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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!

6867 reviews in the archive.

Mike's Banjo Mute: mute

Submitted by sirtwangalot (see all reviews from this person) on 9/24/2019

Where Purchased: From Mike's website

Overall Comments

It was pricier than I would have liked, but it really helps with AM practice, and the sustain is forgiving on warm-ups.

As said by another, it sounds like a very quiet resophonic guitar when installed. 

I also find the increased sustain gets me thinking outside the regular rolls, and coming up with some ideas to apply when it's removed.

Exceeded my expectations, and can play late or early morning if I feel like it.

 

 

 

Overall Rating: 10

Pickups: EMG ACB Banjo Pickup

Submitted by Mike Rowe (see all reviews from this person) on 9/4/2019

Where Purchased: EMG direct

Overall Comments

After trying all (seemingly) of the not terribly expensive pickups, I broke down and installed the EMG pickup.

It is NOT cheap! As a new customer, signed up for their newsletter, you can get 10% off and free shipping.

BUT, it is EXACTLY as advertised! It does not make the banjo sound like an electric guitar. It sounds like a banjo, only louder.

I'm VERY, VERY happy with this pickup.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Carmell (see all reviews from this person) on 8/23/2019

Where Purchased: From Mike’s shop

Overall Comments

Mike, your mute is easily the best I have ever used. I get no buzzing, its easy to put on and take off, and the intonation is accurate. Even better, it doesn’t get in the way of my natural playing positions. As Mike has clearly written in the instructions, DO remove the mute before closing your case. The extra height of the mute on the bridge will put a lot of unneeded pressure on the head. Thank you Mike for making a great product ! Anyone thinking of getting one..don’t hesitate, just buy it.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Carmell (see all reviews from this person) on 8/23/2019

Where Purchased: From Mike’s shop

Overall Comments

Mike, your mute is easily the best I have ever used. I get no buzzing, its easy to put on and take off, and the intonation is accurate. Even better, it doesn’t get in the way of my natural playing positions. As Mike has clearly written in the instructions, DO remove the mute before closing your case. The extra height of the mute on the bridge will put a lot of unneeded pressure on the head. Thank you Mike for making a great product ! Anyone thinking of getting one..don’t hesitate, just buy it.

Overall Rating: 10

Cases (Hard, Flight): Crossrock CRF2000BJ

Submitted by GrumpyCat (see all reviews from this person) on 7/18/2019

Where Purchased: Amazon

Overall Comments

NOTE: I do not fly, and no one but me ever touches my cases. I use them to transport to local jams, and to camps/festivals in my vehicle (up to 1200 mile road trips). I do not throw them around or treat them roughly. They suffer the normal dings when I carry them around, but nothing major. I cannot speak to how this case would stand up to flight conditions and baggage handlers. It does, however, tolerate me (190 lbs.) standing on it.

The Crossrock CRF2000BJ is the updated version of their fiberglass case. Slightly larger in all dimensions, the new model doesn't exhibit any of the shortcomings of the original.

The case is currently available in Black, White, Yellow, Red, and Blue. (Silver is still listed, but has not yet been available).

The case comes with backpack straps, and has extra rings positioned for a single shoulder-strap carry configuration. The latches are a spring-loaded metal design, and are very easy to work. There are 3 bumpers on the bottom of the case as it lays flat, and 4 when you set it down with the handle up. There are none that would allow you to stand the case upright. The handle is padded leather and large, and positioned so that the case rides nose-up when you carry it.  The weight of the case is 8.8 pounds, according to he manufacturer's specs.

The interior is red plush, with the standard accessory box under the neck. The resonator area is large enough to fit every banjo I've tried, (Deering Rustic Wreath, Sierra, Blackgrass; Crafters Classic; Gibson ES Flinthill Special) with a padded strap. There are two removable/adjustable pads in this area of the case. There is a hygrometer built in to the top of the case. I don't know if it is accurate or even works, as I have no use for it.

Neck support is typical for a HSC, nothing to write home about, just standard from what I've seen in every other HSC in existence. Padding seems adequate to the task, not cheap and thin.

Out of the cases and gig bags I own, this is the one I automatically grab if I'm going more than a couple of miles. 

Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Kingwilkie (see all reviews from this person) on 7/6/2019

Where Purchased: mikesbanjomute.com

Overall Comments

Mike asks you to review his mute after you try it out so here it is: I think this is a great product, just what I was looking for. It really does a good job of reducing the volume of the banjo. I have a new baby in the house and my practice had taken a dive before I got this thing, big game changer. Think of like an acoustic guitar compared to a stratocaster not plugged in, that is about the difference in volume it delivers. The only thing that takes some getting used to is the bulkiness on the bridge. If you are like me and you play with part of your hand resting behind the bridge than it does feel a little restrictive at first. Not a deal breaker though, I think the trade off is worth it. Also Mike had solid communication and shipped out my mute the same day I ordered it. I would recommend this product. 

Overall Rating: 8

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by BANJA1 (see all reviews from this person) on 6/28/2019

Where Purchased: DIRECT FROM MIKE

Overall Comments

Years ago I ordered one of Mike's Banjo mutes. I just ordered a second one for a Banjo I keep in a cabin in Arizona's cool country. I have tried other mutes and created some of my own. Don;t waste your time searching or inventing.  Mike's Mute is without question the best solution to preventing a divorce or having your dog howling along with your picking and grinning sessions. He an't crabby or cranky and responds at warp speed to your order. Tell him I sent ya and you can get a cool pick/mute pouch for another ninety nine cents. 

Keep Pickin

Walt, Arizona

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: 5-string Standard Model

Submitted by Late entry (see all reviews from this person) on 6/5/2019

Where Purchased: Online

Overall Comments

While staying in a hotel recently, I received a call from the front desk. The manager told me there had been complaints about the noise coming from my room. Apparently, my neighbors weren't banjo lovers. I really had not considered how annoying my playing could be in the next room. I stopped playing and started shopping for a mute. I considered it to be an unselfish purchase that my family would appreciate as well. I settled on Mike's Banjo Mute and much to my surprise, I am the one enjoying it most. I expected a loss of sustain as the term "mute" would imply......not so. The tone is great, the sustain is great and I actually feel more relaxed when I play. Many thanks to Mike Stidd for the product and prompt shipment. Hopefully this mute will keep me in the good graces of my family and the Holiday Inn!

Mark Holt

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by scramblefingers (see all reviews from this person) on 5/28/2019

Where Purchased: Purchased from Mike

Overall Comments

I recently purchased my second Mikes banjo mute. Same great quality, durability and functionality. These are the best mutes that I have come across. Thanks again Mike.

Overall Rating: 10

Tone Rings: Blaylock

Submitted by bluegrassbanjopicker (see all reviews from this person) on 5/18/2019

Where Purchased: Bob Rodgers

Overall Comments

The Blaylock 20-hole tone ring is the best possible “dream” ring for a prewar conversion, or for one who wants to put a high quality tone ring in their import, rather than suffer with the much-inferior factory-installed tone ring. 

Bill Blaylock and his son make possibly the VERY best tone rings available, and when I installed mine, it was hard to fathom or accurately describe the incredibly rich and loud tone and volume. I could immediately tell that the ring  was not just any halfway-good ring; it is in all respects a professional ring that will not drop out in volume or leave you wanting more, because that is just plain IMPOSSIBLE with any ring from Blaylock. I challenge any skeptics to name another ring which instantly gives amazing raw power, without having to do setup after setup after setup....!

 The Blaylock is NOT one of the “fussy” rings which refuse to ring until just before the banjo owner throws up their hands in dismay. 

If you have been looking a LONG time for “the” tone ring for your special banjo, try a Blaylock! You don’t need to spend more than half the price of a used RK-35 on a Dannick! 

Investing $500 for the Blaylock ring will not leave you wondering “why didn’t I buy the Dannick on the basis that my favorite banjo player has one installed on his?”

There is only so much that bell bronze tone rings can offer, and you’ll get hundreds of dissenting opinions. But in my mind, a contest between a Blaylock and any other ring is no contest. I used to believe that only the $600+ rings could be any good. Not any more. 

The precision with which Bill machines the ring is second to none. His work speaks for itself. And as for a “bad” Blaylock tone ring; sorry, you will NEVER find one! 

Countless owners of prewar Gibson conversions can testify to the power of the one Ruling Ring.

I can proudly say, along with many other happy Blaylock customers, that Bill Blaylock truly is the “Lord of the Rings!”

 

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Ebony topped mystery wood, A weight

Submitted by therearegoats (see all reviews from this person) on 5/6/2019

Where Purchased: BanjoBridge.com

Overall Comments

I have a Bart Reiter 12" Round Peak banjo that I've always loved but felt was a little quiet, owing in part to the fact that I don't wear fake nails or picks. I wrote Bart asking which of his bridges he would recommend to preserve the warm tone while giving it a bit more pop and he suggested this one. It's exactly as advertised. The rich character of the sound is preserved while helping me to punch through a bit more. Thanks again, Bart. 

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by putasockinit (see all reviews from this person) on 4/27/2019

Where Purchased: On-line from Mike

Overall Comments

I've been stuffing the head of my open-back with a pair of socks, and supplementing with clothes pins clipped onto the bridge, but my wife and occasionally my ears were still objecting to practice.

Ordered a Mike's mute.   At first I didn't like it - the tone was different enough (most of the "twang" eliminated) that it threw my brain off.   But after about two days of playing with the mute on - I love it, and my wife LOVES it.  

Huge sound reduction, but clear notes.   Really fast on and off.   I can play while my wife is in the next room, with the door open, and she doesn't mind a bit.  It really is as good as all the reviews say in terms of quieting the banjo.

If you get one of these, just give it a couple of days to get used to the quieter tone and softer, less-twangy sound before thinking about returning it.   My guess is that you'll keep it.   Great practice aid, worth every penny.

Overall Rating: 10

Tools: SpikeTyke drill jig for installing 5th string spikes

Submitted by petecook (see all reviews from this person) on 4/15/2019

Where Purchased: banjo-tabs.com

Overall Comments

I had never installed spikes on a banjo so I was a bit scared to do it myself, after all I did not want to ruin my banjo. But since there is no luthier for banjos nearby I had to do it myself.

Luckily, here in Banjo Hangout I found information about the SpikeTyke tool. The set includes the jig, two drills of different diameter (black for ebony fretboard, blue for all other woods) and 8 spikes. Hans Holzherr even gave me 4 more spikes. Detailed instructions are also provided, and the website even has a very good video about the installation. The spikes are shortened so you do not have to drill too deep, and the head is also flattened.

The order is made via PayPal and the set costs 30 CHF. I think the price is fair, finally you can equip several banjos with the spikes. The delivery lasted only two days because Hans lives here in Switzerland. Shipping overseas will probably take longer.

In addition to the SpikeTyke set you also need a drill, a hammer, a pair of needle nose pliers, a straw and a capo (Shubb goes very well, Paige is less suitable). With the SpykTyke set, I was not afraid to do the installation, the spikes are perfectly positioned by the jig and everything worked well thanks to the good instructions. If you want to or have to install the spikes yourself and prefer a safe way, I can highly recommend this tool.

Overall Rating: 10

Finger picks : ''Old 97 customs''

Submitted by JSLONE (see all reviews from this person) on 4/14/2019

Where Purchased: Judy Townsend

Overall Comments

I received a pair of ''Old 97 Custom'' finger picks a few days ago from Miss Judy

to give a try,and I have to say these are the best and most comfortable picks I have ever used. I can play for a couple hours with no problems.they are very easy to work with as in shaping to your fit.They really bring the sound out on my RB-250 and I even seem to have smoother rolls.I would advise anybody to give them a try......Jim Slone

Overall Rating: 10

"D" tuners: Mighty D Tuners

Submitted by klgera (see all reviews from this person) on 4/12/2019

Where Purchased: Direct (Mighty D Tuners)

Overall Comments

Amazing "D" tuners, always in tune and easy to use.  They are a bit tricky to install, but if you follow the directions, you can do it. They have the advantage of allowing you to use your regular tuners to fine tune or change tunings, maybe to Gm tuning, with out messing up the D tuners.  Infact, I recently changed strings, and when I got everything tuned back  to G, my D tuners were still in tune.  

They both turn counterclockwise, which is different then Keith tuners, but it only took me a short time to become used to the change.

 

 

Overall Rating: 10

Replacement Tuner Buttons: Ron Barnes Tuner Buttons

Submitted by banjo-joe (see all reviews from this person) on 4/6/2019

Where Purchased: Ron Barnes

Overall Comments

I wanted to get a set of Tuner Buttons for my Step Sons banjo. He graduated from UNC Chappel Hill, N.C., so I contacted Mr. Barnes to make a set of the Gumdrop buttons with the UNC logo.  Ron made the buttons for me very quickly, and did a super fantastic job. They look great!  I would highly recommend Ron's custom made buttons, and I plan to get a set made for my banjo. Thanks Ron! good job!  Joe Hawks (banjo-joe) 

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Bart Veerman Bridge

Submitted by msigwing (see all reviews from this person) on 3/18/2019

Where Purchased: Ordered Directly from Bart Veerman

Overall Comments

Needing a bridge for my Gold Tone Cello banjo CEB-5 I contacted Bart via his online request form.  Bart was familiar with the specific dimensions of the instrument and shipped the new bridge one day after I made payment.  I own two other Veerman bridges and highly recommend them to anyone wanting to improve the sound of their banjo!

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo Bridges: Bart Veerman Banjo Bridges

Submitted by snoot (see all reviews from this person) on 3/11/2019

Where Purchased: Online from Bart

Overall Comments

Bart answered my initial email quickly and arrived in the UK less than a week after ordering.
The 'mystery wood' clawhammer bridge has an excellent tone and I soon got used to the raised 5th string on my mahogany Sierra openback.
There is more clarity and seems to be a bit more sparkle to the sound than I had with the stock bridge.
Highly recommended!

Overall Rating: 10

Necks: Zach Hoyt custom banjo neck

Submitted by Twangcat (see all reviews from this person) on 3/5/2019

Where Purchased: Directly from Zach Hoyt (https://hoytbanjos.com/parts/)

Overall Comments

I became interested in having a semi-fretless neck custom made to mate with a 12" pot and hardware from a second banjo I was not playing much.  I contacted Zach directly asking if he might be interested in pursuing this project and he was immediately on board.  The final outcome is 100% to my expectations.  

The neck dimensions on my Rickard are perfect for me and quite playable in my hands.  Thus I sent Zach those desired dimensions at the nut, 12th fret, and heal at the pot.  We traded a few email messages as I considered whether to have the fretless portion of the ebony fingerboard overlayed with either a brass plate or ebony.  Zach was quite willing to accommodate either choice despite never having built a semi-fretless neck.  Ebony overlay was my final decision and Zach's workmanship with respect to the transition zone between the 7th and 8th fret positions as well as the entire neck and fingerboard itself is excellent.

Aside from the actual workmanship involved in fabricating my special order, I want to emphasize Zach's exemplary customer service.  Owing to the fine details of the specific attributes I've mentioned above, this project required a lot of communication between Zach and myself.  We accomplished this via numerous email exchanges and one phone call early on.  Zach always replied promptly, looked at a variety of photos and video images of example necks I had found, and was unwavering in his acceptance of changes along the way to beginning the build.  He clearly communicated his timeline, started and completed the build exactly according to the position of my project in his work flow, and the finished neck, mated to the pot and hardware I sent him, arrived on schedule and well packed for shipping.

The execution of this project has enabled me to realize the goal of now having a semi-fretless banjo with a neck perfectly suited to my hands, as well as now putting back into commission a pot and hardware that had been sidelined largely because the original fully fretted neck was too narrow for my preference.  This would not have been possible as seamlessly and elegantly were it not for Zach's attention to details, willingness to take on a new challenge, craftsmanship, and dedication to communicating.  I would unquestionably commission Zach Hoyt again for any such project or a completed instrument and wish him great success as he continues developing his professional luthery career.

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Bart Veerman Mystery Wood Bridge

Submitted by gratefulbiker (see all reviews from this person) on 3/3/2019

Where Purchased: Bart's Website banjobridge.com

Overall Comments

This review is for a 9/ 16" , A weight, three leg, ebony topped, mystery wood bridge with 46mm spacing. It is installed on a Gold Tone BC 350 with a Renaissance head and medium gauge steel strings.

First off, dealing with Bart was a pleasure. He responded to emails in a timely manner and answered all my questions regarding what bridge would work best with my banjo.

After choosing my desired specs and sending payment via the Paypal link on the site, Bart emailed saying the bridge was en-route and it arrived from Canada to central IL in less than a week. The bridge was packed in a bubble wrap envelope including a small insert with some basic bridge info, installation instructions, and specs.

The bridge itself is quite nice and the attention to detail is obvious. It is hand signed by Bart and is marked on the bottom of the feet for proper orientation. There are no rough edges anywhere and the string slots are flawless. 

I have tried two other bridges on this banjo; the stock ebony topped maple, and a Gary Sosebee ebony topped select maple, both in 44mm spacing. Bart's bridge is significantly smaller in size compared to the two previous ones, but there is absolutely no shortage of tone or volume. The banjo sounded pretty damn good with the other bridges, but now it just has more "pop" and the note separation is more distinct throughout the handful of tunings I use, even when capoed and spiked. I would describe the overall sound as full and balanced.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Bart to anyone looking for a bridge. Everything about the experience was top notch. A fantastic product backed up by great communication/ advice and timely shipping/ delivery. 10s across the board. 

Bart's website is also a great resource for banjo information in general; worth checking out even if you're not in the market for a bridge.

 

Overall Rating: 10

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