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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!

6804 reviews in the archive.

Sullivan Torified 3- ply maple rim: Sullivan Torified 3-ply maple rim

Submitted by Belltonebanjos (see all reviews from this person) on 2/12/2019

Where Purchased: Sullivan Banjo co.

Overall Comments

I purchased a Sullivan Torified 3- ply maple rim from Eric at Sullivan Banjos about 6- months ago and built a Style -3 Flat head banjo around it.It sounds more like Earls than any banjo Iv’e had. Listen to it on YouTube  Gene Elkins selling a banjo  Thanks Sincerely (Gene)belltonebanjos@ gmail.com.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo Bridges: Bart Veerman Banjo Bridges

Submitted by banjosam (see all reviews from this person) on 2/12/2019

Where Purchased: Directly from Bart Veerman

Overall Comments

These are two legged bridges made from "mystery wood", one with an ebony top and one with a bloodwood top. They are both very bright sounding, the bridge with the bloodwood top is a little muddy on the 3rd and 4th strings, and seems to lose a little punch above the 17th fret. The ebony topped one is very uniform in volume and tone across all strings. The ones I tested were about 1.5 gm each, but I was surprised by the good bass presence. The tone is very bright and note separation is very good. I have not tried them in a jam setting, and have only tried them on 2 of my banjos, both flatheads, but the one has a 14 piece tonering made similiar to the old Epiphone Recording banjos. They are a little too piercing to my ear, but I wear hearing aids and have substantial hearing loss in the left ear, so am unsure how to describe these since what I hear is altered by the hearing aid programming. The bridges are nicely made, and if you like a bright sound, I think you might like them.

Overall Rating: 8

Picks: blue chip jd thumb pick

Submitted by Moose_Roberts (see all reviews from this person) on 1/30/2019

Where Purchased: BanjoBenClark.com (birthday present)

Overall Comments

Like any new picker I have been dropping a few bucks here and there on various picks to find out what works best/ sounds best for me. I went through several, and bounced back and forth between the Dunlop and National picks. I liked the shape and position of the Dunlop, but the comfort of the National. The Blue Chip JD model seems to capture the features i liked form both of those, plus the adjustability for fit of the Dunlop silver nickel thumb picks I used until my instructor suggested I move to plastic picks. 

The sound is bright, it picks clean, smooth, and fast off of the string, the shape of the metal band is comfortable while holding tight without cutting off blood flow. It is a little hard to swallow $40 for a thumb pick (fortunately I can still get my mom to by ridiculous stuff for my birthday even at 37) but it seems well worth the price. I'm told the pick portion has some longevity as well. Find a friend that has one and try it out. 

Overall Rating: 10

Finger picks : Little Maggie finger picks

Submitted by rb4 (see all reviews from this person) on 1/29/2019

Where Purchased: From Judy Townsend

Overall Comments

I purchased a set of the little Maggie finger picks because I was wanting to try different picks. All I’ve really used are Dunlop’s and when looking I found Judy’s picks and many others that had a similar look and building materials but cost a lot more. I also wanted to give her my business because I have heard a lot of good stuff about both her little Maggie and old 97 picks. Plus I’d rather support an individual instead of a large company. The picks are beyond words. I chose the little Maggie picks because she started making them geared towards women in the beginning and eventually had to make the old 97 picks for men in bigger sizes. Although I am a man I have small hands and new that the little Maggie picks where gonna be the ticket for me. What’s neat is she will stamp an initial on one pick so you can tell the difference. I really like this because I use to use finger nail polish on one pick to tell the difference, this is a lot classier and I don’t have to borrow the nail polish from anyone. She also included a hand written note to me personally. Not some cookie cutter letter that she just signs but a hand written letter. What more can you ask for. 10 out of 10.

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Bart Veerman Mystery Wood Bridge

Submitted by oldtimememory (see all reviews from this person) on 1/27/2019

Where Purchased: Banjobridge.com

Overall Comments

I sent Bart the order form from his website with a few questions -- his responses were quick and thorough, and a bridge was quickly on its way to me. It arrived within a week shipped from Canada. 

The bridge itself (an uncapped mystery wood 3-foot 5 string) is flawless, the custom slotting was perfect, and the height and spacing are spot on. Compared to a hard maple ebony cap, the mystery wood bridge sounds mellow and full, without any muddy overtones on the low end. It doesn't sacrifice clarity, but is free from the aggressively bright growl that some hardwood capped bridges tend toward, and without losing the belltones on the high strings -- the sound of this bridge on my fretless Reiter is exactly what I was looking for. 

I'm quite happy both with my interaction with Bart as well as with the bridge, and will look to him in the future when searching for a bridge to complement my banjos. Highly recommended. 

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by nostresss8 (see all reviews from this person) on 1/25/2019

Where Purchased: Mikesbanjomute.com

Overall Comments

being rather new to the banjo, I didn't know what to expect. So here's my results. This Mikes banjo mute I purchased directly from his web site, when placed on the banjo bridge reduces the sound by a liltle over half, maybe 5/8 reduction. Also in my experience it did not change the tune of any string. I think it is worth the money and a better than average product. 

Overall Rating: 8

Bridges: Bart Veerman Dark Star

Submitted by blandinj (see all reviews from this person) on 1/16/2019

Where Purchased: Directly from Bart Veerman at banjobridge.com

Overall Comments

I play Irish tenor banjo and my main instrument is a plain but good playing Weymann 140.  I bought two bridges from Bart, one ebony over teak and the Dark Star.  The teak bridge sounds great, but the Dark Star is in a class of its own.  The sound I get now is clear and bright with a lot of punch. Kudos to Bart for a great design. 

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: mute

Submitted by sparkwood (see all reviews from this person) on 12/29/2018

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

Overall Comments

I received my new 5 string standard mute from Mike’s Banjo Mute and it is fabulous.  Exactly as advertised. Easy to use.  Sounds quite but has great sustain and best of all my wife loves it!   

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Steve Davis compensated bridge

Submitted by resomark54 (see all reviews from this person) on 12/17/2018

Where Purchased: Steve Davis

Overall Comments

I just received a sycamore/rosewood bridge from Steve for a recently acquired Noel Booth open back banjo. Very nice! Intonation is spot on now and very pleasant tone.  Thanks Steve.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by jocky73 (see all reviews from this person) on 12/2/2018

Where Purchased: Mike's Banjo Mute

Overall Comments

Perfect little product.  It will save my marriage as I stay up late learning to play the banjo.  Very responsive seller provided fast delivery.  Thanks Mike!

Overall Rating: 10

Picks: Cling Pro Clawhammer Pick

Submitted by wsharp (see all reviews from this person) on 11/15/2018

Where Purchased: online

Overall Comments

I"ve tried all kinds of picks for clawhammer since I have thin, crummy nails, with varying degrees of success.  These weird-looking picks are the best.  Playability is excellent and comfort is huge,  They fasten onto your finger wth a wire that wraps around the underside of your finger.  Hardly know you have it on and it stays put.  Customer service was AWESOME!!!!!!  Shipping from Canada is pricey but really, these are the best --the shipping seems like a pretty small price to pay for something that really works and is wearable for hours on end.

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Wadsworth Bridges

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

Where Purchased: Directly through David Wadsworth

Overall Comments

I ordered two bridges from David - 5/8" and .656" maple both Crowe spaced.  He told me he has acquired some 150 yr old wood that he has tried on several banjos and believes this wood is possibly the best he has had.  I went with the 'Grover' style design.

The bridges came in the mail today and I slipped the taller bridge on the banjo.  This bridge has 12 growth rings.  It delivers a VERY balanced tone across the frequencies, exactly what I was looking for.  I am planning on leaving the bridge on indefinitely because it really does sound amazing.

I highly recommend David Wadsworth bridges.

 

Doug Knecht

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mikes Banjo Mute

Submitted by Dodge (see all reviews from this person) on 10/30/2018

Where Purchased: Mikes Banjo Mutes

Overall Comments

Just received my Banjo mute from Mikes Banjo mutes, all I can say is WOW.

This is exactly what I was after, when I put it on my Deering, very quick and easy to install by the way, it made a vast difference in volume. When I tightened it a bit, it was incredible how much it muted the Banjo. I will now be able to practice without all the huffs and groans from the family, and also the next door neighbour giving me the daggers when I go to the mail box.

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: 5-string Standard Model

Submitted by bertilow (see all reviews from this person) on 10/2/2018

Where Purchased: Directly from mikesbanjomute.com

Overall Comments

Just in case anyone is still not convinced: What a life safer! I'm a total beginner. Now I can start practicing for real. If you have problems with family or neighbors get this mute. You won't regret it. It's worth every cent.

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Bart Veerman Mystery Wood Bridge

Submitted by Texican65 (see all reviews from this person) on 10/1/2018

Where Purchased: directly from Bart

Overall Comments

Just a VERY positive "shout-out" for Bart and his superb bridges. Everybody deserves to have one of these on your banjo. After experimenting for several years with different bridges, I've come to favor the Veerman bridge, especially on my '63 Vega Scruggs model. Bart's mystery wood bridge "WOKE" this banjo up when 8-10 other professional bridges could not. The clarity, tone, and power achieved through using this mystery wood blew my socks off....especially when this bridge gave my Vega a BOOMING 4th, which I had been unable to find previously. All of Bart's bridges are special. 

Bart is also very easy and fun to deal with. Very respectful and obliging, and he delivers on time when he says he will. Aside from his standard work, he also performs custom requests. Along with all the 5 string bluegrass bridges he's made for me, he recently made me an 1890's 2 footed classic style bridge, to spec per my measurements. I must have given him 20 different specs, and he nailed it. Very happy with Bart's service and work over the years, I wont use anything else. 

Just trying to spread the word here....these bridges and Bart are special.  Thanks Bart!

 

Dow

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Jim S (see all reviews from this person) on 9/28/2018

Where Purchased: MikesBanjoMute.Com

Overall Comments

When I get a second banjo, here's why I'll get a second Mike's Mute. It can be installed in 15 seconds. All levels of un-muted volume were reduced by over 50%. An unexpected benefit was the note sustain being lengthened by about one third. My electric tuner registered a negligible difference with the mute in place. If you'll be leaving Mike's Mute in place for an extended period of time, you may decide it's worth a moment to check the tuning and correct that negligible difference.

My string selections were made with frailing in mind. With Mike's Mute in place, I get a tone bordering on acoustic guitar while still sounding like a banjo. Now I have two instruments in one and don't have to find a place to keep that newly aquired second instrument. A glass bottle neck slide has some real possibilities.

Mike's Mute is based on a solid concept and is well made. Mike has quickly replied to my after purchase questions along with throwing in some helpful details. His going that little extra enabled me to get the full benefits from his mute right away.

I haven't used any other mutes before and have only read less than enthusiastic reviews for other mute types. Mike's Mute is a complete package. I really don't see how it could be improved apon. It's been well worth the price of admission. If or when the need arises for another banjo mute, without hesitation, it'll be a Mike's Mute.

    

Overall Rating: 10

Armrests: Dr. Arm

Submitted by rkfan100 (see all reviews from this person) on 9/22/2018

Where Purchased: Official Website

Overall Comments

Looks great, feels great and the best thing is that your arm no longer has to touch cold metal when you're wearing short sleeves. It also mounts really easily with the included screwdriver. They were kind enough to give me free shipping. The only thing is that it was a little pricey, but given it'll last forever it's worth it.

Overall Rating: 9

Capos: shubb f5 fine tune capo

Submitted by rkfan100 (see all reviews from this person) on 9/22/2018

Where Purchased: Shubb Website

Overall Comments

The best capo I've used and will ever need. It does the same job as an Elliott and costs far less. Only thing is the threads are a bit finely cut so it may take a bit longer to tighten it up.

Overall Rating: 9

Bridges: Spillway Dam Bridges

Submitted by mbuk06 (see all reviews from this person) on 9/14/2018

Where Purchased: Direct from Don New

Overall Comments

Converting a Cedar Mountain 5-string banjo from steel strings I found myself searching for a bridge that would be suitable for the idiosyncratic and individual nylon string set that I prefer to use. Dissatisfied with the capped bridges I had tried with nylon, an uncapped bridge seemed the likely way to go. Don's original uncapped Spillway dam bridge caught my attention in regard to the 'tried-and-tested' nature of the construction and the positive feedback from other musicians. Firstly I have to say that Don's communication is excellent; his reply to my initial enquiry was very prompt and helpful and having agreed details I was notified that the bridge was in the mail to me the very next day.

Now the bridge itself: the photos don't really do Don's careful workmanship full justice. To adapt the old saying I guess that's just that a quality bridge in the hand is worth two in the picture. The Spillway original bridge is beautifully made and the slots cut for the non-standard gauges that I specified were accurate and a perfect fit. The drilled design and arch-gapped foot were also cleanly cut and perfectly finished. And the longditudinal aspect of the bridge is neatly tapered from wider foot to thinner top while still leaving ample contact area for the strings. The gauge ranges of the strings I use are unusually wide and this bridge transmits the bass and the treble equally well. The bass range has a thump without overtones that could conflict with the treble end. The treble strings sing out with clarity and a really nice amount of sustain, not too much, and again without conflicting overtones.

Don's bridge in itself is a 10/10 for quality. It does have the appearance of a bridge that has evolved it's final design by sensitive listening through trial and testing. That knowledge and practical development, as well as Don's workmanship, are what are passed on to the player.  I have given this bridge a satisfaction rating of 9 based only on the set-up I currently have. However I strongly suspect this will rise to a 10 when I switch to a tailpiece that will allow the full potential of this bridge to be released. 

My review can only feedback in regard to trialing this bridge with non-steel strings. If you are looking for an uncapped bridge for nylon, gut or nylgut strings I wouldn't hesitate to suggest contacting Don for one of his original design bridges.

 

Overall Rating: 9

Necks: Clancy Mullins

Submitted by geodave (see all reviews from this person) on 9/10/2018

Where Purchased: Mr. Clancy Mullins through the Hangout

Overall Comments

I've been playing the neck Clancy made me for a couple of weeks now.  I have to say I am beyond impressed. Nice smooth fretwork,  silky smooth finish and perfect workmanship. The feel of the neck, playability and intonation are awesome in all respects. There was no need to fiddle with the truss rod. Something I like to avoid doing if a neck plays cleanly which this one does. The railroad spikes that he installed have almost perfect intonation when capo'd up.. This is even better than my "style 11" neck that I'm so fond of. I have smallish hands and find most necks a bit clunky. Clancy's is one of the few exceptions.

Clancy insisted I send the my pot ('26 TB1 conversion) down to him for fitment. This is one of the wisest things I've ever done, despite having it held in customs purgatory on its way to the States from Canada. I've never had a neck that bolted on so cleanly with no coordinator rod adjustment needed to get the action right. Needless to say the neck makes proper contact just the way it is supposed to.. My banjo used to sound great - now it is SPECTACULAR.

Thank you very much Clancy for the great service, advice and an outstanding neck that I'll have the rest of my days.

DAVE

 

 

Overall Rating: 10

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