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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!

6776 reviews in the archive.

Hatfield  Buck Creek  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by banjofan26 (see all reviews from this person) on 10/20/2014

Where Purchased: Arthur Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 3,000ish ($US)

Sound

I love the sound of this banjo. It has a clear punchy sound with a dynamic range that covers many playing styles. Picking close to the bridge gets you pure bluegrass tone while picking close to the neck offers a smooth sound that I associate with Jens Kruger. This is one of the best sounding banjos I ever heard with only one being it's superior and that was another Hatfield.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Perfect did need the head tightened after 3 weeks but that's common for a new banjo.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Looks great just like the pics on this website

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

No problems so far

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

They are good people and I'm sure they will stand by their product. You simply can't say enough good things about the Hatfields.

Customer Service: 10

Components

As good as most. Wish I knew that Cox flanges were still available when I ordered it. Cox flanges are the strongest zink alloy flange made today I think they are za-12 alloy its a $150 option on Arts banjo last time I cheeked. Oh yea the extra in the price of my jo was the Keith tuners and a few custom tweaks that took the price over $2,700

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Best for any dollar

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Randall10 (see all reviews from this person) on 10/31/2012

Where Purchased: Arthur Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 2600.00 ($US)

Sound

This is a sweet sounding mahogany banjo that has a ton of power and drive if you want it. I've been through more banjo's than I should have for my six plus years of picking but I now have the banjo that I should have bought in the beginning. I see why so many pro's play a Buckcreek.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I asked Arthur to set my banjo up where I can use an 11/16 or .656 bridge and he did that perfectly. I am using his compensated .656 bridge just as it came from his shop and it has low string height with no buzzing at any fret. I'd say "just right".

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Man, it's a beauty. The neck and resonator are mahogany. I'm not really sure what the stain color is but it sure looks great. The neck is as near perfect as humanly possible. It feels great and plays with very little effort. It has position markers on the side of the neck and great looking inlay work with Buckcreek at the 21st fret.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This banjo is built to hand down not to sell! Enough said.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Arthur and Beverly are as good as they come. He is a true craftsman and builds an excellent banjo. I know I have been practicing much more since I bought this banjo and have had no issues. My friends that come to my house and Jam on Tuesdays tell me this is the best sounding banjo they have ever heard me play. (As I stated eariler, I've been through several very good banjo's). My bank account would look much better if I had started here! I am sure if anything goes wrong Arthur will tell me to bring it on down.

Customer Service: 10

Components

There are no weak parts on this banjo. I think it is his least expensive banjo and is professional in sound and looks. Many pro's play this model and now I see and hear why.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I think I've said about enough about this banjo except if there are intermediate banjo player's like myself reading this, do yourself a favor and order a Buckcreek and your playing should step up like mine since I practice so much more. The Buckcreek sounds so good and feels so good in your hands. P.S. Arthur plays a mean banjo himself!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by gospelman97 (see all reviews from this person) on 12/31/2011

Where Purchased: Mr. Hatfield

Year Purchased: July 2011
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The sound of my Buck Creek is what I think a banjo should sound like. It compares well with older Gibsons, new Hubers or Yates. It will only improve with age.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The banjo was set up well when I received it. It came with a 5/8 bridge and I decided that I wanted to move up to a .656. Mr. Hatfield was more than willing to trade bridges with me. It took me a while to adjust to the lighter gague strings but now realize that they help give the best tone out of the banjo.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

The instrument is beautiful. I think that the snowflake inlays are some of the best looking inlays that I have seen. The mahogany neck and resonator are beautiful. All parts are of high quality on all of Mr. Hatfield's banjos.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The Buck Creek is an extremely reliable and consistent instrument. The time and detail that Mr. Hatfield puts into his banjos is second to none. He puts about 20 coats of lacquer on the neck and I'm sure that it will outlast me.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Mr. and Mrs. Hatfield were great to deal with. I conducted the purchase through emails and one phone call. Mr. Hatfield shipped the banjo on a day of the week that insured that it would not sit on a delivery truck over the weekend in the 90 degree weather. He traded bridges with me and even sent me a Christmas card. The Hatfields are as honest and friendly as they come and it felt like I was dealing with friends instead of conducting business with strangers.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I am a fan of all of the parts of the banjo. I like the inlays and really like the full sound of his compensated bridges. There are no tuning issues, even when using a capo!

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Not only did I get a great banjo. The service was great and I feel like I received a good deal. I feel like Mr. Hatfield's banjos are the best banjo you can buy for the money because he sells them himself instead of using dealers. Since there is no middle man, the consumer gets the absolute best deal possible! Bottom line: BUY A HATFIELD! You will be glad you did!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by BillyH (see all reviews from this person) on 11/21/2011

Where Purchased: @ Arthurs house

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 2600 ($US)

Sound

I've only had this banjo a week now but wow, what a banjo. Its been put together and played some since 9/2011 and does sound good. It IS loud with wonderful deep tone. Lots of bottom. It rings well up the neck and the bridge Arthur makes... Well it works!!! First banjo I've ever had thats in tune all the way up and down...

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Not only was the banjo set up, Arthur spent hours with me and the banjo to make sure it was EXACTLY like I wanted it. Even when He saw I was unsure about something and didn't even know how to get my point across, He knew what I was wanting and knew how to adjust it.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The looks of this banjo are 2nd to none. The inlay is the prettiest I've seen and I love the darker finish on the mahagony. This thing shines!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Again, like the rest of the banjo, Its the best money can buy.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

There is nobody in the business that is more helpful or friendly than Arthur and Bev Hatfield. His is the only warranty I truly believe that if needed, would be a no questions asked kinda deal. He's a man of his word and bends over backwards for his customers/friends.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Standout components? Has to be Arthurs hand made necks... These are just the best thing going. There are NO weak or cheap parts on his banjos.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Making the 14 hour trip up to Arthurs to pick up my banjo was a very memorable experience. I would've been excited to have gotten it off the big brown truck when it pulled up but being there at Arthurs to see where it was born was beyond words. From waking up in the cool early morning fog in Bowling Green, to the very Norman Rockwell scenic drive to Arthurs, to finally seeing the shop and all the banjos, then finally hearing him play my banjo live was an experience I'll always cherish. Arthur Hatfield and his banjos are a Bluegrass treasure and I highly recommend you go see for yourself. What I ended up with was the best banjo I've ever owned yet that wasn't even the half of it....

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by dpbaker (see all reviews from this person) on 6/20/2011

Where Purchased: Direct from Aurthor Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 2600 ($US)

Sound

The sound is wonderful. I play Scruggs style. The tone is great all the way up and down the neck. It has a rich full sound and is not overly bright.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Perfect!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Beautiful finish and it was flawless. It has a beautiful snowflake inlay pattern on the neck. Nice binding on the neck. Mahogany neck.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Finish and hardware quality are top notch. I do not anticipate anything that isn't normal wear. I've only had the banjo a couple months.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

This experience was wonderful. Worked with Aurthor directly when I ordered the banjo. I've needed no warranty work but I've been told Aurthor stands behind his banjos for a lifetime.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Components are all top notch. Cox Rim, Cox Resonator, Author's own tone ring. Beautiful hand made neck. Gotoh tuners, Hatfield bridge.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is one fine instrument and Aurthor is a wonderful person with whom to deal.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by jayder1985 (see all reviews from this person) on 6/3/2011

Where Purchased: Arthur's Workshop

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

My banjo has a Hatfield no hole ring in it that gives it a very hard sound that i like. Overall it is a very balanced banjo that has a good hard tone with very sweet tone up the neck.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

This banjo was setup almost exactly the way i like it right when i came into the shop. After trying several bridges both compensated and straight, i found that one of the compensated bridges was head and shoulders above the rest. The action was setup just the way i like it, close enough to play easily but high enough for me to really accentuate my pull offs.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Its a beautiful banjo. I had a speed neck made so there is no finish on the back of the neck.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It is extremely well build and sturdy. It has no tuning issues whatsoever and it is all i will play for years to come.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Arthur has the best costumer service i have ever dealt with. Extremely informative telling me about his banjos and how he builds them. When i went to pick up my five we spent two hours in his shop talking about the banjo as well as many other things. He was absolutely great!

Customer Service: 10

Components

Hatfield flathead no hole ring,
Gotoh tuners,
Cox maple rim,
Cox resonator

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I have owned many banjos. Gibsons, Frank Neats, Recording Kings and others but this banjo has them all beat. It is extremely sturdy, built well, and played well right out of the gate. I am a full time muscian and can only play what i can rely on and this is a banjo that i know wont let me down!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by wtbryant (see all reviews from this person) on 10/1/2009

Where Purchased: Arthur Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 2600 ($US)

Sound

This is a great bluegrass banjo -- as good as any I've heard. It's loud; quite loud. It has a very clear sound.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was set up EXACTLY like I requested. Arthur and I discussed pointedly what I wanted in a banjo. He set it up exactly as I requested. I ran by his shop about 4 months later when I was in KY and he re-adjusted a couple of things. Of course, this is normal. Arthur is great to work with.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I purposely purchased a more plain banjo. It's not showy. Arthur has those, but, I wanted a plain one. The Buck Creek is a beautiful instrument. But, it's not "in your face".

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Top of the line hardware.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I've never, EVER dealt with a company that was more interested in pleasing their customers. Arthur told me up front that if I didn't like the banjo, send it back. No other banjo maker that I've dealt with is as approachable as him and Beverly.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Again, top of the line.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

As far as the "pre-war" sound goes, this is a great banjo. I've played a Stelling for years (which I love). But, this one is different. This has the "mastertone" sound. It is as good of a mastertone type banjo as I've played -- but, for half the price of some on the market. Honestly, I can't imagine why anybody that was looking for this sound would go anywhere else.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by jesseroberts (see all reviews from this person) on 8/11/2009

Where Purchased: Hatfield's Shop

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

One of the best sounding banjos Ive heard and it is only a week old. It has a very full sound and stays in tune all the way up the neck.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Most everything was set up perfectly when I got the banjo. All I had to do was tighten the head.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The banjo is simple but a beauty. Mahogany wood, rosewood fingerboard and snowflake inlay

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It seems to me that this banjo is and will be very reliable. It is very well made.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Mr and Mrs Hatfield and very hospitable people. Mr. Hatfield is willing to help you get the sound you want even if that means multiple visits to his shop

Customer Service: 10

Components

No cheap parts were used in constructing this banjo. The neck is flawless and there are no casting marks on the hardware.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is an awesome banjo and the price is unbeatable.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by bluemusic4us (see all reviews from this person) on 4/15/2008

Where Purchased: Arthur Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I ordered the banjo with a Factory Floor rim and Arthur's 20-hole tone ring. It sounded good. When there I heard a walnut model and a standard BuckCreek with Cox rim and no-hole ring. It sounded really good, in some ways better than mine but Arthur said it had been put together longer. My banjo's sound was very good but never opened up like it should have, kind of tight, not really letting loose on the low end. After 8 months and the banjo never opening up and maturing, I sent it back to Arthur and told him to exchange the rim for a Cox rim and no-hole tone ring. I've now had this incarnation for 4 months. It was quite a bit louder from the start and has opened up like the other version did not. IT SOUNDS GREAT!

Sound Rating: not rated

Setup

Arthur set is up with his .656 Crowe spaced compensated bridge. It plays very well and his neck feels very good. I've had a GTR, Stelling, Deering, Ode D, and this neck feels every bit as good as any of those. Head tightness and tail piece height all just right.

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

His standard BuckCreek with mahagony neck and resonator. Snowflake inlays look very nice. Fit and finish of the flange and hardware were all flawless.

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

Yes to all. It is a professional, reliable, dependable banjo in every aspect.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Here is where I can pretty confidently say that Arthur Hatfield is the best when it comes to customer service. I'm preaching to the choir for many of the Hangout members, but Arthur can't be topped.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I like the fact that Arthur tells you exactly what you're getting in terms of components. Cox rim, Gill resonator, Hatfield tone ring and neck, Gotoh tuners, etc. As you might deduce, I'm no longer a big fan of all the hype surrounding the "old wood". It just didn't deliver in my situation.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

In my initial conversation with Arthur, I described playing Steve Huber's original RB-75 and being blown away. I said I wanted that sound. Arthur knew exactly what I was talking about and told me that you can't get the pre-war sound without having a pre-war, but that was the sound he was shooting for in his banjos. I can't say enough about the banjo, the price (value), service, appearance, all make this probably the best professional banjo buy out there.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by RB100 (see all reviews from this person) on 12/10/2007

Where Purchased: Arthur Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This is a new instrument - completed only in the very recent past. The sound is excellent as is, but I am sure will settle in nicely for a mahogany, 20 hole flat head Hatfield sound. The sound is also very full both up and down the neck.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Set up was excellent! It is very easy to play for both bluegrass and clawhammer. The action is set for a .656 bridge so I can lower if I want to use a 5/8 and raise if I want to use 11/16 bridges.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Fit, finish, and detail is everything one would expect coming from Arthur. What else can one say? This is a beautiful instrument.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

With a Hatfiled, one gets only the top drawer of components. I expect no issues there and I would not hesitate to use this as a main "gig axe."

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Of course, Arthur and Bev both care more about the product and the customer than any business that I think I have ever dealt with...I am sure that if there is an issue, Arthur will go the longest mile to make sure it is resolved.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Standout components? Everything...great mahogany neck wood and beautiful resonator, top drawer components including hardware, bridge, tuners - no weak or cheap parts to upgrade. Finish and fit are flawless.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by bleaver (see all reviews from this person) on 7/8/2007

Where Purchased: SPGMA 2005

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 2300-2400? ($US)

Sound

I am currently using it with the Wildwood Valley Boys (traditional band) on the road, and it has surpassed my expectations. The banjo has great even tone. It has plenty of power for jamming and it cuts a mic well. I have also used it for studio work as well. I am very pleased with the tone and power in any setting. It continues to improve.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Other than tightening the head after about a month (typical), I have had no problems. I have experimented with different bridges, but typically go back to the original setup.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Its rare to find a banjo that is pretty in appearance and sounds the way you like, but this banjo has both.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This banjo has been very reliable. I have other banjos i've used on the road, but I wouldn't consider using anything else. The sound is consitent. It is also easy to hear behind it even on bad PA systems.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

You couldn't ask for better service. Arthur is knowledgeable, helpful, and a true gentleman.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I had a set of Keith Tuners that I like and put on the banjo. The original tuners were fine, I was just used to them. The rim and tone ring are excellent as well as the workmanship of the neck.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I think this is a great instrument. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a great banjo. I have been asked several times if it was a prewar conversion. I don't think you could get more for your money anywhere.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Anthony Ihrig (see all reviews from this person) on 9/9/2005

Where Purchased: Hatfield Banjos

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 2200 ($US)

Sound

This banjo sounds fantastic. It has a warm mahogany tone that is rich and full. It is quite loud (rivaling a maple Stelling that I also own) with good consistency of tone and volume all the way up the neck. I have played around with various set-ups and have discovered that although there are the expected variations in tone depending on the selection of bridge, tailpiece, head tension etc., the underlying voice of the instrument remains pretty consistent. My guess is that Arthur's choice of ring (Hatfield) and rim (Cox) and the way that they work together play a big part in this (as they have been two of the major "constants" during my experimentation). Despite all my tinkering, however, for strait-up Scruggs style picking this banjo sounds its best when it is setup to Arthur's specifications.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I had Arthur ship the banjo to me with the neck detached from the pot assembly in order to minimize the risk of shipping damage. I consulted Arthur about his set-up technique and installed the neck, bridge, tailpiece etc. to his specifications. Everything fit together well and the banjo was very playable from the get go. Before taking it apart for shipment, Arthur had played the banjo in his shop for some time, to make sure it was set-up properly, to pick out the right bridge etc.. This effort was evident when I put the banjo back together.

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

This banjo's beauty lies in its simplicity. The mahogany neck and resonator veneer are stained a rich brown and the finish is flawless. I appreciate Arthur's use of cream colored binding and tuner buttons, they compliment the color of the instrument nicely. The fretboard is a medium-dark rosewood and I love Arthur's original "snowflake" like inlay pattern, it really sets his banjos apart.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I purposely waited until I had played this banjo for more than six months before submitting a review. I have been using this banjo exclusively at live performances since I received it and these shows have taken place in different seasons (which are fairly extreme where I live) and in many types of venues (from night clubs to outdoor festivals). The construction and fit of the various components of this banjo are quite solid. I feel this is a very reliable, trustworthy instrument.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I dealt directly with Arthur via email and telephone conversations throughout the ordering process and construction of the banjo. Arthur's customer service is top notch, he answered my emails promptly and was always happy to chat when I called him. He was willing to talk about his philosophy of banjo building, recommend parts and set-up possibilities (even if they differed from his choices), A/B different banjos over the phone, tell you a story about a famous picker he knows- you name it! I think having a human "banjo knowledge base" just a phone call or email away, is worth a premium in and of itself. All and all, it was a very special customer service experience, dealing with a real person who obviously takes a lot of pride in what he does.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The components on this instrument are all of the highest quality: Cox rim and resonator, Hatfield tone ring, Prucha hardware, Gotoh tuners, Presto tailpiece and a Hatfield compensated bridge. Arthur did a great job with the neck, it is quite comfortable and playable. Arthur shipped it with GHS strings of the following sizes: .010-.011-.013-.020JD-.010. As I mentioned earlier, I played around with some different components to find a combination that was best suited for my playing style but in the end I changed very little. I prefer a heavier tailpiece and so I have settled on a Kershner (for now), otherwise everything is stock. Of particular note, I tried out a bunch of different "boutique" bridges that I have collected over the years but nothing sounded as good on this banjo as the Hatfield bridge that Arthur picked out for it. Perhaps the most important thing about the different components of this banjo is that they were all chosen by Arthur, based on his many years of experience, not only for their individual qualities but for how they work together.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Folks, this is A LOT of banjo for your Buck! If this banjo were stolen I would call Arthur (as soon as I got the insurance check) and ask him to start on a new one ASAP!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by banjonut49 (see all reviews from this person) on 6/27/2005

Where Purchased: Hatfield Banjo Glasgow KY

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This is a great sounding banjo! I was at Arthurs when he put it togeather and both of us were very surprised at how good it sounded right from the first tune played on it. Because of a different tone ring and resonator, it has a somewhat different sound than my first Buck Creek. With the Hatfield no hole ring and the Gill resonator, I believe it sounds as close to a pre war as you can get. We compared this banjo with several pre war conversions that he owns and it came so close to the best one he has that it was amazing! It is actually better than some of the pre war conversions he has. Rich tone, with just the right amount of sustain, Clear up the neck with no loss of volumn. This could well be my main banjo for years to come.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I watched Arhur assemble and set up this banjo and it is set up just the way I like a banjo. Other than tweaking the head tension as required, I see no reason to mess around with the set up. Arthur fits his tone rings quite loose and in my opinion, thats the way to go! The Hatfield ring is very easy to set up compared with the Huber ring in my other Buck Creek.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Mahogany neck, Cox hard maple rim with a Gill resonator. Standard Hatfield snowflake inlays that in my eye are very attractive. I wanted to take the banjo back to Canada with me the next day after Arthur assembled it so the resonator was not quite finished off. I could use a couple more coats but the wood is sealed so no problem there. If I had waited until he finished the resonator and shipped it to me, I would be taking a chance on damage in shipping and would have cost me more. Im happy with it the way it is. I have to give Arthur a 10 for the finish because its my choice to take it before he was done with the resonator.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Arthur uses the Gibson USA one piece flange, best quality tension hoop, co-ordinator rods and the standard Presto tailpiece. The finish on the neck and inlays are excellent. I would use this banjo anywhere, and put it against any banjo out there, including many costing 3 times as much.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Arthur is a great person to deal with. He doesnt want you to buy something unless you are completely happy with it. Im sure that if I had a serious problem with the banjo, I could ship it to him and he would either fix it, or in an extreme circumstance, replace it.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The Hatfield no hole ring (nickle) is the best ring I have heard. It is stronger above 12 than the Huber, in my opinion, is easier to set up. We tried several resonators on the banjo and found the Gill resonator suited the best. This banjo was also a bit surprising when we tried several of Arthurs bridges on it and they all sounded good. That is unusual as Arthur would be the first to say. I got the 2 that sounded the best.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would recommend Arthurs banjos to any serious picker, professional of amature like me. His prices are very reasonable for the quality of work that he does and the tone that his banjos produce. I watched him assemle the banjo and it has to be perfect (neck fit to pot) ect. Or he will not accept it.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by timdesain (see all reviews from this person) on 6/7/2005

Where Purchased: Arthur Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 2500.00 ($US)

Sound

Beautiful rich full tone. Not too sharp and not too much crack like you get on a maple or walnut banjo. I could not believe how loud it is. I attribute the rich tone and volume to Arthur's new Hatfield tone ring.
Rings like a bell up and down the neck, the up the neck clarity is the best I have ever heard. I received my Buck Creek model in April and the sound keeps getting better and better as I break it in.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was set up well. I did lower the action a little and tightened the head to my liking. It was easy to make the set up changes as all of the parts Arthur uses are top notch,

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I had Arthur use his standard medium brown finish which is beautiful combined with the mahogany grain. The binding used is a yellow type color which makes the banjo look vintage, much nicer than white binding, I was given this as a option. I had Arthur add Keith "D" tuners at positions 2 & 3 and Keith regular tuners at positions 1 & 4. In addition I had him add a engraved truss rod cover with my name on it. The finish on the custom neck (made by Arthur) and the resonator is a perfect match. The quality workmanship by Arthur and his beautiful snowflake neck inlay design makes this banjo a work of art.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Top notch hardware, beautiful durable finish, quality wood components and Arthur's superb craftmanship make this a dependable professional quality banjo that should last a life time.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Arthur was a pleasure to deal with, he went so far as to offer me a customized neck which I was glad to accept. I had explained to Arthur that I have small hands, he installed a neck that is standard Gibson width at the nut but the fingerboard not including binding is 1/34 at the last fret which helps me on those tough to reach positions. With this custom neck (no extra charge), the 2 - Keith "D" tuners and 2 - Keith regular tuners, engraved truss rod cover I only paid an additional $300.00 over the $2200.00 standard price and Arthur threw in spike installation at 7, 9 & 10 and shipping and insurance at no extra charge. That is what I call customer service !

Customer Service: 10

Components

All parts are top notch. Cox resonator and rim, Hatfield tone ring, Hatfield bridge, Presto tail piece, Hatfield custom mahogany neck, Prucha hardware and Keith tuners requested. There are no cheap parts anywhere on this banjo. I have seen and played banjos out there thousands more that are not as good of quality and sound as this banjo.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I give this banjo my highest recommendation to anyone that is looking for a professional great sounding banjo. I still cannot get over how reasonably priced this banjo is and I do not think anyone can find a new banjo with better sound or craftmanship anywhere on the market at this price.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by harp (see all reviews from this person) on 1/25/2005

Where Purchased: Arthur Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 2200 ($US)

Sound

Sounds great, I was pleasantly suprised at how loud it is. I still consider myself a beginning Scruggs style player and realize a better player could probably get a multitude of sounds from this thing. Before the Hatfield I had a Deering Calico. While a truly beautiful banjo it lacked the warm tone that I like to here, I was never able to achieve the right sound (string and bridge changes) for me with the Deering. The Hatfield has that warmth and richness without doing anything but playing it the way it came in. I simply asked Mr. Hatfield to build me one with "no twang" and he delivered. It does have the Huber ring.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was perfect. Low action the way I like it. I have not changed anything except the strings. I use D'Aquisto's in a rather odd gauge (.10 .12 .16 .23 .10), if anything this only increased the depth of the tone without muting the sound.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Standard Buck Creek model, it is truly a beautiful banjo. Not flashy or ornate like some of the other builders, but a quality you can sense as soon as you open the case. The inlay is a snowflake type pattern that is perfect. I had a reddish stain over the Mahogany and it turned out great, better than I expected. Mr. Hatfield sent a few color samples for me to choose from. Headstock inlay is distinctive and very well done.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I have no reason to believe I would ever need (not want, I always want.) another banjo. It has a heft to it that gives me confidence in long term ownership without problems.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Exceptional, above board and does exactly what he says. Always available by phone or email with prompt replies. Very patient with my many questions.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I do not see a weak element anywhere on this banjo.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would recommend this banjo without reserve. I love it and would love to have the walnut model someday. It is easy to fall for hype in any purchase, I don't care what the product is. Mr. Hatfield will tell you right away his banjo is not the fanciest but will challenge you to find a better playing or sounding banjo for the money. I have to agree with the man.
If it were stolen I would call Mr. Hatfield immediately and have him start another one. Obviously I could not do a side by side comparison with any other make. I have played Gibson, Stelling, and Deering banjo's and still ordered this one sight unseen based on 2 things; Mr. Hatfields reputation and the fact that there are so few of these around. I wanted something different and have no regrets.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by gbkyser (see all reviews from this person) on 9/22/2004

Where Purchased: Private seller

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 1875 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This has a rich, open mahogany sound, comparable to one Crowe RB75 I tried. I've torqued the head way up and tried to play like Ralph, then loosened it up and tried to sound like Doc Boggs. I think it's best in the middle, where you get a little of both high and low freqs, leaving a valley in the midrange so you get that hollow sound.

This banjo sounds more classic, bluesy, and gritty than clean & jazzy (though it can sound very pearly-pure up the neck). I'm not saying one sound is better than the other, just trying to show where this one sits.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It came to me second hand. The action is good, a hair on the high side which is where I like it. I have the head tuned to just under A and am using 10-12-14-22-10 strings.

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

The mahogany is a medium brown finish, lighter than typical. Shows a pretty grain. Binding and buttons are ivoroid, a nice touch. Trimming of the binding is a wee rough in one spot. The inlay on the fingerboard is pearl in a snowflake pattern, and the peghead has an awesome pearl...snowburst...sort of...shape. (You can recognize a Hatfield peghead from a hundred paces.)

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

This is a reliable, professional instrument.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Mr. Hatfield has been good to correspond with, both early on when I dropped him a question about maybe getting a banjo built, and more recently when I got this one secondhand. We haven't talked about the warranty, but judging by his reputation I should be able to work with him should anything come up.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Mr. Hatfield builds an outstanding neck - not too thick, not too thin. Other parts include a Cox resonator & rim, Huber ring (assume this was built before Mr. Hatfield developed his own ring), Prucha metal parts, Presto tailpiece, and (I think) Waverly two-band tuners. Hatfield compensated bridge with Crowe spacing. I'm editing my review a year after getting the banjo. I've seen no weak spots.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I'd recommend this banjo without hesitation. I shopped around for about 6 months before buying. I tried a bunch of names, including most of the better known independent makers. This banjo is as good as any and better than most, quality wise; it feels better than most; and its sound is in the top 2 or 3 of individual instruments I played. Now I've had my Buck Creek for a year, played out a few times, played it amongst plenty of other banjos. I would still pick this one out of a crowd. It still lifts me up just to look at it.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 9/16/2004

Where Purchased: Arthur Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 2250 ($US)

Sound

Told Arthur I wanted the banjo to sound like Haskel McCormicks, and he delivered. This banjo has Arthur's new tone ring (not a Huber) and it rings like a bell. Outstanding clarity up and down the neck.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Did not change anything as Arthur worked with me over the phone to get desired results. Arthur knows what he is doing.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Could not find any flaws in banjo. Very hard to criticize Arthur's work.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Arthur builds every banjo like it will be his own.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Arthur is just a phone call or email away for help. He will bend over backwards for his customers. A true gentleman.

Customer Service: 10

Components

All components are top quality, there is no skimping in the quality and workmanship in his banjos.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I did alot of looking, and listening and really there is not a better banjo out there for sound,quality,and craftmanship. First I would be deflated but I know Arthur is there to build me another one. Love it,it has the 4th string I was after and the elusive sound we all want. Arthur answered them all. There is no comparison, nothing comes close for the price or more.
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Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 1/24/2004

Where Purchased: Arthur Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 2100 ($US)

Sound

Arthur builds banjos to prewar specs and in my case he has achieved that goal. The sustain and tone is just as I wanted. I heard Arthurs personal banjo on an instructional backup tape that he offers, and I emailed him and asked him to build me one that sounded just like his. It is truly a beautiful sounding instrument, and one that I am sure will last longer than me.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I am very particular about my setup, and told Arthur just how I liked it, expecting to have to tweak it when I received it. I have been playing it for two weeks now, and have no need to change it. Arthur is very particular about his creations also. He will not ship it until he feels it meets every customer need or desire. He called me on the phone multiple times after setup and played it for me, from many angles, and it worked out very, very well. It is so rare for someone to care the way he does.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The appearance was just as I expected for something that I put such an investment into. It was virtually flawless. It actually had a smudge on the head where he had played and played it during setup. Arthur will take days to set a banjo that he builds, up until it sounds perfect. He wasnt even satisfied with the bridge until he installed the 10th one. As for the smudge, it was gratifying proof that he took so much time with it, and it came right off with a little rubbing :)

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Its a tank. There are no instruments that will outlast it.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

You will not find a more dedicated builder than Arthur Hatfield. He is a gentleman, and master builder and a down to earth honest man, that is in today's world market, hard to find. You dont have to call him, he will call you, and go the extra mile for you. You cant get service like this with the big time builders, and believe me, it shows.

Customer Service: 10

Components

There are no weak or cheap parts in this banjo. I particularly like the shape of the heel of the neck. It is very unique. I think I have said everything previously that would say that the components are all top quality.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I love the look and the sound of my Buckcreek banjo, and it was a pleasure to work with Arthur Hatfield during the process of his building it. If you want the best banjo you can buy, for the least expense, and the best service, bar none, then you know now what banjo and builder to put your trust in. I really mean this. It was a great experience, and I got a fantastic banjo out of it. If anyone wants to talk to Arthur about a banjo, just do a Google search for Hatfield Banjos.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by cplumlee (see all reviews from this person) on 11/14/2003

Where Purchased: From Arthur Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 2200 ($US)

Sound

Has a very rich and broad tone. Sounds awsome. Very deep tone but can still cut through all the other intruments easily. Has equal volume and tone the entire length of the neck.. Has a compleatly different tone at the neck than at the bridge. I am amazed that the tone continues to change and get better the more I play it. I have had it about a month. No other banjo I have played sounds like this banjo.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Was set up very well. During shipping the tail piece got moved, so I had to experiment a little before I got the sound I liked.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

beutifull banjo. I heard from others that the inlay design that Mr. Hatfield uses is really unique. I was very pleased when I opened the case for the first time.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I cannot see having any problems with this intrument. It is put toghther very well.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The only problem that I had, and it wasn't Mr Hatfields fault, was that UPS delivered my banjo to the wrong address. In fact it was a vacant house under construction. I am very lucky to have gotten it. A worker could have easliy stolen it off of the front porch. I think you can maybe pay a little bit more and require UPS to get a signiture from the recipient, instead of just dropping it off. I would recommend that as a buyer you request this.

Customer Service: 8

Components

Huber tone ring, Cox three ply rim, Cox resonator, Neck by Arthur Hatfield. What more can I say. I think that the components speak for themselves.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I will say this. If I were a rich man and had money to just blow on a new banjo. I would still buy this instrument. I have played a couple of high end deerings, a Crafters of Tennesee banjo, and a high end Gibson. So granted, I have not played a great number of intruments. It is a fact though that I love the sound of this instrument and it seems to be getting better the more I play it.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by banjonut49 (see all reviews from this person) on 9/17/2003

Where Purchased: Hatfield Banjos, Glasgow Ky

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This is an excellent bluegrass banjo. Deep low end and clear up the neck with no loss of volume. The Buck Creek has the traditional sound associated with the pre war gibsons. Very good neck hand made by Arthur. Good tone variation between the bridge and the neck. This banjo is perfect for my style of playing. Very nice indeed!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was very well set up when I recieved it. The only thing I had to do was make a small head adjustment. The Huber ring is sensitive to head tension, but when you get the proper setting, it is beautiful! I ordered both the 5/8 and the 11/16 compensated bridges and it sounds great with either. I am using the 11/16 because I like the higher action.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The Buck Creek has a mahogany neck and resonator, very nicely finished with no flaws that i can see. The neck is very nice indeed! I have recieved many comments on the inlay. Very tastefully done! Very nice inlay on the peghead also. Arthur makes it appear aged which is a real nice touch. First Quality chrome hardware, cant go wrong there!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This banjo is meant to be played and i cant see myself ever needing to purchase another because I cant see myself finding another as well built that sounds as good! I would put this banjo up against any model currently made today. This will be my workhorse banjo for a long time to come.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Arthur is a great person to deal with. We discussed on the phone the type of music I play, my style of playing, how i wanted the banjo set up and finished. I cant see anything serious ever going wrong but if it ever did, I would simply send it to Arthur to be repaired.

Customer Service: 10

Components

This banjo has the Jimmy Cox hard maple 3 ply rim and the Huber flathead tonering. This is beyond arguement, one of the best combinations available for the closest proximation of the pre war sound. The metal parts are standard for the industry, well respected and used by almost every builder. Arthur makes his own bridge which works very well. I see no need to upgrade anything.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This banjo is an absolute bargain for the price!! I have never played a better banjo, for sound and playability! I have played new Gibsons, Deerings and this banjo out performs them all! If this banjo was ever stolen, I would be on the phone to Arthur right away to get another one. This banjo is in my opinion the best available! Especially, for the price!! I rate it as excellent!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Brian (see all reviews from this person) on 5/24/2003

Where Purchased: Arthur Hatfield, Glasgow, KY

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: $1,950 historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This banjo is perfect for Scruggs style picking. Loud and sweet with a growl in the 4th string. She's still getting broke in and is getting better and better. With Arthur Hatfield's set up (tone ring fit) and a Huber ring it's a guaranteed winner.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Banjo was set up by the builder, Arthur Hatfield. He knows how to get the best sound out of his banjos. The action is about 3/16". The tension hoop on this banjo is not even off the head all the way around. I rises up a little by the neck. I do not know the affect this has on the sound. Both spikes were installed too deep to allow the string to go under them.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

A beautiful hand made mahoganey neck by Arthur Hatfield. Very beautiful and unique inlay pattern on an unfinished rosewood board. Soothing, golden mahoganey resonator. Not 100% perfect. There was some excess stain on the neck binding, and a crooked resonator screw.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

I fully expect this banjo to last a life-time. There is nothing about it that would lead me to believe otherwise. Very solid, quality through out.

Update: A couple frets came unseated on the neck.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

It was a pleasure dealing with Arthur as this banjo came to be. His integrity speaks for itself. Highest of rating.

Update: Customer service has been above and beyond! It is a great feeling to be able to call the person who made your banjo and get some feed back. Arthur has been exemplary in this regard!

Customer Service: 10

Components

Handmade Arthur Hatfield mahoganey neck, Huber Flathead tone ring, Cox maple rim and mahoganey resonator, Presto tail piece, Gotoh tuners and a one piece Gibson style flange. All metal parts nickel plated.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

What an honor to own one of Arthur Hatfield's banjos. With a handmade neck and Huber Flathead there's no mistaking this instruments intent, a solid work horse made for playing and lot's of it. Thank you Arthur, for making a dream come true!

There are a lot of banjos out there in the 2k dollar range. If your looking for a Huber/Gibson sound with excellent service, this is the one! If your looking for a model of perfection, buy a Stelling.

Overall Rating: 8

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