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Backyard Music Fireside (Assembled) Banjo Reviews

Backyard Music Fireside (Assembled)
submitted 7/31/2014

Submitter

GO VOLS (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

EBAY

Year Purchased

2014

Price Paid

149.00 ($US)

Sound


I will probably buy another of your banjo's in the future...I did leave feedback on ebay when I bought the one I have now....I will say again, its the greatest sound....I own or have owned some expensive banjo's and I like the sound of this banjo better than any I have ever owned. I don't think I have picked up one of the others since I bought this one about a month ago.

Sound Rating

10

Setup


it was well set up. I didn't touch it as far as setup goes. I just started playing it.

Setup Rating

10

Appearance


It's a banjo with a wooden head. I can't say a lot about the appearance, its not ugly, neither is it beautiful, but it sounds great. Maybe the hoop or pot could have been sanded a little smoother.

Appearance Rating

7

Reliability


I think it is probably reliable over the long haul...I've only had it a month, no complaints. It will probably last me the rest of my life.

Reliability Rating

8

Customer Service


I e-mailed them about an armrest and they responded immediately with the answers to my question.

Customer Service

10

Components


I'm satisfied that I got my monies worth.

Components Rating

9

Overall Comments


I will probably buy another of your banjo's in the future...I did leave feedback on ebay when I bought the one I have now....I will say again, its the greatest sound....I own or have owned some expensive banjo's and I like the sound of this banjo better than any I have ever owned. I don't think I have picked up one of the others since I bought this one about a month ago.

Overall Rating

10


Backyard Music Fireside (Assembled)
submitted 8/14/2012

Submitter

alvacouch (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Direct from Backyard Music

Year Purchased

2012

Price Paid

$145 ($US)

Sound


This is the ultimate practice banjo. Relatively quiet, with a wood head rather than a drumhead. I bought it for practice rather than performance, and am completely satisfied with it in that role.

Sound Rating

10

Setup


The banjo action was perfect when I purchased it. It is not adjustable and didn't require adjustment. A slight buzzing of the drone string was easily remedied.

Setup Rating

9

Appearance


This is a no-frills mountain banjo. That being said, it is quite nice looking for the price. The finish is an oil finish that is easily renewed (and one's hands actually help it).

Appearance Rating

9

Reliability


It is darn near indestructible. I regularly carry it around in the roughest of conditions, e.g., in a backpack. The wood head is not something to worry about. I bought it because I knew I was going to bounce it around, and it has stood up well. I have not owned it long enough to know whether the setup is stable. But so far, the action is fine.

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


The company was very accomodating and satisfaction is their primary goal.

Customer Service

10

Components


The banjo is intended for practice and as a low-cost entry instrument. I would not have bought it if it were more expensive. It serves its purpose well and at a very desirable price point. I would not "improve" it at the cost of making it too expensive.

Components Rating

10

Overall Comments


This banjo has served its purpose so well that I bought another for my office, and a fretless. I have another fretless on order for my office. It is not a "performance" instrument, but for my purposes of quiet clawhammer practice, it is ideal.

Update: A few years have gone by. I own four of these (one of each of fireside, fireside fretless, basic, and basic fretless) and they get played daily. The basics are at the office and the firesides at home. Their incredibly light weight and durability has encouraged me to hang them where I'll pick them up and play them. The only thing to watch out for is that the fretted instruments lose intonation rather frequently because the wood head is slicker than a drum head and the bridges tend to slide around as the banjos are retuned. I am amazed that the necks are still straight after several years of being kept tuned up with no truss rods!

Overall Rating

10


Backyard Music Fireside (Assembled)
submitted 3/26/2012

Submitter

Tron (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

http://www.backyardmusic.com/Welcome.html

Year Purchased

2011

Price Paid

135 ($US)

Sound


This little banjo has a light sound but I find it to be very nice. It's not like a regular banjo but more like a front porch mountain sound. If you want to relax with out a big banjo sound blaring everyone out of the living room, this little banjo gives you a soft enjoyable experience.

Sound Rating

9

Setup


The set up was fine. This is a basic banjo so don't expect a professional grade banjo. The fret edges were a little sharp and I got my dremmel out and softened them up a bit.

Setup Rating

6

Appearance


It is a nice looking basic banjo. The up side is you can finish it out any way you want it. In fact you can even paint it. Check their website to see some nice designs. I just put a little oil on it to keep the wood treated but I didn't put anything else on it. I think it's fine just like that.

Appearance Rating

8

Reliability


I bought this little banjo because I was traveling up to North Dakota a lot to work on the oil boom that's going on up there. I've taken it on probably 10 flights and knocked it around a lot. This little banjo can take a beating and keep on ticking. Plus you don't really care if it gets a ding because it is a front porch banjo. It kept me playing in places I would have never taken my better banjos. It is small and light enough to easily travel with it.

Reliability Rating

10

Customer Service


Backyard music was very good. There was actually a slight problem with the delivery of my order, they remedied it with a quick fix and included a free banjo strap as well.

Customer Service

10

Components


It's just a very basic banjo. Many people have concerns about the round pot being made of a fiber board. It is actually very strong and can take a beating.

Components Rating

9

Overall Comments


To be honest, I have much more expensive banjos and I find myself picking this little banjo up more often to practice and play. It has a very enjoyable mellow sound. You won't be taking this thing to a jam but for sitting out on the front porch and simply enjoying yourself, this little banjo is a gem. I was looking for a travel banjo and was shocked at the tranjo travel banjo prices. This banjo is a very good travel banjo and actually I think it sounds better than the tranjo.

Overall Rating

10


Backyard Music Fireside (Assembled)
submitted 9/28/2011

Submitter

jrhone (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Backyard Music

Year Purchased

2004/2008/2011

Price Paid

Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound


The sound is understandably light, given it's design, but intonation is decent and has an overall sweet quality.

Sound Rating

7

Setup


There is attention to detail that you might not expect to find in a "kit" model. The woodworking is quality, the design is well thought out - the 5th string tuner being arranged straight up from the fingerboard shows the maker's ingenuity.

Setup Rating

9

Appearance


Again, this is more than just a simple kit model. Attention is paid to aesthetic design to a degree beyond expectation for this type of banjo.

Appearance Rating

9

Reliability


Surprisingly durable. Like any instrument, do not expose it to extreme cold, heat or dry air.

Reliability Rating

7

Customer Service


Very friendly, reliable, easy to contact and quick to respond to inquiries. Maker takes pride in his work and wants to make things right.

Customer Service

10

Components


I've dealt with multiple Fireside banjos assembled and kit models since 2004. The maker has consistently upgraded and tweaked the design, materials used, etc. These banjos continue to get better and better.

Components Rating

9

Overall Comments


I've used these banjos to teach children and adults in college classes. Across the board, students find them easy and friendly to use. Beginners appreciate their size and light feel, while more advanced players appreciate their portability, sweet sound, consistent string action (all the way up the neck) and overall design. Personally, they make great travel banjos and are handy to keep around the house (or workplace) when a quick frailing or fingerpicking fix is desired!
Essential and highly recommended.

Overall Rating

9


Backyard Music Fireside (Assembled)
submitted 2/23/2007

Submitter

rth97601 (see all reviews from this person)

Where Purchased

Online (backyardmusic.com)

Year Purchased

2007

Price Paid

139 ($US)

Sound


I'm learning clawhammer, and this banjo fits it fairly well, particularly if you have a back-porch attitude, as I do. This banjo has a relatively quiet, mellow tone. It's got a wooden head (with medium strings on it) and compared my other banjo (a secondhand "you can learn on it, but it ain't much" job) it has a smooth, not nearly so jangly sound--just right for practicing, because it's quiet and you can hear what you're doing. It rings fairly well, altogether, but it's more a round-the-house kind of sound--not loud enough for jam sessions or anything, but I can sing along with it and not feel drowned out, even though I don't have too strong a voice. My wife calls it "rather pleasant, and not intrusive" (which counts for quite a lot after you've run through "Old Joe Clark" a dozen times).

Sound Rating

7

Setup


Tune it up and go. Nice action, very playable, and It holds tune really well, by the way--much better than my old one--and it retunes real quick and easy. To be fair, I am a novice, and haven't put my hands on too many nice instruments, but I was definitely impressed.

Setup Rating

9

Appearance


It looks homemade, but not in a bad way. Nothing fancy, but it doesn't look slapped-together either, if you know what I mean. You can see the pictures on the website (www.backyardmusic.com).

Appearance Rating

5

Reliability


It's light in the pot (it is a fiberboard/resin hand drum ring, after all), and takes a little getting used to (it helps to screw a couple eye bolts into either end and put a strap on it), but don't let the "cardboard" bit put you off--it's felt pretty sturdy thus far (a week or two), and I have no intention of leaving it out in the rain anyway. The first one I got had a couple of glue issues (see below), but now that that's all sorted it feels pretty solid.

UPDATE: four years later, and hundreds of hours played, and it's still solid as a rock. No issues at all with reliability.

Reliability Rating

8

Customer Service


Best ever, and I mean that. Much more than anyone deserves for a $140 banjo. As mentioned above, I had a couple glue issues with the first one (head came loose), but I was able to send it back and get it fixed up with no hassle at all. Beyond that, I've kept in touch with the maker, and have been able to ask all sorts of questions related to setup, strings, troubleshooting, etc. (he's the one who told me about putting on a strap to counteract the light pot). But here's the kicker: he let me try it out before I bought it, and the glue issue and all the other stuff took place before I'd even paid for it--he's a really nice guy who seems genuinely interested in the wants and needs of his customers, which is far too rare a trait in my experience.

Customer Service

10

Components


Overall, it feels and plays better than my old secondhand import, and while it's certainly inexpensive, nothing seems weak. The components are working well enough I don't have to think about them, which is all I need.

UPDATE: still rollin' four years later ... The only thing that I've come up with here is that the fifth string can be hard to change, but it's not too big an issue if you're a little patient.

Components Rating

8

Overall Comments


This is a great starter or practice banjo. It's easy to play and has a nice not-too-jangly sound. It isn't loud enough for jam sessions or anything, but that also means that it isn't quite loud enough to irritate spouses, housemates, or neighbors when you're playing "Old Joe Clark" for the hundredth time. I haven't had it long enough to tell yet, but I suspect it will hold up for a good long while, and in any case, if you're just starting out, you can probably get pretty good playing this one to death (quietly) before you move on to bigger investments and bigger sounds. In any case, at 140 bucks you're not losing much, and it beats the pants off the secondhand "you can learn on it" banjo I started with. I don't want to overdo the review, because it is what it is, and I don't have a lot of comparative experience, but overall I'm pretty impressed.

As of May 2009, I am still playing the heck out of it, even though I now own a couple of nice "real" banjos. It's held up really well--no issues at all, still solid, still holds tune really well. If it was stolen, I'd definitely get another, and if I ever decide to go fretless, I'll start with a fretless fireside.

Overall Rating

10


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