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6920 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Ebay
This is a top of the range Ozark open back banjo, and since most of the Ozark range is cheap and cheerful, I wasn't expecting too much.
It has a combination of walnut pot & neck, whyte laydie tone ring and renaissance head. As a result, the sound is very loud, quite bright and very open/airy. It is surprisingly excellent, and gives me something different as my other banjos are woody, brass hoop and dobson.
Sound Rating: 8
When I got it, the banjo had a 5/8" no-name bridge, which for this banjo made the action too low and buzzy. The strings were also a bit dead.
I replaced the bridge with a 3/4" maple and put a set of Newtone PB mediums on it, and after a few hours settling in, it sounds much better.
Other than that, I've made no adjustments.
Setup Rating: 7
It's a mixed bag here. In places it looks spectacular, yet in other aspects it seems a bit gaudy. The walnut neck is lovely, although the joins in the wood are a bit too severe and obvious. The walnut pot is very nice too, and the thin, smooth satin finish throughout is excellent.
The maple multi-ply binding is very well done, although there is a gloop of something on the pot under the heel - minor cosmetic flaw.
The chrome hardware on the pot (stretcher band and armrest) are engraved, and while superficially this seems classy, the engravings are basic, make no sense and ultimately add to the 'gaudiness'. The headstock is very well done, with nice binding and inlay, but I feel the overall look would be improved with an ebony fingerboard.
Appearance Rating: 7
It seems solid and well put together. Not as solid maybe as a Bart Reiter, but I would certainly rely on it for the meantime. There are no loose connections or hardware, no rattles or buzzes, and it holds tuning quite well.
Reliability Rating: 7
Customer Service: 5
The neck is smooth and light, very nice indeed.
The WL tone ring is very heavy and appears to be the real deal.
Brackets and hooks seem good quality, and the renaissance head is a nice touch.
I'm not too keen on the tuners as they seem quite cheap, with plastic buttons, and they have a little bit too much play, even tightened down, but they hold tuning well enough, so no big deal.
Components Rating: 7
Overall, this is an excellent, good looking, well put together banjo, and is easily the best Ozark I've ever seen or played.
For the money I paid, it is simply an unmissable bargain, and if you get the chance to get something similar, don't hesitate.
The tone is really nice, very light, airy and open, but retaining a richness and a ring that make it stand out. It's loud for an open back too!
Overall Rating: 8
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