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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!

6918 reviews in the archive.

Griffin (James Bowen)  Minerva  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by flowerofthewest (see all reviews from this person) on 1/23/2006

Where Purchased: Custom order from luthier

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: £1495 (GBP) historic exchange rates / currency converter


This banjo is a custom open back banjo. Made of cherry wood with a white ladye tone ring and a Snuffy Smith bridge.. Bright sweet sound, just right for frailing.

Sound Rating: 10


My banjo was set up beautifully. Action is perfect. You barely need to press the strings to get a good sound. I have not made any changes to the banjo.

Setup Rating: 10


My banjo is very pretty. The Griffin logo is on the head with a full griffin animal below. There is quite a bit of mother of pearl inlay, but not too much to make it look gaudy. The name 'Beauty' is inlaid into the fretboard near the bottom. There is custom inlay on the neck, on the heel and the bottom of the pot.

Appearance Rating: 10


The hardware is very very nice. It will last a long time and very sturdy.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

James Bowen is very helpful and his service is great. No one could ask for more. Warranty on my banjo is for life. (whose I'm not saying...)

Customer Service: 10


White Ladye tone ring, the finish is perfect. The inlay flawless. I cannot say enough about the quality of this banjo.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would recommend any of James' banjos. I have seen quite a few and all of them are gorgeous. He goes out of his way to have a satisfied customer. Favorite feature is it's one of a kind. Made just for me. I love my banjo! and it better NOT get stolen!
I have not played too many other custom banjos, but by far this outranks any mass produced banjo I have played. I have a Gold Tone WL200 and as much as I like it, it doesn't compare to a handmade Griffin banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

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