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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!

6919 reviews in the archive.

Recording King  RK-O25 Madison Openback Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Pjotor (see all reviews from this person) on 7/17/2014

Where Purchased: Thomann

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 289 (EUR) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Slightly tinny sound but I'm using the (light) stock strings, plus the banjo has no tone ring. I bought it as a travel banjo, though, and it's loud enough to hold its own in a BG jam; with some setup it will work very well for OT as well. Will change to thicker strings to fatten out the sound. The sustain is long. I will change to thicker strings to fatten the sound a bit.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The strings were already attached. Setting the the bridge took the most time since it was supplied separately. The Presto-style tailpiece was too low for my liking so I adjusted it upwards, but that's just my taste. Action is nice and low.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Very basic appearance -- no fancy inlays – but I don't really mind. The parts seem to fit very well together, much better than expected on such a low-price instrument. Planetary tuners is a nice bonus.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Hardware seems well made and the fit is good. The finish is basic but well made, and I wouldn't think twice about using it on a gig if the venue is not too loud (no tone ring, remember?)

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

Thomann is a great company to order instruments from. Fast and flat rate shipping for orders below EUR 300, good assortment and helpful Swedish speaking staff.

Customer Service: 9

Components

I will replace the stock strings to thicker ones (personal taste). The bridge is very basic and a bit crude, and I may want to exchange it later.

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

I bought it as a light travel banjo and it definitely delivers. It would be an excellent beginner banjo as well: planetary tuners, low weight, low action and very easy to play.

For jams and travelling, this banjo will serve me well for (I expect) many years to come.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by Raul Cabezali (see all reviews from this person) on 7/11/2014

Where Purchased: Thomann

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 349 (euros) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

It sounds quite well for clawhammer style, loud and resonant. That's really surprising if you consider that it doesn't have a tone ring. It also sounds pretty usable for scruggs style, although the g-strings sounds a bit "nasal" as compared to my Fender FB-58 - you know, as when someone has a cold, I don't know which better word to use or how to explain it- . However, I sounds really sweet up the neck, another surprise. It sounds as if there was some natural compression in the sound which makes notes stand out without sounding brittle or harsh.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The setup was perfect, the action might be a tad too high though. The bridge wasn't installed, so that was the first thing I had to do after unboxing the banjo.
I had to cut the bridge D and d grooves a bit deeper to stop those strings from coming out of the groove. After installing the bridge in the right place and a couple of adjustments, the intonation is perfect.
It plays like a dream.
Also, the tuning pegs were tightened - unlike my Fender FB-58, which had them loose - and work like a charm.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

The finish is satin with some dark stains here and there trying to emulate the appearance of old wood. It really does the trick. It looks old and noble. The worst thing - even if it doesn't bother me much - is that the heel of the neck is a much darker wood than the rest of the neck.
The ivoroid tuning peg heads look wonderful and match the overall oldtimy look of the banjo perfectly well.
I forgot to add this banjo has a scoop up the neck. This only is a 80 euros (100 dollars) difference with the non-scoop version of the same model.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

According to the specs, the hardware is nickel (I suppose it must be nickel-plated steel). I don't think the finish will last forever. A chip of the nickel plated tailpiece cover already came off when I was inspecting the presto tailpiece, so I think this will probably happen again when I tighten the head or adjust the setup, or even change strings. Fortunately, all the hardware parts look "standard" so I guess I'll be able to find replacements in case they become unusable.

I'm using this one as my second banjo, so in fact this is my backup.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

I haven`'t had to deal with the company yet - well, I just received my new banjo yesterday! but I hope I won't have to in the future either -.
The dealer has a 30-days return policy, which I think I won't have to use, then a 3-year European guarantee plus the manufacturer's lifetime limited guarantee. That's a lot.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The planetary tuning pegs work smooth and precisely. The bridge is also really good. I don't think these parts will have to be upgraded.
The only upgrade needed is installing railroad spikes - something I'll do when the 30-days return guarantee has expired -.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Also, I shot a video with a couple of sound samples and a general comment on the banjo (in Spanish). Click on this link to watch it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhLltnDQqrQ

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by vickbobs (see all reviews from this person) on 2/18/2014

Where Purchased: Amazon

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 520.00 ($US)

Sound

Sounds great.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Setup and action were great. Have not changed anything as of yet. It sounds really good as it is.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Very classic looking openback banjo.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

All the hardware is of good quality. It will probably last for along time if taken properly care of.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I have had no issues with this banjo to contact the company.

Customer Service: 9

Components

The metal parts are of good quality parts and quality plating also.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Overall Rating: 9

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