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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!

6773 reviews in the archive.

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 yatesuser (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

Picks: Yates Oval Eights

Submitted by rardinger (see all reviews from this person) on 8/25/2018

Where Purchased: From Yates Banjo

Overall Comments

These picks are extremely well made, have a band curve that “out of the bag” fit my fingers and have been very comfortable to wear. The blades have a nice curve to them and I did not feel they needed any adjustments.  They have very little pick noise compared with my previous set.  Mostly however they seem to give better (to me) tone then my previous picks.  I noticed this when I first got them and went back and forth with these and my other picks and it seems to be a consistent feature (I was concerned I was hearing things that were not actually there to help justify the cost).  I used my first set extensively for a month and decided that I did not want to return to the older set, even as back-ups, so bought a second set of Yates Oval 8 picks.

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Bart Veerman "Archie" bridge

Submitted by FlyinEagle (see all reviews from this person) on 8/23/2018

Where Purchased:

Overall Comments

I’ve had one of Bart’s Archie bridges on my mid-sixties flathead bowtie for a few months now, and I have been loving it.  I previously had a Purcell Roasted Maple on there, and that sounded good, but there was something missing up the neck…it just didn’t have the sparkle and ring I was looking for.  I’ve wanted one of Bart’s bridges for a while now, so I was curious to see what he might suggest for me.  I filled out the form he has on his website, and after a couple emails back and forth, I was surprised that he recommended his Archie.  I wasn’t even considering that bridge…I just assumed it was only good on an archtop.

I trusted him on it, and I’m glad I did.  This bridge improved the tone of this RB-250 by increasing its warmth and response – by a lot.  In fact, the improvement in response is downright remarkable.  I am able to get a beautiful tone out of the instrument with the lightest touch and lowest volume, and it is as loud as you need it be as well.   The biggest improvement was up the neck…all the way up.  It is getting a really nice, ringing, bell-like tone from 12 all the way up to 22.  I love playing on that part of the neck on this banjo now.  When I first put it on, I think I noticed a bit of loss on the bottom end, low on the 4th string.  I don’t notice that anymore, and the gains all over the rest of the neck more than make up for it.

And a final word about the craftsmanship of the bridge.  It’s easily the most well crafted bridge I have seen.  Perfectly shaped to a fine edge…the Archie is thin…very thin, especially at the top.  It is easy to see the level of care that goes into making a bridge this fine. 

I don’t hesitate to recommend Bart’s bridges for a moment.  If you are looking to get something more out of your banjo, drop him a note.  You won’t be disappointed.

Overall Rating: 10

Straps: Dogwood Designs

Submitted by lockhands (see all reviews from this person) on 8/21/2018

Where Purchased: Ordered online

Overall Comments

Recently received my latest strap from Dave at Dogwood. Same high quality and attention to detail as the first 2. Dave is great to deal with over the phone, he listens to what you are after and offers helpful suggestions to get you to a finished product. Straps are second to none, high quality, great fit and finish. Fast shipping, and for my fellow Canadians, he will ship north of the border at actual shipping rates. 

It's my third strap from Dave, and it definitely won't be my last. As long as he keeps making them, I'll keep buying them.

Keep up the great work Dave 

 

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Bart Veerman Dark Star

Submitted by lockhands (see all reviews from this person) on 8/21/2018

Where Purchased: Ordered online

Overall Comments

This is my second bridge from Bart. And just like the first one,  I couldn't be happier. I'm still fairly new to the banjo, so I'm not the best at describing the changes, but this new bridge just seems to make it pop. Both the higher and lower notes seem cleaner. Bart is great to deal with. Let him know what you have, and he will give you some great advise on what to pair it with. Choose height, spacing, wood type, compensation, etc. He will build it and have it shipped in no time. Pretty cheap way to make a big difference with a banjo . Thanks for you help yet again Bart

Overall Rating: 10

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

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