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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  Madison RK-R30 Bluegrass Machine Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Dave 13 (see all reviews from this person) on 9/5/2016

Where Purchased: Musicians Freind

Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: 850 ($US)


Bright, Lotta Punch. Head tension os 91 on the drum dial, With a Tim Purcell Submerged Birch Bridge at 2.0 grams

Sound Rating: 10


Musicians Freind does not set up anything. They will Not open the box to inspect the instrument. Knowing that up front is a must. It arrived in good shape. I installed new strings, New Bridge, Adjusted the action, It was too high. Polished the frets, And tightened the head. Several J bolts were Loose. Coordinator Rods were loose, Tailpiece rattled. None of this was a problem for me. For a Totally New player it would be an issue.

Setup Rating: 3


Maybe I was lucky here. The finish has no flaws, The resonator fits well, The hardware is Good. The Matte finish is redish. Not the Prettiest girl at the dance, but looks OK. The Binding all looks uniform, No complaints

Appearance Rating: 9


Hardware is as good as you would expect, I'd like to replace the tailpiece at some point.
It should hold up well.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Havent dealt with RK directly. MF has a great return policy

Customer Service: 9


Planetary Tuners are smooth, All of the tube & flange hardware are plated well. Rim is well built. The Tone ring Is Awesome, and fits well

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This is actually my 2nd RK 30. The first one I returned to MF. It seemed to have Extra Narrow Nut & string spacing. The 2nd unit arrived same as the first, Serial ## was 1 more than the first one. The Nut width is a tad bit narrower than My RK 25 and RK 36. The string spacing at the first few frets is much more narrower.

I did experiment with a new nut and wider gaps but its a trade off with the strings being too close to the side of the neck. So basicly I've been working on my technique to handle the minor issue.

Another Big hit in my opinion is the Tone Ring. They advertise it as a 20 hole. Both of these have NO hole rings which I really like. I tried to ask RK about this arrangement with No answer given. 

I think its a Good Banjo, perhaps underrated. With the right bridge this thing growls. The tube & plate build is slightly different but its awesome. The Inlays are good, The matte reddish color is OK, 

You hear alot of Complaints about MF's lack of setup. You just got to be aware of this and be able to do your own setup or find some locally

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by kelley71 (see all reviews from this person) on 9/4/2016

Where Purchased: Gearcrazy Music

Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: 575 ($US)


The banjo sounds full and loud with and without the resonator.

Sound Rating: 8


Set up had a lot to be desired. It was drop shipped by an ebay seller. 3 nuts rolling in the resonator from the factory. I need to buy a drum dial to really tension the head properly. Delivery to Texas in August by UPS I am sure contributed.

Setup Rating: 4


I build acoustic guitars so appearance is imporant. The workmanship is absolutely fantastic. Great fretwork and fit to the neck. The finish is matte. I do not care for the orange popsicle finish but I can esily change that later by as complete refinish. It makes me want to construct a banjo now.

Appearance Rating: 7


This is all the banjo I would ever need. Loud, strong.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

No comment, it is still new Limited lifetime warranty.

Customer Service: 9


Looks great

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments



This is my first banjo. I am a 30 year flatpicker and bluegrass rhythm hobbyist.  I didn't want a cheap banjo. I wanted a Goodtime but could get past the appearance of cnc neck with no truss rod and inlays. So I made an offer and this guy on ebay accepted. The banjo was shipped directly by the Tennessee office. It had some loose nuts and 3 rolling in the resonator. So after I set it up the best I could....

It sounds great. It plays well. The neck was true. The quality of the tuners seems acceptable. My only complaint is the orange finish. It looks too much like a dreamcycle icecream bar. The most important part is I am enjoying learning to play it. I do not regret my purchase and would recommend this brand or model to anyone looking for a quality instrument below 700.00.


Overall Rating: 8

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