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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!

6936 reviews in the archive.

Replacement Tuner Buttons: Ron Barnes Tuner Buttons

Submitted by R. Blakeslee Gilpin on 4/10/2017

Where Purchased: Directly

Overall Comments

I have long admired Ron's catalin style buttons but was always prioritizing other purchases, was intimidated by the cost. Well, the old maxim is that you get what you pay for. The corollary here is that if you want the best, you have to pay for it. These tuner buttons are perfect replicas of my holy grail late 1930s buttons and in my opinion are worth every darn penny. I can't wait to have an excuse to order some more! Thanks Ron.

Overall Rating: 10

Glenn Carson

Submitted by R. Blakeslee Gilpin on 6/4/2014

Overall Comments

I own one of Glenn's custom collaborations with Will Fielding (see review here: http://www.banjohangout.org/reviews/search.asp?m=m&v=10106&redir=true) and I couldn't be more impressed with Glenn's work. I asked Glenn if he might be willing to engrave a neck I had made, which was inlayed with plain but solid MOP. Glenn agreed and was finished so quickly I wondered what he possibly could have done with it. The answer: a stunning and superlative bit of engraving that only someone with a keen artistic eye and the highest skill level could achieve. Glenn did a bit of setup work on the neck and shipped it back to me without any payment to make sure I was happy with the work. After all that the price was fantastic! That's someone who stands behind the work they do. If anyone out there wants the highest caliber of contemporary pearl work and engraving, an honest and reliable luthier who works quickly and charges a very reasonable price, Glenn's your man. He's as good as they get.
 

Overall Rating: 10

Deep Creek Strings: Neck for Minstrel-Era Pot

Submitted by R. Blakeslee Gilpin on 3/28/2014

Where Purchased: Directly from Jeff Delfield

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 800 ($US)

Sound

It is A LOT more sound than either of us thought would come out of the 1870s pot - thin wood rim, faux spunover, with no tonering. The thing sounds HUGE. And though Jeff modestly says that's not his neck, I know he brought out the banjo in this orphan pot.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was perfect. Action ideal

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It is a stunner. I left many of the aesthetics up to Jeff because I've admired his work so much. No inlay but beautiful woods in every way and Jeff's unique and super functional sculptural scoop.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

My hardware (and it's already 150 years old or so) but the finish all looks wonderful.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

No concerns on that front.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

The neck Jeff made and the banjo he created is just so great. I absolutely love the feel and ALL the details. The wood is wonderful and it plays like a dream. I was stunned by the amount and quality of sound that comes out if the thin shallow pot but Jeff coaxed out a living banjo from a difficult to work with shallow pot.. It is so fun to play and I'm so grateful that we got together and made it happen. The flush frets took some getting used to but I'm so glad Jeff pushed me in that direction. The wood shines AND I can play up the neck.
Anyway I'm plotting some way to have Jeff build me a 12" or something in the future because I'm so pleased with the banjo. It holds a special place in my collection and I've played it as much if not more than any of the others (Romeros, Ungers, Fieldings, etc) since it arrived.

Overall Rating: 10

Fielding: Custom A-Scale

Submitted by R. Blakeslee Gilpin on 11/23/2013

Where Purchased: Directly from Glenn Carson

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 3200 ($US)

Sound

This is a very special banjo - a collaborative project between master engraver Glenn Carson and master banjo builder Will Fielding. I'll talk a bit more about the aesthetics in the other fields but the banjo sounds PERFECT. I've owned so many original and modern Dobson-ringed banjos I'm ashamed to count but this stands out as one of the very best. Sounds as good as a banjo can.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was setup with a Renaissance head with perfect wonderful action. I've recently switched to a skin head just because I'm preferring that right now. Incredibly easy to switch out because the components are all perfect

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This was the banjo I coveted the longest. Glenn Carson's engraving work on banjos is as good as anyone working today and I especially appreciate his creative touch. No slavish Fairbanks copying here! This banjo was made in trade for Glenn's engraving work for Will Fielding and he then engraved the copper inlays over a long period of time. The banjo has a very subtle appearance (doesn't scream bling) until you get up close and see how masterfully each piece of the banjo was put together, decorated, etc. It is a stunner.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Beautiful customized brass hardware - much of it modified or engraved by Glenn Carson. The scoop plate alone is worth the price of admission.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Glenn was a delight to deal with - a wonderful and passionate guy who wanted to make sure I knew the details of the banjo and was comfortable with all aspects of the purchase before going ahead.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The components are all the best out there and most have been gussied up by Glenn in the building/engraving process. The woods are just first-rate all the way.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

What can I say? I've admired Will Fieldings banjos for a long time but this particular banjo was the apple of my eye. It was engraver Glenn Carson's personal banjo and I figured it would never be for sale. Then one day, I saw a vague reference in a thread about Clifftop that he might be bringing it to sell. A harassment campaign ensued! I bothered Glenn for about two weeks until he'd asked all his friends if they wanted the banjo. I was the one with cash on hand and I feel honored to be the caretaker of this incredible muscial work of art. My love for this banjo can be expressed very simply: I'm saving up money to have Glenn and will collaborate on another - a fretless brother to this one!

Glenn sold this banjo to invest in a more serious shop to build his own banjos and I can say without hesitation that I would LOVE to own another piece of his work. His attention to detail is stunning and his work surpasses any more superlatives that I can muster.

Overall Rating: 10

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