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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!

7121 reviews in the archive.

Bishline  Custom Banjo Reviews

Submitted by vdiazleroy (see all reviews from this person) on 12/10/2011

Where Purchased: Direct from Bishline

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 4300 ($US)

Sound

I'm new to the banjo, but I think she sounds amazing. She's got a clear and crisp sound up and down the neck. The guys at my jam can't get over her sound. And, that should only improve with time.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I picked up my Bishline and she was ready to go! This banjo is SO easy to play. I have not made any changes and cannot foresee needing any soon.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

If I could rate this banjo at 20 I would. I asked for a lot of specifics and I got exactly what I wanted. Rob even gave me the exact color or turquoise I wanted based on a picture I had taken of the ocean. They found the most amazing inlay artist (Craig Lavin) and built me the banjo of my dreams.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I have only had her for about a month, but I sense that this banjo is a workhorse. I imagine I will purchase more banjos over the years, only because of desire, not a need for a backup.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Again, I would rate the team at Bishline a 20 if I could. My calls and emails were always answered quickly. With some businesses I feel as if the idea of customer service has gone out the window. It was refreshing and reassuring to know that the Rob and the guys at Bishline actually seemed to enjoy our conversations and my ideas.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I do not yet know enough about banjos to know what parts will have to be upgraded. I am happy with every piece of this banjo so far.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Gee, what didn't I say already? I would have Rob build me another banjo in a heartbeat.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by dstall (see all reviews from this person) on 8/8/2011

Where Purchased: Rob's shop in Tulsa

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 3300 ($US)

Sound

This banjo has a nice round sound and lots of volume. It sounds great and is quickly breaking in.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

He set it up just as I requested. At some point I might want to raise the action a little, but for my level of playing it is just right for now.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It is a beautiful banjo. He built it exactly as I described. It is an eye-catching burled walnut and the inlay...well, I think it is great! You can see it on his website under "custom" banjos. I call it the "Double Thunderbird." The name will be obvious to you when you see the banjo. It is the walnut banjo with the Thunderbird inlays on the 1 & 3 frets and the Marine Corps emblem at the base of the neck.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I am very impressed by the finish. It is thick, durable and incredibly uniform. I have refinished an piece of furniture or two, and I am amazed at how well he finished my banjo.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Rob and his partners are very responsive. I live just few miles from their shop so I was able to stop by occasionally to see the progress of my banjo. I always felt welcome and Rob is always eager to please.

Customer Service: 10

Components

My inlay work and the finish are definitely standouts. Take a look on his website.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Beautiful banjo with a great sound made by a true gentleman. Thanks, Rob and Big Dave.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by banjomule (see all reviews from this person) on 12/11/2010

Where Purchased: Bishline Banjos

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This banjo has amazing tone. It's very bright (almost archtop like) and sounds great all the way up the neck. It has great power on the 3rd and 4th strings and does not sound thin at all. Huge overall volume and will keep up with the Stellings i've owned.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I had told Rob to set it up like the Midnight Moon he plays on the video on his website. He gets great volume and tone out of the banjo with the action set fairly low so it's super easy to play. I plan to keep it exactly like it is.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This banjo is exactly what I wanted and even more than I hoped for. I asked for highly flamed maple finished blonde. When Bishline emailed me photos of the finished resonator I almost fell over, more beautiful than I could've imagined! I also asked for an ebony fretboard with diamond shaped inlays like the Deering Deluxe or Stelling Whitestar and that was no problem to get done. The real special thing about this banjo is the headstock. I raise donkeys and mules and asked if they could do an inlay of my jack on the peghead. I sent Rob a couple pictures and they did an amazing job on the inlay!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I've been playing it daily for six months and it looks the exact same as the day it arrived. I'm confident it will last the test of time. It came in a Guardian fiberglass case which will help protect it when not being played.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Customer service is very important to me and one of the major reasons I went with Bishline for this banjo was thier incredible service. The guys at Bishline were amazing. Emails were answered very promptly. Calls were always answered. They emailed pictures of thier progress on the banjo throughout the process. It was very cool to follow each step along the way.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Rob let me fully customize how I wanted this banjo bulit. I chose his block rim and his tone ring, based on clips I'd heard of him playing a midnight moon. I am very happy with the fit and finish on everything.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I waited 6 months after I got this banjo to write the review. I'm just as happy with it today as I was the day it arrived. It is exactly what I wanted in a banjo and it will surely be passed down when i'm gone. I would highly recommend talking with Rob if you're even thinking about having a custom banjo made. He is very easy to work with and will strive to build you the exact banjo you want. All at a price very favorable to other builders stock banjos. Thanks Rob!

8/4/20 - just wanted to give a 10 year update on this banjo. It has done nothing but get better over the last decade. The sound is incredible and I've yet to find a better playing neck. Thanks again Rob!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by JT Littrell (see all reviews from this person) on 5/26/2009

Where Purchased: Bishline Banjos in Tulsa

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: < the big 3 used $$ ($US)

Sound

The sound is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a warmer sound while maintaining the volume. I wanted to have one built with a mahogany rim and Rob suggested the Kulesh Big 10 tone ring to compliment the mahogany rim. He was right on with this combo! This banjo is so responsive--the deeper you dig into it the more it has to give. The sound is full and loud---NOT bright and tinny or thin. The 4th string pops and growls like no other I have played, and it brings a smile to my face every time I slide on it! When you go up the neck, the volume is still there. There is no shrillness to this sound, as there is with so many of the clone banjos. It is a joy to pick this banjo everyday, and I am lucky to own it. If you want one that no one else has, Rob is your guy. He really knows banjos.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

I have not touched this banjo. As with all new banjos, I am watching the head tension. This was the first mahogany rim banjo that he has built, so I left it with him for a couple of weeks to pick around on and experiment with. The setup is exactly what I told him I wanted. This is one of the fastest picking banjos I have ever picked. I had the neck built with the short scale radiused fingerboard. Man is it awesome.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

This banjo was my personal design from the bottom up, so I am biased. But the quilted mahogany resonator grabs your attention and never lets go. I have never seen another like it. I also had him use black "J" hooks, gold tuners and thumbscrews, and all abablone inlays in the traditional flying eagle pattern. The abalone has some of the best irradescence I have seen. His finish is top notch, plays fast, and is laid over a tobacco stain color that he suggested (right on again!). No need for a speed neck, if you have trouble with finished necks. Be sure to check out the pics of it on my homepage.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Bishline banjos are known for their quality workmanship. No worries here.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I was able to walk into the shop, meet Rob, pick with him for a while, and then order my banjo. When I picked it up, we picked for a while again and just hung out. Rob is a phenomenal picker. Andy is great with the business end and is very patient with all the changes that are inevitably made when having a complete custom built. He keeps you updated on the progress of your banjo and sends you pictures of your banjo in the various stages of production.

Customer Service: 10

Components

There are two elements that define my banjo--the quilted mahogany resonator and the all abalone inlays. The metal components are all top notch. Rob is very innovative and is working on some new ideas never before tried. Watch for some exciting developments out of the Bishline shop in the next few months.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I recommend Rob for your next...or first...or only custom build. His standard models are some of best bang for the buck in production banjos. I paid less for this custom banjo than what most of the Hubers, Stellings and Gibson's are listed for in the HO classifieds. That to me is amazing. I just can't believe the level of service and quality of banjo I got for less money than some people throw at used banjos. Simply amazing value for my dollar. If stolen, after the tears...I would look forward to the opportunity of going through the building process again with Rob and Andy. You really ought to give them a call.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by banjobuck (see all reviews from this person) on 5/1/2007

Where Purchased: Direct from Rob

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 4000 ($US)

Sound

Sounds like the banjo I used to dream about. Absolutely perfect in every way. You can get the crispest bluegrass sound by playing close to the bridge, travel a little bit down the head and you get the most mellow sounding banjo I've ever heard...perfect for classical banjo.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was all setup and absolutely perfect. Action was set up just the way I like it, have made no changes to anything, but Rob said he would for me anytime I needed it.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The banjo is absolutely beautiful. Rob worked with me from the beginning to make it just as I wanted. Got a custom inlay and the most beautiful piece of maple wood I have ever seen, I get compliments on the stain job all the time.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This is a banjo that I will pass down to my kids. It will definitely last me my lifetime and I even sold my backup banjo because I know I will never need it.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

When I first got it the 5th string tuner fell off and I told Rob about it. I took it down there the next day and he made it a priority to fix it for free, and it wasn't even his fault or due to bad crafstmanship. He has the absolute best customer service bar none. And his work is top notch so you'll probably never even need it.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The parts are top of the line, no need for upgrading.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

I would have paid more for this banjo than I did. If this banjo was ever stolen I would go to Rob to make me a new one after being depressed for awhile since there are no other like it. I absolutely love it! No other banjo I've looked at or heard can match my Bishline!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by tunnelfifth (see all reviews from this person) on 4/5/2006

Where Purchased: Direct from Rob Bishline

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 2000.00 ($US)

Sound

Bluegrass - the sound of this banjo is full and bright. It is very easy playing, and is a tunneled fifth model. The setup is for light gauge strings, and they are set low for fast and easy playing.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Rob did an excellent job building, and setting up the banjo. He is one of the top two or three builders, if not the top, in the four state area of Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The banjo is a tunneled fifth, and has a koa neck, rosewood fingerboard, a basic tree of life inlay, and curly maple purfling. The walnut resonator also has curly maple biinding, and an Earl Scruggs type maple inlay on the back. There are no flaws that either myself, or Rob has noticed. As for custom work, it is custom built to my specifications, and done very well.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The banjo has been extremely reliable, and I regularly transport it on a 200 mile round trip.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have known Rob for years. He is very friendly, an an excellent player and teacher. As for warranty...we reallly didn't discuss warranty, but Rob hasn't given me problems on the minor adjustments, etc., that must be done on any banjo that is used frequently.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The neck and the resonator back are the standout components on this banjo. Rob and I discussed woods and inlays before construction ever began, and no cheap parts or woods were used in its construction.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would definatelly recommend a Bishline Banjo to anyone, beginner, or professional. I also have a Gibson RB-75 J D Crowe model that I purchased new in 2003, and Rob set it up also...I rarely play it because the Bishlline is so much better sounding, and easier to play.

Overall Rating: 10

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