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The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

7071 reviews in the archive.

Zachary Hoyt

Submitted by Nic Pennsylvania (see all reviews from this person) on 9/22/2021

Overall Comments

I have four custom banjos which Zachary has helped me realize. Each one is radically different but they all share a quality of construction. Although few of his makes are the same, they are all distinctly his. 

Zachary is equal parts accommodating, patient, and open to experimentation. He has been more than pleasant to speak with and I enjoy reading the shop news on his site to see what new things he has built. 

I love how each of Zach's banjos allows the wood to speak. I've been known to be attracted to really flashy banjos with lots of pearl and engraving, but having Hoyt made banjos in my hands has made me stop and remember just how good wood looks on its own.  

I play one every day and I wish for many more fruitful years and experiments for Zachary. Hopefully too, we'll all give him a break so he can relax sometime.  

Overall Rating: 10

Don Bryant - Thurman NC

Submitted by thumpic2003 (see all reviews from this person) on 5/27/2021

Overall Comments

Don made a style 11 neck for me. It is perfect.

Overall Rating: 10

Chris Sorensen - Companion Banjos

Submitted by LouieChee (see all reviews from this person) on 4/22/2021

Overall Comments

Chris built a 5 string conversion neck for my 30's Gibson TB00 and it brought the old thing to life! I've had other necks on it and wasn't pleased with the sound, but with his neck this 5 is a cannon!

I couldn't be more pleased with his professional work, reasonable prices, and friendly attitude.

https://youtu.be/HRKWF4nFmF8

Overall Rating: 10

Tim Gardner - Cedar Mountain Banjos

Submitted by Billlloyd (see all reviews from this person) on 3/25/2021

Overall Comments

Tim Gardner of Cedar Mountain Banjos is an excellent Luthier. He guarantees the workmanship on his banjos and has made repairs for me on my Cedar Mountain Banjo,  no questions asked. 

I had a problem withe my Banjo Rim and contacted Tim. True to his word, I returned my Banjo and he replaced the rim and had me banjo back to me in 10 days after he received it. Tim provided good customer service and I was very pleased with his responsiveness to my issue and his quality and speed to get may banjo back up and running.

Check out Cedar Mountain Banjos. You won't be disappointed. 

https://www.cedarmtnbanjos.com/

Overall Rating: 8

Zachary Hoyt

Submitted by DoubleG (see all reviews from this person) on 2/23/2021

Overall Comments

I corresponded with Zachary after being sent his way by Bob Smakula. I wanted a short-scaled fretless neck built for an 11" Vega archtop pot I had. We talked back and forth for awhile ironing out the details and then I sent him the pot. He built and fit the fretless neck to the pot and it sounds and plays great. He was so incredilby easy to deal with and bent over backwards to accomodate my needs. I hope to have him build me a complete fretless with one of his pots in the near future.

Overall Rating: 10

Don Bryant

Submitted by MadisonBanjo (see all reviews from this person) on 12/25/2020

Overall Comments

I took my 1970 Gibson RB-250 for some much a needed setup and head replacement.  This was my first banjo but I had become discouraged with the sound.  Don was able to fix the issues which resulted in the sound being greatly improved.    

Overall Rating: 10

John Boulding

Submitted by Scotty60 (see all reviews from this person) on 10/27/2020

Overall Comments

I asked John about reprofiling the neck on my Hatfield banjo, he responded very quickly and said it wouldn’t be a problem and while he had it down to raw wood I might want to consider a speed neck finish, I did consider it and boy am I glad I did. I shipped it to him and he let me know when it arrived, kept me updated on progress, took wood off the sides from the binding to the back, a soft V profile is how I would describe it, tore the pot assembly down and did a complete setup, fitted the ring to the rim, dressed a few frets and even cleaned all the hardware while he had it down, I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears when I got it home, the volume is so much louder as I’ve heard Hatfield’s Are known for. As far as the speed finish it looks better than it did, he put a satin finish that matches the walnut and it has a antique look that I love. But most of all the neck is a lot slimmer and plays like butter. I couldn’t be happier, John is a great guy to deal with. Wanted me to let him know when it made it home. I highly recommend him. I requested a video of it when he finished and he did. Not only a perfectionist luthier but a great picker. THANKS John!

Overall Rating: 10

Don Bryant - Thurman NC

Submitted by Bk2olKY (see all reviews from this person) on 9/18/2020

Overall Comments

I had the great pleasure of meeting Don recently, when he did some work on one of my Banjos. Don was really great to work with and is a true gentleman. All of his work is outstanding and he even took time to show me around his shop and discuss all things banjo-related. It's surreal to be in a place like that and get to play various prewars. And his prices are very reasonable as well. If you need a banjo neck or any other work call Don!! You will be happy you did!!

Overall Rating: 10

John Boulding

Submitted by jeffdp (see all reviews from this person) on 7/29/2020

Overall Comments

Well, it didn't take me long to want a mandolin upgrade and with my wife's help i found a used Eastman 515 online. I got a great price on it, but it had some headstock damage and finish issues (gouges, wear, etc.).  I took it to John and after a good look we decided on a new bridge and tailpiece in addition to the other work.  Picked it up a little over a week ago and man it is shining like a new penny!  John did a brilliant job on the repairs and new set up, this 515 sounds awesome! I can't thank him enough.  If you have any repair or set up work on any instrument, I highly recommend John Boulding.  The work is outstanding and the price is more than fair.

Overall Rating: 10

John Boulding

Submitted by bova01 (see all reviews from this person) on 7/18/2020

Overall Comments

I had John do some fret dressing work and replace the metal tone ring in my KK-11 with a wood one. (He also helped me sell the old rim!) The wood needed to be stained to match the colors of my banjo....and he nailed it! My banjo has new life and is 3 lbs lighter! It looks, sounds and plays awesome! The turn around time was amazing! John is a terrific person (and musician) too. He did an incredible job and I highly recommend him.

Thanks John!

Overall Rating: 10

Bart Veerman

Submitted by kevin P (see all reviews from this person) on 7/17/2020

Overall Comments

I just spend some time today with Bart. He was and is very helpful. I would highly recommended both him and his bridges. Thank you Bart

Overall Rating: 10

Don Bryant - Thurman NC

Submitted by RBC-1 (see all reviews from this person) on 6/26/2020

Overall Comments

I had my old prewar Gibson banjo which had been taken apart years ago when I thought I needed a tone ring and restoration.    Even then, the friends I had in Greensboro at a luthiers shop there convinced me not to start cutting on an old Gibson.    It had sat for many years just in the case, still in pieces.   I had talked to a couple of banjo luthiers regarding putting it back together and just this week discovered Don Bryant.    Upon talking to Don I realized his expertise and patience in dealing with my apprehension and expectations concerning this old banjo, and I became very comfortable with trusting his craftsmanship.   

We scheduled a time and when I arrived he went right to work.   I was amazed at his knowledge of these prewar Gibsons, especially the specs. and characteristics that were required to reassemble my banjo.   The end result was actually a work of art, we both were astounded at the beauty and sound that once again rang from a long neglected musical phenomenon and piece of bluegrass history.

He was meticulous and diligent as he slowly, with great care,  put the pieces together to transform this relic back to its original state.  Long ago I was very active in bluegrass circles and I have watched many luthiers at their work.   Don Bryant has to be ranked at the top of his peers in creating and restoring these treasures of music history.   I can't thank him enough for permitting me to bring him my prewar Gibson banjo and making it once again, a beautiful creation.

RBBlue

Overall Rating: 10

Don Bryant - Thurman NC

Submitted by UNCdad (see all reviews from this person) on 6/20/2020

Overall Comments

When you need a great luthier, a master builder of state of the art necks, set up and replacing frets, look no farther! Don Bryant in Thurmon, NC is the best I have ever seen! He is reasonably priced and just a fine, honest man. I highly recommend Don for all your banjo needs!

Overall Rating: 10

John Boulding

Submitted by jeffdp (see all reviews from this person) on 6/17/2020

Overall Comments

I am new to the BHO, but a longtime banjo fan.  During this COVID lockdown i finally dragged out my GIbson Mastertone after years of non-use and also got the mandolin bug and invested in a starter F-model Loar.  John Boulding was recommended to me for a tune up on the banjo and a pro-set up for the mandolin.  I cannot say enough good things about what John did for me.  He gave a tune-up to the Gibson, and pointed out some things i may need to have worked on later, took an average sounding mandolin and put on a new bridge, strings, and gave it a proper set-up. I can't believe the improvement in the sound.  He gave me great advice on looking for an upgraded mandolin, answered many questions on instrument care, and provided some contacts for meeting other bluegrass musicians in my area.  His work was outstanding and he definitely charged a fair price.   I would highly recommend him to anyone who has instrument repair or service needs, or any music needs in general.

Overall Rating: 10

Nechville

Submitted by kamal (see all reviews from this person) on 6/16/2020

Overall Comments

I am happy to share my very positive experience buying a banjo from Nechville Musical Products!

I had been ogling Nechville's banjos for years, but never got a chance to actually play one.  I called Nechville to ask about a custom openback that they had in stock, and ended up having a couple of lengthy conversations with Brett Mularkey.  Brett was sincerely interested in learning about me and my particular banjo interests, and his honest and friendly advice was extremely valuable.

Brett's answers to my questions left me confident about buying from Nechville:

What if I just don't like it at all?  "Send it back, with no charge."

Would Nechville be willing to change out the neck for a different model?  "Yes.  And we could send you this banjo to play now while we build the new neck, and then exchange it later."

Change the armrest?  "Yes, of course."

I decided to go for it, and Brett and the folks at Nechville got my banjo packed up and shipped out the same day.  Once it arrived five days later, I was surprised to get a message from Brett, who had been tracking the package -- from his home, on the weekend -- just checking that it had arrived safely.

The banjo sounded and played great right off the bat -- truly a fine instrument.  I adjusted the truss rod to lower the string action to my liking, and mentioned so to Brett.  He suggested that I might like to try a shorter bridge to lower the action further, but he also asked "Do you like the tone now?"  Seemed a simple question -- yes, I did like the tone very much!  But after a good couple days of mulling on it, I responded that I might prefer a bit more bass and a bit less high-frequency response.

So Brett had the Nechville shop build me a slightly shorter yet heavier bridge.  What a difference!  Now, the tone is softer -- warm and mellow -- and balanced just right for my playing style.

Kudos and my thanks to Brett Mularkey and Nechville Musical Products!  I thought I was entirely happy with my very fine banjo when it arrived.  But they were not satisfied to just sell me a banjo that was very fine.  They were only satisfied once they'd provided me with a banjo that was perfect... for me.

 - Kamal Mostafa

Overall Rating: 10

Chris Cioffi

Submitted by sixish (see all reviews from this person) on 6/12/2020

Overall Comments

 

I had the opportunity to purchase a 2005 Gibson Blackjack a while back and while it sounded ok, it needed a fret job and some TLC beyond what I feel comfortable doing.  I again chose to work with Chris Cioffi as I had had such a good experience with his work on my Gold Star.  See my full detail review in this thread.

Chris performed his complete examination and optimization process on my new century GIbson.  He installed impeccable stainless frets, changed out lag bolts and reset the neck for best contact with the pot, along with a ton of other fine details.

Needless to say I am completely pleased with the results!

Chris really can bring out the best a banjo has to give!   Highly recommended.

Thank you for the great work, Chris!

Overall Rating: 10

John Boulding

Submitted by Dan Bieger (see all reviews from this person) on 6/7/2020

Overall Comments

I asked John to set up my 1929 tb3 Mastertone conversion suspecting that it needed more than a head or neck adjustment. John took it apart,adjusted the fit of the rim and tone ring and fixed everything else along the way. The work was done excellently, on time and for a fair price. I will be a repeat customer!

Overall Rating: 10

Don Bryant

Submitted by MadisonBanjo (see all reviews from this person) on 6/6/2020

Overall Comments

I just had Don perform a head change and overall set up of my Gibson RB-250.  The results were fantastic!  I highly recommended!

Overall Rating: 10

Randall Wyatt

Submitted by Mark Cox (see all reviews from this person) on 5/29/2020

Overall Comments

Randall Wyatt recently did some work on one my banjos for me. A 70's era Alvarez White Eagle arch top. I want to tell you that he did a very good job for me. In order to make sure the banjo was set up right,He took that banjo completely apart and put it back together correctly for me. He recut the heal plus installed a new nut,new bridge,new strings, tuned the head and also tuned the chamber. He also removed the old railroad spikes the previous owner had installed and installed new ones correctly. All for under $200.00. The banjo sounded good before i took it to him, now the banjo sounds GREAT. I was so pleased i dropped of my other banjo, a Recording King R-35 to him to have him set it up properly also. If any of you are in the Arkansas area and need good set up work for your banjo, i would recommend using Randall Wyatt. He is located in Searcy Arkansas. I am not affiliated with Randall in any way. Just a very satisfied customer. Im sure you will be also. Thanks Randall !

Overall Rating: 10

John Boulding

Submitted by ILOVEBANJOSS (see all reviews from this person) on 4/30/2020

Overall Comments

John Boulding in my opinion is one of the Top best luthier's in this industry, I get all my fret work done from him, He just refretted one of my necks with EVO Gold Medium Low fret wire, it plays like butter! love the fret wire, what I like about John Boulding is he is a very honest man! and he treats your instrument are neck are whatever hes doing as it is his on his work is superb! he is a true craftsman with his trade hes also one heck of a banjo player as well, if you need any work done on your banjo you should check him out a lot of you already know what I am saying and have had your banjos worked on from him so you know, hes my number one go to guy Thanks John for the great work you do.

 

Overall Rating: 10

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