am finishing up a 2nd documentary on Frank due out this year. If you are interested in learning a bit about him, my first documentary about him which was on PBS in available to view on Amazon Prime, and it's called "The Sound: Frank Harlow Luthier".

Best wishes.


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