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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!

7088 reviews in the archive.

Bishline: Custom

Submitted by JT Littrell on 5/26/2009

Where Purchased: Bishline Banjos in Tulsa

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: < the big 3 used $$ ($US)


The sound is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a warmer sound while maintaining the volume. I wanted to have one built with a mahogany rim and Rob suggested the Kulesh Big 10 tone ring to compliment the mahogany rim. He was right on with this combo! This banjo is so responsive--the deeper you dig into it the more it has to give. The sound is full and loud---NOT bright and tinny or thin. The 4th string pops and growls like no other I have played, and it brings a smile to my face every time I slide on it! When you go up the neck, the volume is still there. There is no shrillness to this sound, as there is with so many of the clone banjos. It is a joy to pick this banjo everyday, and I am lucky to own it. If you want one that no one else has, Rob is your guy. He really knows banjos.

Sound Rating: 9


I have not touched this banjo. As with all new banjos, I am watching the head tension. This was the first mahogany rim banjo that he has built, so I left it with him for a couple of weeks to pick around on and experiment with. The setup is exactly what I told him I wanted. This is one of the fastest picking banjos I have ever picked. I had the neck built with the short scale radiused fingerboard. Man is it awesome.

Setup Rating: 9


This banjo was my personal design from the bottom up, so I am biased. But the quilted mahogany resonator grabs your attention and never lets go. I have never seen another like it. I also had him use black "J" hooks, gold tuners and thumbscrews, and all abablone inlays in the traditional flying eagle pattern. The abalone has some of the best irradescence I have seen. His finish is top notch, plays fast, and is laid over a tobacco stain color that he suggested (right on again!). No need for a speed neck, if you have trouble with finished necks. Be sure to check out the pics of it on my homepage.

Appearance Rating: 10


Bishline banjos are known for their quality workmanship. No worries here.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I was able to walk into the shop, meet Rob, pick with him for a while, and then order my banjo. When I picked it up, we picked for a while again and just hung out. Rob is a phenomenal picker. Andy is great with the business end and is very patient with all the changes that are inevitably made when having a complete custom built. He keeps you updated on the progress of your banjo and sends you pictures of your banjo in the various stages of production.

Customer Service: 10


There are two elements that define my banjo--the quilted mahogany resonator and the all abalone inlays. The metal components are all top notch. Rob is very innovative and is working on some new ideas never before tried. Watch for some exciting developments out of the Bishline shop in the next few months.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I recommend Rob for your next...or first...or only custom build. His standard models are some of best bang for the buck in production banjos. I paid less for this custom banjo than what most of the Hubers, Stellings and Gibson's are listed for in the HO classifieds. That to me is amazing. I just can't believe the level of service and quality of banjo I got for less money than some people throw at used banjos. Simply amazing value for my dollar. If stolen, after the tears...I would look forward to the opportunity of going through the building process again with Rob and Andy. You really ought to give them a call.

Overall Rating: 9

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