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Deering Vega Little Wonder
submitted 8/22/2017

Submitter

jlawoods (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Elderly Instruments

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

900 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound


My first banjo, and I did a lot of research going into it. Initially I was looking at a lot of banjos from individual makers like Rickard, Enoch, and Reiter. Ultimately this Vega popped up used on consignment at Elderly instruments for a good price and I always think it's reasonable to choose a quality instrument that's easily replaced. Deering makes a lot of banjos, so replacing it wouldn't be a problem if anything ever happened to it.
For the price, this is a serious banjo. Fit and finish are all excellent. Hardware is better than expected and the tone is great to my ears. Woody and bright. I haven't gone into the realm of dialing the tone in yet but it's currently sitting in a spot where it could be pushed or pulled a few directions. I really wanted a banjo with no tone ring to start and this is a really great offering with that in mind.

Sound Rating

9

Setup


Elderly did a superb job setting it up. I asked them to set it up well, which is kind of vague, but being new to banjo I couldn't be more specific. I mainly intended that to mean action and intonation, which are both excellent. Looks like they either dressed the fretboard or the previous owner never played it. Either way, it's very well set up.

Setup Rating

10

Appearance


I like simple and well machined things whether it's tools or instruments. This is a very well considered model from Deering. Hardware is understated but quality and the neck and pot are very well finished in satin.

Appearance Rating

10

Reliability


I would describe this as a professional level instrument in all ways with no excessive features. The price of these reflects the crafstmanship, and there are no extra decorative features.

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


Customer Service

not rated

Components


I like really good tuners like Gotoh on other instrumets because they are simply wonderful. Deering uses propietary tuners on this model and they seem quality, but they're not top shelf tuners. That said, they are completely functional.

Components Rating

9

Overall Comments


Was a bit skeptical about ordering it sight unseen but it is a great professional instrument that exceeded my expectations. I will be learning on it, and it's beautiful and functional enough to keep me going on it probably well beyond beginner.  It's very well made, and a very simple design. Also a plus that it's not rare to find. I couldn't ask for anything more personally. I really like what Deering is doing with their Vega line. It's definitely more than marketing.  Similar idea to the National Resophonic Guitar name resurrection.

Overall Rating

9


Bridges Fitts bridge
submitted 8/22/2017

Submitter

rockybottom16 (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Ebay

Overall Comments


I bought one of Danny's Beech bridges on Ebay.  Nice workmanship and sounds great.  I've just recently begun using bridges made of woods other than the traditional maple/ebony.  Now I wonder why I waited nearly 40 years to do so!  Some banjos can really benefit from this kind of experimentation.  And Danny will bend over backwards to get you what you want.

Overall Rating

10


Mutes Mike's Banjo Mute
submitted 8/21/2017

Submitter

jlawoods (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Mike's Mute website

Overall Comments


I live in a nyc apartment with paper walls, not what one thinks of for a clawhammer banjo setting. Nevertheless, an essential piece of kit is a mute, and I have a couple.  A goldtone mute I could have made myself and works okay, and a Mike's Mute. The Mike's Mute is a wise investment and cuts down the volume considerably more than the other one.  Very well made mute, and I love it. A machinist's work of art with a purpose.

Thanks Mike!

Overall Rating

10


Bridges Bart Veerman Mystery Wood Bridge
submitted 8/19/2017

Submitter

rockybottom16 (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

From Bart

Overall Comments


I have an OME that was just too strong in the upper midrange - kind of clangy.  Bart suggested one of his "mystery wood" bridges (uncapped) and it solved the problem instantly.  Banjo now has a nice dry pop and is extremely well balanced from string to string. And his workmanship is second to none!

Overall Rating

10


Amber Catlin Tuning Buttons Amber Tuning Buttons
submitted 8/19/2017

Submitter

chrisprotos (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Ron Barnes

Overall Comments


Ron's amber tulip buttons are perfect! They look and feel just like the pre-war buttons that came on old Gibsons. Couldn't  be happier with the fit, finish, and customer service from Ron. He was in constant communication throughout the whole process. Total turnaround time was 6 days. Money well spent and an excellent value. Thanks Ron.

 

Overall Rating

10


John Boulding
submitted 8/18/2017

Submitter

jgbryant (see all reviews from this person)

Overall Comments


Just wanted to thank John for the fine job he did on the speed neck for my Crafters Classic mahogany.  For those who are considering doing a speed neck themselves, I would recommend that they have it done professionally.  I removed the neck and shipped it for only $15 and the cost to have the speed neck made was very reasonable.  I should note that the stain John used to match the dark mahogany finish has lightened over time, but that doesn't bother me at all. 

Overall Rating

10


Picks Yates 8's
submitted 8/16/2017

Submitter

fitch5string (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Warren Yates

Overall Comments


I have to give these picks a 10. The workmanship, fit, finish, detail, comfort, and tone are exceptional! Yes, they are a bit pricey at $50.00 but, it is obvious that they are very labor intensive and, they are still a fraction of the price of a pair of original National oval 8's. . Mine fit perfectly right out of the box. No bending necessary.  Warren really did his homework on these. Highly recommended!

Overall Rating

10


Robin Smith
submitted 8/16/2017

Submitter

HenrytheCat (see all reviews from this person)

Overall Comments


Rob built a banjo for me last year. The more I play it, the better I like it. I run out of superlatives when I describe it; it is a work of art. The fit and finish are perfect, the neck is a pleasure to play, and the sound is great. In addition to doing great work, he is a very nice guy and a pleasure to deal with.

Overall Rating

10


bryantde
submitted 8/16/2017

Submitter

HenrytheCat (see all reviews from this person)

Overall Comments


Don recently made a conversion neck for an old TB-1 for me. He did a truly excellent job. The neck is even better than I had hoped it would be. His banjo necks deserve their great reputation. And, dealing with Don was a pleasure. He is a very good guy, and wants to make sure that his customer is satisfied.

Overall Rating

10


Mike's Banjo Mute Mike's Banjo Mute
submitted 8/15/2017

Submitter

corsemode (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Mike's site

Overall Comments


This thing is amazing. I watched several videos before deciding to spend the money on it, and it really brings down the volume. Awesome product!

Overall Rating

10


Barry Sholder Minstrel Gourd Banjo
submitted 8/15/2017

Submitter

dnachman (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Barry Sholder

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

525 ($US)

Sound


This gourd banjo has that typical mellow tone expected from Nylgut type strings and the gourd sound box. Very pleasing which is characteristic of a Barry Sholder instrument.

Sound Rating

10

Setup


As were my other instruments by Barry, this one arrived ready to play. No adjustments were required.

Setup Rating

10

Appearance


Barry's instruments are beautifully finished. The gourd is polished. The inside is sealed to enhance durability and sound projection. The goat skin head holds up well in humidity.
Barry is well known for varying and unique headstocks. This instrument has a beautifully carved and painted Eagle head headstock with violin tuning pegs in an unusual diamond pattern.
The neck and fingerboard with ogee at the 5th fret are well done.

Appearance Rating

10

Reliability


The banjo is solidly built. Based on my experience with my other Barry Sholder instruments, I expect this gourdy to last many years.

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


Though there is no specific warranty, Barry is great to work with. You deal with him personally, and he will help with specific requests as he has in my case.

Customer Service

10

Components


The materials are very basic as you might expect with a tackhead gourd instrument. Everything is designed for playability and durability.

Components Rating

10

Overall Comments


I now have 3 instruments from Barry - two banjos and a ukulele. I enjoy finding small luthiers who take great pride in their work and the relationships with their customers. Barry fits that bill. My friends are as taken by the look as the sound.

In my experience Barry Sholder's instruments are both eminently playable and unique folk art. There is a brief article about him in the Fall 2017 issue of WOODCARVING magazine that gives a sense of his work. 

Overall Rating

10


Bacon (after Day) Belmont long neck
submitted 8/11/2017

Submitter

john bange (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

BHO CLASSIFIEDS

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound


great one for a folk style banjo...not overly bright...has a metal tone ring

Sound Rating

8

Setup


set up ok when I got it...made changes for nylon strings...raised action
very easy to make adjustments...changed t/p to a Kirschner...added geared pegs all around

Setup Rating

8

Appearance


50+ year old banjo looked great...beautiful neck and pot...nickel in excellent condition...neck is very thick...I mean Louisville Slugger thick

Appearance Rating

not rated

Reliability


it's lasted 50 years, so far

I'd gig it without back-up

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


unable to rate

Customer Service

5

Components


no truss rod on neck but it is straight and stable...did I mention thick?
rim is little on the flinsy side but ok...banjo has a metal tone ring...good but obsolete pegs and tail piece

Components Rating

9

Overall Comments


I'm happy I bought it..a very nice, vintage banjo, needing only some tlc to be a front-line instrument for folkie type music.  A good banjo to add to a folk singers collection.
  I would recommend this banjo to anyone in this condition.  banjo has a 3 piece neck and this must be solid.  some care should be give to a close exam when considering one.

my comments on tone and volume are based upon the use of nylon (harp) strings.

 

 

 

Overall Rating

9


Ome Juniper
submitted 8/9/2017

Submitter

snozzle (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Eagle Music

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

£sterling () historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound


Rich, mellow

Sound Rating

8

Setup


set by Eagle was great

Setup Rating

8

Appearance


Vintage style. Looks great

Appearance Rating

10

Reliability


time will tell. Seems very good

Reliability Rating

8

Customer Service


Eagle were good, though a little confused. Only got in touch with Ome after purchase. No response from them

Customer Service

not rated

Components


Overall good quality, tight banjo. Good looking with fabulous sound

Components Rating

8

Overall Comments


Great banjo but rubbish customer focus and service. Price gauging - beware! About a month into the 10 month lead time from order, I requested the addition of a simple name plate. Eagle checked with OME and came back saying yes but the charge would be $250. I thought this a little pricey (nearly 10% of the total cost) but agreed.  About 6 weeks before delivery Eagle were in touch to tell me that "apparently, I had been given incomplete information" and that the addition of a simple name plate meant the otherwise standard banjo was now a "custom model and that the price would go up significantly" I never found out by how much as I cancelled the nameplate order.  I don't know who to be annoyed at - Eagle or Ome? Apart from anything else, they had already agreed (contracted) to add the name plate for $250.. Anyway, great banjo - be careful if you buy one! If you go to the Eagle annual Krueger Brothers day in Huddersfield, you will hear them endlessly promoting their "focus on customer service" - now rings a little hollow for me...

 

 

Overall Rating

7


RK30 BGM rk30
submitted 8/9/2017

Submitter

jbutche (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

uk

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

£350 () historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound


sounds like my mates ess gibson, bright sparkly and punchy, i have an epiphone mb250 aswell and it sounds like a £1000 more of a banjo

Sound Rating

10

Setup


apart from tightening head and setting bridge, just standard

Setup Rating

9

Appearance


its light reddish tinted satin finished wood, it looks quality, i wouldve prefered a darker finish tho

Appearance Rating

8

Reliability


so far so good

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


ive not had to deal with the company

Customer Service

not rated

Components


i have intention of upgrading the components as it sounds so good

Components Rating

10

Overall Comments



i've been playing 6 yrs now and this is the 4th banjo ive owned and this one is by far the best, i dont know how i managed to get it so cheap, i was very lucky as these are going for $899 on the internet. i was going to buy a second hand rk-35 for £500 and then i seen this bargain, so saved myself some money for a just as good a banjo, the rk 30's series are the best buy out there, i'll never need to upgrade again now

Overall Rating

10


Bart Reiter Buckbee
submitted 8/7/2017

Submitter

Ragtimejoe (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Elderly Instruments

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

1195 ($US)

Sound


Excellent. Does everyting I need out out of an old time banjo

Sound Rating

10

Setup


Excellent. Bart always does a great job. Of course we all set our banjos up to our own tastes. I went with lighter gauge strings and a .656 bridge, but that was personal prefence

Setup Rating

10

Appearance


A basic banjo but it's old time.

Appearance Rating

10

Reliability


Bart's banjos have stood the test of time

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


I've e-mailed Bart a couple of times and it seems he replies almost before I hit the send button

Customer Service

10

Components


Again, his banjos have stood the test of time. What more can you say

Components Rating

10

Overall Comments


I held off getting a Buckbee until the 12" model came out. I love this banjo.

Overall Rating

10


Capek Pelican
submitted 8/7/2017

Submitter

Kenny 1 (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Rosta Capek

Year Purchased

2017

Price Paid

1750 (Euro) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound


This banjo is very bright sounding especially for a new instrument. I usually play an archtop so am used to a bright sound. This is a flathead and it has the 'growl' that others describe banjos having (a first for me).
The neck/pot union is very tight so it's loud and the tone is top notch.

Sound Rating

10

Setup


This arrived in a hard case and had its bridge fitted and the placement was spot on. As it was a new build and had been in transit for a week to get to the UK from Prague the head had stretched enough to need a retighten and that was it. It came with an 11/16th bridge and I thought it may benefit from my usual choice of 5/8th...I was wrong.....Rosta knows exactly what he is doing and it was perfect with the original.
I have only had it for a few days so I am sure I will fiddle with it...(and then put it back to how it was supplied!)

Setup Rating

10

Appearance


Beautifully finished and not overly fancy. It has crescent moon inlays as fret markers and is different enough to appeal to me. It came with a clamshell tailpiece which I don't normally like as they normally rattle but this one doesn't and is pretty!
I am used to resonators not being nicely finished inside as they cannot be seen....this is nicely finished.

Appearance Rating

10

Reliability


I think the hardware is solid and the nickel plating deep enough....if I am wrong in the future I will update this review.

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


I have dealt with Rosta by email several times over the ordering/receiving process and he was exemplary. Generally I had a reply within hours...sometimes minutes. I am sure if I needed anything he would be the same again.

Customer Service

10

Components


As I stated earlier....the hardware seems good at the moment and the bridge fitted gives a terrific tone.....I don't think I will 'need' to upgrade as I ordered this to be built for ME.
The tone ring is 'a special alloy' according to the spec sheet....it sounds GREAT.

Components Rating

10

Overall Comments


In the UK Rosta Capeks banjos do not seem as well known as Pruchas ....let's change that as they are (to me) fabulous.

The guy seems to have a passion for his builds of banjos (and mandolins) and it shows.

If in doubt contact him and see what I mean.

Overall :-

In the few days I have owned this instrument I think this could be my lifetime instrument........ alongside my Gibson archtop. (No more instrument acquisition for me?!).

If this doesn't tell you enough feel free to contact me for more enthusiastic feedback!

Overall Rating

10


Murphy Method Women's Banjo Camp
submitted 8/4/2017

Submitter

52Mothra (see all reviews from this person)

Overall Comments


I am a new banjo player in Oregon. I've had trouble finding a teacher. I tried some Murphy Method (learning by ear and example) instructional DVD's and they really worked for me. So when I saw that Murphy and Casey Henry were putting on a Women's Banjo Camp in Winchester VA I decided to go. I am so glad I did. I learned a lot, and the instruction was clear and easy to follow. They paid attention to each camper's skill and interest, and worked to help each of us make good strides. And it was so dang much fun! Great people, yummy food, awesome performances. I can't wait for next year. I highly recommend this camp.

Overall Rating

10


Mutes Mike's Banjo Mute
submitted 8/3/2017

Submitter

TipTop (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

http://www.mikesbanjomute.com/

Overall Comments


I practice nightly in a sound sensitive environment and I need to stuff my pot and mute the strings as best I can. I've used the Gold Tone Lucci Banjo Mute for the past year and Mike's Banjo Mute just blows it out of the water in terms of volume reduction and tone retention. It's slightly fiddlier to fasten to the bridge but it's 100% worth the extra few seconds.

If not driving your family and neighbors crazy is your goal, then you can't do better than with Mike's Mute.

Overall Rating

10


Necks 5 string neck
submitted 8/3/2017

Submitter

patgreen03 (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Dawn Herbert (dstover)

Overall Comments


I bought a really nice inlayed with a tree of life 5 string neck. Once the money got right she shipped it and arrived  in plenty of time . I look forward to getting this neck installed. I would buy other needed parts from her with no problems 

Overall Rating

10


Mutes Mike's Banjo Mute 5-string Standard Model
submitted 8/2/2017

Submitter

neilio (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

http://www.mikesbanjomute.com/

Overall Comments


Living in a flat, I needed a mute. Lots of reading later and using the reviews on this site, I bought one of these marvellous mutes. Mike quoted 3 weeks to arrive here in the UK, it got here in exactly one week. No additional charges. Very impressive. Enough to say the mute is fabulous. It kills the volume but allows the strings to ring out so you can hear what you are practicing.The muted sound is very pleasing on the ears. Now the family can't here me in the next room. Love it. If you need a banjo mute, invest in one of these. Totally recommended. Thanks Mike.

 

Overall Rating

10


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