Well, I picked up my MB-250 today and it is a beast. In general, I am very pleased as this girl is a big step up from my Gold Tone CC100R. The instrument looks sturdy, plays well, and has a really "brassy" tone. I also picked up the Neotech Super Strap and I am satisfied with the capabilities of that product. I want to be clear; this is obviously an Asian made banjo and the reasons are small but obvious. For example, when I removed the resonator the felt padding between the neck and reso was bunched up and poorly glued. The tuners are cheap. I already tightened the screws mounting the pegs but the feel of the tuners is that of a second quality. There is an issue with 5th string buzz but I believe the "pip" is too low and that should be an easy fix. For a "used" instrument this girl is in remarkable shape. I haven't found a scratch and it appears someone returned it for credit after almost no use. I like the inlay. It is well done and I have seen crappy inlay. A new set of strings would do a lot for her as well. I haven't decided if I like lighter gauge or should try a heavier one for more sound. My plan is to find a trusted luthier (any in Sacramento that anyone knows of?) and have a professional setup done. She is definitely playable as is but I think some things could be enhanced; new bridge, better tuners, possibly a different bracket thingy that holds the strings. All in all I'm pretty happy with the purchase and feel it was worth the money. Until, that is, I can afford a truly well-built banjo. Mike
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @10:38:39 AM
I have owned a couple of MB-250's and have found either when they come from the factory or have not been set up right, the fretboard is crammed against the tension hoop, there needs to be space so the neck does not soak up the ring of the pot. The best bridge I found for an MB 250 is a cheap compensating bridge. The head needs to be cranked to the point of head explosion to ring right, use light gauge strings and have a good luthier set the action. The neck compared to my current banjo plays like a 2x6. The thing I never liked was the thickness of the pot, my current Earl Scruggs is only 3 1/4" thick and makes playing a whole lot easier. For the money, the MB 250 is not a bad banjo, it is certainly better than playing a woodie but keep your options open, if you are really serious about picking, $ 2000 is about the entry level for something that does not fight you when you play.
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @9:34:48 PM
ronbrown, Thanks for your reply. So far I met with a reputed luthier here in Sac and she did some tweaking with the truss rod (helped a bit) but I still need to fix the 5th string nut problem. Still a bit of fret buzz on the 3rd string 5th fret but I think it is a bridge problem.
I'm going to meet with another luthier and hopefully resolve this by either adjusting the co-rods, arching/raising the bridge (or some combination
thereof) thereby changing the action a bit.
I agree with your observation about the $2000 base price. I knew what I was getting into and it seems some of the posters settle for issues with their axes. I still love the tone of this girl and I feel once I get a little more setup done she will sound great. If I had the kind of money to throw at a Huber or Gibby
I would, but it isn't laying around.
Incidentally, I was pretty flattered when an accomplished tenor player at the Banjorama festival here complimented me on the sound of my Epi, warts and buzzes and all.
Once again, thanks for your feedback.
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