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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!

7113 reviews in the archive.

Strings: Aquilla Red Strings 11b Banjo Strings

Submitted by kd8tzc (see all reviews from this person) on 7/9/2022

Where Purchased: Amazon

Overall Comments

I had used the NylGut strings previously, and I really liked the sound for clawhammer.  I bought the reds as I had seen on a number of reviews that thees were good as you could tune up to double G and even double C tuning with these as opposed to being a few steps lower. 

I got them all strung and was proceeding to tune them up and the 5th string didn't even make it one full note below the G and it snapped.  Very disappointing.

Overall Rating: 1

Tuners: Rickard Cyclone Precision 10:1 Tuners

Submitted by kd8tzc (see all reviews from this person) on 6/23/2022

Where Purchased: Rickard Banjo's

Overall Comments

I'm new to the banjo world, but one of the things that was driving me nuts was  the difficulty in tuning my banjo.  I have a Petterson slip on strobe tuner, and it was almost impossible to tune with my old tuners.  Just a slight adjustment and the tuner would say I was off.  Once I installed the Cyclone tuners in, it was extremely easy to finely tune the instrument.

I love the fact that you don't need to worry about a tension screw to hold the string from going flat.  They really thought out the mechanics well with these and I have a feeling I will be buying another set for my other banjo at some point.

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: Banjo Mute

Submitted by bjf138 (see all reviews from this person) on 6/22/2022

Where Purchased: Online

Overall Comments

Perfectly simple, effective and easy to use.  Cuts volume significantly, and softens the overall sound of my banjo.  Compared to the gold tone mute, Mike's is much easier to put on and off without moving the bridge around, and applies even pressure across the bridge which was never quite possible with my previous mute.  Must have accessory for anyone needing to practice quietly on a regular basis.

Overall Rating: 10

Tailpieces: Oettinger by Lyndon Bespoke Banjo

Submitted by Bufo Bill (see all reviews from this person) on 6/8/2022

Where Purchased: https://www.numonday.com/shop/lyndon-bespoke-banjo/

Overall Comments

Here is a short review of Lyndon Bespoke Banjo's Five String Oettinger Tailpiece. Lyndon makes these in four, five and six string versions in brass and nickel, and there is a beautiful carved and engraved example on his shops homepage on
https://www.numonday.com/shop/lyndon-bespoke-banjo/

I chose a solid nickel five string version to fit to my Vintage Vega Tubaphone pot, which is smaller than average at 10 1/8 inches diameter. The scale length is 26 1/2 inches. I use nylon strings.
The Tailpiece has an accompanying website

www.oettinger.co  ** (not ".com"), **

which uses an account of how to set up your Tailpiece from here on the Hangout, and it is easy to understand, being written in plain English.
The items were well packaged and arrived quickly and safely. It looks beautiful straight away, and it is obvious that the build quality is first rate as soon as you handle it. In fact, this Tailpiece will certainly outlive me!
My Oettinger was easy to install using the online guide, and wow, what a wonderful sound it makes! The strings are more evenly tensioned, which really improved the volume of the inner strings, the wound fourth in particular. The Banjo is now easier to play, not having to vary pressure on picking to create that even tone.
The quality of tone has been most remarkable. The sound of the Banjo is more focused, with an improved bell-like or chime-like tone whilst still allowing the tone ring to reverberate and amplify clearly.
My only note of caution is that the end bolt for the nickel version is sold separately, as this is nickel plated brass not solid nickel like the Tailpiece itself. I could have done with that information being more central in the listing, but that is my only problem with the whole experience.
Thanks for reading.
Cheers from Bill.

Overall Rating: 10

Dapper Dampener Tonal Tool: Dapper Dampener

Submitted by GregD (see all reviews from this person) on 5/7/2022

Where Purchased: Dapper Dampener.com

Overall Comments

I recently added a Dapper Dampener to both my resonator and cello banjos. My goal was for overtone control. I found the DD to be very easy to use and it made a clear, noticeable improvement in the tone.  In addition, Cody responded very quickly to my order and ensured that the two Dapper Dampeners arrived fast. He clearly produces a high quality product at a very reasonable price. I would recommend Cody and his Dapper Dampener without hesitation.

Overall Rating: 10

Tuners: Tune Tech TT-5

Submitted by kd8tzc (see all reviews from this person) on 5/6/2022

Where Purchased: Amazon

Overall Comments

You would think a clip on tuner would be somewhat correct, but this one is horrible.  Maybe it is just mine.  When you clip it on the peghead and pluck a string, it jumps all over the place first it's an A, then D, then G, then nothing.

This is going in the drawer to be never used again.  I've tried it on two banjo's and one mandolin, and the same issue with all instruments.  It hasn't a clue as to what it is hearing.

It's a shame as it looks like a nice design, and I like how the whole display turns green IF you ever do get it in tune.  Not for me though.  Hopefully mine is just a dud, and someone else has better luck and can post a better review. 

Overall Rating: 1

Tuners: Tune Tech TT-5

Submitted by kd8tzc (see all reviews from this person) on 5/6/2022

Where Purchased: Amazon

Overall Comments

You would think a clip on tuner would be somewhat correct, but this one is horrible.  Maybe it is just mine.  When you clip it on the peghead and pluck a string, it jumps all over the place first it's an A, then D, then G, then nothing.

This is going in the drawer to be never used again.  I've tried it on two banjo's and one mandolin, and the same issue with all instruments.  It hasn't a clue as to what it is hearing.

It's a shame as it looks like a nice design, and I like how the whole display turns green IF you ever do get it in tune.  Not for me though.  Hopefully mine is just a dud, and someone else has better luck and can post a better review. 

Overall Rating: 1

Bridges: Snuffy Smith New Generation

Submitted by Moongazer (see all reviews from this person) on 5/4/2022

Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments

Overall Comments

I play a Reiter Special (a great instrument), but I always thought the stock 5/8" bridge led to the action being just a little high. I recently replaced it with a 9/16" Snuffy Smith New Generation and am not only super pleased with the banjo's action, but also with the tonal quality now of the instrument. Especially of the lower notes. Get one of these if you need a new bridge. 

Overall Rating: 10

Play In Device: Tone Traveler

Submitted by pickinthe5 (see all reviews from this person) on 5/4/2022

Where Purchased: www.DrHerringbone.com

Overall Comments

The Tone Traveler is an instrument break in gadget that uses a speaker and a tablet to generate audio instead of sub sonic vibrations.

I bought the Tone Traveler for my guitar but ended up getting a free upgrade to a V2 after talking with the inventors and it includes a page specifically for banjo.

They're two guys from NC that just got the company off the ground and were very kind in answering my questions.

This product definitely works which is why it gets a 10/10 from me not to mention the following:

  • The Packaging is CLASSY, it gave iPhone unboxing vibes when I got into it.
  • Every part of the unit feels quality with a custom made tablet, a stainless steel sound generator gadget thing, and an app/firmware that is easy to use and really cool and fun just to mess with.
  • It's hard to believe it's really just two guys running the whole kit and caboodle, but they took time out of their day to answer my questions and help me get everything set up (which turned out to be as easy as turning on the speaker and turning on the tablet).

Why do I say that it definitely works?  I can absolutely hear the difference it makes in my banjos and guitar but I have a crazy story about feeling it work on a banjo.

I had *just* put a new head on my 1930 TB4 (5 string conversion) and I decided to put the tone traveler on it (I had also just got the tone traveler in the mail).  I was initially disappointed because it didn't seem to shake the banjo much at all but when I came back later it was shaking the banjo and resonating the strings way way more.  It was clear that it had settled everything together way way quicker than if I had just played it and it was incredible to feel the difference between the banjo after putting a new head on it and just a couple hours of tone traveler use.  Since then I have used it on banjos that haven't been played in a while and the sonic results are undeniable.  I also sometimes use it on my daily driver and the improvement is still there even though it's more subtle.

After using the Tone Traveler my banjo always just feels and sounds hot.

As far as I'm concerned, this kicks the Tonerite down the stairs.  The Tone Traveler actually vibrates instruments with tuned frequencies (not found on a Hitachi magic wand) and it is undeniable that it has made a difference on every instrument that I've used it on.  Also this thing is more expensive than a Tonerite (last I checked) but it works on banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, viola, cello, and upright not to mention the note page that lets you make any tuning, chord position, or capo position imaginable.

Just buy one, you won't regret it.

 

Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Gold Tone Iucci Banjo Mute

Submitted by kd8tzc (see all reviews from this person) on 4/26/2022

Where Purchased: Amazon

Overall Comments

This works great... I was really worried how this would sound until I heard a banjo using one on YouTube.  I had previously been using a paper towel bunched up under the strings, and that didn't allow any sustain and made it hard to learn how to play the banjo.  This mute on the other hand, allows a nice sustain, and mutes the sound nicely.  The low sounds are nice and warm, and the higher notes are more of a nice plink and it has a beautiful sustain.  This allows me to play without disturbing teh grandkids when they sleep or when others may be home who are not as fond of the banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Cases (Hard, Flight): Crossrock CRF6020BJBK Air Carbon Fiber Flight Case

Submitted by Tim Mullins (see all reviews from this person) on 4/19/2022

Where Purchased: Amazon

Overall Comments

Crossrock 5-String Resonator Banjo Flight Case, 100% Carbon Fiber Hard Shell with Backpack and Protective Cover(CRF6020BJBK)

 

From the Amazon listing:

 

6. 6lb carbon fiber flight case for 5 strings resonator banjo.

Genuine leather handle.

Heavy duty latches and hardware with TSA lock.

Deluxe padded backpack straps and thick padded case cover.

Super thick high density padding and extra reomvable padding comes with silk-like blue lining.

 

Designed for 5-string Resonator Banjos. Inside Dimensions: Overall length : 100cm (39. 37"); Body length : 36. 5cm (14. 37"); Lower bout : 36. 5cm (14. 37"); Body height : 13cm (5. 12"); Bridge height : 15. 5cm (6. 1"); Net weight : 3kg (6. 6lb); Kindly reminder: please always measure your instrument before purchase to ensure a proper fit.

 

***

 

I had been wondering about these cases for a while but their $998.00 price kept me away. On 4/13/22 Amazon listed two or these cases for $598.00 with free shipping and free returns, so I ordered one to check it out. Here is my review:

 

The case is nicely shaped and finished, with a carbon-fiber pattern matte surface. There is a large Crossrock logo on the lid, which I wish wasn’t so obtrusive. The latches seemed adequate, if not as heavy-duty as the ones on a Calton. It also features a TSA lock and two keys. The inside is lined with an attractive blue velvet-like lining. The lid stayed open when opened and fit nicely together when shut. It also came with two straps for backpack use. It weighed in empty at 6.7 lbs on my digital bathroom scale. The handle was comfortable but with a banjo inside it balanced with the peghead-end up at a 45 degree angle.

 

The case was supposed to come with a padded case cover, two strips to fill the space around the resonator and a pad to go at the rear of the resonator to make it fit a Mastertone-dimension banjo. The case cover, which I assume is necessary to prevent marring the case’s finish – or to prevent the latches from accidentally opening – would add something back to the total weight of the case, somewhat negating one of its selling points. The case is otherwise oversized for a Mastertone-style banjo (possibly the only kind expensive enough to warrant a case this costly). 

 

My case was delivered missing the case cover and the pad. When I tried my Gibson RB-3 with no padding it had about a quarter-inch of gap all around the resonator and the back of the resonator sank so deeply into the case that the neck of the banjo was over one-half inch up off the neck support at the peghead-end of the accessory box. By putting one of the two strips at the butt end of the case and the other across sideways behind the resonator I was able to get the banjo to sit fairly level. I latched the case and stood it on end and shook it, finding that both the body and especially the peghead were loose enough to clunk loudly back and forth. This appears to be because the lid of the case lacks enough padding to keep the instrument from moving. No matter how strong the shell of the case may be, if the banjo is not held firmly from moving inside the case it can be easily damaged.

 

Summing up, this case was expensive, yet would not protect a banjo. Crossrock has been making cases for twenty years. I can only assume that no one in their design department knows anyone who plays banjo. If this case were sized correctly, with padding added in the right spots — and was available at a reasonable price, they would have an attractive and light-weight product. This one, however, went back to Amazon.

Overall Rating: 1

Finger picks : Hoffmeyer

Submitted by Flatiron53 (see all reviews from this person) on 3/5/2022

Where Purchased: Dean Hoffmeyer

Overall Comments

Excellent products and service!  You can't go wrong with these picks.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Guffey (see all reviews from this person) on 1/23/2022

Where Purchased: online

Overall Comments

I gladly give my recommendation for Mike's Banjo mute.  Only been using a short time but I love this mute and am ready to toss out the old ones completely. Very quiet (all family members agree!). It clamps easily onto the bridge and stays tight.  I've used a couple other banjo mutes and my biggest complaints were the old mutes either "wiggled off" or weren't  as quiet as I wanted (or... as others in the house wanted, I should say) - this one from Mike's solves both issues.

Overall Rating: 10

Armrests: Zach Hoyt armrest

Submitted by GregD (see all reviews from this person) on 1/16/2022

Where Purchased: HoytBanjos.com

Overall Comments

I recently purchased a custom made wood armrest for my Cello banjo from Zach Hoyt at Hoyt Banjos. It fits perfectly and added both comfort and beauty to my banjo. Zach had it made and shipped in just a couple days. I couldn't be happier and would recommend Zach at Hoyt Banjos without hesitation.    

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Infernotoast (see all reviews from this person) on 12/10/2021

Where Purchased: Mikes online shop

Overall Comments

My girlfriend gifted me Mikes mute as a birthday present. Shipping as far as I heard from her was rather fast considering we live in Germany. The mute itself is amazing and as simple as it gets. It literally quiets down my banjo. Thats it. I get all the sound of my RK 35 just muted. I live in an apartment so I had to stop playing at night to not annoy my neighbors. With Mikes mute this isnt an issue anymore. I also tried the mute with my cheap Harley Benton banjo from Thomann in Germany and the sound even got better and softer.

Overall Rating: 10

Capos: Kateyz Capo B Capo: V-frame

Submitted by shannon edward leasure (see all reviews from this person) on 12/8/2021

Where Purchased: Phil

Overall Comments

Hey guys, New to hangout but recently purchased two Kat Eyz banjo capos, following purchase of an alternative high end guitar capo. I bought one for my handmade (banjo player) and myself due to my recent return to.banjo. I made inquiries regarding Kat Eyz following my needing to return my guitar capo to the previously mentioned alternative and my displeasure with the resulting dialogue. My initial conversation with Phil was informative, and sold me on the purchase ( really nice to get quick response, and some.patience given that I really didn't know what I needed). I play a stealth and had never purchased a capo specifically for this banjo. Both capos have been great and minimized tuning. The two points of contact on the back of neck reduce movement while playing. We stay busy In WNC and the support of the highest quality product has been great! My handmade is very happy. Thanks Phil, my next capo will be a Kat Eyz  guitar capo

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Pat Brown (see all reviews from this person) on 12/2/2021

Where Purchased: Mikes web site

Overall Comments

simply put - this thing works. I can play at 5:00 in the morning without waking everyone up. And the tone, although different, is real good.  Easy to put on and off and very fast shipping.  Well made also.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by GregD (see all reviews from this person) on 11/28/2021

Where Purchased: MikesBanjoMute.com

Overall Comments

I recently purchased my second Mike's Banjo Mute. I was 100% pleased with the first one I purchased after buying my first banjo.  I knew without hesitation if I ever bought another banjo I would buy another Mike's Banjo Mute. Well, I recently purchased a second banjo and the first thing I did was place an order for another mute from Mike. It arrived very quickly, and it fits & performs perfectly! It allows me to practice in the same room as my family without any complaints. With certain songs, I think the banjo actually sounds better with the mute on. I recommend Mike's Banjo Mute without hesitation.   

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: 5-string Standard Model

Submitted by epoore (see all reviews from this person) on 11/23/2021

Where Purchased: Online through mikes website

Overall Comments

Been playing since 1980,  and had a standard mute for straight banjo bridge, but when I upgraded to a compensated bridge a number of years ago, I could never find a suitable product. Started playing again after a long break and needed a mute to keep the wife and dog happy. Did an online search and found Mike's Banjo Mute. Got it today and within a minute, had it on the banjo with no issues at all. It works great!  Makes the banjo almost sound like a soft dobro. Strings don't buzz and action stays solid.   It is awesome and I would recommend it to anyone needing to mute their instrument for quiet practice at home.  Before ordering, I emailed Mike to ensure I ordered the right product and he responded quickly the same day. He put my mute in the mail the next day. I couldn't be happier with the product and customer support. 

Overall Rating: 10

Finger picks : Joel Hooks brass thimble pick

Submitted by tonehead (see all reviews from this person) on 11/9/2021

Where Purchased: From Joel Hooks

Overall Comments

 I just received my pick and am so very pleased with it.  I played some tunes on my Eric Prust banjo and it gave me the extra volume I was looking for.  Great product! 

Overall Rating: 10

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