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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  Salty Dog Banjo Reviews

Submitted by corycox3 (see all reviews from this person) on 1/1/2012

Where Purchased: Jack's Music, Conway, AR

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 2,900 ($US)

Sound

This banjo is loud, clear and bright. I play bluegrass style and it is the epitome of that kind of sound. I'm serious when I say that when I go to jam sessions, 9 times out of 10 someone will comment on how much they admire the it's sound. If you play in jam sessions at festivals and such, you know that you're overrun with guitar players. It is loud and clear enough to cut hrough the half a dozen guitar pickers in jam sessions and sounds fine doing it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It was shipped from Tulsa to Conway set up. When I ordered the banjo through Jack, I also emailed Rob Bishline and told him to pick out the best one he had. He replied and said he had played it before sending it to Jack's and that he thought it was as especially fine (of course he's going to say that, he made it and sold it!) I don't think Jack did much to it to change it. When it showed up, I played around on it, he asked if it needed any adjustments and I felt it was about as good is it could get, so I paid him and took the thing home with no adjustments. It fits my hand well and the action is perfect. I've adjusted the head tension in the six months or so that I've had it, but that's the only thing that's all that was done.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This thing is as pretty as a speckled pup! The flame in the wood is a thing to behold and the hardware shines. It really is a pretty banjo. In a world of Gibson look alikes, this thing looks like a special made handcrafted banjo. You can tell it wasn't made in a factory overseas, but that an artist put his time and talent into it.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Everything on it is solid and well made. I imagine my great grandkids will be picking around on this thing in 100 years.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I've never actually dealt with Rob and the folks at Bishline to correct a problem, but I can say that Rob actually cared enough to write back when I contacted him over Facebook to say I ordered one of his banjos, and then followed back up with me to see how I liked it after I took possession of it. He may not really care how happy I was, but he sure put on a good act like he did if he didn't! Rob's interest and attention really made the buying experience special.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I think it is all fine. I know the tail piece is a Presto, I don't know about the flange and all that, but it looks first rate. In other words, the parts are nice enough I ain't been poking around at it to figure out how to spend more money to upgrade it. That makes my wife happy.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is my first real banjo. I come across Bishline's at the place where I bought it, Jack's music. I'd been looking for a new banjo for over a year andI reckon I've played all the different brands out there. Honestly, for the money, I couldn't find anything that made me smile like this banjo. And I reckon that's what means you've found the right banjo, it makes you smile when you play it. I kept returning to it, over and over. It looks and feels like a craftsman built it and it was cheaper than a lot of banjos that look and feel like they come off an assembly line. It was cheaper and nicer than others I looked at and I like that. Most of all, I love the sound and others do too. Like I said, people comment on it and other banjo players ask to play it. When it is played angels sing in the heavens above, dogs and cats become friends and peace comes to the middle east. Okay, maybe not all that, but if a musical instrument could do those things, it would be this fine banjo. You should get you one. You shan't be disappointed.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by 62mapleTone (see all reviews from this person) on 3/9/2011

Where Purchased: Banjo Hangout

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 1700 ($US)

Sound

Bright, responsive, round/ balanced tone. I'm used to maple banjos, so I'm not as crazy about the low end, or the absence of that crackle you get with a maple banjo. I occasionally play clawhammer and I don't like the tone as much for that style, however the quality of this instrument is excellent and I don't want to put it down. It is louder than my Gibson ESS, and more responsive.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The setup is pretty much perfect. I'm not planning on changing a thing. It seems like my playing has cleaned up with this banjo, which I must applaud.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This model has a very unique look, with the bones inlay and the dog on the peg head. It has a gorgeous finish and the detail is very high quality. I personally like ebony fret boards, and black binding (the Salty Dog has a rosewood fret board and white binding), but the way this banjo plays and sounds is winning me over.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

The quality seems top notch, I have only had the banjo for a couple months, but I'm confident it will hold up. I've gig'd with it a few times now, with no issues except the 5th string popping out of the spike a couple times, but that hasn't happened for weeks now, and it's an easy problem to fix.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I bought it used, however I have spoke to Rob on the phone and he was very nice, helpful and knowledgeable. He really seems to want to satisfy his customers. He's a great banjo player and a great banjo builder. I'd rather buy a banjo from a guy who plays banjo and puts his name and warranty right on the instrument, then from some random assembly line somewhere.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I'm pleased with all the components, except I may change out the Presto style tail piece, since it's not adjustable that I can tell.
Snuffy Smith bridge, excellent!
I think it has a stock, Bishline tone ring which sounds fine to me, but I would be curious to hear it with a different tone ring, I'm guessing it would be splitting hairs to tell the difference.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I got a great banjo for a great price and I'm really happy. I look forward to playing this banjo more and growing with it. It is very responsive to how you want to play it, be it driving hard, or more gently. It seems very well suited to scruggs style bluegrass, which is mostly what I play. It also sounds good on melodic style fiddle tunes. I occasionally play clawhammer and I don't like the tone as much for that style, compared to a maple banjo, still the Mahogany has a classic tone. I would buy another Bishline in a heart beat; great banjos, especially for the price.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by bakerratliff (see all reviews from this person) on 6/18/2008

Where Purchased: banjo.com

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 2500 ($US)

Sound

great bright sound. Loud clear ring. Great melodic sound up and down the neck. Good low ends as well as the high lonesome sound.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

banjo.com set up everything for me. They asked the right questions and did all the work.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Beautiful light tone. The inlay is different and sets it out from other banjos. I added a wooden armrest that helps bring the light tones out of the banjo.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Everything looks top notch. Looks like it would last a lifetime and even comes with a warranty saying so.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The Bishline company was extremely helpful. Jim at banjo.com called them on the phone while I was in the store and they offered to do anything for me from staining the banjo a different color to putting a salty dog neck on a heirloom. Very nice people to work with.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The neck work (frets) is top notch. No buzzing and easy moving. Very fast neck. The detail work is great. Everything fits like a glove.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Love this banjo. The sound is only outmatched by the craftsmanship. I would by all means buy another one. Highly recommend not only buying one but going through banjo.com to do so.

Overall Rating: 10

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