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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!

7028 reviews in the archive.

Don Bryant

Submitted by clawhammerjazz on 4/1/2011

Overall Comments

Recently, I took a Vega Pro II banjo that I recently acquired to Don Bryant of Thurmond, NC to see if he could improve the heel to pot fit. This was a banjo that had sat in someone's closet and had not been played in a long time. After Don evaluated the instrument, he said he believed the banjo could benefit from having the heel re-cut and refitted to the rim. Don then explained process involved and gave me his best and very reasonable estimate for the cost of the repair and when he would be done with it. When I returned to pick up the instrument (finished ahead of time, by the way), I was amazed at the transformation that had taken place in terms of volume, action, and tone. While playing the instrument in Don's shop to evaluate it (we enjoyably played a couple of tunes together), we discovered an additional issue in the banjo that needed to be addressed. Many clawhammer players prefer a higher action than I do, but because I use my entire fingerboard and require a lower action which Don had at my request provided, we discovered the D string was somehow managing as I down-picked to catch under the end of the 22nd fret. Don immediately responded by dressing all the fret ends on my banjo, and when that didn't correct the issue, he then pulled the offending fret, arched it slightly, and re-seated it, solving the problem. I offered to pay Don for his additional time and labor; I mean, after all, the banjo was old and had sat for a while, likely causing the issue, but Don was insistent in not charging more, saying that no banjo ever left his shop without being right. Well, the banjo continues to be right, plays right, and sounds great--something Don even called a week later to ascertain in the way of a follow-up. I am truly impressed with Don--with his knowledge, with his commitment to his work, and with the persistence he showed in addressing the issues on my banjo and satisfying his customer. Through the process of working with him, he not only has become my banjo repair person of choice but also a friend. I recommend him highly. --John Wenberg (Cjazz)

Overall Rating: 10

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