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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.

Don Bryant

Submitted by eMike on 2/19/2014

Overall Comments

I recently needed some repair work on a nice tiger maple 5-string neck.  Don has done  some great work for me in the past so I sent the neck to him.  He repaired a couple of dings on the heel cap, fixed an issue involving the 5th string peg hole, and dressed the ends of the frets.  As usual, his work was excellent, as was his turnaround time, and I felt like he didn't charge me enough.  I wanted to pay him more but he refused (true!).

Don does great work and is a real pleasure to do business with.  I highly recommend Don's luthier skills and work ethic.  He is very professional, loves what he does, and guarantees that you will be satisfied with whatever work you entrust to him.


Overall Rating: 10

Tone Rings: Bryant Skirtless Ring

Submitted by eMike on 10/4/2013

Where Purchased: Don Bryant

Overall Comments

Don Bryant of Thurmond, NC, is marketing a new "skirtless" flathead tone ring.  Since there is no skirt, swelling of the wood rim due to humidity changes will never be an issue as with tone rings that have a skirt.  This is a significant development that allows the ring to vibrate unhindered by contact between the rim and inside edge of the skirt.  The banjo head, hooks and compressive force will keep the ring centered.  It should sound the same outside on a hot humid day as it does inside your house.

The sound of this tone ring mated to a 1928 pre-war Gibson rim is amazing!  The volume of the banjo is consistent across all 5 strings, instead of the 4th being  louder than the others.  The tone of the banjo as set up with this ring, is very dry with excellent note separation and clarity from one end of the fretboard to the other.  The tone this ring produces is what I would describe as a metallic, percussive bell-like sound that has an extra little ring or edge to it.  I have had several after-market tone rings and have never heard this sound from any other ring.  It has a quick decay but you can vary the sound a lot by playing further away from the bridge.  

If you are looking for a great tone ring for your next project, send Don Bryant an email through the BHO.  He is a great picker and a fine gentleman to do business with.  He won't be satisfied till you are.  If you want to hear a sound clip or two of banjos with this ring, do a BHO search for "Bryant tone ring" or "Bryant skirtless ring".  I think you will really like the sound this ring produces.  I sure do!

Overall Rating: 10

Don Bryant

Submitted by eMike on 12/9/2012

Overall Comments

After reading the very positive reviews here on the BHO relative to Mr. Don Bryant’s skills as a luthier, I decided to have him build a neck for my 54 TB-100 pot with a full-weight Stew-Mac flathead ring. He quoted me a very reasonable price and made it clear that I would be under no obligation to purchase the neck when it was finished unless I was completely satisfied with it. I decided on a Style 1 modified fiddle peghead using curly maple with a Brazilian fingerboard and Gull Wing Style 1 inlays. The peghead also has an inverted tulip inlay. The highly-flamed neck is “V” shaped to the 5th fret and Don perfectly matched the binding on the neck to the somewhat-yellowed crème binding on the resonator. The stain color also is a great match to the resonator .
This neck is absolutely beautiful and it is one of the best playing necks I have ever had. The workmanship is flawless and I am completely satisfied with it in every way. It intonates perfectly and is certainly a joy to play.
During the build process, Don kept me advised as to where he was in the process and also provided me pictures of the gradually emerging neck during the build. To say that I was thrilled with the build, fit, and finish of the neck to the banjo would be an understatement. The banjo sounded the best it has sounded since I have had it.
I also have a frankenpot with a full-weight Stew-Mac arch top tone ring in it. It had a TB-3 neck when I bought it as well as a 3-ply maple rim and one piece flange. I had wanted to see what the AT pot sounded like with a high-quality neck so I installed the Bryant neck to the AT pot and it fit perfectly. This thing doesn’t sound like an arch top. It definitely has more of a flathead sound that I have been enjoying immensely. A few normal adjustments to head tension, tailpiece setting, and trying different bridges really make a difference in this banjo.
As I said previously, Don built me a beautiful, high-quality neck that is very playable at a very competitive price. If you are looking for a period correct neck at a good price from a man who takes great pride in his workmanship, you should get in touch with Mr. Don Bryant of Thurmond, NC. He’s a member here on the BHO. In conclusion, I am one very satisfied customer and I highly recommend Don and his work.

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Arnold Clayton Bridge

Submitted by eMike on 4/16/2011

Where Purchased: Arnold Clayton

Overall Comments

If you are setting up your banjo and are test driving different bridges, you might want to try the 2-footed bridges that Arnold Clayton is building. I have three of them and have been impressed with the tone and consistency I am getting with them. I have tried them on several of my banjos and they have sounded really good on each one. I have had one of them on a banjo for about a year with no sagging problem. Arnold (aclayton) is a member here on the HO. Give his bridge a try. I think you will like it.

Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by eMike on 4/26/2009

Where Purchased: Mike Stidd online

Overall Comments

I have had a Fielding-Cutler mute for a couple of years and bought one of Mike's Mutes a few months ago after reading about it in BNL. I prefer the Mike's Mute to the F-C. It does not have a metallic sound like the F-C does, but instead has a much sweeter tone, sounding a lot like a lute. I had a problem with the F-C mute causing a string buzz at times but I never could figure out exactly what the problem was. My wife comments a lot on how pretty the tone of my banjo is with the Mike's Mute on it. It really does quiet it down a lot and late at night, I almost put myself to sleep playing it. If you want a great sounding mute that really works, get one of these.

Overall Rating: 10

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