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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!

7063 reviews in the archive.

Fielding: Rooster

Submitted by Mark Johnson on 10/29/2006

Where Purchased: From Will

Year Purchased: 2004?
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Like a dream... A bright bell like tone with a fair amount of 'crack'. It is well suited for the prettiest little melody or the most percussive stringband situation.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Very well set up. I've tried different bridges, but keep going back to the one Will made and put on the banjo originally.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

One of the most subdued but stunning banjos I've seen. It has beautiful, very naturally finished walnut for the neck, and a fretboard that is a milky, creamy piece of ebony. No inlays on the fretboard... Will let the piece of wood speak for itself. There is a Rooster inlaid in the headstock which is sort of Will's trademark. It's very tastefull and fits the vibe of the instrument.

I'd rate it higher than a 10 in this category if I could.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I had a small problem with brackets kind of crumbling, but this certainly wasn't Will's fault and he hooked me up with replacement brackets. Since then this thing has had countless numbers of hours logged on it and it is still as solid as can be.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Will and his wife Paula are two of the nicest people you could ever meet.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Will's wood choices deserve another mention. Incredible stuff...

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

When I get a free moment I'll be typing up a review of the second Fielding banjo I bought. Clearly I like this one, because it made me want another one! I'd freak if it were stolen, so back off.

Overall Rating: 10

Chuck Lee: Marble Falls

Submitted by Mark Johnson on 5/22/2005

Where Purchased: Zepp Country Music

Year Purchased: 04
Price Paid: 1516 ($US)

Sound

I wanted a tubaphone, or more to the point the tubaphone sound... and I got it! Mine has an 11" rim with bracket band, and has the huge, crisp bell tones I was searching for when I first thought of getting a tubaphone. It really clucks over the neck, making it great for an old-timey driving sound, but also has terrific note separation, perfect for melodic tunes.

You can hear me playing this very banjo on Chuck's website at:
http://www.leebanjos.com/Sound%20Files.htm

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The set up was perfection when it arrived. Chuck has a knack for this that is as skillfull as his knack for building. The only thing I changed was putting a Moon bridge on it, and snugging up the Renaissance head a bit after it stretched some.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

What beauty! Pictures of my banjo can be seen on Chuck's site: http://www.leebanjos.com/Banjos/Banjo049.htm

The work is exquisite... no flaws, marks etc. Chuck's inlay work is some of the best and most unique I've ever seen. I asked if he would do some inlays with wood as opposed to the conventional MOP or his personal favorite stone. The result is very subdued, but very beautiful and natural. I've had it for about a year now, and still am struck by how gorgeous it is when I spot it from across the room etc.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I'm not sure what it is about this particular banjo, but it is the most solid feeling banjo I've ever held. It's a rock! Chucks multipiece necks have to be among the sturdiest around, and all of the hardware is the best available.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I ordered this through Zepps, and there is no doubt in my mind that this is the place to do your banjo business. Additionally, I had a lot of contact with Chuck concerning the design of this, and think quite highly of him as a person and businessman now. Thanks guys!

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything is top-notch. I've since seen a Lee banjo with Keith tuners, which may end up on all of my banjos someday as they are killer, but really everything is (as I said above) solid.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Since getting this banjo I've bought another Lee that I found used, and have a third on order. While clearly I may have some impulse problems, I attribute some of my desire for more to how great these banjos are. I love this banjo, wouldn't consider selling it ever, play it all the time, and shudder to think what I would do if it were ever stolen etc. Thanks Chuck!

Overall Rating: 10

Chuck Lee: Lone Star Deluxe

Submitted by Mark Johnson on 5/22/2005

Where Purchased: Mountain Music Shoppe

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

Sound

This is my true old-timey banjo... it has a 12" all-wood pot that really clucks and booms. It's perfect for old-time playing. I've had it strung with Nylguts too, which gives an impossibly huge, deep, boomy yet mellow sound. Sound files of me playing this very banjo can be heard on Chuck's website at:

http://www.leebanjos.com/Sound%20Files.htm

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I bought this one used, and it needed a little tweaking as the Renaissance head had stretched out a bit. Once it was snugged up, though, everything was as right as rain. As I mention in my review of my Marble Falls, Chuck is really great at setting up banjos.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Another beauty. This one has a gorgeous maple neck that is covered in both flames and spalting, which gives it a really wild and unique look. There are subtle blue laminations running up the neck, and the pot is a lovely gray. These features match up to create a stunning, but very simple and natural banjo.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Another rock solid Lee... the laminations in the neck add strength and Chuck is a heck of a builder. This one's only gonna have wear b/c I play it soooo much!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I bought this one used, so didn't interact with Chuck regarding it, but I have on other occasions and find him to be a wonderful person and a joy to work with. The folks at Mountain Music Shoppe are also wonderful people (actually, I'm currently one of them!) and also a joy to work with.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything is great! While the tuners are far from cheap, Chuck now offers Keith tuners which strike me as being the best around, and I may upgrade to them at some point...

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I'm not sure what else to say except I love this one, and recommend them highly. Thanks yet again, Chuck!

Overall Rating: 10

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