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7178 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Zachary Hoyt Banjos
Over the past couple of months I've been working with Zach Hoyt on the creation of a custom neck for my 1922 Vega Little Wonder banjo. When I bought it, the banjo had a Gold Tone BC-350 neck, which I liked in a lot of ways: I loved the width, and I loved the slim profile. I also absolutely loved the banjo's deep, plunky tone. But I could never get used to its 26-3/16" scale length, so I finally decided to replace the neck. I contacted Zach and sent him a bunch of very specific requests: I wanted a 25.5" scale length, a 1-3/8" nut width, and a few rather unusual specs as well. I asked him to do a boat contour on the heel, and an unusual configuration for the position dots (two on the fretboard, two on the side), and a longer-than-usual frailing scoop with an "M" contour at the top (instead of the usual "S" shape). I asked for a neck profile that roughly matched the one on the BC-350 neck (making it shallower than his standard necks). I had also seen a photo of one of his recent banjos that had a naturally streaky piece of ebony for the fretboard, and I asked if he had any more like that lying around. I wanted a very specific string height, and I had a coin that I wanted inlaid on the peghead.
I was a little bit nervous that all these out-of-the-ordinary requests would be met with irritation, or at least with surcharges. But no: he worked with me closely, patiently, and responsively throughout the process; he charged me nothing extra for the boat heel or the unusual frailing scoop contour, even though he had never done either of those before, and he sent me photos of available wood slabs for both the fretboard and the peghead overlay, letting me pick the ones I wanted and charging me nothing extra for the unusually beautiful streaked fretboard I ended up with. He also put a lovely narrow hickory center stripe in the neck at no charge.
Throughout the process, Zach sent me photos of the neck as it reached various stages of completion -- an especially considerate gesture that I appreciated very much, as I was really excited about the project and it was lots of fun to watch it unfold. (Every photo he sent me got posted to my Facebook page.)
When my banjo arrived with the new neck, I was thrilled: it looked even better in person than it had in the photos, and it plays wonderfully. The tone is consistently clear and pretty all the way up the neck, the fretboard surface feels great, and I can't stop looking at it. Everyone I show it to oohs and aahs over how beautiful the wood and the craftsmanship are. If someone held a gun to my head and said "Identify a flaw," I guess I'd point to a few small areas of unevenness in the finish, mainly on the front of the peghead. But you'd only notice them if you look for them.
Overall, I would strongly recommend Zach to anyone who's looking for custom banjo work. Working with him was a pleasure, and the finished product is an absolute delight. Photos available on request -- just hit me up. Or check out the video of me playing this banjo with the new Zach Hoyt neck at https://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/videos.asp?m=d&catID=0&id=31937
Overall Rating: 10
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