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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!

7122 reviews in the archive.

Bishline  Patriot Banjo Reviews

Submitted by talknormal (see all reviews from this person) on 2/4/2013

Where Purchased: Mandolin Brothers, Staten Island

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 1500 ($US)

Sound

I bought this as my first full-fledged "grown up" banjo (I'd only previously owned a crummy little $200 Rover), and it sounds just amazing. I play bluegrass, old time fingerpicking, and clawhammer, but my budget could only accommodate one banjo, so I was looking for something warmer-sounding than a straight up bluegrass resonator banjo so I could use it for everything. This fits the bill extremely well. I'm guessing the darker sound is at least in part due to the lack of full tone ring. With the action set a bit on the high side, it's very serviceable for both bluegrass and clawhammer playing. It has great sustain, including all the way up the neck. It is not the loudest banjo I have ever encountered, but still plenty loud.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The action was super low when I bought it--I expected to have to raise the action a bit if I wanted to play clawhammer, but initially it was buzzing all over the place just from fingerpicking. Otherwise I think the setup was very good. After I owned it for a few weeks and it settled a bit I started having buzzing problems coming from the tailpiece as well -- I don't even totally understand what the problem was but I eventually put a little piece of felt between the tailpiece and strings and this resolved like 99% of the buzzing problem.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

This is a very attractive, classy looking banjo with a sort of minimalist appeal. The workmanship is excellent, by all appearances, and it generally *looks* like a much more expensive banjo than most the other makes I considered in this price range (Gold Tone, Recording King, etc).

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I gig on this banjo regularly, don't own a backup, and so far it has never failed me.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Haven't had any customer service experiences but I chose this banjo in part because I wanted to patronize a smaller, US-based company, and the superior customer service associated with that kind of a manufacturer.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The only real issue I've had with this banjo is the aforementioned tailpiece buzzing problem, and will eventually replace it when I get around to it. I had a luthier friend take a look at it and he said in his opinion the tailpiece was too widely flanged and that might cause the problem. Cosmetically, the tailpiece also had a little cover that flips over to cover the bottom of the strings when playing, but it wouldn't stay closed so I eventually pulled the whole cover off (at very minor aesthetic cost to the banjo). I echo the other reviewer who said the tuners seemed a tad cheap but its really nothing major. One thing I love about the Patriot is the neck, which is noticeably thinner than the other banjos I tried (I have quite small hands so this was good for me). Also, I discovered after purchasing this that I have a nickel allergy, so I replaced the armrest with a cobalt one because it was making my arm itch like crazy, but that's no failure on Bishline's part. Overall the instrument is incredibly playable and the components are great, especially for this price range.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I looked at a *lot* of banjos in the $1000-$1500 range and this one blew them all out of the water. As noted, a big clincher for me was its versatility -- the only close contenders I tried were Deering's Sierra and Boston models, but they were both too bright and tinny-sounding for my needs. I love this instrument, play it every day, and would enthusiastically recommend it to anyone looking for something in this price range.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Ragtimejoe (see all reviews from this person) on 11/4/2012

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 1595 ($US)

Sound

I love it. I'm a clawhammer player learning bluegrass and it does everything I need. Plus it's light

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I got it from a major mail order shop that I've dealt with for years and still do business with (that's why I have chosed not to mention the name here) Evey one can have a bad day.

The set up on this banjo was crap. I called Rob and he waked me through how to get it playable. I was fine with it for 3 months until I started playing up the neck.

Setup Rating: 3

Appearance

Excellent. It's not designed to be a Granda and it's priced accordingly. It's a great USA made instrument at a great price - no complaints at all

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Great all the way

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Rob is great to deal with. I just sent it back to him for set up after 3 months. I didn't want to send it back to the shop I got it from even though the have a 1 year warranty, and I'm sure they would honored it.

Rob was glad to see what was going on and turned it around in very short order. As my playing improves, I'm sure my next banjo will be a Bishline

Customer Service: 10

Components

I can't think of anything i'd change

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Rob is first rate to deal with. I assume the shop tech had a bad day. I still deal with them. Things happen.

It's not a $5,000 20 pound banjo, but it is great for a lightweight bluegrass banjo. Rob's customer service is the same for his entry level banjo as it is for his highest end banjos

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by banjolina (see all reviews from this person) on 10/27/2011

Where Purchased: Zepp Country Music

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Great tone without a full size tone ring. The note separation is great. Sounds like a banjo that would cost twice as much.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I bought it used but I think it still had the original strings and bridge. I upgraded the bridge to a Scorpion and changed the strings to Snuffy Smith's Almost Mediums. Other than that it plays like a dream.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It is very plain but very pretty at the same time. I like the more basic look.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I don't see any problems.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The tuners work fine but are not a full 3/8 diameter and seem a little on the cheap side.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

This is a monster of a banjo that has great playability for a reasonable price. The weight difference is huge and my back likes it a lot. A few little upgrades and I have no regrets. Zepp's is a great place to deal with.

Overall Rating: 10

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