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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!

7001 reviews in the archive.

Second life Banjo Luthier Reviews

Submitted by R.D. Eno (see all reviews from this person) on 12/3/2015

Overall Comments

I posted this review under Carl Arcand's name, but for those who search and find Second Life Banjos, I'm re-posting it here.


Carl Arcand, Second Life Banjos, in Ulverton, Quebec just completed -- after only a couple of months -- a custom neck for a Vega Style M tubaphone pot, and I couldn't be more thrilled with his work.  Last summer, I ran across Second Life Banjos' website with images of many vintage banjos that Carl has restored or remodeled, and I was planning to drive up and have a look at a Dobson Carl had built a neck for, but someone bought the instrument on line before I could get there.  Not long after, I was offered this old pot, in great condition, and Carl was the first luthier to reply to my request for an estimate.  He also told me he could complete the job before Christmas.  And he has.  He made the bird's-eye maple neck to my specifications -- wider at the nut and slightly short of scale to accommodate my short, stubby fingers, the fifth string dropped down to the sixth fret, a frailing scoop, paddle peg head and low action to make it easy for me to play up the neck.  It is perfectly mounted, using the original dowel stick, and the banjo just sings -- it's bright and pocky at the same time, with terrific volume but not so much sustain that I can't play complicated figures and hear them with great clarity.  Carl also performed a few small repairs and adjustments to flaws I had overlooked and created the instrument of my dreams -- a classic specimen of banjo history mated with a beautiful example of contemporary craftsmanship.  A match made in Second Life Banjo's workshop.  The cost was reasonable, the aesthetic result beyond value, and when Carl begins to fabricate his own pots, I believe the Arcand original will be quite stunning.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by handysteve36 (see all reviews from this person) on 8/9/2014

Overall Comments

Hello all,  I had a custom Gibson Banjo built using Gibson parts I had collected. Here is my experience using My parts where less than perfect condition. I had a complete pot with original tuners. I wanted a banjo built to exact Gibson specifications. The Flying Eagle in a dark finish with the rear white pipping in the resonator.

               After I reviewed the Second Life Banjo website I called Carl Arcand the owner, and shared my plans with him. He has built plenty of Banjos that have shipped world wide. I even spoke to one of his European customers who is having his third banjo built by Carl. I now know why. Repeat customers are happy customers. The Man creates artwork using exact Gibson Specs.  The detail is amazing.

My first concern was with out of country shipping. It was safe and fast. My parts made it to his shop in Montreal  Canada with no problem at all. From that point on Carl swiftly worked my build into his shop. It was around three months for my build to be done. I know I got lucky there because some people want much more time than that. Speed was never my interest, quality was. I am sure he will be much busier next time. Good things take time, but not this time.

             Carl kept me up with progress photos as the rim was determined to have serious wood repairs that some luthiers may have not been able to reverse. Today they are gone and one could never see the flaws at all. The added repairs to the rim were very reasonable priced to lathe out, plug, and redrill, etc. Many corrections were made without a huge expense.  As the build progressed I got photos of the neck work and the detail that goes into having a custom banjo built. Carl uses exact Gibson colors as one would want. The progress photos were nice but when I opened the box I was taken by its overall appearance. Amazing craftsmanship speaks loud. The neck has a great feel. The Banjo has punch and a high quality sound that blows my other banjos away.

              I would highly recommend Second Life Banjo. Hell, I may be sending him another banjo project. Carl does have several banjos for sale on his site if you want a ready to play instrument. I purchased a gorgeous old school black case from Carl and glad I did. The price was better than anything around my area in San Diego and it is the classic old style, only brand new.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by yanickroy (see all reviews from this person) on 9/16/2013

Overall Comments


A long long time ago,there was a guy (according to witnesses ) who once turned water into wine... Now that's open for debate; truth? Myth?: I was not there I can not testify...

But I was there Saturday September the 14th 2013 when Second Life Banjo's owner Carl Arcand turned my mid priced generic Chinese banjo into a 1500$+ vintage banjo with an amazing set up, a new tailpiece and a new bridge. A true miracle.

I have to admit I am not a great banjoist (yet!) but I did study in sound engineering, I have worked in recording studios for a few years and I have been playing guitar for 25 years: Trust me I know good sound.

My "Second Life Banjo's modified Chinese banjo" sounds A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. It now has balanced, rich, deep tones... It gained a third dimension!!! Plus (and I say " plus" because volume and tone are 2 different beasts altogether and I haven't actually measured it with a SPL meter) the perceived volume seems to be a good 20-25db more...

If you are within driving distance and you need a set up, an upgrade or a mod, don't hesitate, Carl is in the business for the right reasons; he loves banjos and he loves well done work. He won't let you out the door until your banjo sounds its absolute best.

He also builds and restores banjos... Hum...I know where I'm buying my next banjo!!!

Overall Rating: 10

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