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The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

6950 reviews in the archive.

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Bridgebuster (see all reviews from this person) on 6/3/2020

Where Purchased: Directly from Mike

Overall Comments

I've tried previously 3 different mutes, which all reside in my garbage can.  Too hard to put on, won't stay on, don't mute sufficiently or produce a muddy sound.  I figured I'd try one of Mikes and boy, am I pleased.  It solves all of the above problems and then some.   Goes on really easily and stays securely until you take it off.
I have a custom archtop (which are loud to begin with a tone ring by Bill Blaylock of Marietta GA cast during the early 70s that makes it ring like a bell.  Later, I took it to Kyle K. Smith who did incredible setups and we agreed that I should get a Tony Pass Thin-Skirt block rim from his "old wood".  When Kyle finished his magic, it became a 5-string cannon.  What amazing tone!!
So loud that I practiced in a closed up room and neighbors 2 houses down said it sounded like I was on their porch.   Hence, I tried to muffle it a bit.  Fast forward to the 3 failed attempts mentioned above and I decided to get one of Mike's.  WOW!!  Finally a product that does exactly as it says.  It really does cut my volume, but that's not the most amazing part.  It retains the exact tone my banjo produces.  It just rings like a small bell now.  Can't believe it can retain my tone, unaltered.   Now, it just stays on my archtop so I can practice.  If I need to take the banjo out somewhere, it's really easy to take the mute off with no effect on the tuning or tone and easy to put back on when I return home.   Definitely a must-have for pickers of all levels of proficiency.  Good job Mike!!

Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Loud_Inn (see all reviews from this person) on 5/26/2020

Where Purchased: Direct from Mike's Banjo Mute s

Overall Comments

Overall Mike's banjo mute is a nice looking mute that does its job. 

I really like this mute. It has a nice lite weight feel but is well built, sturdy, and fits securely on the bridge. My last mute fit over the bridge with "teeth", added weight to the head, and didn't attach well (or at all) to non standard bridge designs. With Mike's Banjo Mute I haven't noticed any unwanted vibration and feel I get good feedback on my technique.

Most importantly it mutes my banjo so I can play in the house without waking up my one year old.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by mastomo (see all reviews from this person) on 5/24/2020

Where Purchased: Online

Overall Comments

Great mute, I highly recomand it !

Overall Rating: 10

Other: Jack Hatfield Banjo Board

Submitted by pclarkin (see all reviews from this person) on 5/15/2020

Where Purchased: www.hatfieldmusic.com

Overall Comments

When driving to/from work, I'll play some Earl or JD tracks, and pick along with the banjo board. It has really helped a lot with timing and accuracy, or if I'm trying to learn a new roll. Also, I find it's great for warming up while driving to a jam (...when waiting at traffic lights, of course!)
 
Jack Hatfield's very thorough instruction books are also quite helpful.

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: mute

Submitted by Banjozzt (see all reviews from this person) on 5/9/2020

Where Purchased: Online

Overall Comments

This mute works perfectly. Received in two days. My wife is very happy with the muted banjo also.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Pickin-Tim (see all reviews from this person) on 4/20/2020

Where Purchased: Mike's Banjo Mute online store

Overall Comments

Got the banjo mute late last week. Wow, couldn't be happier. I'm a lover of the banjo sound, and now that I finally have a banjo with an honest to goodness tone ring, I love it all the more.

But there are times when I just want to sit with the banjo after a long stress filled day (especially right now), with no picks, and just quietly pluck out a tune. And Mike's Banjo Mute is PERFECT for that. Who thought a banjo could be so soothing to play.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by BWROSS42 (see all reviews from this person) on 4/20/2020

Where Purchased: Mike's internet store

Overall Comments

If your trying to stay married and still play your banjo early morning or late at night this is a must have. I was surprised at just how much volume it takes away without sacrificing alot of tone, so in other words you can still tell what your playing. As for me a beginner it's really a helpful tool to keep me practicing and not driving my whole house nuts. Also it shipped within 30 minutes of me buying it and and was at my house in no time. Thanks for the awesome mute Mike!

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo Bridges: Purcell "Drop Forge" banjo bridge

Submitted by HuberTone (see all reviews from this person) on 4/13/2020

Where Purchased: Purcell Banjo Bridges website

Overall Comments

I've heard about these great bridges through the grapevine before but recently had a good friend sing the praises of a Purcell bridge on his prewar Granada.

A quick Google search led me to Tim Purcell's fine website where I promptly purchased two of the "Drop Forge" models (one in 5/8", one in .656") made from maple used to hold down the weights on a heavily used old drop forge. Once they arrived I threw the 5/8" on my TB-11 conversion. Within minutes of picking I noticed a much bolder, rounded mid-range and great low-end. Some previous shrillness in the upper registers disappeared with this bridge and gave way to wonderful, clear tones.

This is a fantastic bridge; Tim Purcell has spectacular customer service to match his craftsmanship. 

Please check his work out at http://www.purcell-banjo-bridges.com/  

 

Overall Rating: 10

Tone Rings: JBS Sloan Flathead tone-ring

Submitted by HuberTone (see all reviews from this person) on 4/13/2020

Where Purchased: Friend

Overall Comments

I purchased a long skirt, nickel-plated Sloan tone ring from a fellow picker. He had bought it from directly from Jerry Sloan to use in his back-up banjo but never installed it so I essentially bought this ring in new condition.

John Boulding expertly installed this Sloan ring in my 30's TB-11 conversion. I already had a wonderful modern prewar conversion ring in the 11 from another established maker but I figured it was time for a change.

The Sloan ring made great improvements, almost instantly, in three main areas: volume, clarity, and overall tone. The note separation is superb, with the first half of each note popping off like a shotgun and the second half a nice decaying growl. I don't lose any volume or clarity when I capo or go into the high register for backup.

I'm very impressed with this ring, and I believe these are among the elite of prewar conversion rings today; a Sloan ring matched to an older rim will give you nothing but success. This was my first time owning a Sloan flathead ring, and playing with one now exceeds every expectation I had.

Overall Rating: 10

Tone Rings: Hatfield Gold Plated/Engraved w/“Butterflies” - Long Skirt, 20-hole Tone Ring

Submitted by okbluegrassbanjopicker (see all reviews from this person) on 4/8/2020

Where Purchased: Kurt Kemp (The Old Wood String Shop)

Overall Comments

This ring is truly a splendid work of art, and provides more than ample power and volume to my custom banjo. Very full, rich sound, without excessive harshness or unneeded resonance. 

As to quality, this ring is right up there with the best of the best tone rings available today. This is not just a ring that looks pretty but isn’t equal in sound; the prettiness/craftsmanship is evenly matched by the limitless palette of sound which it produces. 

The engraved “butterflies” between each hook (when the banjo head is tensioned), give the entire pot assembly an extra boost in cosmetic appeal. 

The builder of this ring (Arthur Hatfield of Hatfield Banjos), is an individual who has high respect among the BHO, and I’m very satisfied with this particular ring. There is zero possibility of replacing it with any other ring. It definitely matches my criteria for a ring with “prewar tone.” 

Thanks to Arthur Hatfield and Kurt Kemp for making this ring available to me. It’s one fantastic ring!

 

Overall Rating: 10

Tone Rings: Yates V33 No-Hole

Submitted by okbluegrassbanjopicker (see all reviews from this person) on 3/27/2020

Where Purchased: BHO

Overall Comments

This is a very excellent and fabulous prewar style tone ring made by Warren Yates. Full, crisp tones and a very nice crackle. 

If you want a ring that will serve you in good stead, I highly recommend the V-33. I am very pleased with it!

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Bart Veerman Dark Star

Submitted by VictorVran (see all reviews from this person) on 3/10/2020

Where Purchased: From Bart

Overall Comments

I had the extreme pleasure of hanging out a bit with Bart and trying out a few of his bridges.

Every single one I tried was excellent, each with their own unique voices and characteristics. I settled on the Dark Star because it added so much point to the front of the note, and to my ear it does a great job of highlighting the fundamental and sorting out some of the more troublesome overtones. 

I play a 12" open back with a Dobson tone ring.

Overall Rating: 10

mike's banjo mute: mute

Submitted by kenth234 (see all reviews from this person) on 3/4/2020

Where Purchased: online

Overall Comments

I ordered Mike's banjo mute and after just nine days it arrived here in Melbourne, AU. First impressions were good especially with such a good finish. I have a D'oole banjo from the mid eighties, made in Geelong near Melbourne. It has a bronze tone ring and there is a fairly serious bark out of it. Mute went on ok and  it made the banjo sound like a cross between a guitar and a dobro. Great for practicing as it greatly reduces the volume but the tone is still ok. I still would not be able to play inside the house if someone is asleep but it would be fine on the front porch. Great for which ever neighbour is trying to watch a movie or  something and can't hear a thing for my pickin. I think i will likely practice more now with this mute and for that reason alone i'm glad i bought it. Price is a bit steep for what it is - but what are you to do. Cheers , Ken. 

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mikes Banjo Mute

Submitted by Idahoboy (see all reviews from this person) on 3/3/2020

Where Purchased: Internet

Overall Comments

Mike,

What can I say about your mute 10+++++++.  After trying numerous times trying  to get my "other" brand to work by using rubber bands to keep it on and trying to keep a good form.  The last time it dropped on my little toe.  ENOUGH.  I just tried your mute.  It is great!  My wifes like it too  LOL 

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by edconnor (see all reviews from this person) on 3/1/2020

Where Purchased: mikesbanjomute.com

Overall Comments

Mike’s Mute really does a great job of lowering the volume while still maintaining a pleasant tone. It’s an excellent design that’s well made and easy to install without moving the bridge. It’s taking my practice sessions to a whole other level. 

In fact, I like it so much I just ordered a second one for my other banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: 5-string Standard Model

Submitted by RACBanjo (see all reviews from this person) on 2/25/2020

Where Purchased: Mike's Link from Banjo Hangout: http://www.mikesbanjomute.com/

Overall Comments

I have two Banjo mutes from two different companies they are the type shaped in a u made out of brass and felt lined that slide onto the bridge. They work alright, but sometimes you have to fiddle with them to try to eliminate the tinny sound on some of the strings. After a while the felt loses its shape, plus sometimes the felt catches on the bridge. After reading Mike’s Banjo Mute advertisement I decided to try one. I bought my first Mike’s Banjo Mute on January 30, 2020.

It’s simple and quick to put on and take off and the banjo still keeps a sweet sound but considerably quieter. I liked it so well I just purchased my second one to keep at my office with one of my other banjos.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo Bridges: Bart Veerman Banjo Bridges

Submitted by Parker135 (see all reviews from this person) on 2/19/2020

Where Purchased: Ordered Directly Through banjobridge.com

Overall Comments

Once again, Bart came through with a winner.  This time, it was for a tenor banjo set up for Irish (GDAE) tuning.  I learned about a "Celtic" model that he makes for just this purpose and had to give it a try.  It's a very elegant two-footed bridge, very light to enhance the snappiness of the sound.  He custom slotted it for my preferred string sizes.  It really is a work of art.  These things are always subjective, but I have to say it adds a little spark to the sound of my old Vega.  As always, it was a pleasure communicating with him about my preferences, what he recommends based on experience, and so on.  I'm quite pleased and will be back for another when the time comes.

Overall Rating: 10

Balsam Banjo: Tension Hooks and Ball End Hex Nuts

Submitted by doverarnolds (see all reviews from this person) on 2/7/2020

Where Purchased: Balsam Banjo Works

Overall Comments

Just received and installed a set of 24 beautifully machined nickel plated tension hooks and ball end nuts from Balsam Banjo Works on a 1938 Bacon pot as a part of a current restoration of a 5 string conversion done several decades back.  They fit perfectly and the ball ends softly round out the bottoms at the rim edge.  The old ones were all black and corroded, and I was unable to bring them back short of having them re-plated.  I am so happy with these new ones, and the folks at Balsam are just so friendly and nice !!  Thanks !!

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Bart Veerman Mystery Wood Bridge

Submitted by jcking (see all reviews from this person) on 2/6/2020

Where Purchased: Bart's web site

Overall Comments

My goal was to have slightly wider string spacing and adjust the tone to moderate the high frequency bite on my Goodtime Americana. I had already switched to a Fiberskyn head and Rickard tailpiece, both of which made major progress toward the clawhammer sound I was seeking. Bart was easy to deal with and promptly sent the 5/8" untopped mystery wood bridge with 46mm spacing. It arrived meticulously packaged and I installed it easily.

My observations are that although the bridge is somewhat smaller than the factory bridge, there is plenty of volume and the notes seem "rounder" and more "civilized", seeming to lose their hard edges.  I am sufficiently pleased that I will likely order from Bart again when the time comes to replace this one.

 

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: 4-string Tenor Model

Submitted by bcool (see all reviews from this person) on 2/3/2020

Where Purchased: http://www.mikesbanjomute.com/

Overall Comments

After going through two Goldtone mutes, I decided to look for a higher quality alternative. I found it in spades with Mike's Banjo Mute! As other reviewers have pointed out, the mute significantly cuts the volume--even more so than the Goldtone mute. I can practice any time of day without worrying about waking my landlord. It's easy to put on and unlike the Goldtone has no parts (i.e. felt) that will make your mute worthless when they start peeling off. While it does change your sound a little when the mute is on, I found it to be closer to my banjo's unmuted sound than the Goldtone mute. And an unexpected benefit was that it helped me notice a bad habit of hitting the head with my pick, so I expect it'll help me solve that soon. Thanks Mike for a great product!

Note: I play plectrum, not tenor, but I'm using the tenor mute and it works great!

Overall Rating: 10

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