Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

815
Banjo Lovers Online


Banjo Reviews

Review Categories

Most Recent

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!

7079 reviews in the archive.

Backyard Music  Basic Banjo Banjo Reviews

Submitted by beanbag (see all reviews from this person) on 2/11/2015

Where Purchased: Backyard Music

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 100.00 ($US)

Sound

This is a wood head banjo. They were often made by mountain folks in North Carolina, I know. I bought this basic banjo as a kit and built it for a practice instrument. It is quiet, but has a beautiful mellow, but "banjo" sound. It reminds me of an Irish bouzouki with banjo intentions. For a nice little folk kit, the banjo has a nice sound when picking. I don't play clawhammer yet, so I don't know how it would sound using that style. Be aware though that it isn't loud enough for a jam session, but it is ideal for practice in a house full of day sleepers (Some of my family members work grave shifts and sleep during the day). I don't bother them, but I get to play my banjo when I would like too. It's a great practice or solo on the back porch instrument.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I have to hand it to David Cross, the design of this little banjo is wonderful. When you build one, the setup is built into the design. It sets itself up. It's great for first- time builders, and the setup itself is terrific. It's one of the things about this little kit that I like the most. I wouldn't change a thing about the setup. It's very nice as it is.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Well, the name 'Basic Banjo" implies simplicity, and it's plain and simple. The hoop is a thick cardboard tube that needs to be painted. I found that enamel spray paint works quite well to seal the cardboard and spiff the appearance up a bit. Mine is pumpkin orange, the only color of spray paint we had in the garage. But pumkin orange is a great color for a folk banjo.I also glued a nifty color copy of a Celtic cross onto the plywood soundboard. It looks great and doesn't impede the sound at all. This plain little banjo begs to turned into a canvas for your creative bent. I had fun decorating mine. Its a FOLK instrument. Making it yours is half the fun. If you aren't into art, just seal the wood, paint the hoop, and you have a great sounding, feather light instrument that you can take with you anywhere. But it ain't a Mastertone, yeah?

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I havent had the banjo long enough to say, but I've built other little lutes similar to it, and they have been very reliable. The cardboard tube is every bit as strong as the wooden tambourine hoop I used on a tackhead banjo I made a year ago. It's still doing fine. My guess would be that it will hold up well. It's well designed and the neck is a nice piece of rosewood. The neck is well finished and only needed basic sanding before sealing the wood. The tuning machines are also basic, no frills open gear tuners. I use these on dulcimers all the time. They are reliable, and stay in tune.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

I had a few questions and got very prompt and friendly replies. The order was filled quikly, and was well packaged for shipping. I have two of these banjos and they both got here quickly and in one piece. I'm quite satisfied with the company and wouldn't hesitate to buy from them again.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I think that the banjo fine as is, and for the price, it's a great little banjo. The fifth string tuner is geared too, and not a friction tuner, which I found to be a great feature. I just hate friction tuners. The tuners are basic. They arent as nice as the planetary geared tuners on my kit mountsain banjo, but they work fine. The frets are pre-installed, and beveled, but need to be sanded down. They are a bit shap, and this wasn't mentioned in the written directions, but David Cross does have a series of short on'line assembly videos that aren't mentioned in the instruction booklet. One of the videos demonstrate how to dress the frets. I found them by accident while researching the banjo kits. The banjo isn't fancy, but its very well designed.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

  I bought this banjo as a practice instrument because I was becoming frustrated with not being able to practice playing my regular loud banjos enough to learn anything. I know that the way to learn any musical instrument is all about practice. The Basic banjo is ideal for this. I've actually been able to learn a few tunes since I built this banjo, because it's quiet enough to play at home without  being strangled by sleep deprived members of my family. It is so light in weight that I find myself just grabbing it any old time and playing it. I play it more than my regular banjo. I really enjoy it's mellow sound, even though I love noisy, twangy banjos too.

  You can buy one already built, but the kit is easy to assemble. It's a great experience to build a musical instrument yourself. It becomes a very personal friend very quikly.This is a good one to start with if you would like to try it.  I scratch build a number of historic instruments as a hobby, so I chose the kit form of the Basic Banjo over the completed instrument. But it's not hard to build, and requires but a few basic tools, some spray paint and a wood sealer of choice to build one.  This is a short scale banjo and would probably be ideal for kids too. I liked the first one so much that I bought and built another one to use as an Irish tenor banjo. That seems to work too with the banjo strings provided, though it wouldn't hurt to change out the 4th string for one of a heavier gage. Overall, I love this banjo. It's very user friendly for a beginner, too. Can't beat the price, either.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by charliechoo (see all reviews from this person) on 1/22/2015

Where Purchased: Online direct from Backyard

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 135 ($US)

Sound

In my experience, the volume of this banjo is low, which does not bother me at all, as I've always loved older plunky banjos. The tone is warm and satisfying, but not bright. I wouldn't expect that from a traveling banjo. The pitch up the neck is amazingly dead on, so the neck is straight and the frets accurately placed. Though the gears seem to be a basic type, they are easy to use and have never slipped nor are they too stiff. These last two, the very warm tone and the accurate pitch are what is most important to me.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The setup was perfect upon arrival. After many months, I have raised the bridge the thickness of a coke can fragment to eliminate a slight buzzing on the highest frets: successful. The neck is still straight and true but would be difficult for me to adjust; it has no metal rod.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The neck is a lovely dark red wood that I do not recognize. Instead of a skin, there is a thin wood laminate, colored to a soft cream tone that resembles a natural skin. It looks sort of old-timey.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Rather than making a prediction, I can say that after putting it in no more than two thick plastic bags (that came with the shipping material) and carrying it on my back for almost 1000 miles on the Camino de Santiago for three months this past Autumn in France and Spain, playing most nights for the amusement of fellow travelers, carrying it through several severe rainstorms, and now in hot, and dusty India, it is still in nearly new condition.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Don't know about the warranty. Initially I ordered the Basic Kit but finding I didn't have the time before departure, I exchanged it without any hassle. Turnaround was quick.

Customer Service: 10

Components

This is a basic banjo. After months of rough treatment, the geared tuners work just fine, as when new. The thin plywood head and the lack of metal clamps saves weight, which is essential for me. I think it weighs about one kilo, or a bit more than two pounds.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I've looked at other traveling banjos online. I've seen none that play so well, so easily and such an attractive price. It is also very pretty.

Overall Rating: 10

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

7.800293E-02