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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!

6986 reviews in the archive.

Chuck Levy

Submitted by Tomasi1949 on 8/26/2014

Overall Comments

I have experienced Chuck Levy as a teacher in group lessons at the Suwannee Banjo Camp, the Stephen Foster Old Time Music Weekend and as a personal one-on -one teacher. Simply put Chuck is a great teacher.   

At the banjo camps and workshops you can count on Chuck to be well prepared and to be responsive to the class as a whole and the individual abilities of the students. His teaching method during class involved learning the tunes by ear in a "call & response" format. At the end of class Chuck provided tabs, cd's/mp3 music and historical references.

In spite of the workshops I attended, I struggled to learn clawhammer banjo because I lacked the guidance of a teacher in my community.  As a  result my timing and melody was erratic and my technique was not what it should be.  My personal quest to become a better clawhammer player lead me to form a neat relationship with Chuck. Every other week I drive several hours to take extended one-on -one lessons with Chuck.  As my foundation build we will decrease the frequency of the long drive and focus upon other tools like Skype.

The net result is that my playing is improving through Chucks patient, methodical and challenging  guidance. My progress with Chuck is best framed from a quote from my wife Cheryl - "Tom is now making music with his banjo".

If you want to learn clawhammer banjo, at any level, I recommend that you contact Chuck Levy.

Overall Rating: 10

Brooks Masten: 20L Silver Spun

Submitted by Tomasi1949 on 7/15/2014

Where Purchased: Direct from Brooks

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 2400.00 ($US)

Sound

The silver spun, plus bacon tone ring plus skin head makes a great combination if you like a deep, fuller sound. The bright treble notes come out well also. Best sounding banjo I own!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The set up was perfect. No need to touch/adjust anything except the head tension to compensate for Florida's hunidity.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Very beautiful instrument. Siverspun rim andhardware is flawless. The cherry neck with walnut stripe is absolutely beautiiful. Cherry burl peghead is also very nice.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I doubt if I will have any quality issues with this wonderful instrument.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Brooks is a good person. As a one man operation he does his best to keep on top of customer service. However, please be kind to the man. You are dealing with an owner/operator/builder/etc.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything was first class.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is the best made and best sounding and the easiest to play banjo that I have owned. To prove my point.  I just ordered another banjo from Brooks. Being a repeat customer is the best compliment one can give.

Overall Rating: 10

Pisgah: Rambler with Dobson Tone Ring

Submitted by Tomasi1949 on 6/27/2014

Where Purchased: Direct from Patreick Heavner

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 1259.00 historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Good tone as set up by Pisgah. It was more bright/treble than focused on the bass side. All in all it was what I was expecting for this instrument. I am rating the tone/sound a "9" beause I need to hear the banjo with a goat skin head from John Balch. I will update my review after this is done.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Everything was 100% perfect. I love the Pisgah necks. They are solid, comfortable and a joy to hold for hours. The Richlite fingerboard is nearly identical to ebony in terms of appearance and feel.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is a veryty beautiful instrument. The cherry neck has good grain. Beautiful spun stainless steel rim with excellent brass brackets & shoes.Smooth ebony like Richlite fretboard. Everthing is solid and blends together perfectly to make a beautiful instrument.There is bnot any fancy inlay or other bells and wistles. This is just a "pure functional banjo".

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware was custom madse for this banjo. I have total trust in Pisgah Banjo to make excellent products and to stand by their quality if a problem arises.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Patrictk Heavner is a first class fellow. A a relatively "new guy" onb the block he stands head and shoulders with well known banjo builders like Chuck Lee, Lo Gordon, Brooks Masten and Will Fielding. With a doubt Patrick provides impecable customer service and support. The proof of the pudding is that I am a repeat customer of the Pisgah Banjo Company.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The harware - stainless steel rim, brass tunrers , brass hooks and shoes., brass Dobson tone ring, ebony -like fretboard and the wood (grain & finish) are all first class.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I am 100% satisfied with my purchase. I did upgrade the 9/16" stock bridge to a 5/8" Fielding bridge per my personal taste.  I also plan to replace the stock head with a goat skin head from John Balch. Lastly I added a brass armrest from Smakula Fretted Instruments. This banjo will be for jamming banjo and the one I take to workshops, etc.  I just got back from playing it on the back.  It held the tuning for over two hours of playing in 85 degree Florida sunshine. 

If you want a first class instrument at a very reasonable price I highly recommend the Pisgah Banjo Company. I also own banjos from Cedar Mountain, Will Fielding and Brooks Masten. The banjo from Pisgah Banjo, I feel, have competitive level of quality  and workmanship. For the most part my "big name" banjos stay in my home because of their cost and my fear of damaging or loosing them. My Pisgah banjo are my working banjo at jams, the beach or at workshops.  

Overall Rating: 10

Heads: John Balcch Hide Head

Submitted by Tomasi1949 on 6/27/2014

Where Purchased: Direwct from John Balch

Overall Comments

For the past few months I have converted about five banjos from Renaissance "plastic" heads to hide heads from John Balch. I have purchased 11" and 12" heads. Some were plain. Others were mottled or stained. The heads fit my banjos without any issues.  In my opinion the sound of the banjos are fuller with a little more "thumping" bass.  

John provides excellent service in addition to a selling  wonderful products. My recommendation for adjusting your tone is to try a skin head. It really can make a difference. However, if you reall want a totally bright, tinny sound a plastic head may work best for you.

Overall Rating: 10

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