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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!

7080 reviews in the archive.

Quail Creek Banjos Reviews

Submitted by Soup4MyFamily (see all reviews from this person) on 10/13/2021

Where Purchased: Quail Creek Website

Year Purchased: 2021
Price Paid: $2500 ($US)

Sound

I have two preferences for open back banjos: Ear-splitting Whyte Lady rings on 11" pots for jazzy groups, and Dobson rings on 12" pots for actual old time music and home picking. This banjo is set up with a 12" pot and a Dobson ring, and it is, in my opinion, the quintessential clawhammer banjo tone that I think most people tend to think of.

Despite being almost as loud as my archtop resonator, this banjo has no need for a rag in the pot to tone it down whatsoever. No funky overtones, nothing undesirable lingering in the notes after striking. The Dobson ring is like a bell with every note. Being used to renaissance heads, the hide skin head provides a familiar tone- but unique all its own. I don't think I could go back to the plastic and am already considering a skin head on my other open back.

This banjo sports a semi-fretless design, so you also get the fun microtonal qualities (and learning curve) of playing fretless. Despite not having much fretless experience prior, it's not hard at all to make pretty sounds come from it. I could not ask for a better sounding banjo.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

All I needed to do was tighten two nuts after I opened the box.

The banjo came with a Moon bridge which I have no intention of swapping out. I am constantly tinkering on my other banjos with new bridges, nuts, and strings, and I really don't have a need to do that with this one.

I'm not sure which strings Lindsay sets these banjos up with, but these aren't my favorite. This has no detraction whatsoever from the instrument, I'll swap out to what I prefer when I feel a need to.

The action on the banjo is set up exactly where it needs to be for comfortable playing. If you prefer a super high or a super low action, I would make that known to Lindsay so that he can accommodate you on that. That said, the action on my banjo is right in line with where I want it. No weird buzzes, and still easy to fret up the neck.

Lindsay set the fifth string nut up higher than I'm used to, this seems to be pretty standard on his banjos. In doing so, the fifth string is in line with the rest of the strings, so there's no need to use a bridge with a raised fifth string. I like this, though it does sharpen the fifth string significantly when I capo it on the railroad spike.

If you've held Pisgahs and other dedicated old time banjos, you'll already be familiar with the "chunkier" setup that open back banjos in this class have. My experience until now has been on a bluegrass banjo and on a Gretsch import with a thin neck. The neck on this banjo is way thicker than I'm used to, but that's been an easy adjustment.

Overall, the banjo really couldn't be set up any better than it already is. It's apparent how much Lindsay cares about every banjo he builds.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This banjo was built to my requests so my own bias is heavily at play here. Lindsay did exactly what I asked for on the inlays (flying kestrel and star on the headstock, and an intricate silhouette of North Carolina at the seventh fret). This banjo is nothing short of gorgeous and catches everyone's eyes. It's a truly unique instrument.

The color of the stain is exactly what I asked for, which unfortunately isn't captured well in any photo I take. The banjo has a deep red hue in a wood stain, and it's absolutely gorgeous. The hardware is all standard stuff with no issues whatsoever. Pisgah tailpiece, Balsam brass hardware, etc.

The brass plates Lindsay sized to the fretboard for the frailing scoop and the fretless portion are perfect. Maintenance of all brass hardware is up to the user, not the builder- I'm already developing some nice wear on the fretless portion and I'm excited to see how that looks in the future.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I don't see any reason why this banjo would ever "fail" in the future for any reason beyond my own negligence. The hardware is solid, the brass is harder than my fingers, and I haven't had any luck wiping the finish off with my fingers. Honestly, this banjo is built to be handed down the family line, and that's exactly what I intend for it.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Lindsay is friendly and maintained constant communication throughout the entire build. Lindsay sends photos every step of the way and really goes out of his way to make sure your banjo is just that, your banjo.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Honestly, everything is pretty much what I would consider to be "standard" and that's by my own choosing. The option to use Rickard tuners or upgrade beyond what's really necessary is there, at the buyer's discretion. The sky really is limitless for what you want on your own banjo, but everything Lindsay uses is rock solid.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Lindsay builds every banjo according to the customer's request.  When I came to him for a banjo to dedicate to my daughter, he gave me exactly what I asked for.  I had my choice of builders for this one, but his semi fretless Man In The Moon model is what attracted me most.  I knew I couldn't draw the inspiration from it and ask anyone else to make it, this banjo could only be built once and it had to be built by the right person.  Lindsay delivered my dream to me, and I know my family will enjoy it for years and years after I do.

I asked Lindsay for my dream banjo, and he made it.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by TacomaKen (see all reviews from this person) on 9/27/2021

Where Purchased: Online Direct from Luthier

Year Purchased: 2021
Price Paid: 2,050 ($US)

Sound

This banjo has a 12" pot and brass tone ring, giving it a slightly deeper and mellower tone. It projects well and is pleasing to the ear. As a semi-fretless, it sings especially well in those tunes that emphasize modal tuning and minors. At the same time it can be bright and cheerful. It sounds delightful and plays like a charm.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

This banjo was set up perfectly, which I am thankful for, since that is a weakness of mine. The strings are all in the right place and the notes ring out like they should. Playing this open back banjo over the scoop is effortless.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Can I just say that Lindsay is a genuine artisan and craftsman? He is, and then some. If I didn't play banjo, I would still love this instrument just as a piece of art and find craftsmanship. I can't detect a single blemish, flaw or defect - even down to the precision in his inlay work. Amazing!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This banjo is solid and built to play. The hardware is brass and very sturdy. It feels solid. The price included a very nice and protective case.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Lindsay's customer service is excellent and he communicated well every step of the way, including photos of the build process. Very friendly.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything stands out, but comes together well. The tuning pegs are smooth, the brass is attractive, but most of all the woodwork is exquisite.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is a custom built 12", 25.5 inch scale semi-fretless banjo.  A quail inlay on the peg head, semi-fretless with brass plate to the seventh fret, Texas star on the S-scoop. Half moon bridge, antiqued brass hardware, rolled brass tone ring, fine wood pot and neck, dark wood cap on pot, and goat skin head.

Everything from my first inquiry, to receiving pictures during the build process, to seeing a video of the completed banjo, to Lindsay's checking in to see if it was received OK after shipment was on point.

It is impossible to find words to describe how great this banjo looks and how nice it sounds.  I would not hesitate for a moment to work with Lindsay again.  If you are considering one of his banjos, I highly recommend them.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by knbanjo20 (see all reviews from this person) on 5/11/2021

Where Purchased: From Quail Creek Banjos

Year Purchased: 2021
Price Paid: $1670 ($US)

Sound

Lindsay Llewellen of Quail Creek Banjo's has created a work of art that not only is stunning to look at but sounds beautiful. It has an ancient, rich, old-time sound that is very woody and organic.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was ready to play when I received. The action was perfect and I have no intentions of making any changes in the near future.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is a gorgeous banjo. Ebony fretboard, brass plate for the top of the semi-fretless neck, dark-stained maple for pot and neck, aged brass hardware, and an aged goatskin head. It is a masterpiece. My favorite part of the banjo is the mother of pearl dragonfly inlay on the pegboard. Lindsay made it exactly to my specifications! No flaws, it is perfect! He is a true artisan!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This is a banjo that will last forever. It is solidly built. Not only is it gorgeous to look at, it is amazingly easy to play! I know I will have this banjo forever!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

From the very beginning of my inquiry about a custom banjo build, Lindsay was incredibly responsive to my questions and very thorough with walking me through the process of my custom build. He is a passionate and brilliant builder! I'm sure if I have any problems in the future (which I'm sure I won't) he would be very helpful! I'm so glad to have found him! I can't say enough positive things about my experience with Quail Creek!

Customer Service: 10

Components

This is an amazing custom banjo build. Lindsay gave me a high quality instrument with incredible craftsmanship and quality hardware, etc.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I am so happy to have found Quail Creek Banjos.  Lindsay delivered an excellent custom banjo that I will enjoy forever! It is a gorgeous piece of art that sounds amazing! 

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Schmidtrock (see all reviews from this person) on 3/26/2021

Where Purchased: https://www.quailcreekbanjos.com/

Year Purchased: 2021
Price Paid: Extremely Affordable ($US)

Sound

Plunky, deep and earthy.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Banjo shipped with bridge taped down.
Extremely well packaged in multilayered bubble wrap as well as bags of 'peanuts' for extra cushioning.
Lindsay thoughtfully placed pencil marks for bridge setting. Intonation was right on with his marks.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The peghead, fingerboard, tailpiece and heel plate are beautiful, rich ebony wood. There is a very pleasing skunk stripe showing the length of the fifth string fingerboard. The dark rich ebony contrasts extremely nice with the beautifully carved and oil finished walnut neck. As nice touch and nod to the history of this style, there is a brass plate on the peghead acid etched with the 'hobo' symbol. The gourd pot is sanded nice and smooth with a light oil finish.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The tuning pegs are very smooth and appear as friction pegs but are internally geared. Very cool setup! The head skin is fastened securely with glue as well as pleasant decorative furniture tacks around the rim. A bone nut ensures years of reliable tuning and playing. Lindsay's meticulous artistry with attention to the details really stands out in this instrument.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Lindsay Lewellen / Quail Creek Banjos is an excellent person to get to know as well as do business with. The whole process from quote request through delivery was the best I've ever been through for any transaction. Frequent and informative communication was provided as well as build photographs through the process. I'm extremely happy. After our interactions through this commission, I consider him a friend.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything stands out on this beautiful gourd banjo.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I highly recommend Quail Creek Banjos to anyone considering a custom built banjo. Besides the gourd models, Lindsay builds beautiful open back, fretless and semi-fretless models as well as fully fretted. His skill and artistry are in my opinion at an extremely high level. Plus he's a Banjonaut too!

Be Well

Kevin

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by kjordan712 (see all reviews from this person) on 10/5/2020

Where Purchased: Quail Creek Banjo

Year Purchased: 2020
Price Paid: ($US)

Sound

Deep, warm, full tone.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Customer Service: 10

Components

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I love my new Quail Creek fretless gourd banjo.  It has a rich, deep, full tone that I can feel reverberating in my chest when I play it.  Lindsay at Quail Creek is both a meticulous craftsman and wonderful human being who is a joy to work with.  I can't wait to get my next Quail Creek Banjo, most likely a semi-fretless.  

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Quigg (see all reviews from this person) on 6/25/2020

Where Purchased: Bought direct from Quail Creek Banjos

Year Purchased: 2020
Price Paid: $1960 ($US)

Sound

I am a relatively new Scruggs style player and wanted a much lighter banjo than my Gibson Granada which is HEAVY for a 60 year old in long practices. So I opted for a lighter, open back banjo. Lindsey at Quail Creek Banjos has dialed in the sound I wanted for an open back. Clean, warm without being muddy. The wood, Dobson tone ring, goat skin head and other components allow me to play primarily Scruggs style albeit with a nod to the Blue Ridge mountain sound. Lindsey listened carefully to my desires and nailed it. Obviously, fairly quickly I will need to learn the right hand "claw" so I can add a little clawhammer style to my repertoire!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Very well set up (and bubble wrapped and packed I might add). All I had to do was install the bridge post shipping. Action is perfect. The frets on this custom banjo are a bit more robust and higher than my resonator Gibson Granada but I will quickly get use to that. I recommend a wood armrest as open back tension hoops are a bit uncomfortable on my right forearm. I am an unusual customer in that I bought an open back primarily to have a lighter banjo that I could use for three finger "Scruggs style" Bluegrass.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Oh my goodness this banjo is stunning. LOOK AT IT! Beautiful CUSTOM inlay of a bear on the head stock, an outline of Bent Mountain at the 5th fret and a one an only custom inlay of a black bear print at the scoop. Brass dots are classy and subtle. And did I mention the warm, slightly textured goat skin head? The rich, antique brown, custom stain and the aged brass tension hoop and hooks make my new banjo look like it is vintage era

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I requested 10:1 Rickard tuners which are a God-send. All other hardware is top tier stuff. While a light banjo, it is rock solid.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

If I could, I would rate Quail Creek Banjos and Lindsey as a 15!! Seriously, Lindsey is the most attentive and helpful builder I have met. (My daughter is a singer/songwriter in Nashville so I have worked with a good number of top builders and luthiers). Lindsey listens. He has the knowledge and skills to create a custom banjo ANY player would love to have. Bet you won't find many if any used ones for sale because they are too special to give up. Did I mention that the entire process was fun and Lindsey's passion and sharing of update photos and videos made it more more fun?

Customer Service: 10

Components

No cheap parts on this banjo. Lindsey doesn't use second rate material sand parts. While I am relatively new to open back banjos, I have not seen but one or two banjos out of 15 different brands that even come close. Again, my personal taste would be to add an armrest for comfort but that is an easy fix. Here are the specifics: Bent Mountain Banjo

- 25.5" scale
- 11" rim
- Rickard 10:1 tuners
- Dobson tone ring
- Aged brass hardware
- Goat skin head
- Figured maple
- Dobson heel
- Ebony peghead
- Ebony fingerboard
- Dowel stick
- Paddle-shaped peghead
- Carbon fiber rod
- Seeders bridge
- Hawkeye tailpiece
- Frailing scoop
- Bone nut

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

There are many good open back banjos on the market.  Nechville, Ome, Bart Reiter, Pisgah, Rickard, Chuck Lee and others.  I have played a few of these and they are well made,  all great instruments. 

 

That said, the quality, custom design, custom inlay and voicing and tone of Quail Creek Banjos coupled with A++ service and update photos and videos while the banjo was in production was super fun. The price was less than I expected and more than fair

Here is a video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n_JCuQzBGs

Here are some photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBvZZe3hJ9b/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

 

 

 

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by chambers (see all reviews from this person) on 2/13/2020

Where Purchased: Direct

Year Purchased: 2020
Price Paid: 1450 ($US)

Sound

Worked with Lindsay to describe the sound I wanted and he delivered. I wanted an emphasis on the lower end and the mids, with just enough note separation to cut through and be heard with other instruments. He helped me think through the options to get that and suggested the dobson ring and the goat skin head. Came out exactly how I imagined it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup is great. Neck angle is right, head tension is consistent, action is good all the way to the scoop. Bridge needed minor adjustment for intonation, but every banjo is subject to that. String height coming off of nut is perfect. Break angle to nut looks good.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

People lose their minds when they see this banjo. Worked with Lindsay on a headstock design that has a story behind it, and the antiqued look of the stained goat skin head matches, with the antiqued brass and all the walnut tells a single story. Oh yeah, the black tuners are smoking hot too.

There's an ebony cap on the rim that sets off nicely. Subtle. Walnut staining is clearly hand done, creating minor variations that are consistent with this kind of instrument and make it obvious it wasn't sprayed on in a factory.

Lindsay handcut the inlay, and added brass stars too. Wicked good work.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Of course.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Working with Lindsay is enjoyable. He clearly cares about what he's doing and getting it right. Example - he realized during the sanding of my rim that there was a knot or some imperfection. So he started over. No charge to me. I just had to wait a little longer and appreciated the honesty - when he probably could have easily stained over it or explained it away.

I don't know if it has a warranty. I've played world class banjos for 25 years. I've never needed to use a warranty.

Customer Service: 10

Components

all solid reputable parts. Gotoh and industry standard stuff.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Just go ahead and get one. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/rInO0O0bMLM

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by wrj01 (see all reviews from this person) on 12/31/2019

Where Purchased: From maker

Year Purchased: 2019
Price Paid: 1650 ($US)

Sound

11” 3 ply maple pot, regular scale, Dobson tone ring/heel/Cole peg head/ man in the moon / stars inlays/ goat skin head/partial fretless-brass. Fantastic build. Sound is loud and clear. Lindsay is building a great banjo.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

No setup changes needed. Perfect action. May experiment with different bridges, but the Sosebee on it now is great.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Beautiful banjo. Dark stained figured maple pot and neck. Cole peghead, Man in the Moon motif with shooting star. Coffee color stained goat skin head.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Top quality hardware. Tuners are Gotoh. Should hold up under all playing conditions.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Lindsay was great to work with. Kept me abreast of the build with photos every week.

Customer Service: 10

Components

All parts are first quality.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Fine purchase from an excellent builder.

Overall Rating: 10

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