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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!

6873 reviews in the archive.

Necks: Zach Hoyt custom banjo neck

Submitted by Twangcat on 3/5/2019

Where Purchased: Directly from Zach Hoyt (

Overall Comments

I became interested in having a semi-fretless neck custom made to mate with a 12" pot and hardware from a second banjo I was not playing much.  I contacted Zach directly asking if he might be interested in pursuing this project and he was immediately on board.  The final outcome is 100% to my expectations.  

The neck dimensions on my Rickard are perfect for me and quite playable in my hands.  Thus I sent Zach those desired dimensions at the nut, 12th fret, and heal at the pot.  We traded a few email messages as I considered whether to have the fretless portion of the ebony fingerboard overlayed with either a brass plate or ebony.  Zach was quite willing to accommodate either choice despite never having built a semi-fretless neck.  Ebony overlay was my final decision and Zach's workmanship with respect to the transition zone between the 7th and 8th fret positions as well as the entire neck and fingerboard itself is excellent.

Aside from the actual workmanship involved in fabricating my special order, I want to emphasize Zach's exemplary customer service.  Owing to the fine details of the specific attributes I've mentioned above, this project required a lot of communication between Zach and myself.  We accomplished this via numerous email exchanges and one phone call early on.  Zach always replied promptly, looked at a variety of photos and video images of example necks I had found, and was unwavering in his acceptance of changes along the way to beginning the build.  He clearly communicated his timeline, started and completed the build exactly according to the position of my project in his work flow, and the finished neck, mated to the pot and hardware I sent him, arrived on schedule and well packed for shipping.

The execution of this project has enabled me to realize the goal of now having a semi-fretless banjo with a neck perfectly suited to my hands, as well as now putting back into commission a pot and hardware that had been sidelined largely because the original fully fretted neck was too narrow for my preference.  This would not have been possible as seamlessly and elegantly were it not for Zach's attention to details, willingness to take on a new challenge, craftsmanship, and dedication to communicating.  I would unquestionably commission Zach Hoyt again for any such project or a completed instrument and wish him great success as he continues developing his professional luthery career.

Overall Rating: 10

Pisgah: Woodchuck

Submitted by Twangcat on 9/16/2016

Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments

Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: 1,095 ($US)


From ringing sustain to traditional clucks the Pisgah Woodchuck produces the full spectrum of sounds for clawhammer style. Strung with d'Addario mediums it is bright and balanced without being metalic when played near the bridge, and is throaty with good separation when played over the scoop.

Sound Rating: 10


The setup was great for me when I received the banjo and I have not found need to alter it.

Setup Rating: 10


I prefer instruments with minimal bling and the Woodchuck suits that preference nicely. The pot and neck are both ash with black on the pot and walnut stain on the neck. Zinc dots contrast nicely with the Richlite fingerboard. The hardware is a mix of nickel and brass that work well together. The overall appearance of the banjo is appealing and speaks to its utility.

Appearance Rating: 10


I see no flaws or basis for thinking the hardware will not withstand years of playing in any conditions.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Though I did order my Woodchuck from Elderly Instruments, I communicated both by phone and email with Patrick Heavner prior to receiving it. He reponded promptly in both formats, quickly answering my questions, confirming some logistics associated with the shipment, and generally being helpful and friendly. Knowing the makers of my musical instruments and establishing a friendly working relationship with them has always been an important and necessary piece of what I consider in the decision to buy a particular piece. Patrick has been great all along the path.

Customer Service: 10


No faulty or under performing components. I don't envision any upgrades being necessary.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I am very pleased with this purchase.  I wanted a good quality open back banjo with a 12" pot, short scale (25.24"), scooped fretboard, and reliable components.  The Pisgah Woodchuck checks all of those boxes at a very competitive price point including a well padded, durable Access gig bag.  I look forward to playing and enjoying my Woodchuck for many years to come, and will unquestionably consider the Pisgah Banjo Company for future purchases...perhaps a fretless someday down the road!

Overall Rating: 10

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