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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!

7079 reviews in the archive.

Bridges: Bart Veerman Custom Compensated

Submitted by Gomer on 2/4/2008

Where Purchased: Directly from Bart VeermanHimself

Overall Comments

You don't really purchase one of these bridges, you acquire it in phases.
I was having some intonation problems which I though could have been due to inept fingering or holding the banjar in a weird state, but at the end of the day the second was a bit flat and the third a bit sharp.
After your curiosity is piqued at his website you learn enough to make a competent decision for yourself and you decide to order.
Then you go through all the drill in testing the amount of compensation that you might need. The order is sent.
You have about 3 e-mails each way to discuss what you are looking for in terms of sound and timbre. Then there were two phone calls to clarify. I wanted a brighter sound, which Bart clarified as "exuberant"rather than bright so as not to confuse the effect of the tome ring. He went to work and left a note a few days later that it was on the way. Mine was a lighter bridge over stock (4mm v 5mm or thereabouts). There is an immediate difference in the voice of the Banjo. a hear a crisper note with noticeably more sustain and less drop-off as the note decays. I guess another way to say it is that it is much less plunckier that the stock Deering bridge and slightly more brilliant than the Moon bridges I have on my stuff.
It was a pretty impressive process with Mr. Veerman , at one point suggesting that I might not want to purchase his bridge if I could get my own to work by slanting it to flat the 4 and 5 string. That kind of helped but not quite enough and by that time I had invested so much time in figuring out the problem that I ought to do something. I am glad I did not follow his advice. The intonation problem is a thing of the past
I hear a lot about the Snuffies and the like and I am sure that they are really good. But this one was like a design-build process of which I was a part.
Update 30 days after purchase: Bart contacted me about a week after the bridge arrived to see that it met my expectations, I bought another different one just to have in the arsenal. You get the feeling that he doesn't sell these, but rather, he gives them up for adoption to good homes!

update3-3-08
I just put a Veerman ENIGMA bridge. I added a bit of height and went to the 44 (JD CROWE) spacing to help the comfort. This thing Rocks!!! it is as exuberant as hell and yet there is a clear improvement in the bass notes even or the Mystery bridge. By bass, I don't mean mellow or plucky. . . I mean BASS. When we were negotiating the acquisition, I thought I heard Bart to say that the top would mellow a bit with the Enigma. NO WAY! There is no trade off. I am looking for trades to share my library of Bridges, but no further experimentation on the Veerman

Overall Rating: 10

Tuners: Keith regular tuners ( not D-Tuners)

Submitted by Gomer on 12/16/2007

Where Purchased: Factory direct

Overall Comments

In changing strings, I thought my factory tuners seemed a little sloppy and couldn't tighten out the slack in the pegs. I got a set of Keiths. These are wonderful machines. Tight, Positive, Smooth as a Baby's Bottom. These little guys look like they could withstand First Strike Nuclear Attack and come through without a scratch. First rate addition to your instrument.

Overall Rating: 10

Andy Rau

Submitted by Gomer on 11/28/2007

Overall Comments

This would be for the Orange County area of Southern California.
Andy has been teaching me Scruggs and melodic for about six months. He teaches by tab and by .tef for practice. Very good at pointing out a missed or extra note and the easiest finger placement tricks. Also big on pointing out different licks that work for a tune which gets you to thinking about your own style.
Also frails and clawhammers, but I am not there yet so I don't have an opinion.
I am very satisfied with the pace which changes appropriately, depending on the level of brain death that I suffer from week to week. When I get it, he pushes on until I get something else, and so on. Each time its a little further stretch. He is all about the subtle stuff that you don't hear unless you know to listen.
He is on the Deering pro list, so I guess somebody else thinks he is pretty good too. He was the Banjo player at Knott's Berry Farm for a long while. played hooky in high school to learn the banjar for hisself.
Very low key, very patient, but keeps a good pace. If he hadn't got me through the frustrations phase I would be playing the rhythm kazoo.
He is at www.andyrauband.com
( I didn't give the ten in case I ever get a lesson from Bela Fleck. You got to keep your perspective, you know)
Update 6-08
I have been at it a year and I feel like I ought to change my status from novice to purty good. Andy is the Man. Still haven't heard from Bela Fleck
Update 10-08. Bela ain't gonna call and I am starting to smoke this thing thanks to Andy's patient persistence. I am upping it to ten. If Bela (or EARl) wants to give me lessons, I talk about taking it back to a nine, but no lower than that.
Update 12-10 Andy continues to firmly puch my limits with new ideas. It is tough sometimes to keep focus especially when you you are getting to the stratosphere. Andy is still the bomb.
Happy New year 2011. Andy is still keeping me enthusiastic and motivated. I just hope he doesn't raise his rates on me once He knows just how good he really is. Earl has not yet called even after this long, so its still a 10

Overall Rating: 10

Straps: Dogwood Designs Custom

Submitted by Gomer on 10/9/2007

Where Purchased: From The Maker Dave Schenk

Overall Comments

Beautiful Stuff.!!! Awesome bridle leather. I cannot figure out how he makes any money doing this. He spent an hour on the phone figuring out exactly what I wanted and then talked me out of making mistakes. Settled on oak leaves and acorn with my name on the strap. He matched the dye to the Deering model I own. He advised against it , but I put a ratchet extension in a vise and worked the strap back and forth until it was soft as a baby's bottom. Lots of folks ask about where I got it , but I ain't talkiin' He has a Website, but forget about e-mail. I think that the dog in the picture lifted a leg on his computer. Open up the order form and give him a call at the number listed and he picks up the phone.

Overall Rating: 10

Henry Barnes

Submitted by Gomer on 10/5/2007

Overall Comments

Here in Southern California in the city of Claremont, I have been to this luthier several times on the recommendation of several local pros that know his work. This was including work on my 57 Gretsch firebird. On my 5 strings, he has done exceptional setup and invisible repairs. Very clean refinishing. For example, I just had him put in spikes on the 5th. He files the spike head in such a way as to round the sharp edges. Amazing attention to details like this. He is reasonable and fast without rushing things to much. His bio is at http://www.folkmusiccenter.com/index.php?page=repair. After some more work he did for me I upped the rating to a 10. The guy is frickin'wizard!

Overall Rating: 10

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