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!
7115 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: direct from the maker
Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 2006 ($US)
It sounds great. Very responsive, with a nice bassy 4th string. The Rickard tubaphone tone ring on the 12" bubinga rim really does it for me. Tuned down, it's great for my singing voice. Tune it up, and it's bright, rings like a bell. Not too much sustain, but definitely not dead either. It's right at that middleground, nice and plunky but with brightness and clarity up the neck. No choked notes, the thing just sings.
Sound Rating: 10
Nice low action, no buzzing and a really nice bridge made by the maker. Everything is sound, no adjustment required. I did, however, try a Gary Sosebee bridge on this baby, and she sounds sweet with it. Depending on my mood I do switch between the original bridge and the Sosebee, Noel makes a fine bridge.
Setup Rating: 10
He did everything exactly the way I wanted it or better. Flawless, beautiful finish (he did an oil finish on the neck, and a shellac finish on the rim. It turned out to be just right)... The slotted tuner looks great. Inlays are fairly spartan, which is what I requested. An engraved star at the 5th fret, and my initials engraved into a scroll on the heel cap (I gave him free range with the engraving, and he did NOT disappoint. Not by a long shot). The grain in the wood is beautiful, lots of very nice figuring.
Appearance Rating: 10
Waverly tuners on the slotted head, a nice 5th string tuner, the finish has lasted for two months so I can't say how long it will last, but I've been playing it pretty constantly and it's just as pretty as the day I got it. All the hardware is tough, check the components section.
Reliability Rating: 10
Great communication. Great service. And an all-around nice guy, too. Doesn't mind just talking banjo with you, and he really knows how to bring out what you want. He'll walk you through everything, and he's very kind about it all. Had a problem trying to get the check to him, so I had to void it out and send him a new one. He was very understanding about it. A very kind, obliging fellow. I'd recommend Noel to anybody.
Customer Service: 10
All sound. A pretty tough no-knot tail piece, solid hardware. The tone ring is solid brass, absolutely great. Renaissance head, tough dowel stick and accompanying hardware. It's got an integrated flange, so no shoes and nuts. I like it because it leaves a nice, smoothe resonating surface inside. It's pretty, too.
Components Rating: 10
This guy will give you the most bang for your buck. He will NOT disappoint. And his prices are just plain reasonable, too... If this thing got stolen, I'd hunt the sucker that stole it and give 'im a piece of my mind, too. This thing isn't leaving my sight -- it's my new baby.
Overall Rating: 10
'Backup' 8 hrs
'Chuck Lee Ovilla' 8 hrs