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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)  Leveller  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by flowerofthewest (see all reviews from this person) on 10/31/2005

Where Purchased: private seller

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 675 (GBP) (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter


I play clawhammer/frailing style banjo. This is an open back banjo made of walnut and has a brass tone ring. It has a rich sound and is so easy to play.

Sound Rating: 10


James had recently seen the banjo and went over it with a fine tooth comb to make sure the set up was still in good order since he had made it 16 months ago. It is currently set up with medium strings and a Snuffy Smith bridge, neither of which I would change.

Setup Rating: 10


This banjo is made of walnut, has an ebony fingerboard, and a no knot tailpiece. The inlays are mother of pearl. The name Leveller has been added in mother of pearl on the board as well. This being James' entry level banjo, it has the Griffin head on the head stock and not the whole beast. Some of the inlays are dots instead of fancy patterns. Very pretty banjo!

Appearance Rating: 10


James uses top quality hardware, so I trust this will last a long time. The finish is gorgeous. Made to very high specs.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

James is very helpful and a top notch banjo luthier. The banjo is guaranteed for life.

Customer Service: 10


No weak or cheap parts on this baby. This is an entry-level banjo, but there's nothing about it that says entry-level, except that it has the brass tone ring instead of the more expensive tone rings around.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I felt I got a good deal. These banjos do not come up for sale very often. I am delighted to own a Griffin banjo.
If it were stolen, I would hunt high and low for it. To me it is irreplaceable. And if I could not find it, I would have James make me another!

Overall Rating: 10

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