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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!

7001 reviews in the archive.

Richie Dotson Luthier Reviews

Submitted by Cervecero (see all reviews from this person) on 6/17/2014

Overall Comments

Richie Dotson is THE best luthier I know of! His work is amazing and very true to the design  and period of the instrument.  The fun part is actually trying to find traces of the work sometimes, not even ultraviolet light will show it!!

Even if you have a pre-war something, this is your guy, ESPECIALLY if it is such a special instrument, Richie is the guy to call on!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Wes Lassiter (see all reviews from this person) on 5/27/2014

Overall Comments

I have to take a moment to say thanks and review the best Luthier in the business Richie Dotson. His work is of the highest standards and in the last 10 years of dealing with him the work has always been first rate. I trust him completely with any task I might ask of him.

The best part is his honesty and he will tell you what is the real possibility and will never promise what he cannot deliver. Sincere as the day is long, makes his expert craftsmanship and knowledge shine thru.

You will not be disappointed in any facet of his work whether repair or new instrument. It is good to see such integrity exists.


Wes Lassiter


Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Smelly Old Gibby (see all reviews from this person) on 5/22/2014

Overall Comments

I have used Richie Dotson as my primary luthier for a few years.  Over the course of that time he has completed many full set-ups on my banjos, as well as building necks for PW conversion projects.  I know that when I give a project to Richie, it will be done right.  His set-ups sound great, his repairs are nearly invisible once completed, and his new builds of necks look and feel like true prewar neck… 


The necks that I have had done by Richie use true prewar specs, hand-cut Inlays and hand-turned prewar style pips.  He has always done an excellent job of matching the neck and resonator, and the fit and finish are great.  In addition, I have also had one of Richie’s non-prewar necks with a radiuses fingerboard and stainless frets — this was quite nice also.

Richie has a great reputation in the bluegrass community, and is “the Man” in the central Virginia area.  His repair, setup and conversion work is contracted by music stores, vintage instrument dealers, pro pickers, and closet pickers.


I can honestly say that in all the jobs that Richie has done for me, he has never set unrealistic expectations to “get the job.”  I feel that his expectations are set well on the cost and time-line of the projects.  The set-ups he has done for me are usually done while I wait (which is a luxury because I live in central Virginia), but when on-demand service is not possible I do not feel that his turn-around is extraordinarily long.  It is true that full restorations, neck builds, and complex  fixes may take a couple of months.  However, I find this to be pretty standard when having custom build and restoration work done.


I say the above, not to negate a previous posters comments.  We all have our own experiences and we all have a right to good service and top quality work.  The only reason I mention the experiences of the prior post to to illustrate that my experience was the complete opposite.


Personally, I think Richie’s work is some of the best in the business.  And, I think he is a good guy to boot.  I do a lot of business with him, and every time I get something back I am happy.  I, like every other consumer, have lots of options… but I go back to Richie because I find his work to be great, his prices very competitive, and his turn-around to be adequate.

I would not have any reservations about recommending Richie Dotson to anyone who is looking to convert, restore… or, just get the best sound out of their banjo 


I also take banjo lessons from Richie, so I get to see a lot of the work that comes though his shop.  I have seen him do good looking work on mandolins, guitars, dulcimers…etc, too.  However, I have never used him personally for those instruments.


If you have any  specific questions on my experience with my builds and Richie’s work… feel free to PM me.  I would be happy to help you in anyway possible.




Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Pick One (see all reviews from this person) on 5/10/2011

Overall Comments

Richie Dotson, Newport News, VA.

I had asked Richie to set up a banjo I was buying and also do some repairs on a flat top guitar. He made a specific appointment for me instead of the "drop it off for a couple weeks" answer I got at other shops. I didn't buy the banjo I had intended but still had Richie look at my guitar.

I thought I needed a few things done but Richie thought a new saddle would solve the problems. Sure enough he was right! While I went for a sandwich Richie completed the work. All in one trip!
The guitar sounds better and has good action.

I found Richie knowledgeable and low key. He didn't try to sell me something I didn't need. GOOD JOB!

Don(Pick One)

Overall Rating: 10

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