"I finally got a chance to play the fretless you built for me and I am happy to report how pleased I am with it. The sound is so rich and resonant that I'm reluctant to adjust or replace anything. It's certainly an example of the whole being more than the sum of the parts. It must be the masterful setup job that tied everything together."
Paul Deblois, Alexandria, VA, September 2005 "I have been singing your praises to anyone that will listen. Thanks again for the quick turn around and great job on that tenor. I can hardly keep my hands off of it (much to my family's chagrin).
Steve Barrett, Alexandria, VA, April 2007 "Lew Stern is the only repair man I let work on my vintage banjos. His attention to detail and customer service are unmatched.
I thought I had a great sounding Vega Tubaphone until I took it to the Little Bear Banjo Hospital for some minor surgery. Lew kept me updated every step of the way, sending me pictures and detailed descriptions of the work he was to preform, all the while making sure the end result would be what I was hoping for. The day I picked my Vega up form Hospital, Lew handed it to me and upon frailing the first note I was thrilled!!! Finally, my banjo had "that" Tubaphone sound I had been searching after for years. The setup was perfect, the action was perfect, and it played like a dream. The skin head me mounted was beautiful, and the delicate repairs he made ensured that I can play and enjoy my banjo for many years to come. I owe this all to the Little Bear Banjo Hospital and Chief Surgeon Lew Stern.
Thanks Lew! "
-Mike Monseur, Chantilly, VA< 12 September 2007 "Regarding my Walter Burke with a broken peghead, you reattached the peghead, pinning it in place with dowels and adhesives, replaced missing neck inlays, filled and sanded the scar. You applied a strong aesthetic sense, careful attention to detail and meticulous craftsmanship to my project. The completed banjo is a pleasure to look at, with a uniform color and warm finish. Its light weight and soft mellow tone make it an absolute delight to play. I am extremely pleased with this instrument."
Dave Davidson, Reston, VA, February 2002 "Your French polishing finish restored my A.C. Fairbanks that is worth approximately $5,000. The prior owner had put on a plastic exterior coat over the beautiful neck with fancy carving and backstrap. You did an excellent job painstakingly removing the first owner's shellac job, carefully cleaning the intricate carving, and refinishing it in a way that showed off the delicate design work and the beauty of the original wood."
John Huerta, Arlington, VA, November 2001 "The banjo uke arrived today -- very fast delivery. You did a wonderful job of restoring the instrument. It is beautiful! The finish is lovely, the wood in excellent condition. I love the warm color and subdued finish. You really did a great job. I've strung it up and it sounds just super. My expectations have been exceeded! I will play this with pride. My deepest thanks for putting this together. You did a great job in every way."
Bill Montague, Chatham, MA, August 2001 "I want to thank you for your work on the Buckbee. It feels, functions and sounds wonderful. I am so happy to be able to pick it up and play it without re-tuning every five seconds. I don't know why, but I just like the way it sounds."
Mike Monsour, Chantilly, VA, July 2007
Yes - your repairs to my truly busted Bohmann Military banjeaurine neck were much appreciated. Its history was that it had previously been bought on ebay as an instrument in good condition but was found to be damaged on receipt by the winner. That wasn't the sellers fault. UPS had routed it via Japan I believe, for reasons of their own, and when it arrived some weeks later either or both of the peg head and heel had been broken. It was dispatched back to the seller and got lost again. Whatever - when it arrived both the peg head and heel were definitely broken. Seller claimed insurance and then relisted at a later date when I bought it as it clearly was - busted up..
I had two concerns. The dowel stick on most JB Schall variants isn't a loose item dowelled into the heel - its part of the heel itself. I knew that if the distance between the lower face of the heel and the lower face of the overhung fingerboard were to change I wouldn't be able to refit the repaired neck to the body without modifying the entry hole for the stick. The other issue was that the peg head break at the nut had bent the typical large Schall German silver perimeter decoration which is soldered in place onto silvered flush brads.
You successfully managed both concerns. The neck fits as it did originally and you refinished in a soft flat black as per original making the repairs almost invisible. The peg head decoration lies true as when new. Your efforts have been much appreciated - guess I'd better find some more work for you :)
24 December 2007 Hello Lew,
I want to thank you again for selling my old Fender Stratocaster on Ebay for me. I dropped it off at the Little Bear Banjo Hospital and you did all the rest. Your extensive research on an unfamiliar subject paid off with a very effective and informative auction listing. The many photos you took showed the instrument off to good advantage (thanks, Lily). Best of all, you fielded all questions and requests for further details from guitar fanatics worldwide with your usual diplomacy. When the smoke cleared at the end of the auction, I was very pleased with the winning bid.
You then took on the formidable task of shipping a large, heavy guitar and case to Australia. I really appreciate the hard work and expertise that went into such a successful auction. Now about that old cappucino machine in the attic...
Another satisfied customer,
7 January 2008