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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!

7179 reviews in the archive.

Pisgah: 12" Walnut Possum

Submitted by 4Corgis on 1/1/2018

Where Purchased: Pigsah Banjo Co.

Year Purchased: 2017
Price Paid: $1945.00 ($US)

Sound

Here are my first impressions after about ten days with this lovely instrument. Its tonal range is far greater than I expected; I'm in awe. I was looking for mellow with long sustain,full, deep tone, and minimal muddiness. This banjo is that and more. When I attack aggressively,she (Her name is Petunia Possum Pigsah) is surprisingly LOUD; she can play relatively softly with a more gentle attack. She is highly responsive, with marked and welcome tonal variation, depending on where my right hand is picking (bare fingers) and, of course, my attack. I had hoped that the sound of a wood tone ring would differ markedly from my open backs with metal tone rings (Dobson tone ring/mahogany pot and neck; Whyte Laydie tone ring/ maple pot and neck). It does!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

This is one highly playable banjo; I love the action. Custom comes in because I asked Patrick if he could make me a short scale banjo with a radiused fingerboard and wood arm rest. He did. The setup as shipped reflects our phone and email conversations, and I don't need to change or adjust anything. The action is high relative to my other (metal tone-ring resonator and open-back banjos).It's perfectly suited to clawhammer and melodic style and to bare-finger picking. Initially, it seemed as though the head might be a little tight, but after playing Petunia over the past few days I suspect that the head tension may contribute to her extreme responsiveness.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Simple, elegant,refined. Beautiful fit and finish. No pretense. The walnut rim with cherry cap, persimmon tone ring, coordinator rod cover,
fretboard, and arm rest with antiqued brass hardware, amber tuning buttons, and quilted star inlay on the headstock add up to a perfectly coordinated, dignified personality. The vintage package, which includes the S-scoop. vintage head and vintage heel (persimmon over walnut) compliments the overall old-time feel and quiet elegance. Finally, the Pigsah Hawktail tailpiece as it extends over the head appears to have "grown there". It's a natural. I can take her (Petunia) anywhere!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Though I haven't had this banjo in my hands for very long, my prior experience with Gotoh tuners suggests that the antiqued brass Gotoh tuners will be fine for the long haul. The wood finish is exquisite, and I expect it to hold up well. The antiqued brass hardware, which comes from Balsam Banjoworks should, if anything, look better with age; I expect that it will be highly durable. Finally, the Pigsah Hawktail tailpiece, also from Balsm Banjoworks appears highly durable.
Finally, would I use it on a gig without a backup? Yes! I'd be perfectly confident, but my nature is such that I'd probably have a backup available just because I'm who I am.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Patrick was a pleasure to work with. Our initial contact was by phone, followed by emails. We discussed every aspect of the build.I asked about a wood armrest,which was not listed on the site, and Patrick said he could supply one in persimmon to coordinate with the neck. Fifth-string railroad spikes at frets 7, 9, and 10 completed the picture. My quote arrived promptly as a PDF attachment to an email.
All of this is a very long winded way to say that I couldn't ask for better communication and responsiveness. The banjo arrived in the time frame promised.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Every component of this banjo is first class. Standouts include the persimmon fretboard and arm rest. If you like wood, you'll love Pigsah's native hardwoods. I didn't expect to fall deeply in love with persimmon. The short scale and radiused fingerboard are perfectly executed and greatly increase my pleasure in having this banjo in my hands. The neck is a pleasure to navigate.The aged brass hardware ladds a vintage "presence" without being clunky, and the Pigsah Hawktail tail piece not only compliments the appearance of the banjo, it also makes a very positive contribution to its action. The Renaissance head and the Pigsah strings seem to turn the instrument into a well-tuned (intentional choice of words) sound system.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Terrific banjo, terrific buying experience.  The build is solid and elegant.  To my great relief, the finish appears "natural" and showcases the quality of the wood (I am not a fan of shiny nitrocellulose finishes).  World-class build and attention to detail, world-class sound, world-class communication.  I'm sure I'll be back for another Pigsah banjo at some point.

Overall Rating: 10

Cases (Soft, Gig Bags): Blue Heron Gig Bag

Submitted by 4Corgis on 7/17/2017

Where Purchased: Blue Heron Cases http://www.blueheroncases.com/

Overall Comments

Last week I received two soft banjo gig bags from Blue Heron.  One for my open back Bishline Okie, and the other for my custom Bishline resonator.  I am blown away!  

First, the ordering process:  I responded online, and Ken Jorgenson, owner, phoned me back promptly.  I gave him the measurements of the banjos, selected options (neck pad in particular), and colors for the cases.  Ken said it would take about two weeks until I received my cases.

The cases arrived in a timely manner, and I was immediately impressed with the construction of the "shells" and the padding within. And they look great.  The handles on both cases are perfectly positioned for easy one-hand carry, and the straps that permit shoulder or backpack carry seem plenty sturdy, even for the heavier resonator banjo.

Both cases are surprisingly light for the protection they provide, and the custom fit, easy portability, sufficient room for a capo and a few other things in the outside pocket, and the fact that they have super eye appeal make these my "forsake all others" banjo bags for comfort on foot and trips in the van.

You can find Blue Heron cases at http://www.blueheroncases.com/

I will update as needed, but I doubt that I will change my mind over time.

 

Overall Rating: 10

Bishline: Custom Heirloom

Submitted by 4Corgis on 11/23/2013

Where Purchased: Direct

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Bright and resonant with enough growl to please me, the folks at Bishline set it up to my stated preferences, and I couldn't be happier.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Did not need to make any changes in setup.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Looks fantastic. Natural flamed maple with laminated neck and ebony fretboard, mother of pearl dog paw prints on the fretboard, and mother of pearl Cardigan corgi on the headstock give this instrument a unique appearance. The koa binding compliments the natural flamed maple.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The tuners, tailpiece, and finish are top quality, and though I've had it for less than a week, I don't know why I'd take a backup (largely because my old banjo sounds totally dead in comparison).

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Lifetime for original owner. The folks at Bishline, including Rob and Andy were courteous, delightful, helpful, patient, and kept me in the loop every step of the way during the banjo's build.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Bishline tone ring.
Awesome, superb, workmanship.
Perfect fit and finish.
Mother-of-pearl inlays are stunning.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I just can't imagine a more positive experience in getting my hands on a truly custom banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

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