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!
6918 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: from a BHO member
Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 800 ($US) (bought USED)
This banjo has a wonderful, satisfying, full sound. When I played it at our local weekly jam, I didn't say anything to see if anyone would notice. Well the response was immediate after the first tune, "Is that a new banjo? Sounds great!" With a Ren head, this banjo is quite loud but with a full round, mellow 4th string and clear, distinct, ringing notes anywhere on the neck, no muddiness here! It has a sound I have looked for, for many years.
Sound Rating: 10
I had a severnth fret spike installed, put a brass Fielding tailpiece on, a Ren head, Thinline arm rest and a Moon 5/8" bridge - all easy. The strings were properly spaced, the neck wide enough at the fifth fret which many open backs too often are not - very well crafted!
Setup Rating: 10
This banjo is wonderfully plain and simple in appearance - abalone dots on the fretboard and side. It has a volute opposite the nut which I really like but few open back builders make, as well as a thumb roll near the fifth peg. The peghead is is thinner than most banjos while the ebony fretboard is a bit thicker. It has a brass tension hoop with only 16 hooks that are very accurately "hooked" into the hoop. The pot is 1/4" thick and painted black. Lightly stained maple neck with a great shape! Very comfortable!
Appearance Rating: 10
Everything about this banjo is first rate. I would prefer a stained pot as compared to a black pot but hey, that is minor compared to excellent everything else. I expect to be playing this banjo a hundred years from now (uh huh!).
Reliability Rating: 10
I've e-mailed J. Mogi several times and he has always been very responsive. I am sure he'd fix anything that ever needed fixing but I am not expecting anything like that ever. I'd bet he listens carefully and will build what you want the way you want.
Customer Service: 10
I really like the volute, the scoop, the medium sized evo fret wires for easy fretting and the brass tension hoop sets the appearance off nicely! It has Gotoh tuners which work perfectly, set in an elegant, slender, paddle peghead.
Components Rating: 10
This is a great sounding, great playing banjo! For me, it is a perfect jam banjo that I am planning on keeping for the duration. Any limitations on my playing will be from me, not this banjo! With its brass tone ring, I think of it as halfway between a Tradesman and a Ramsey - you have the ring of a Ramsey but the light weight of a Tradesman. Plus outstanding craftsmanship! I may want another banjo someday, but I'll never NEED another banjo. I believe J. Mogi tries to put out a banjo a month. If you get a chance to get one of his banjos - don't pass it up! Last I heard he is not yet too back-ordered so put in your request. Highly recommended! There is a photo on my home page.
Overall Rating: 10
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