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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!

7193 reviews in the archive.

John Boulding

Submitted by cripplecreeker on 12/17/2009

Overall Comments

I asked John to do a binding repair and neck re-set on my banjo and he not only did everything I asked and in most excellent form - he loaded the banjo in his vehicle when he was playing a gig closer to my residence (we live a couple hours apart) and basically delivered it to me. Not only is John's work excellent - his communication and commitment to his customer was noted.

Overall Rating: 10

Osborne Chief: Chief

Submitted by cripplecreeker on 4/8/2004

Where Purchased: Gruhn's Guitars

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 3750 ($US)


Although I had only been playing a year at the time of this purchase, I took the advice of those that say you buy the best banjo you can afford and then work into it. I am attempting to play Scruggs-style banjo and am looking for the tone commonly called "pre-War tone." This banjo uses the Blaylock tone ring and all the best parts and sounds great when set up properly.

Sound Rating: 10


I like the action nice and low and once we adjusted it the action was perfect. Changed the strings to the medium-heavies from Stelling and that change worked well. Frank Neat obviously uses a no-frills bridge but it works fine. The head needed to be tightened and the tailpiece modified a bit but otherwise excellent.

Setup Rating: 9


Only issue, and not one for me, is the unfinished speed neck. I think it looks fine but Gruhn's says that some don't like it. Who cares what the back of the neck looks like? Tobacco sunburst finish on resonator looks awesome. Inlays are great, too. Gold hardware is nice looking.

Appearance Rating: 10


Once I learn songs needing D-tuners I may change to those but the hardware works excellent. Sonny Osborne and Frank Neat appear to have arranged for the use of the best parts available so it is surely a dependable banjo. Hasn't failed me yet.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Sonny Osborne has a website and I told him I was geeked up in buying Chief #77 and he responded personally. That is really cool. No problems so no customer service needed. No rating appropriate but knowing that Sonny Osborne and Frank Neat are backing this banjo makes me feel secure. This is a particularly enjoyable purchasing process.

Customer Service: 10


The feel of the neck is great. I will go back to a finished neck only kicking and screaming. I am not a big fan of the Presto tailpiece and I would like to see Sonny and Frank go to the two-hump like the one Huber and Sullivan use on occasion. I don't see that happening. Tailpieces are easy enough to change out and, heck, a lot of players love the Presto.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I've read about all different kinds of banjos and I am sure they are all great in their own ways. The Chief is an excellent banjo that sounds great and is one I will certainly play as my main banjo for years to come.

Overall Rating: 10

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