Comments from customers
I’ve been meaning to give you some feedback on the 6-string open back you built for me six months ago.
I can only say that I am total awe of this banjo. My appreciation of it just grows month by month.
I’ve probably played it every day since I collected it from you and it has left me with a serious problem. I have two other banjos. Both American made high end banjos: A Deering Hartford - current UK list price about £3000. And a Wildwood Troubador - current US price about $2000. I treasure both of them and would be reluctant to part with them. But I have very little interest in playing them now. Partly because I’ve got used to that extra string. And partly because they sound so thin and dry compared to the Ballard.
It is so beautifully put together. Despite the 12inch block rim, the extra mass of the slightly wider neck, headstock, extra tuner etc it feels quite light and very comfortable to play.
Tonally it is so full and complex. Every time I pick it up it surprises me with something new. The goatskin head loved the long hot dry summer of 2018. Playing outside in sunshine was such a joy.Notes just flew off that head with the zing of tennis volley shots.
Apart from the aforementioned Deering and Wildwood banjos, I have a wonderful 80s Lowden guitar. A superb hand made guitar shaped bouzouki by a local luthier. And I have owned some very nice instruments over the past 40 years.
Some of which I wish I still had. But I have never bonded with or treasured an instrument quite like this before.'
Banjo arrived on Friday. It's stunning (I think even the goat would approve). I'm amazed at how light it is (presumably due to lack of metal) and look forward to never again having bracket imprints on my thigh. I love the neck which I find more comfortable than other banjos I've tried. I would class myself as a struggling beginner but have made more progress in the last couple of days than in previous months. Am seriously considering installing a drip-feed so I don't have to put it down for the inconvenience of meals. Many many thanks.'
'The Suffolk Slugger is one mighty banjo indeed! It’s absolutely beautiful and the sound is wonderful. Exactly what I expected. A thousand thanks Leon!
The craftsmanship is exceptional, as I already knew from the tackhead. Actually, many banjos have passed through my hands in almost forty years of banjo playing, including in classical style, and in my opinion yours are the most finely crafted British banjos since Alfred Weaver. Truly.'
I absolutely love the banjo! What a beautiful instrument!'
The tackhead just arrived! What a wonderful treat! The craftsmanship is absolutely gorgeous and the sound is so deep and beautiful. I positively love it!'
Hey Leon, hows things? I've been wanting to write you a message for some time but had so much going on that I’ve not had chance. Just wanted to say how much I’m loving the banjo you’ve made me. Its so much more expressive than anything else I ever hear. Last weekend whilst in London I played on a few Vegas costing about £1500 and my Ballard Banjer knocked them dead. They weren’t even close. Mine was louder, bolder, and more expressive. Those aren’t just flattering words mate. My banjo is warmer and more alive than any of the stuff I see around. It Also feels much more substantial in the hand. Its a solid instrument mate and after playing it in it just gets better. Picking up those Vegas made me appreciate even more what you’ve built and I just wanted to let you know. Thanks for all your hard work on it, and your suggestions along the way. its beautiful and I love it! Ash
Leon built my banjo and I watched over the weeks my vision come together with plenty of advice from him. He really knows how to meet the brief and produce what you want. I have exactly the result I was looking for in concept, design, quality, finish, and most importantly - the sound. In a word - genius.
Only a week has gone by since the banjo arrived, but already my appreciation of the beautiful instrument you built has soared.
I am playing it so much that I can see great improvement in my playing, the clawhammer is coming along nicely too. I am also playing old time stuff more easily than I thought possible, and delighted with my progress.
Thanks again for your patience and skill, and building just what wanted.
'First of all, I can't speak too highly about what a pleasure it is doing business with Leon. I had a couple of minor changes of mind as the work progressed and Leon was just like 'Yeah, sure, no problem!'
As to the banjo itself, it surpasses all expectations. He 'got' what I was after and delivered! It's the look I was after; and it is definitely the sound that I have been after (for years!) to say I'm hugely pleased would be an understatement. The craftsmanship is outstanding, and I've nearly spent as much time looking at it as I have playing it! He communicated with me about preferred set-up before posting it, and it plays like a dream! This is one totally satisfied customer, and this will definitely not be my last purchase, as I have a mountain banjo in mind.'
'Banjo is playing beautifully, so reverberant and full, amazing low end. Love the power in the Dobson too- great note separation. I've always stuffed open backs, but I really enjoy this one as is. The neck just feels wonderful, the compound radius just adds a lovely touch.
It's a really beautiful instrument, couldn't have asked for more. Thank you for all your hard work.'
'It’s fantastic – beautifully made and a lovely sound'
'Leon! I have taken far too long to tell you just how good the banjo is. Not only does it look beautiful but the tone and playability are beyond what I hoped for. The instrument is beginning to settle down nicely and only needs the lightest of touches to have notes ringing out anywhere on the neck (and speaking of the neck - it's perfectly shaped and fretted). You have a great talent and make great banjos! You're going to be very busy (as long as you don't set fire to yourself). I am so grateful to you (and might order a larger tee-shirt soon!). Thank you! '
'Banjo arrived safe and sound today.
It`s beautiful -- all I expected and more.'
'!!! The banjo arrived today !!!
It's impressive! i'm very happy!
It sounds AWESOME!'
The banjo arrived safe and sound. It is really a beauty. I have other nice banjos in terms of looks but I love this one. And it has a very special sound that is mellow and different from anything else I own. The biggest test was that my wife says she thinks it's the nicest banjo I have!'
'It sounds and looks amazing! True craftsmanship!
It's gonna blow everyone's mind at the next jam.
Thank your for making me this fantastic instrument.
You'll definitely get another order from me some day.'
'Hi leon The banjo arrived yesterday afternoon and I love it!
The workmanship is first class and it really sings.The whole experience was a pleasure from placing the order at easter onwards. I think this banjer will see out my playing days!'
'It looks even better in the flesh, the walnut is darker and the stained head is richer, a very nice thin skin. And the sound is really punchy and crisp, but warm as well.
I can't wait to take it out, very pleased indeed :-) Thank you.'
My banjo arrived this morning and I am more than pleased with it. The rich mellow tone is just what I wanted and the quality of the craftsmanship is superb. I also appreciate the high quality of the tuners, tension ring and hooks etc which all go to make this banjo first class.'
'I am absolutely over the moon with this banjo. I'm getting exactly the tone and volume I wanted. The banjo just sings in a warm, clear tone that is such a joy. It's really easy to play and my drop thumb technique has come on leaps and bounds. She looks so pretty that she lives downstairs in the living room rather than in the office with the assortment of other ( lesser) instruments.
Leon, seriously, thanks for building me such a fantastic instrument. The quality is top notch. I've had other banjoists cooing over it.'
Banjo arrived at 2.30 this afternoon and I cant tell you how delighted I am.
Its just perfect in every detail. The craftsmanship, the style, the sound... everything! It is everything that I was looking for in a banjo.
I cant quite believe that I own something as good as the instrument that you have built for me and it will be treasured for at least my lifetime,... and I am sure beyond that too!
I also know that the banjo will improve my playing simply because practicing will be a joy.
It has been a great experience commissioning a banjo and I could not have found a better craftsman musician to do it...
All the best for the future with your instrument building and I hope that maybe one day I can commission another.
I have some ideas for one... but that's for another day!
Thanks so much again Leon.'
'Just to let you know, the banjer arrived safe and sound.
It sounds magnificent !'
'Hi Leon,The banjo is wonderful! I've been playing non-stop since it arrived, and everything about it is spot-on, thank you.
Keep up the amazing work!'
'Great to see you again over the weekend and pick up the banjo. Had a couple
of days to adjust myself a little to it and have to say how delighted I am.
The playability is amazing, perhaps helped by the increased distance between
the strings for my fingers to operate in, but really really nice. The sound
too is great, the notes just sing (you could go away and make a cup of tea
and come back and they're still ringing!). The sound is very different to
what I am used to hearing from the Gold Tone, but it suits the music I am
trying to play.
The workmanship is fantastic, the little touches of maple veneer and the
ebony rim cap really set off the black walnut. I cannot wait to show it to
my luthier friend!
The whole designing/ordering process has been great, you have made so many
suggestions along the way which have made me think and hopefully learn a
bit. The photos of the progression of the build have been good to see,
keeping me involved in the process.
Anyway I think you've guessed by now that you have a satisfied customer!'
'Received my fretless mountain banjo this morning from Leon.I can't find any phrases in the English dictionary to describe it.There are none that truly do it justice .But I will use some lesser ones , because that's all I have.....Beautifully crafted,the grain on the walnut neck and on the cherry pot are ridiculously stunning,the contrast between walnut and cherry is I think delightful.Ok, so it looks good...and guess what...when you play it,it gives you the most charming,woody,mountain banjer tones.Leons instruments look and sound incredible on the internet,but when you're lucky enough to own one........and you're sat outside with a coffee,and the dog's sat at your feet and you're playing at whatever level musically you are at,you feel hypnotized and all is well with the world.'
'the banjo has arrived, very well packed. one word WOW! i love it. within 2 mins of playing i knew i had the best banjo i have ever played, the sound is perfect.'
I've just received it by courier... These pictures DO NOT do it justice!!! It brought a tear to my eyes when I opened the package... It is truly stunning and incredibly well made; total respect to Leon for his amazing skill as a banjo builder!
'Leon - received the banjo today and gave it a good test run and I'm thrilled with it. The craftsmanship is gorgeous and the sound is absolutely what I was shooting for. It is so superior to any woodhead banjo that I've played so far.'
'What a joy! An absolutely authentic sound from a beautifully crafted instrument. It is so light and easy to play, it puts other banjos in the shade.'
'the craftmanship is top notch and the sound is exactly what i was after.'
'Chuffed with my fretless tackhead banjo. Leon is an absolute pleasure to deal with. An incredible level of service throughout and the finished product sounds brilliant. Very pleased.'
'beautifully made and finished, and fulfilled all my hopes'
' The service you offer is absolutely fantastic I must say.'
'it is beautifully crafted, a work of art. Very nice work'
'Just to let you know, it's arrived and it's lovely!
The workmanship is very clean, simple and elegant, just like I wanted.'
'just wanted to say thanks for building such a great instrument!'
'Many thanks again for a beautiful instrument.'
'your banjos look beautiful on the web but in the flesh they look even more gorgeous'