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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!

7013 reviews in the archive.

Banjo Bridges: Purcell Locust Bridge

Submitted by Beardpicker (see all reviews from this person) on 2/21/2021

Where Purchased: Direct from Tim Purcell

Overall Comments

This Locust bridge is perfect with my 12" Pisgah Cherry Dobson, outfitted with a  J. Balch select African Goatskin head.  The bridge brings out the true character of the Dobson tone ring with out too much ringing/overtones, and eliminating the need to stuff a towel under the head to control them. Tim dubs it as a bridge for clawhammer/frailing players and it truly is perfect for that! Mine was made in a .656" height with Crowe Spacing.

I use Tim's bridges exclusively these days. As a discerning claw hammer player that has tried different bridges from various makers I can honestly say Tim's are my favorites, and this Locust bridge is no exception. His design eliminates the possibility of sagging in the middle and his workmanship is impeccable. His prices are quite reasonable, but the best thing is the fact that you can contact him, tell him what you're after and he will gladly accommodate you! Rare these days! Tim is genuinely a great guy, making some great bridges and this latest Locust addition is a testimony to it!

Overall Rating: 10

Arm rest: Pisgah Banjo Armadillo Persimmon wood armrest

Submitted by Beardpicker (see all reviews from this person) on 2/21/2021

Where Purchased: Direct from Pisgah Banjo

Overall Comments

Purchased this armrest for my Pisgah 12" Cherry Dobson to eliminate the tension hoop hooks from digging into my forearm and minimize the possibility of depressing the banjo head while playing, and it does both exceptionally well! Although this armrest may seem a bit pricey at first look, don't be put off by that. You get what you pay for! The guys at Pisgah have come up with a perfectly designed armrest that is rock solid, and a breeze to install.

I purchased the persimmon model to compliment the persimmon fretboard/headstock on my banjo, and like all of the great instruments and parts they put out, the workmanship is impeccable, and aesthetically pleasing. You will not be disappointed. A great compliment to a great banjo!

Overall Rating: 10

Finger picks : Hook’s banjo thimble (aluminum)

Submitted by cedarwillow (see all reviews from this person) on 2/18/2021

Where Purchased: Joel Hook’s website

Overall Comments

I ordered 2 of the aluminum picks because I hate having long nails (I just can't stand the feeling). And I didn't know over all these years that I was supposed to have a long nail for clawhammer because it was so obvious that nobody bothered to tell me. ?? I'm glad to be starting on my journey of crisp clean notes. No more mushy playing!
 

I would have given it a 10/10 for the design, the history, and the way that the curved end of the pick makes a soft sound. However, the reason I gave it 7/10 is because there is only one size and it's too big for me. And I have large hands. I have the flaps (that wrap around the finger) overlapping over each other in order to fit. It stays on but it's a bit of an awkward shape with gaps. I think if there is only going to a one-size-fits all, it's better if it runs small then large because it can stretch to accommodate larger fingers but it doesn't work well to fit to smaller fingers. It's also rather straight on the sides rather than contouring around the finger and it makes it hard to stay on well without cutting off circulation. I also noticed it leaves dark stains on my fingers (I'm not sure if that's from the metal interacting with my skin or if it was a finish that was left on it from production). It gives a beautiful clean and warm sound when playing on my banjo set up with nylgut strings and I'm very happy about this part. However I wish it was a better fit or they offered more sizes with measurements provided so you can check before you order. Especially because it was quite expensive for me to ship to my country. Although I suppose the reason why they didn't make the pick contoured is because they wanted to keep it historically accurate. Overall a good product and piece of history if it fits your fingers!

Overall Rating: 7

Zachary Hoyt : Arm Rest

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

Where Purchased: Banjo Hangout- Zachary Hoyt

Overall Comments

Ordered 2 Arm Rests and both were made and shipped quickly and look spectacular. The wood and workmanship is top notch! I would totally recommend tossing the uncomfortable, tarnished, heavy metal arm rest for a beautiful Zachary Hoyt made wood armrest.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Mojave (see all reviews from this person) on 1/28/2021

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

Overall Comments

I'm a beginner and have found that at times I would try and play softly as to not bother people in the house. When I started reading reviews on banjo mutes they were mixed, with some people saying a piece of tissue worked better. Well, I am glad that I stumbled upon Mike's Mute because this thing is great!

Not Only does this device quiet the banjo, it allows me to pluck the strings as normal, work on my tone, and hear my mistakes. I was a little concerned that practicing with a mute and then playing without one would affect my playing, but not so. I actually think this mute will help me work on technique as I can pick at a normal level instead of trying to pick too softly. The quietness of the banjo is allowing me to hear some mistakes I didn't realize I was making, such as hitting the head of the banjo with my thumb pick or excessive pick noise. 

Thanks Mike!

Overall Rating: 10

Stands: South Mountain Woodworks

Submitted by kamal (see all reviews from this person) on 1/10/2021

Where Purchased: South Mountain Woodworks

Overall Comments

  

I am pleased to recommend the South Mountain Woodworks banjo stand.

Handcrafted by Scott Alderfer, the stand is even nicer than I expected it would be -- really fine workmanship.  It is very stable; feels solid, reasonably weighty, and completely balanced.  Every surface that touches the banjo is padded with felt.  Certainly a better match for a fine banjo than the generic metal stand that it replaced.

It was a pleasure doing business with Scott.  He was responsive to my email queries before I ordered the stand and followed up afterwards to make sure that I was satisfied with his work -- I am!  The stand looks and feels like a piece of fine furniture.  Highly recommended!

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo Bridges: Don New Big Foot Bridge

Submitted by Rodemap (see all reviews from this person) on 1/7/2021

Where Purchased: BHO

Overall Comments

I needed a custom height bridge to replace the one on my Zach Hoyt banjo.  Don was happy to make me one, & it came out great.  Sounds just the way I wanted ( not to bright or dark ).  Looks pretty cool too.

Overall Rating: 10

Rickard Banjo Tuners: Rickard Cyclone tuners

Submitted by JimInAlabama (see all reviews from this person) on 12/29/2020

Where Purchased: From a BHO luthier

Overall Comments

I ordered these expensive tuners based on reviews from other BHO members and they didn't disappoint. They're very precise, no jumping back and forth to find the note, and they stay in tune, plus they look nice.  Highly recommend!

Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Mikes Banjo Mute.

Submitted by Ryk (see all reviews from this person) on 12/28/2020

Where Purchased: Mike

Overall Comments

10 doesn't do this mute justice.  I'll pull off my socks and give it a 10 thumbs and 10 toes up.  I've tried all kinds and all different ways to mute the banjo and still have a pleasent sound and this mute does it.  I play tenor and plectrum as well as 5-string and the mute that i got is for a 4-string.  (I'll be ordering a radiused 5 sometime in the near future.)  I get up early-early in the morning to practice and study and so play exclusively with a mute until the lady of the house is up and about.  Now we're both happy ... she doesn't hear me and i like what i hear.  Thank you Mike.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by chrisryan30512 (see all reviews from this person) on 11/24/2020

Where Purchased: On his website (www.mikesbanjomute.com)

Overall Comments

I was using a friend's Wright's Mute/Enhancer and loved it.  He let me borrow it to help with extending my practice sessions after the everyone went to bed.

I ordered Mike's Banjo Mute, and it is even better than the Wright's.  I couldn't be happier with the Mute while still maintain a good sound.  Makes practicing much easier and I'm able to play longer into the night.  

I highly recommend this one.  I don't think they make a better one on the market

Overall Rating: 10

Mikes Banjo Mute: Mikesbanjomute

Submitted by Argonaut505CO32 (see all reviews from this person) on 10/20/2020

Where Purchased: www.mikesbanjomute.com

Overall Comments

I am more familiar with violins and their various different kinds of mutes and just recently started to learn to play the tenor banjo.

Daily practice either early in the morning or later in the evening is all I have on an average day in order to practice. Without an efficient mute both the violin and the tenor banjo would just collect dust. Hence I am very glad to report that with the purchase of Mike’s Banjo Mute I am able to truly practice at any time without disturbing anybody in our small cottage.

 

Apart from the impressive reduction of volume on the tenor banjo I am surprised how each single tone still rings without being impaired by the mute. It appears to me as well that with Mike's Banjo Mute on the bridge I would be playing a ‘new instrument’ (one that sounds rather like a softly ringing ‘tenor guitar’ than a tenor banjo). For me that is a real added plus!

 

I highly recommend this well engineered and masterly crafted piece of equipment and the efficient and friendly service of Mike Stidd.

Overall Rating: 10

Rickard Banjo Tuners: Rickard Banjo Tuners

Submitted by calicoplayer (see all reviews from this person) on 10/19/2020

Where Purchased: Mail Order from Rickard Banjos

Overall Comments

Rickard's 10:1 banjo tuning pegs are the first tuners I've used in my thirty-five years of playing that work the way tuners should work.  They are smooth, never lock up, and stay in tune perfectly.  The 10:1 ratio makes it easy tune accurately.  Never a need to go sharp and then tune down, as has been a problem with virtually every other set of pages I've used. 

These pegs apparently use a new technology that I don't pretend to understand, but I don't need to understand it to know that it is the first improvement in tuning pegs since the invention of the first geared tuners.

And they're beautiful and elegant.  Rickard makes them available in nickel, brass or gold, and with an assortment of different types of wood buttons.  They swap right out with existing pegs; installing them took about two minutes during a string change.  And to the casual observer they look just like other geared pegs.

I tend to be cranky and suspicious of innovations and alleged improvements to banjo technology; I don't give positive reviews lightly, and in fact I seldom give reviews at all.  But these tuning pegs deserve some praise and acknowledgement.  They are one of those rare innovations that have made a real difference in my playing.

Expensive, for sure.  But so what?  Something this good is worth the price.

 

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Bart Veerman "Archie" bridge

Submitted by ChunoTheDog (see all reviews from this person) on 10/15/2020

Where Purchased: Directly from Bart Veerman

Overall Comments

I have this bridge set up on a 1928 TB3 no hole archtop (conversion 5 string neck).

It is a razor thin, seemingly very dense and ultra responsive bridge. It does a very good job at transmitting string vibration to the banjo head. Because of this, I have found increased volume and better (to my ears) clarity in both the bass and the highs. This TB3 was a growling beast from the start but I have found the Archie bridges to REALLY make the banjo vibrate through the resonator when you play it.

I've found that with these bridges it actually takes less hand/finger effort to play. Almost as if the strings are at slightly higher tension (although I'm sure the strings are at the same tension as with other bridges). This translates into a lot of volume if you really dig in, should you ever need to peel the paint off your walls.

These bridges are not compensated in any way however I have achieved perfect intonation (12th fret harmonic vs 12th fretted note) on all 5 strings, very cool!

Only reason I gave the Archie bridges a 9/10 and not a 10/10 is that philosophically there is always room for improvement ;) 

Overall Rating: 9

Stands: South Mountain Woodworks

Submitted by arbogdan (see all reviews from this person) on 9/27/2020

Where Purchased: South Mountain Woodworks

Overall Comments

Beautiful custom-made solid banjo stand. I got cherry with walnut. Different wood combinations are available. Workmanship is great. Not cheap ($260+shipping) but you can tell that a lot of care and labor went into it.

Ordered online. Took 3-4 weeks.

Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by GregD (see all reviews from this person) on 9/26/2020

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

Overall Comments

I just started learning to play the banjo. It became obvious that I would need a mute to keep my wife happy. After researching banjo mute reviews online I decided to purchase Mike's Banjo Mute. Wow! The mute is awesome and the prompt and personal service I received was excellent. I found the mute to be very easy to install.  Changing the mute out has not disturbed the bridge at all. The quality of Mike's banjo mute is top-notch. It clearly was designed to last a lifetime & I think the banjo sounds great with the mute on. I would recommend Mike's Banjo Mute without reservation.     

Overall Rating: 10

Other: Companion Banjo Stand

Submitted by skipbanks (see all reviews from this person) on 9/25/2020

Where Purchased: Companion Banjo’s

Overall Comments

I purchased the Companion Banjo Stand from Chris at Companion Banjo’s.  I have used the stand daily for the last six or so weeks with my Stelling and what a difference.  I had rotator cuff surgery and could not hold up my banjo and this made it possible.  The stand portion is heavy duty aluminum and adjust easily.  I use a higher than normal chair and I still have an inch or so adjustment if I need to go higher.  The banjo pad is shaped correctly and is firm.  The banjo sits in the “ saddle” for a lack of a better term just fine.  While the shoulder is better, I find myself still using the banjo stand as it allows for longer practice time without fatigue and the stand does not get in the way as it’s a single pole fixture.  A great item that will get used often.  I paid approximately $71.00 with shipping for the stand and the accompanying storage bag.

Overall Rating: 10

Heads: John Balch Goat Hide Head

Submitted by red dog (see all reviews from this person) on 9/16/2020

Where Purchased: Direct from John Balch

Overall Comments

Decide to purchase a hide head from John Balch, firstly to try out a hide head on my  Vega Little Wonder banjo,  to see what the tonal differences would be. Because I had  never having replaced a head on a banjo  before, and as this product is already mounted on a flesh hoop, It was the most convenient option for me.

After some communication John recommended one of his goat hide heads.

The instructional video  available on his website it made the installation a breeze. It took a while for me to tighten it up to the right tension, as I was worried about damaging it, but it was no issue and now is tuned up to "f" if the head is tapped.

The change in tone was immediately noticable and surprisingly warm and rich with good bright ringing tone.

I am very happy with this product and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to give hide heads a try.

I will most certainly be back for another purchase in the future.

Overall Rating: 10

Mike's Banjo Mute: 5-string Standard Model

Submitted by chassull (see all reviews from this person) on 9/8/2020

Where Purchased: www.mikesbanjomute.com

Overall Comments

I am very happy with Mike's Mute.   It is easy to apply, and the muted sound is great.   I bought this mute to replace a mute which was pushed on to the bridge (the clothespin idea) and the pressure to apply it would frequently throw my bridge out of alignment.   Mike's Mute is an easy fit which slides underneath the bridge and is secured by hand-tightening.   The hardware looks very solid and the mute doesn't interfere with my right hand when I'm playing.   It also comes with a cloth carrying  case.

I can now sit out on the back patio and enjoy banjo playing without worrying about complaints from the neighborhood association.

Overall Rating: 10

Banjo mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Banjo-Benny (see all reviews from this person) on 8/25/2020

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

Overall Comments

Bought a 4-string mute for my Vegaphone Style M tenor banjo, fit on the bridge extremely easily and allows me to play in the house in the middle of the night, if I so choose. A well built and executed accesory. 

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Steve Davis compensated bridge

Submitted by Good Buddy (see all reviews from this person) on 8/19/2020

Where Purchased: Directly from Steve

Overall Comments

I contacted Steve, told him about my banjo and he suggested a roasted maple base with an ebony top weighing around 2.25 grams. I ordered a 5/8" bridge with Crowe spacing and received it without incident a few weeks later.

This Steve Davis Bridge is the best bridge I have ever had. The craftsmanship is superb. It has the most interesting shape I have seen in a bridge. The compensation is amazing. Every note is perfect up and down the neck checked by ear or by electronic tuner. Every G note on every string and every fret rings true as well as all the other notes. When I put on the capo, it doesn't go out of tune. The Tone has improved greatly. I used to have a great bridge, but this one blows it out of the water. And there is no comparison to any straight bridge. The tone, volume, clarity, response and tuning are better than I have ever hoped for in a bridge.  The best $35 I ever spent on my banjo. 

Steve is a pleasure to work with. I will definitely buy more of these when needed. I should probably get a backup or two just in case.

Overall Rating: 10

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