Frank Harlow passes

Frank Harlow, noted builder of Harlow Resonator Guitars, died yesterday at his home in Vandalia, OH. He was 83 years of age.

Born in Bristol, VA, Frank worked as a truck driver for General Motors, and retired from that position to dedicate his full energy to luthiery.

Though he never made reso-guitars in large numbers, they are prized by their owners across the midwest and beyond. Harlow offered a large body reso model, which resembled a jumbo guitar body with a resonator installed. Towards the end of his life, Frank began also building steel string acoustic guitars, which he enjoyed as well.

Frank was an active picker and was a member of a number of bluegrass bands in the Dayton area, including the Bluegrass Gospel Aires.

A quiet and humble man, lovers of his guitars always had a tough time getting Frank to talk much about himself, though his friend Dan Simon was able to convince him to sit for a lengthy video interview in 2017 which was tuned into a short film, The Sound – Frank Harlow, Luthier, which is available through Amazon Prime.

Dan explained a bit about his idea behind the film when it was first released.

“The production is intended to show a side of Frank that most folks don’t get a chance to see. There are numerous guests appearances and some performances, public and private, in the program from some well-known top artists talking about Frank and showcasing Frank’s guitars. Frank is peerless with his builds. Other builders use techniques he pioneered.”

Funeral services will be held this Friday, October 27, at the Morton & Whetstone Funeral Home in Vandalia at 10:30 a.m. The family will receive visitors at the funeral home on Thursday evening from 4:00-7:00 p.m.

R.I.P., Frank Harlow.

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John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.