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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!

6738 reviews in the archive.

Tuners: Sonny Osborne - Sonny's Ugly tuners

Submitted by bluegrassbanjopicker (see all reviews from this person) on 8/11/2018

Where Purchased: Jim Britton

Overall Comments

I purchased a set of Sonny's Ugly Tuners from Jim, as a better replacement for the cheap Schallers on my Epiphone. I installed them as soon as I had them out of the box.

The tuners are very top-notch in every aspect. No incessant fiddling with trying to get to the right note, as with the Schallers. Since the tuners have their own separate levers, I don't have to worry about the other pegs on my banjo. 

These tuners may be "ugly" to some, but they blend in very well with the peghead on my Epiphone. They are held in place by the 1st and 4th tuning pegs. 

To set the tuners, first tighten the two set screws on either side of the tuner housing. The two levers should be previously set at a 45 degree (approximate) angle, which is the higher tuning position. The banjo should be in normal G tuning at this point, and the levers should not move the cams. Now, gradually loosen the set screw while pushing the left lever (G side of peghead) slowly clockwise. The note will decrease in pitch.

 Reverse the movement of the lever on the B side of the peghead. When you have reached F# (lower cam), and A natural (higher cam), stop loosening the screws. At this juncture, you can proceed to pull the left lever counterclockwise back up to G, and the right lever clockwise to B. The beauty of the tuners is that they do not require re-tuning if you play in a different key, and there are no ruined gear housings to worry about!

The bottom line is that the tuners work, they're an awesome product (no Chinese junk), and that I will be using them for many years to come. Thanks goes to Jim Britton for his excellent service and communication.

 

Overall Rating: 10

Arm rest: Arm rest

Submitted by KarlW (see all reviews from this person) on 7/25/2018

Where Purchased: Banjolit website

Overall Comments

Just purchased a great arm rest from Richard at Banjolit  https://banjolit.com

A great piece of kit and so comfortable and easy to fit on my Gretsch Banjo. Looks great.

Really fast postage from Europe too :).

I also bought their Picking Trainer too which is terrific for practising my rolls when I don't have my banjo with me.

 

 

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo Roll Trainer: Banjo Roll Trainer

Submitted by KarlW (see all reviews from this person) on 7/25/2018

Where Purchased: Banjolit website

Overall Comments

Just purchased a great Banjo Roll Trainer from Richard at Banjolit  https://banjolit.com

It works well and is terrific for practising my rolls when I don't have my banjo with me.

I also bought one of their beautiful arm rests too for my Gretsch Banjo

Really fast postage from Europe too :).

 

Overall Rating: 10

Cases (Hard, Flight): Access Stage Three Banjo Case

Submitted by dbull (see all reviews from this person) on 7/18/2018

Where Purchased: Online, Access Bags @ Cases

Overall Comments

I received my hard case today, It is a Access Stage 3 case. It is a  excellent case inside and out. I really like the design in the covering. I bought this case sight unseen and was a little afraid. I can say I am very impressed with there product. My banjo fits like a glove. The padding is plush and thick. If you need a new case I highly recommend you check there products out.

Overall Rating: 10

Tuners: Cheat-a-keys

Submitted by Clawhamr (see all reviews from this person) on 7/11/2018

Where Purchased: Banjo.com

Overall Comments

I've used Keith D-tuners since they first came out; I was handed my first set by Bill himself. While I appreciate the design goal of having an unobtrusive and elegant way to "scruggsify" one's banjo, I've always felt that the amount of adjustment needed (after choking a string, after changing a string, after looking cross-eyed at a string) was annoying in performance situations. I've never had a set of cam-operated Scruggs tuners on my banjo before, so I did some research and found the MDT tuners and the Cheat-A-Keys. Reading up thoroughly on both, I opted to send for a set of Cheat-A-Keys. They arrived thirty minutes ago, and were installed on my '63 RB-250 flathead and operating perfectly five minutes later. The ease of installation, combined with the ease of adjustment and maintenance make these D-tuners the clear choice for me. They are beautifully made of high quality materials and will certainly outlive me (I AM seventy-one...). Highly recommended

Overall Rating: 10

Picks: Fred Kelly Freedom Pick (Derlin)

Submitted by H Kimball (see all reviews from this person) on 7/8/2018

Where Purchased: Fred Kelly - website

Overall Comments

I purchased both the White (Delrin) and Clear (polycarbonate) picks from Fred's website about 2 months ago. I was playing more and wearing down my nail as well as breaking a nail 3 or 4 times a year. I have used Dunlop metal and plastics picks in the past as needed but didn't like the fit or tone. I have found that both types of Freedom Picks work great and provide a slight increase in volume without any "clicking" or harsh tone. There is an adjustment period getting used to the switch from a nail only. Initially I filed the picks down because they seemed too long. After about 2 weeks I switched to using the picks "as delivered". The picks from Fred come in a 3 pack so I was glad I had extras. I didn't have to modify the fit at all and have worn them playing for several hours. After using both picks I have settled in on the White (delrin) style, I think it has a softer tone but when playing in a large jam occasionally I'll switch to the clear.  Great product!

Overall Rating: 9

Ron Barnes amber tuner buttons: Ron Barnes amber tuner buttons

Submitted by banjo1930 (see all reviews from this person) on 7/5/2018

Where Purchased: Ron Barnes

Overall Comments

Ron made some amber tuning buttons for my Keith tuners and they are beautiful! I sent the pegs to Ron and got them back in less than a week.

Great guy and great tuner buttons!

Overall Rating: 10

Replacement Tuner Buttons: MOP buttons

Submitted by The Pope (see all reviews from this person) on 6/22/2018

Where Purchased: Direct from Ron Barnes

Overall Comments

I inherited a bag of MOP buttons from an old friend that I had taught to play the banjo (along with 4 instruments, a 60" Pioneer Kuro TV & a $35,000 surround sound system!). I had read that Ron makes amber buttons but also would adapt MOP knobs to Keith tuners (which have splined knobs), either twisters or normal. I sent him an e-mail about his service & he said he could adapt mine to my tuners. I sent him my 1st, 4th and 5th string tuners & about a week later they came back. I was amazed at the fit & finish of his work, just wonderful. His price was not outrageous either. He also sent me an amber button to show me his original work & it was quite nice as well.

Anyone who needs button work of any kind would be encouraged to contact Ron & he should be able to take care of you...

Erik The Pope

PS I already had MOP's for my Keith twisters. The knobs are about 49 years old & I have no idea who adapted them.

Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Mike's Mute

Submitted by cleslieb (see all reviews from this person) on 6/22/2018

Where Purchased: Online

Overall Comments

Just purchased two mutes: one radiused the other standard.  They are amazing!  Great tone with excellent volume suppression.  Mike ships them out immediately and the price is very reasonable.  High quality workmanship. 

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Tony Buffa (see all reviews from this person) on 6/14/2018

Where Purchased: Direct from Mike

Overall Comments

Mike’s Banjo Mute 

I found a link to Mike’s on BH while reading reviews of the Sam Farris Tranjo. (Tranjo on order.) I’m using it on a Wildwood open back with “tuba phone” tone ring and bracket band. It doesn’t cheapen the sound but makes it quiet and bright with sustain, quietly complimenting the sound of the banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute 5-string Standard Model

Submitted by thesir (see all reviews from this person) on 6/13/2018

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

Overall Comments

This mute is awesome ... I find it looks great, fits great, and works as advertised.  Eliminates overtones, I think my banjo actually sounds a little better.  My neighbors are happier too!!

 

Thanks Mike!

 

-Jim

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: 5-string Standard Model

Submitted by KimboPM (see all reviews from this person) on 6/12/2018

Where Purchased: Mike’s Banjo Mute website

Overall Comments

Bought this mute recently. It took only two weeks to get to me in Australia and was very easy to set up. My neighbours are very happy! Thanks for such great service and product, Mike!

Overall Rating: 9

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by FlyinEagle (see all reviews from this person) on 5/15/2018

Where Purchased: From Mike's Website

Overall Comments

It’s taken too long to post this review. 

I’ve been using Mike’s Mute for probably close to a year now.  As the many other reviews drive home, Mike’s Mute is very effective at it job, and it is very well designed and well made.   My wife and daughter are very thankful that I made the purchase.

It has certainly allowed me to increase my practice time after the baby has gone to bed, but it has had an unexpected benefit to my picking.  The mute works so well that I became aware of how often my thumbpick was striking the head.  Just be hearing when it was happening, I was suddenly able to make the adjustments – almost subconsciously – to reduce the thumb strikes.  I can’t believe it, never would have predicted it, but that is what happened.

So I recommend the mute for that reason along with all the others mentioned in previous reviews. 

Overall Rating: 10

Arm rest: Arm rest

Submitted by CrackerJo (see all reviews from this person) on 5/15/2018

Where Purchased: Zachary Hoyt

Overall Comments

Nice fit, very comfortable maple armrest. Quality workmanship.

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Bart Veerman "Archie" bridge

Submitted by sparrish321 (see all reviews from this person) on 5/6/2018

Where Purchased: From Bart (banjobridge.com)

Overall Comments

I'm using the Archie bridge on a mid 1970's Gibson RB800  (rim upgraded to a Cooperman 3 ply, and turned for a Cox archtop ring).  I tried several quality bridges that I already own and was not happy.  So I decided to try the "Archie" bridge.

The "Archie" has helped me achieve the pop, brightness, and clarity I was looking for.  Also,  I am very surprised at the presence of the 4th string from such a thin bridge!  If you are looking for an archtop bridge, consider the Veerman "Archie".

Overall Rating: 10

Amber Catlin Tuning Buttons: Amber Tuning Buttons

Submitted by David Wadsworth (see all reviews from this person) on 5/1/2018

Where Purchased: Ron Barnes

Overall Comments

Sent Ron a keystone button from 1941 set of Kluson tuners.  He matched it perfectly and installed the replicas on a set of old Grover "pancake" tuners, a set of Keith tuners and a Schaller fifth.  Great work as always.  I'm a repeat customer and don't know of anyone else who does what Ron does with custom tuner buttons.  I can't imagine anyone else doing a better job than Ron.  He's truly in a class by himself in terms of quality product and speedy delivery.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by lockhands (see all reviews from this person) on 4/30/2018

Where Purchased: Online

Overall Comments

This is the Best mute I have ever used. I have a wife and young daughter who strongly encouraged me to purchase a different mute for my new banjo.  I have tried a few different ones, and haven't been happy with the sound they produced. Mike's mute cuts the volume to an acceptable level, while not destroying the beautiful banjo sound. It's easy to install and remove for storage, and it even comes with a handy little storage bag. Mike emailed quickly to thank me for the purchase and to let me know it was on the way.  A nice little touch in a world where customer service  is frequently forgotten. Overall I couldn't be happier with my purchase and will definitely buy others as my collection grows.

 

Overall Rating: 10

Cases (Soft, Gig Bags): Access Stage-Three HB Gigbag

Submitted by banjocatpdx (see all reviews from this person) on 4/26/2018

Where Purchased: Access

Overall Comments

I previously bought an Access Stage One bag, but it was more flimsy than I’d have liked.  My new banjo came with a hardcase and it was so unwieldy that I banged it on the walls and door frames when I tried to take it out for my lesson!  I decided on a sturdy gig bag and turns out that the Stage Three gig bags are on closeout right now.  The folks at Access recommended a Lower Bout Pad and Large Flat Pad, which attach with velcro to nicely fit my 11” openback (I’m sure 12” would fit too, just more snugly).  The quality is really great and it’s exactly what I wanted in a gigbag.  Plenty of pockets (but not big enough for a normal sized sheet of paper).  My only complaint is that the neck support pillow is a bit high.  The reviews at the hangout have helped me a lot so I hope that this will help some folks!  Sad that this bag won’t be made anymore, might even get another while they’re still available as I’m pretty sure another banjo is in my future :)

Overall Rating: 9

Bridges: Bart Veerman Mystery Wood Bridge

Submitted by ildertongap (see all reviews from this person) on 4/23/2018

Where Purchased: Bart’s Place !!!!

Overall Comments

Bart invited me to come visit him and try out a bunch of bridges for my 2013 Deering Calico. I wanted to changeout the 5/8 bridge for an 9/16 bridge. So I took him up on his offer, made the trip to Hamilton and spent a wonderful afternoon exploring the world of banjo bridges as guided by Bart. I settled on a mystery wood bridge, it has had some time to settle in on the Calico and sounds fantastic. Thanks Bart !!!!

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: dam spillway bridge

Submitted by maki66 (see all reviews from this person) on 4/15/2018

Where Purchased: Don New

Overall Comments

The Spillway Dam Bridge is a brilliant design that is masterfully crafted.Don's customer service is first rate too. He made me a custom bridge with 46mm spacing for clawhammer style picking that was the perfect height for my banjo. 

Its a joy to play,sounds great,  it looks beautiful, and I received it quickly. 

 

Overall Rating: 10

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