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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.

Companion Custom Banjos: Mutt Dawg custom

Submitted by Debbiej on 9/27/2016

Where Purchased: Companion Custom banjos

Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: 1500 ($US)


I ordered my custom banjo from Chris in April of 2016. I wanted to get a wood tone ring banjo that had a good full sound and would work well for bluegrass without the heaviness of a metal tonering. It is exactly what I wanted. Chris did a fantastic job with producing a banjo that is loud, full of body, not ear piercing bright but pleasantly bright. It'll work great for bluegrass and I'm sure other type of music too.

Sound Rating: 10


Chris asked me how I'd like to have the banjo setup and he did a great job at meeting my request. I have a Deering Terry Baucom banjo that I wanted my "mutt dawg" setup like and emailed Chris the measurements. He was able to duplicate what I wanted. I would think the banjo would be easy to make setup changes too, for now I don't see myself doing that in the near future so that is a hard question to answer. I'm sure it won't be as easy as my Nechville that I used to have but that is a whole different kind of banjo.

Setup Rating: 10


It is a great looking banjo. Chris had produced a cool greyburst banjo for someone else so I asked if I could have that on my banjo and he said sure, so that's what I got on my banjo. I must say it's very cool looking. He did some cool inlay with dog bones going up the frets on 3, 5, 7, 9, double bones on 12, and bone in a dog dish on 15, bones on 17, 19, and 22 with "mutt dawg" on fret 21. He also put a dog paw on the headstock. Everything looks great to me.

Appearance Rating: 10


I hope the hardware would last, it seems like it will and the finish would be fine. I have had the banjo for 1 week and a half so the finish is fine. I'd imagine any finish would wear a bit with a lot of playing time. I'm sure I can depend on it, I don't gig but if I did it would sound great and hold up I'm sure.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I've dealt with Chris Sorenson throughout the build process and he's been extremely helpful and friendly. He helped me with ideas for my banjo, he also copied the neck contour of my Deering Terry Baucom, and the width of the neck (which really turned out great I must say, the whole neck), and kept me very informed throughout the build process. It was a very cool experience. I was highly impressed.

Customer Service: 10


I'd say the wood tonering just sounds great. The banjo weighs in at about 8.5 pounds which is 3 pounds lighter than my Terry Baucom and you don't really lose any tone, it might be a slight bit different but close enough. The neck Chris made perfectly to match my Deering which I think was the perfect neck for my hands. He actually upgraded me to a Kershner tailpiece because he thought it made the banjo sound better for bluegrass but included the presto tailpiece that he was going to put on it in my case. The neck wood was a curly maple wood that had been kiln dried for at least a year. He used bone nuts on the banjo on all 5 strings. He put a thin lacquer grey finish on the banjo which looks great. He'll put whatever components you want on the banjo, I didn't go for real snazzy stuff though just basically whatever comes with his basic banjo but they all work great. I think he used fine components on it and he did upgrade me to Kershner tail piece just because he thought it sounded better.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I was highly impressed with the banjo I received from Companion Banjos and the whole experience working with Chris in the building of my lightweight wooden tone ring banjo.  I've tried several different wooden tone ring banjos of the years and this one definitely stands up to the best of them if not being the best one, it really has a very good tone to it.  I can feel the vibrations from the resonator on my stomach when playing the banjo.  Chris was just so easy to work with with copying the shape of my Deering Terry Baucoms neck, giving the banjo the finish I wanted, the inlay work (and his design and ideas to create it), his email and video updates as he'd finish various processes. He also included a letter that listed the components he used, where the wood came from, the finish and some faq's about care and such for the banjo.  I'd do it all over again for sure, it's really a nice banjo.  He can do whatever you'd like to make you your dream banjo so if you're looking for a builder that cares then don't hesitate get in contact with Companion banjos and they'll make you the kind of banjo you'd like I'm sure.  Thanks Chris!


Overall Rating: 10

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