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!
7077 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Direct from David
I inquired to David about a replacement bridge for a Stelling Whitestar. The factory bridge is very good, and I had preferred it that to all other bridges I had - except I wanted to shorter bridge (factory was 11/16").
I ended up with 2 bridges from David (.656"), and the zebrawood/katalox bridge had a beautiful effect on the banjo. It gives good note separation and note decay.
The 2nd bridge I received was a Missouri Maple/ebony bridge - I haven't tried that out yet. I have had the z/k on for about 6 weeks, originally going to let it settle in for a few days, but I've been so pleased with the tone, I see no reason to swap it out yet.
I found working with David to be top-notch. He was very good at speaking at length with me in my search.
I highly recommend his products & service!
Edited to add:
I also have an afromosia/katalox bridge from David on an RK-35. It also is an outstanding bridge. I had replaced a Sullivan roasted maple that sounded great, but the a/k brought it up a notch!
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Private Seller
Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: :-P ($US) (bought USED)
This entire review is based on a 2-year ownership
Banjo is very responsive and has a great maple crack to it.
Sound Rating: 8
Setup was good when purchased, no issues.
Setup Rating: 8
Great, great looking banjo. I like the satin finish (which after 2 years - my hands have polished the neck glossy!)
Simple, but elegant inlay work.
Appearance Rating: 8
Has been my go-to banjo for a long time. I have no hesitation to play it anywhere/anytime
Reliability Rating: 9
I've not needed any CS interaction, but reading here on the BHO about issues that arise, and then involvement of Greg Rich - I imagine nothing but great things
Customer Service: not rated
The stock bridge is pretty good, but I did replace it with a few different ones, settling a while back with a Sullivan Roasted Maple bridge.
The tuners are Gotoh, the Presto-style tailpiece is also very good quality.
Components Rating: 9
I've been somewhat of a cheerleader for the RK35. Its a tremendous value at its price point (new ~900, used ~700). The tone and playability of this banjo is simply fantastic.
Its really money well spent. The banjo's tone continues to improve, the more I play it. I am completely satisfied with the banjo.
I always offer other pickers an opportunity to play it, and it gets good comments.
Overall Rating: 8
Where Purchased: Direct from David Schenck
I called Dogwood Designs to inquire about a custom strap (He makes a strap called "The Pickin Strap").
David answers his own phone (I like that). We discussed what I was looking for, what I thought I wanted, and what could actually be done. David was fantastic to speak with. He offered his suggestions and his opinion of what he thought would be a good way to tool the strap.
With 53 years of experience behind him, I deferred to his expertise and craftsmanship. So after our ~40min conversation (straps, banjos, pickers, military service, dogs, etc...), I had no idea what the final product would look like.
Within a week the strap came, and was a beautiful crafted piece. I could not be happier with the result. His attention to detail and craftsmanship is top notch.
** Update, Dec 2013 **
Its been 3 months now, and on the personal side, David has been excellent. Along with the strap came a nice hand-written note about it. Around mid-October my dog got ahold of the note and chewed it up, after I had showed it to someone. Being that part of the design on my strap is in memory of my Uncle Frank, I wanted to save that note as a keepsake. I wrote to David (regular mail), explained what happened, and he was gracious enough to write another note and also include a slice of bacon for my dog, Lily, via return mail. What personal service!
Overall Rating: 10
'Dogwood tone ring' 3 hrs
'Gibson banjo' 4 hrs
'Mike Ramsey 12” Banjo' 6 hrs