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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!

6938 reviews in the archive.

Griffin (James Bowen)  12 inch open back Banjo Reviews

Submitted by snotto (see all reviews from this person) on 11/27/2015

Where Purchased: Direct from James's Workshop

Year Purchased: Nov 2015
Price Paid: 1800 (Sterling) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I'm learning clawhammer, but love all of the "Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack. This banjo just hits the mark, whatever the song. So far I am thrilled with overall tone of the banjo. It is just what you want a clawhammer banjo to sound like ..... purrrfect

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

This was ready to play so there was absolutely nothing to do but just enjoy it from day one.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is eye candy on steroids. The marquetry, inlays and overall finish is just sooooo good. You would have to go a very long way to better this standard of craftsmanship.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I think this banjo will last me till I am 158 years oldthen become the family heirloom !

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

You cannot get any better than dealing with the person that made the banjo. James Bowen is a master craftsman, and his manner matches his technical ability. A genuine very nice person.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I cannot imagine that anything about this banjo will ever wear out. It has been constructed with passion and only the best have been used in the making of this remarkable instrument.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

My wife bought me this banjo for a special birthday, and firstly I would like to say a humungous thank you to her. I would then like to say how much joy this banjo brings me whenever I play it. It makes me smile. it really is a pleasure to play. One day I hope that I will be able to play it to the full, but in the meantime I will just revel in the experience of playing a beautiful and delightful instrument.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by snozzle (see all reviews from this person) on 8/24/2013

Where Purchased: Direct from James Bowen

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 2600 (£Sterling) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Bought for claw-hammer. Mellow, throaty tone, transitions smoothly into brighter, lively end of scale. Has volume and drive for Scruggs style as required. Versatile, sophisticated sound

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Very precise up and down the neck. Slides, pull-offs, hammer-ons, all effortless. Only buzzing comes from my incompetence

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This instrument is a true work of art, the out put of James Bowen collaborating with master engravers and carvers. The neck is North American curly maple. Peg-head and heel-cap facings in real ebony. Fingerboard ebony bound in imitation ivory. Inlays white pearl engravings and heel carving by master craftsmen. The pot is curly maple with Greek Key pattern decorative banding. Bound in black with ebony capping inlaid with stars and glitter resin. Finished in "gun stock oil" - a high quality, durable finish that does not obscure the fine detail of the carvers artistry

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Like a Rolls Royce with strings on

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

James found out what I wanted then built an instrument that exceeded all my expectations

Customer Service: 10

Components

The neck contains a slim, light and ingenious double acting truss rod. 26 shoes, hooks and nuts. Griffin long tailpiece in stainless steel. Griffin rim rods, fine thread, stainless. Gotoh tuners (Japan) "Snuffy Smith" bridge 11/16ths. Bone nuts. "Renaissance" high crown head.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Best i've seen, heard and played. Worth the wait

Overall Rating: 10

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