Visit Hatfield Banjos

Pisgah Custom Dobson
submitted 5/25/2017

Submitter

old clawhammer (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

From Maker

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound


I've just returned to old time music after years away from the banjo and needed something not too loud for around the house practice. I ordered this banjo accordingly with a John Baich goatskin head. As requested, I received it with nylon strings but they just didn't suit me. Patrick had included a set of Pisgah wire strings for me and I changed them after a few days and now a happy picker. Just gently. The sound is a bit muted and that is what I had in mind when I ordered. I used cherry with a persimmon fingerboard and the wood is beautiful.

Sound Rating

10

Setup


Construction and setup are high quality with no changes needed. There may come a time when I make some changes for a brighter tone but, for now it's precisely what I requested. The action is very comfortable for me.

Setup Rating

10

Appearance


The cherry and persimmon are good to look at and the wood is flawless. I opted for no fancy workmanship, just a vintage heel and pdghead and both are expertly done. There are no flaws in the wood or the hardware.

Appearance Rating

10

Reliability


The hardware is all brass with black pegs and I'm really pleased with the look. It's all the same high quality with properly placed spikes. The finish is uniformly clean and I only expect the appearance to improve over the years. It's a solidly constructed instrument.

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


Patrick was pleasant and easy to deal with. Wish there were more like him. He offered a free maintenance check after a year. I can either ship it or, since I'm within a reasonable distance of Asheville, I can bring it to the shop and take a tour at the same time.

Customer Service

10

Components


If this were a guitar, it would be a high grade Martin or a Henderson. Nothing about it is cheap.

Components Rating

10

Overall Comments


The cost of this banjo is what I would consider completely reasonable.  It's not a cheapie but, as with most things we get what we pay for.  Dealing with Patrick was a combination of friendly and completely professional; he did what he said he would do, when he said he would, the way I requested and kept me up to date. I'd do business with him again without question.  The instrument is as solid as a rock and I think the wood will mellow nicely with time. I'm comfortable that if I want either repair or modification, he will be a reliable guy to go to.

Overall Rating

10


Bridges David Cunningham bridge
submitted 5/25/2017

Submitter

mbuk06 (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Direct from David Cunningham

Overall Comments


David Cunningham is known for his fine banjo bridges and my interest was caught by his having created a new bridge design specifically with old-time players in mind. I contacted David directly and we discussed his bridge and my requirements. His attention to detail is phenomenal and he was more than happy to make me two bridges; one 11/16" and one non-standard slightly higher bridge to cater to my pretty specific request. Before mailing the finished bridges he emailed me photos and kept me updated on progress and timing throughout.

His new bridge design had already received an excellent review here on Banjo Hangout from RD Lunceford who plays nylgut strings. David and I agreed my test would provide useful feedback in the other direction as I play steel strings. How would this bridge sound and perform with metal bearing down on it? We were both curious to find out. I've now been using the taller of these two bridges exclusively for 6 months on my Mac Traynham fretted 12" pot banjo with skin head and can say that I'm absolutely delighted at the results. The two footed design is rock solid under the additional down-pressure of steel. The workmanship and finish is flawless and of the very highest quality. Interestingly David also builds in an angle to this bridge. In his own words: "It's a typical slant-faced bridge with a slight tilt toward the centre on the back as well. I do that for you OT guys so they don't flop over so easily".

OK, now down to the nitty-gritty. How about tone? I deliberately didn't fit new strings for the test to avoid any change in tone being attributable to any other cause. For starters my ears immediately pricked up at the distinct improvement on my previous bridge. That was a good first sign as I'd done hard research, a lot of trial-and-error and experimenting to get to that previous bridge choice, so any improvement wasn't going to come easy. The trick when discerning an improvement in the sound produced is to be able to isolate and identify what that difference actually is. David's bridge gives a slick leathery bass at the bottom end and pleasing balance between note separation and sustain at the top end. But where I really noticed the gain on my banjo was in the mid-range. This bridge just gives a clarity and boost to that big 'ol middle ground that can so easily lose presence sandwiched as it is tonally between the dominant characteristics of bass and top string. Those hammers and pull-offs on the inside strings now have an effortlessly 'live' smack and pop. This bridge gives me the confidence that what my fingers are articulating across all five strings will actually transmit through the banjo and project as a balanced whole.

The outcome is that I'm as pleased as punch with David's new bridge. And I also want to say that David cares a great deal about results and his customer's satisfaction. He kindly offered to make any tweeks or changes that I may suggest having tried these bridges out on a steel-strung banjo. The biggest testament to his knowledge and skill is that in the event none were needed. His new bridge design is a gem. How it will perform will, I guess vary on different banjo set-ups but I have no hesitation in recommending this bridge for use with steel strings as well as nylon.

Overall Rating

10


Polish/String Lube GHS Fast Fret
submitted 5/25/2017

Submitter

rmcdow (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Sweetwater

Overall Comments


GHS Fast Fret has a pretty strong scent added to it, which was the first thing I noticed when I opened the top.  Nothing was said about this in any of the product description, and the label does not mention anything about scents added.  I won't use this product, and Sweetwater was nice to refund my money.  Without knowing the ingredients in the product, except for mineral oil, it is pretty impossible to know how it is going to react with finishes or metal.

Overall Rating

1


Mikes Banjo Mute Mike's Banjo Mute
submitted 5/24/2017

Submitter

Waffles (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

http://www.mikesbanjomute.com/

Overall Comments


Saved my marriage (seriously). This thing is awesome!  high quality, and I was shocked how well it works.  Highly recommend, especially if your family is considering killing you over your banjo practice.

Overall Rating

10


Huss and Dalton Singletree
submitted 5/23/2017

Submitter

Spartysam (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Ebay

Year Purchased

2016

Price Paid

1400 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound


A wonderful, controlled, deep tone that is consistent day in and day out. This is a banjo that I don;t worry about when I pick it up - it always plays well.

Sound Rating

10

Setup


Bought it used - just some minor adjustments (about 15 minutes). Worried since I bought it from ebay without testing it or seeing it.

Setup Rating

9

Appearance


This is something that has been commented on by others. This is a plain, elegant, beautifully made instrument. The components are top notch; the assembly is excellent; everything looks just right. This is a banjo where, when you pick it up, you feel good by looking at it. Simple, if tastefully executed, is beautiful.

Appearance Rating

10

Reliability


Consistent, no real problems. Very pleased.

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


Called to validate the product as soon I received it. The people were friendly and wiling to talk - not only about the product but about the company. A real pleasure.

Customer Service

10

Components


Top notch - everything is excellent - no compromises.

Components Rating

10

Overall Comments


A favorite - if I had to pick only two banjos to keep, this would be one of the ones selected. It is a lovely instrument and one that I always enjoy playing. Up there with Omes and the other top banjos.  A great banjo - no ifs, ands, or buts.

Overall Rating

10


Zachary Hoyt 11" Cherry
submitted 5/22/2017

Submitter

bitz (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Zach Hoyt

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

800 ($US)

Sound


I'm newer to the banjo but the sound and tone to me is incredible! So much more easier to play than my first banjo (Saga ss10). Beautifully balanced tone. The lows sound through. Something my last banjo didn't do. Love it!

Sound Rating

10

Setup


Great. Again, I'm a newbie.

Setup Rating

10

Appearance


Gorgeous banjo! Has clear finish over cherry wood with brass hardware. Part of me wants to hang it up on the wall in the living room as a decoration.

Appearance Rating

10

Reliability


I expect this banjo to last a very long time. Stays in tune for quite awhile.

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


Zach was a pleasure to deal with. He's quick to respond. My banjo came the next day.

Customer Service

10

Components


Could there be better parts? Sure...I guess, but I wouldn't know the difference. Everything seems to be quality and I'm completely satisfied. I love the brass components with the cherry wood.

Components Rating

10

Overall Comments


This banjo is a pleasure to play and look at. I'm very happy I made this Zach Hoyt 11" my second (first real) banjo. Zach makes a beautifully crafted instrument and I have no doubt I will enjoy playing this for a long, long time! I wouldn't hesitate buying from Zach again. In fact, I probably will someday.

Overall Rating

10


Zachary Hoyt Custom
submitted 5/21/2017

Submitter

artbyrusty (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Directly from Zach

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound


This banjo is great. I wanted an openback banjo for easy picking at home on the couch but I play all bluegrass, no frailing. He made the banjo sound great for scruggs style. It is mellow enough to pick in my apartment and can be loud if I need it.

Sound Rating

10

Setup


The action is perfect on this banjo. It's easy to play and sounds great all over the neck.

Setup Rating

10

Appearance


The craftsmanship is top notch, it's a great looking banjo. I actually sent a 35 year old neck my dad built for a 1-piece flange and he made it fit an openback pot without altering the neck in case I ever want to put it back on a resonator banjo.

Appearance Rating

10

Reliability


I've only had it a few weeks but it feels really solid and I can't image having any issues in the future.

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


Customer service was amazing. Zach worked with me every step of the way and gave me alot of freedom in choosing the wood and materials used on the banjo. He gave me updates on the project frequently and it was a very quick turn around.

Customer Service

10

Components


Pairing a 35 year old neck to a pot it wasn't made for was not easy task and Zach did an amazing job. The Mahogany pot he made matches the wood of the neck almost perfectly!

Components Rating

10

Overall Comments


I couldn't be happier with the banjo and experience working with Zach. I highly recommend him!

Overall Rating

10


Pisgah Rambler with Dobson Tone Ring
submitted 5/21/2017

Submitter

Noah T (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Pisgah banjo company

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound


A deep yet very bright sound to the banjo. The sound of it is everything I had hoped for.loud and clear. Earthy and warm. Just perfect!

Sound Rating

10

Setup


Perfect setup. Not to low not to high on the action. Perfect spike placement . I plan to replace the bridge, but the one on it now is great. Just a personal preference.
Playable out of the box

Setup Rating

10

Appearance


The banjo is an 11" rambler Dobson without the metal spun rim. Walnut neck and pot. Richlite finger board with brass side markers. No fret markers. "Vintage" headstock and heel with brass hardware.

It's beautiful! As i told Patrick, after I received it, it's a work of art. So clean. Expect craftmanship. The walnut is gorgeous! Mixed with the brass hardware and the plain black fingerboard, it's a sight to see

Appearance Rating

10

Reliability


So far I have had no issues with this banjo, at all. And don't plan on having any. It's built like a tank.
I will be taking it with me on tour this summer and have no reluctance in doing so.
Stays in tune and is solid
The case it came in is great. I got the "soft"/not soft case. Totally road worthy. Also, the big pisgah logo on it is awesome!

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


Couldn't have asked for better customer service. Patrick is a great guy and let me pick out all the different parts, profiles and designs for this banjo. He was very patient and helpful and would love to work with him again and would gladly get another banjo from him. I plan on getting another banjo from him in the future.

Customer Service

10

Components


I love every part of this banjo. The walnut is beautiful. The simplicity of the all black rich lite finger board (only side markers), is something I've always wanted. The brass hardware is stunning. The heardstock! The "vintage" headstock is one of my favorite parts. Just awesome looking and classic

Components Rating

10

Overall Comments


This is the first review I've ever written (if you can't tell) and hope it helps. I am extremely happy with my banjo and the whole experience. Patrick is a great guy, an amazing builder and doing it all the right way. 

I highly recommend getting a pisgah banjo! I have been telling everyone about them and plan to keep pushing these banjos. The price I paid for something this perfect, is unbeatable.

Buy a pisgah banjo. You won't regret it!

- Noah 

Overall Rating

10


Bridges Bart Veerman Bridges
submitted 5/20/2017

Submitter

wadewardclone (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Bart Veerman

Overall Comments


In my experience, the bridge is a crucial factor in determining so many aspects of any banjo. Sound, tone, volume, clarity, intonation and playability are all profoundly affected by bridge choice. However, to get the most satisfying performance from your banjo requires the bridge maker to take into account all aspects of the instrument as well as the picker's preference and playing style. So complete customization is only way to maximize the performance of the bridge/banjo/picker interaction. This is the genius of Bart Veerman's work.  Bart will get all the necessary information from the picker regarding banjo, strings, playing style and sound preference. He will take these factors, superior materials and superb craftsmanship to produce the exact bridge you need at a very reasonable price with great customer service. Why would anyone want a pre made bridge instead?   For my new custom Gold Tone seven string I knew from a previous custom Veerman bridge, that this was the only way to go.  The bridge I received from Bart was perfect.  It allowed not only for materials (ebony topped mystery wood), height, thickness, number of feet (3) and string spacing, but also string type/gauge, neck radius and preferred sound (early 20th century Fairbanks Whyte Laydie).  The best suit is custom made by a master tailor, the best banjo bridge you can get is made by the master bridge maker, Bart Veerman.

 

 

Overall Rating

10


Backyard Music Fireside (Kit)
submitted 5/19/2017

Submitter

penswift (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Backyard Music

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

115 + S/H historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound


Pleasant sound. Somewhat mellow. Have played using gDGBD and gCGCD tuning.

Sound Rating

10

Setup


Purchased as a kit. Watched an internet video prior to build. End result was good string height and sound. My rating below (of 10) is from my own set up when assembling the kit. No parts needed adjusting.

Setup Rating

10

Appearance


I used the recommended Danish Oil on the wood. My banjo neck has two tones to it... which gives it an interesting look. I stained the white banjo head with a mixture of tea, coffee, water and white glue, followed later by Danish Oil... then a coating of puzzle glue... the glue was mainly to protect a gryphon image I added to the head.

Appearance Rating

10

Reliability


I have not had this banjo long; however, it appears to be quite sturdy and durable.

Reliability Rating

9

Customer Service


Have communicated with Backyard Music two times. Once was to get a few questions answered, the other time was to tell them how pleased I was with their kit. They replied before end of next day both times ... and came across as pleasant and trustworthy both times.

Customer Service

10

Components


The wooden neck is a real standout... great design. I liked it so much that I couldn't get myself to drill fret marker holes in it... so I ventured to try adhesive markers... which ended up looking good and seem durable... so far. It is no secret that the banjo head rim is a thick cardboard material... but it appears to be quite rugged and there is no stress on it from the instrument. (Rating of 10 is for components as expected in the kit . . . the parts all meet or exceed expectations).

Components Rating

10

Overall Comments


You can look at these kits on the internet and listen to them too. If you want a nice instrument that you can customize a bit and have a bit of fun making... this is a great kit. At this point in time an image of mine is used as my profile picture. Note that I added brackets on my own, they are not part of the kit... nor are metal wings that I added to the head. The brackets are cosmetic only.... they are not in the least bit necessary. 

Overall Rating

9


Bedford Banjo Shop
submitted 5/19/2017

Submitter

Bluegrouse (see all reviews from this person)

Overall Comments


I had decided that my Vega (Martin) 1972 banjo needed to be sold.  Sound and action were just dull and sluggish.  I took it to Mike at Bedford Banjo Shop and he worked magic.  It looks great and I didn't know it was capable of such great sound.  He is a patient craftsman who provides the best service you will ever find.  While he worked on my instrument he recommended a great NY style pizza shop around the corner.  Banjos and pizza!  what a great day!  thanks Mike.  

 

Overall Rating

10


Capos Fret Paw Capo
submitted 5/17/2017

Submitter

muffalo (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Al Ferguson

Overall Comments


I wrote a review than you can find here http://www.advancingfingerstyle.com/fretpaw-banjo-capo-review/

 

But for the busy ones, here are the Pros/Cons

+no need to retune making it
+fast to use and
+more accurate
+works above 4th fret
+excellent service (I had some mailing trouble because of changing locations a lot and had to contact Alan, the manufacturer, several times but he was very helpful and patient with me)

-bulky compared to the traditional models but I was able to cram it in my banjo case even with the container
-easier to lose or forget compared to the kind of capos that you can store behind the nut
-confusing instructions

Overall Rating

10


Bob Carlin Banjo an illustrated history
submitted 5/17/2017

Submitter

jmcconnan (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

on line

Overall Comments


It would take a professional book reviewer to do this book justice. Every aspect is superlative. The text, the images, the quality of paper and binding, exceptional!

The book is under priced by far, I would have paid three times the price.

I was quite gratified to see the Gold Tone BC 350 like mine is featured, as well as a nice spread on Romero banjos, of which I have one.

 

Overall Rating

10


Banjo mutes Mike's Banjo Mute
submitted 5/15/2017

Submitter

dcward (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Overall Comments


Awesome piece of hardware. Got here within a couple of days easy to install and de-install and works great. I thank you, my wife thanks you, my dogs thank you and my cat wants to marry you.

Overall Rating

10


Harmony Reso-Tone 5-string H28125
submitted 5/10/2017

Submitter

Will Fastie (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Ted's Musicians Shop, Baltimore

Year Purchased

1962

Price Paid

60 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound


For years I kept the calfskin head but 10 years ago I replaced it with goatskin and the sound came to life. It was quite a surprise. Others who have played it think it sounds better than a Goodtime.

When I first played this banjo I was frailing and with the calfskin head it sounded very good. It doesn't have a lot of punch for Bluegrass.

Sound Rating

6

Setup


The setup as purchased was not great. I was pretty young when I bought it and I did what I could at the time. More recently I replaced the head and bridge and tried different strings. The neck is not adjustable and attempts to get better action usually fail.

Setup Rating

3

Appearance


It looks okay but, again, this was a very cheap banjo. I think it looks better than a Goodtime because it's black and the fretboard is nicer.

Appearance Rating

5

Reliability


The hardware has lasted for the 50 years I've owned it. The pot is plastic (Bakelite) and looks decent for its age. The neck is painted and shows its age, but not to the ugly point. This isn't a gig banjo but I did play it in public and it was my only banjo at the time.

Reliability Rating

4

Customer Service


I didn't buy new but the pot had a 5-year warranty at the time. The hang tag I have says "In all other respects this instrument is subject to our standard guarantee..." I have no idea what that was.

Customer Service

3

Components


The only serious repair I ever made was to the 5th string peg, which worked its way out. All the parts are cheap but it doesn't make much sense to upgrade anything on the banjo.

Components Rating

4

Overall Comments


My Harmony is playable but I haven't played it much. I have it for sentimental value and if I every sell it the reason will be primarily historical.

No, it's not a great banjo but it did get me through a few gigs that I and my buddies played while we were in high school. I do think it's a pretty good starter banjo.I will say that having played a Goodtime, I prefer the Harmony.

Overall Rating

5


Other: Escrow.com Escrow.com
submitted 5/10/2017

Submitter

kcking1 (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Escrow.com

Overall Comments


I just completed a successful sale on Escrow.com to a new member on the hangout.  We didn't know each other and he was reluctant to send off a few grand to someone he didn't know. I understood.  This was a good solution.  Barebones customer service as noted in other reviews, but once you get the hang of it and pay close attention to details of getting the terms right, it worked smoothly.  I'd recommend it. I think once we were using this service, neither of us was worried about being scammed.

 

KC King, Greenwich, CT

Overall Rating

8


Banjo mutes Mike's Banjo Mute
submitted 5/9/2017

Submitter

Stamper (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Online (Mike's)

Overall Comments


I haven't used other mutes, so I can't compare this mute with others.  Very well made and works as advertised, providing a distinct softening but without loss of tone.  I like this accessory and will enjoy using it.  Another nice touch: Mike contacted me after the purchase to say thanks - and the personal touch isn't seen much these days.  I don't think you'll be disappointed with this mute.  Keep up the good work and fantastic customer service, Mike.  

 

Overall Rating

10


Rob Zwally
submitted 5/9/2017

Submitter

Stamper (see all reviews from this person)

Overall Comments


I met Rob when I decided to buy a banjo, shopped around online and decided on a Deering Artisan Goodtime Special.  I perused the Deering dealers and found Rob's site, contacted him, and purchased the banjo through his business.  I can't speak to Rob's many years as a luthier because I didn't get any 'work' done, but I can speak to his professionalism, integrity, and (in my case) the patience required with working with someone new to the banjo and from a distance to boot.  From my perspective the time and distance (I live a few states away) were worth it.  Thanks Rob - keep up the very good work!

Overall Rating

10


Picks Blue Chip JD Resonator Thumbpick
submitted 5/8/2017

Submitter

TheOtherMarshal (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

http://www.bluechippick.net/thumb-picks/

Overall Comments


Howdy all,

For almost exactly 1 year now I have been playing exclusively with the BlueChip thumb pick... the specific model I use is the J.D. Crowe model 'BCT-RESO-JDL'. This is a pick designed for dobro/resonators and I like the hardness of the pick.

This pick has held up remarkably well under a great deal of use and still looking nearly new. The pick comes off the string cleanly with no resistance as I experienced with all the cheap thumb picks I have used for years. Design is very comfortable and I have found sizing to be consistent with the types of picks I used before. (I use the large size, but the metal band can be shaped a little to fit as needed.)

Although they are more expensive than the picks I always used before, they truly have helped improve my consistency in play. My first BlueChip pick was for guitar and I loved it so much I pulled the trigger on this pick for banjo and have not looked back. In fact, I intend to throw coin at getting a few more to have in case I lose this one.

Great pick and in my opinion, it is worth the money. I have no problem recommending others to try it out. BTW, at the same time I purchased this thumb pick I also order the Sammy Shelor fingerpicks (from the same site) and they make a great team of picks.

Pick on!

T.O.M.

Overall Rating

10


Picks Sammy Shelor Stainless Steel
submitted 5/8/2017

Submitter

TheOtherMarshal (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

http://shop.bluechippick.net/finger-picks/

Overall Comments


Howdy all,

For almost exactly 1 year now I have been playing exclusively with the Sammy Shelor stainless steel fingerpicks which I purchased from bluechippick.net.

These picks are fantastic and beat the tar out of my cheap metal picks I have used for years. I was a little nervous about the price as I have always only purchased a handful of the cheap metal picks from the counter bucket as I check out at the local music store. For me, this was a pretty big risk, but it paid back multifold.

The design is great, fit is able to be customized with a little manipulation and the performance is wonderful. These picks glide off the string with no resistance or 'grit' which I've always experienced with the cheaper picks. Sounds funny, but one of the picks has the insignia stamped into it which makes it a lot easier for me to ensure I have the correct pick for each finger. I purchased a BlueChip JD Crowe resonator thumb pick at the same time & can not imagine using anything else now... I'm spoiled.

I have no hesitation recommending these picks to other players.

Pick on!
T.O.M.

Overall Rating

10


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