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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!

6832 reviews in the archive.

Pisgah  Rambler with Dobson Tone Ring Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Noah T (see all reviews from this person) on 5/21/2017

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

Submitted by howdoesthatonegoagain (see all reviews from this person) on 10/6/2015

Where Purchased: Acoustic Corner, Black Mountain, NC

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 1295 ($US)

Sound

This banjo has a rich, deep tone, with solid bass resonation without sacrificing the brighter timbre of the higher register. To me, it gives a clear, volumous kick and warm, resounding foundation, and has a wonderful rhythmic thunky tone that accompanies fiddlers beautifully. I've also used picks with it for bluegrass and it hangs in there with a full bluegrass set-up. I used to have trouble knowing what I wanted my banjo to sound like, and I have played many banjos since buying this one, and I have yet to find a better sound. In fact, I'm working right now, and I genuinely miss it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The folks at Acoustic Corner in Asheville (great people, highly recommended) set this banjo up wonderfully before shipping it to me. The hardware is all very sturdy, well made, and made in the US. All the wood is locally sourced in Western North Carolina, and as a musicologist with concerns of envrionmental repercussions for tone woods, I love that they use local woods. Plus, it sounds great and looks beautiful. It came with a Fiberskyn banjo, which I won't change. The scooped fret board is also great, and not too large and doesnt sacrifice too much neck.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I have a cherry neck and cherry pot, and the wood speaks for itself. No stains on it, just well sanded and finished so that I can see and feel the beauty of the wood. The stainless steel spun pot also looks great; it is sort of matte finish and isn't too shiny. My model is very spartan. No fancy peg, no inlay, just solid black, but that is my style and to my liking. I also love the feel and look of the Dobson heel at the bottom of the neck, definitely keep that.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This is the sturdiest banjo I've ever had. Not having to worry about knicking the wood on the pot when I set it down is great (I play a lot of outdoor gigs). The hardware is very sturdy, fits perfectly, and I can't imagine any problems with it. The tuners are really high quality as well.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I haven't dealt with the banjo makers directly, having bought the instrument from Acoustic Corner. The folks at the Acoustic Corner were extremely helpful, and had a slew of great handmade banjos from Noel Booth, Pisgah, and Mike Ramsey. They shipped the banjo in a well-packed box, and I think threw on some new strings for me. Nice people to talk to as well. A breath of air from the a**holes at my local shop.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Very high quality tuners; all parts made in US; all parts fit perfectly, nothing rickety.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Absolute pleasure to play this instrument. I've yet to find any better, and I think for this price it is such amazing quality. I don't plan on needing another banjo for a long time, and I will never part with this guy. 

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Burghauser (see all reviews from this person) on 9/16/2015

Where Purchased: Direct from Pisgah

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The sound is bright and raw, with plenty of that deep, liquid plunk that’s so nutritious to the Old Time connoisseur. The fifth string, however, produced some harsh overtones, which were addressed by my neighborhood luthier without much ado.

I was experiencing some vague, elusive frustration with the general sound profile until I discovered that I was playing much too aggressively. Once I lightened my touch a bit, the remarkably full range of the Rambler could express itself.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Notwithstanding the overtones mentioned above, the setup is very good. My playing style, however, required that I make some adjustments to sedate a certain part of the higher-end spectrum. I put in a Stockwell moon bridge (11/14”, medium weight) and a Fiberskyn head.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

All of Pisgah’s instruments are basic without feeling no-frills. Many of their competitors produce banjos that look so warmly regal, fragrant, smoky and perfect (the banjo equivalent of a single-malt whiskey) that they’re a little intimidating. The Pisgah Rambler is the sort of instrument you feel much more comfortable cultivating a long, relaxed rapport with. There’s something about the maple Dobson-style heel that feels vaguely like a human limb once it’s been warmed by use.

The Rambler takes Pisgah’s aesthetic signature (you can spot a Pisgah banjo at a hundred yards), and gracefully enlarges it. The 11-inch spun-over pot feels compact and taut, nicely counterbalancing the gently buxom excess of the neck.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

In a community suffering no shortage of very nice guys, Patrick Heavner manages to stand out as a very, very nice guy. He’s generous with his expertise, and responds to email with almost eerie speed.

Customer Service: 10

Components

My only concern regards the tension-hoop: although it’s beveled, the hooks seem made for notches. This prevents the general fit from being absolutely perfect. If asked for input, I’d recommend that the hooks be matched to the hoop with much greater particularity.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

An artist struggles not just for competence, but also for a distinctive voice. It’s one thing for a musician to achieve this. But for a luthier to do so requires an entirely different order of ability. In my experience (I’m on my second Pisgah), these banjos materialize from a vision that’s spare and intelligent—a vision whose verve, boldness and dynamism can only emerge from a thorough, comfortable relationship with the past.

 

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by genlee01 (see all reviews from this person) on 6/28/2015

Where Purchased: Elderly

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The banjo has a nice bright sound.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo has really low action with close spacing in between the strings. It was a little low for my taste, but a new bridge already has solved this preference issue. Very easy and fun to play.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

The banjo is simple, yet very sharp. The brass hardware with the spun over pot really pops. The brass with the richlite peg head looks great too.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I have only had the banjo for a few days, but it appears to be built like a rock.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Patrick was very helpful and extremely prompt with his emails. Very knowledgable too about his business.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I love the brass hardware. Appears like it should be around for a long time. I did change out the bridge, but that was for extra height.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This is a sharp little A scale banjo. The stainless pot, walnut neck with black richlite fret board is very easy on the eyes.  It's really easy to play and has a great sound.  I was happy to purchase an all American banjo built in North Carolina by a true fan of banjo and old time music.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by getoutthere (see all reviews from this person) on 11/28/2014

Where Purchased: Directly from Pisgah

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 1100.00 ($US)

Sound

My friend and I actually bought two, both Ramblers with Dobson tone rings, one is cherry and the other walnut. It was interesting to play them both and trade them back and forth, as they have slightly different tones. The walnut is slightly darker and more mellow and the cherry a bit brighter. Luckily I liked the cherry and she liked the walnut so we are both happy.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The banjos were all set up but since they were mailed, the strings were loosened and the bridges laying down. It only took me a few minutes to tune them and set the bridges for intonation. I adjusted the bridges just a bit.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

They are lovely, the woods and the craftsmanship are top quality.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Terrific quality, would play it anywhere with pride.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I emailed back and forth with Patrick, he was super prompt and always helpful.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

I'm a bluegrass player, this is my first foray into clawhammer, I made a great choice getting a Pisgah banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by philly (see all reviews from this person) on 9/22/2014

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased:
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Great, rich full sound

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Action was high for me so I sent the banjo back to Pisgah for adjustment. I first inquired as to what I could do to set it up to my tastes and they offered to do it for me without cost if I would pay for the shipping to and from. " You bet " I said!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

For me, a banjo has to look good - sound good - play easy and this one has it all.
Excellent fit and finish

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I think it will hold up for decades without any issues

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

This is where Pisgah excells the best beside making an excellent banjo.
Excellent communication is important to me and they always returned emails promptly as well as fast turn-around service. I asked them to fit the banjo with a Dobson tone ring and they did and discounted the cost of it as well!

Customer Service: 10

Components

The hardware appears to be of very good quality. I like a tight head and the hooks have stood up to being cranked down without breaking any.
A previous banjo (Richard Brown Troubador) kept breaking it's hooks and I had to order all new ones from the supplier (Rickard) which was not cheap with the shipping from Canada and he admitted there was a problem with his hooks breaking but still had to pay full retail.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Tomasi1949 (see all reviews from this person) on 6/27/2014

Where Purchased: Direct from Patreick Heavner

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 1259.00 historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Good tone as set up by Pisgah. It was more bright/treble than focused on the bass side. All in all it was what I was expecting for this instrument. I am rating the tone/sound a "9" beause I need to hear the banjo with a goat skin head from John Balch. I will update my review after this is done.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Everything was 100% perfect. I love the Pisgah necks. They are solid, comfortable and a joy to hold for hours. The Richlite fingerboard is nearly identical to ebony in terms of appearance and feel.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is a veryty beautiful instrument. The cherry neck has good grain. Beautiful spun stainless steel rim with excellent brass brackets & shoes.Smooth ebony like Richlite fretboard. Everthing is solid and blends together perfectly to make a beautiful instrument.There is bnot any fancy inlay or other bells and wistles. This is just a "pure functional banjo".

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware was custom madse for this banjo. I have total trust in Pisgah Banjo to make excellent products and to stand by their quality if a problem arises.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Patrictk Heavner is a first class fellow. A a relatively "new guy" onb the block he stands head and shoulders with well known banjo builders like Chuck Lee, Lo Gordon, Brooks Masten and Will Fielding. With a doubt Patrick provides impecable customer service and support. The proof of the pudding is that I am a repeat customer of the Pisgah Banjo Company.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The harware - stainless steel rim, brass tunrers , brass hooks and shoes., brass Dobson tone ring, ebony -like fretboard and the wood (grain & finish) are all first class.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I am 100% satisfied with my purchase. I did upgrade the 9/16" stock bridge to a 5/8" Fielding bridge per my personal taste.  I also plan to replace the stock head with a goat skin head from John Balch. Lastly I added a brass armrest from Smakula Fretted Instruments. This banjo will be for jamming banjo and the one I take to workshops, etc.  I just got back from playing it on the back.  It held the tuning for over two hours of playing in 85 degree Florida sunshine. 

If you want a first class instrument at a very reasonable price I highly recommend the Pisgah Banjo Company. I also own banjos from Cedar Mountain, Will Fielding and Brooks Masten. The banjo from Pisgah Banjo, I feel, have competitive level of quality  and workmanship. For the most part my "big name" banjos stay in my home because of their cost and my fear of damaging or loosing them. My Pisgah banjo are my working banjo at jams, the beach or at workshops.  

Overall Rating: 10

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