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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!

6920 reviews in the archive.

Hawthorn  Walnut Bowtie Banjo Reviews

Submitted by donestephens (see all reviews from this person) on 9/28/2019

Where Purchased: Direct from the Builder

Year Purchased: 2019
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter


This banjo is made in the style of the Gibson "Bowties" that were manufactured and sold between 1954 and 1970. It has a fuller and rounder tone than my archtop 1960 RB-250. (This new banjo is flathead). The tone is even and clear all the way up the neck. Lots of get-up-and-go in the sound.

Sound Rating: 10


The setup is excellent as delivered. Bridge was taken down for shipment, but the right spot was accurately marked on the head in pencil. I have not changed the setup yet. I tend toward a lower action, so eventually I will make adjustments.

Setup Rating: 10


The burl walnut resonator and black walnut neck are beautiful. Neck and peghead hew very closely to the classic bowtie look with the manufacturer's "Hawthorn" name on the peghead. The custom coordinator rod cover reads "Walnut Bowtie" in an angled script. The craftsmanship, fit and finish are all excellent. I have not found any flaws in the finish.

Appearance Rating: 10


It has the reissue Kluson stair-step tuners, which is a nice period-correct touch for any modern banjo that wants to be called a bowtie. Price SL-5 straight line tailpiece. Everything is expertly plated in chrome.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Glenn is a great guy to deal with, and the transaction was painless.

Customer Service: 10


Components are all top notch. The tone ring is a Kulesh Big 10 20 Hole flathead. It has a Jimmy Cox three play maple rim. It's worth remembering that a weak point in lots of the later Bowties was the thin rim, so this part choice is appreciated. The fingerboard is rosewood.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I am very pleased with this banjo.  As a fan of the Bowties I am pleased to see fine instrument makes like Glenn and his crew undertake a serious reproduction.  In their day, the Bowties didn't get lots of respect, partly because that was a period when Gibson was uneven in the quality of their products.  When they were well made, they were hard to beat. Hawthorn has turned a great one.

Overall Rating: 10

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