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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!

6976 reviews in the archive.

Barry Sholder: Black Gourd Banjo

Submitted by bblizard on 2/11/2010

Where Purchased: from Barry via eBay

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 200 ($US)


This gourd banjo has a really nice clear sound with a rich bass due to a small hole in the top of the gourd. It is a joy to play - as my first ever fretless, let alone gourd, banjo I am pleased to hear the sweet ancient sounds I imagined come forth.

Sound Rating: 10


After the banjo arrived, I was playing it within 5 minutes - just raised the hand-carved bridge and tuned it to F, and out came a tune. The nut is removable and as such I was able to sand the bottom of it a bit to lower the action ever so slightly to suit my playing.

Setup Rating: 9


The banjo is just gorgeous. It has a really nice bloodwood fingerboard a and head stock atop a beautiful flamed maple neck attached to an 11 inch gourd that was painted black - nice contrasts. the finish is nice and smooth and the lines are clean.

Appearance Rating: 10


All looks sturdy and solid - a nice thick black leather tailpiece; tight tackhead; wood friction pegs; solid construction (no wiggles).

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Barry is great to deal with and very responsive (quick replies to emails, quick shipping, banjo well packed). He included a "care and feeding of your gourd banjo" in the box with some tips for what to expect and how to maintain a gourd banjo.

Customer Service: 10


Mostly hand made, but the tuners, tacks and skin head all seem fine. Comes with Nylguts.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Great value! For $200 I have a work of art and a great fun player. Thanks Barry!

Overall Rating: 10

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