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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!

7121 reviews in the archive.

Bob Thornburg: Gourd Banjo

Submitted by MusicManMike on 3/13/2015

Where Purchased: Elderly

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I love the plucky warmness to this banjo. You would think with a gourd as big as it is that it would become muddy but that's not the case at all. The attacks are crisp, clear and focused

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The amazing thing about Bob's gourd banjos is that they are setup with a head tensioning system. I don't think I've ever seen any other builder use this

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

INCREDIBLE!!! Beautiful instrument and I understand that each one is unique. Mine happens to have a star with patterns burned intot the back of the gourd. Very cool looking

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Head tensioning system and all its still a gourd banjo. The changes in humidity can pretty pretty harsh on this thing and despite the size of the gourd this is still a very delicate instrument. I would love to travel and perform with this but Im terribly afraid that it may be busted (Note: this is no fault of Bob's, it's just the nature of the instrument

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

Got this from Elderly instruments so I didn't deal with Mr. Thornburg directly. The banjo did come with literature explaing that if the gourd should become broken you can send the neck,dowl and strings back to him and he would replace the gourd for $50, which I thought seemed pretty fair

Customer Service: 9

Components

Again the head tensioning system really stands out on this, not sure but Mr. Thornburg may be the only gourd banjo maker out there doing this. Being a leathersmith I also thought the leather tailpiece was really cool!

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Overall a very wonderful banjo, one of my favorites among my collection. But again because of the fragile nature of this thing, Im afraid to ever travel with it or play it outside. 

Overall Rating: 9

Nate Calkins: #75 Fretless Nylgut

Submitted by MusicManMike on 2/17/2015

Where Purchased: Ebay

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: ($US)

Sound

Absolutly love the sound of this instrument. I spent weeks scouring the internet looking for the nylgut timbre I had in mind and this banjo nailed it. Thuddy attacks with a rich, warm strum sound.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Banjo came with bridge down but placement marked. It was really easy to set in place and tune up the strings

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

No flash here and thats what I love. Dark stain on a walnut neck gives a dark, old look. That combined with the fyberskin head on it make it look truly antique

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Super reliable banjo. Its quickly becoming the instrument I put the most time on. Nothing has come loose or been broken

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Nate is a wonderful guy! Saw this banjo on Ebay and sent him an email asking to hear it. 10 minutes later I had a demo video in my mailbox. After getting the banjo and letting him know how happy I was with it, I hinted at wanting a tackhead in the future. Nate offered to start one up on the spot and jump it to the front of the line of the openbacks he was building at the time. Also all repeat costomers of Nates get a certain percentage discount. I will surely ge getting another instrument from him in the future

Customer Service: 10

Components

The hardware on this is super cool and vintage looking. On top of looking great, all seems to be super sturdy. Im pretty sure the bridge and tailpiece were also crafted by Nate and they look awesome!

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Great instrument by a great maker. Highly recomend this guys work!

Overall Rating: 10

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