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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.

Smakula Fretted Instruments Luthier Reviews

Submitted by kimmattis123 (see all reviews from this person) on 8/29/2018

Overall Comments

I've know Bob many years through the Augusta Heritage Festivals at D&E College in Elkins, WV.  He has repaired many of our club instruments- He has fixed and set up two of my banjos [ both vintage with Dowl sticks].  He is one of [ if not the..] best person for this.  He has sold me a vintage fiddle  set up and ready to go [ an great old Nippon, great instrument].  If you need vintage instruments or any repairs of them-- Bob is you go-to guy.  I go out of my way to send him my repairs or parts problems.  His work could could not be better.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Ragtimejoe (see all reviews from this person) on 4/15/2015

Overall Comments

I purchased a Gold Tone BC350 from Bob. It came it today, better than Bob described. I've had several dealings with Bob over the years. He has always exceeded my expectations.

Thanks Bob




Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by S_Heriger (see all reviews from this person) on 10/31/2014

Overall Comments

I just had my nice vintage tenor Ibanez Artist (circa 1970s) repaired by Bob Smakula, and I’m extremely pleased with the results. I purchased the banjo recently, but discovered the head was old and worn, and wouldn’t hold tension. It was also in need of a neck adjustment and other minor tweaks. Bob replaced the maple tone-ring with a brass one while installing the new skin, and the tone improved dramatically.

I now have a very well set-up banjo that plays great and produces top-notch tone. I am very happy with the results as well as the repair costs, and would wholeheartedly recommend Bob to anyone looking for top-notch banjo repairs and tune-ups. Great job at a great price, with great communications. 10/10 all the way.


Overall Rating: 10

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

Overall Comments

Bob Smakula runs a tight ship. He’s very direct and thorough in the way he runs his business. There’s no nonsense whatsoever. Every query gets a straight answer and emails are answered promptly.
He exercises a professional dedication to excellence.
Bob was also very accommodating with regard to my sometimes unusual requests.
In terms of cost I have no frame of reference really as Smakula Fretted Instruments are the only repair experts I’ve ever used but I suspect you get exactly what you pay for and excellence comes at a price. I didn’t find the cost excessive though and I suspect repairing instruments is like renovating a house….more complicated than building from scratch. Another thing I liked is that he was crystal clear on his prices before he commenced the work.
I got two banjos fixed up by Bob’s shop. I think Andy did most of the work. The craftsmanship is second to none. It’s a joy to behold such perfection. These folks really love their vintage instruments and they restore them in a tasteful, appropriate, sympathetic manner.
I think this video says it all really:
If you want to check out Andy’s work on my two banjos you can go to my homepage and check out my photos. I’ve done a “before and after “ job on it.
Bob is on the Banjo Hangout. His username is ‘SFI’.
I have absolutely no reservations about recommending Smakula Fretted Instruments. I already have another job lined up for them. I wouldn’t dream of even looking elsewhere as you just can’t improve on perfection.
It’s so refreshing to see things done absolutely right. If all businesses operated like this the world would be a very different place.
An unreserved 10/10.

Overall Rating: 10

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