Donnie Barbra is an accomplished East Tennessee based luthier who specializes in instrument repair and set-up. Donnie began playing the guitar at the age of 13 in local rock bands during the 60's. His keen interest in music resulted in a desire to understand how instruments functioned. His growth as a musician resulted in Donnie becoming proficient in setting up and doing basic repair on his own instruments out of necessity. Around 1980 while working as manager of Maryville's Sound O Music, which became Murlin's Music World, Donnie moved to a professional level in the instrument repair business. Working with a full staff of music instructors (including Steve Kaufman, Marvin Russell, and Bill Chambers) created a demand for professional instrument repairs with a fast turnaround at the store. This led to Donnie's decision to take on the role of full-time repair professional in addition to being store manager. In his role as manager of a full-line music store, Donnie had the added benefit of receiving tremendous technical support from the major instrument manufacturer’s repair centers. This gave Donnie insight into why specific instrument manufacturers built and set-up their instruments the way they did, as well as specific guidance from the best technical support professional in the industry in regards to the proper methods for the set-up and repair of their products.
The fact that Donnie is a highly accomplished musician gives him an extra edge when doing repair and set-up work, because he knows how an instrument should feel and sound when set-up correctly. His appreciation and understanding of music coupled with his high level of technical skill led to Donnie becoming known as "The Guitar Doctor”. In 1994 Donnie decided to leave the music retail business to pursue his current job as Electronics Sales Engineer with a major electronics supplier, while maintaining a full schedule as musical instrument repairman, as Donnie Barbra Guitar Repair. After more than 30 years in the repair business, Donnie now has the pleasure of doing work for 3rd generation customers who were referred by their parents and grandparents. Being qualified for all major instrument repairs on all levels, he was offered the position of Kamp Doctor by Steve Kaufman for the world famous Steve Kaufman Acoustic Kamp held at Maryville College for two weeks each June. It should be a seamless transition for the Guitar Doctor to make. Donnie Barbra was born and raised in Maryville, Tennessee and still resides in Maryville with his wife Debbie, their children and grandchildren. Who knows, he might be seeing 4th generation repairs coming in some day soon!