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!
7036 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Showroom
I pick 3 finger, bluegrass. Hobby, intermediate. I own a Sierra and a Staghorn. Looking for a lighter and quieter banjo.
At showroom; More old time relaxed sound. Sustain and clarity was limited mostly to 3&4 strings and so was the volume. Up the neck was even less in these areas.
After Deering setup and arrived at my doorstep;
Much improved; the head had been tightened some, the bridge properly set, responsiveness was up and some of the hollow sound was gone.
Sound Rating: 7
The setup after I received it was good. The head was noticeably below a G but ok. No truss rod in this model. Everything was clean and wiped down nicely.
The one big thing I did for setup was tighten the head up to a G. Improved responsiveness greatly, added a little volume and evened out the sustain.
Setup Rating: 7
The Artisan Openback is a basic model, with nicer inlays, dark stain, and RR spikes. It looks good for a $600 banjo without unnecessary, cheap looking components.
Appearance Rating: 9
I think 2 things about this, first I think it's made well and for light playing everything is going to be just fine. The finish on the hardware is thinner than my Sierra but it's ok
Reliability Rating: 7
I have worked with CS a couple of time and it's very easy. Good warranty on this and all Deerings.
Customer Service: 10
I mentioned the finish but here I'll say that the tailpiece was a bit basic and the tuners not as smooth as my Sierra but still, it's less expensive and I've no issue with them otherwise.
Components Rating: 8
What I have done is to replace the tailpiece with a Pisgah Hawktail, a very nice tailpiece indeed.
I tightened the head.
I had a scorpion bridge, wow, nice improvement especially up the neck.
last was I replaced the Deering light strings with my favorite 5-Star lights.
Now it sounds wonderful, 9 of 10.
Overall Rating: 8
Where Purchased: Music Emporium
Year Purchased: 2019
Price Paid: $749.99 ($US)
I play Clawhammer style, and let me tell you the Artisan Americana fits me playing style perfectly. I also bought the scooped model so it has that old time cluck, while the 12" head give it a wonderful rich warm sound. Plenty of volume without a tone ring too (Which worried me before I got it.) I also love its slender neck, incredibly easy to play up and down the fret board. I also like that the frets are slightly higher making it easier to play your notes without smashing down on your fret board.
Sound Rating: 10
The banjo came set up very well. The box the music emporium shipped it out to me in couldn't have been better protected. The action was set right, along with the bridge. Drum head also seemed set properly.
Setup Rating: 9
I bought this banjo part for its reputation, part for its sound and part for its stunning looks. The maple pot, neck, and head almost have a purplish/brownish stain and the charcoal grey fret board with the inlays are breath taking for this price range! It's honestly what gave it the edge over Gold tones Whyte Lady or MM-150 for me. That and I felt that the Whyte lady tone ring was just a little to blue grassy sounding for me (That's totally my preference though!)
Appearance Rating: 10
Everything seems really high quality and sturdy. Not everything is top of the line obviously, but certainly respectable. Only time will tell for sure though. So I'm giving it a very solid 8.
Reliability Rating: 8
I talked to Deering quite a bit before my purchase and they were always extremly nice, and answered every question I had. All in all they seem like a company that takes pride in their instruments and seem to have a willingness to stand by their banjo's.
Customer Service: 10
I wish it had a truss rod. That worries me a bit, but other than that this is everything I could hope for in a Open back banjo under $1000. Not quite professional grade (I'm no professional nor do I intend to be.) but certainly fantastic banjo for the price! This will last me for the next decade as long as the neck holds up (And I've read hundreds of long term reviews that indicate it will.)
Components Rating: 8
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: small dealer
Year Purchased: 2017
Price Paid: 560.00 ($US)
It's fine for clawhammer. Excellent sound. Loud enough with picks if you want to play bluegrass, but obviously not the volume of a resonator banjo. It is a well rounded sound for different types of music.
Sound Rating: 8
Deering claims they set up all their banjos before they ship. The one I got was not set up at all. Action was than 1/16 inch and it buzzed like crazy. The neck was rotated counter clockwise on its mounting bolts, high side above the rim, low side below it. Head was not tuned. I did a complete setup myself, changed the cheap bridge out for a factory floor roasted maple bridge and now it's fine. I would have expected this on a cheap Asian import, but not from Deering.
Setup Rating: 1
The best thing about the Artisan is the bling on the neck and the engraved peghead. It is a good looking banjo without question. The wood is dyed a darker color and so is the neck. Inlays are nicely done.
Appearance Rating: 8
It seems like it will be a reliable banjo. Parts are mostly of high quality, although I can't understand why Deering can't use a maple/ebony bridge and a bone nut. Guess every nickel helps savfing costs.
Reliability Rating: 7
I've dealt with Deering and the folks there seem very nice. I'm dissappointed in the warranty period, which is only six years. Doubt I'll ever have to use the warranty though.
Customer Service: 7
I really think that for the money Deering gets for the Artisan, which is nothing more than a fancied up Goodtime openback, they can at least give you quality parts to produce sound. Nut is not bone it is tusq and the bridge has an artificial top instead of ebony. The rest of the banjo seems to be of good quallity. It does come witn spikes already added for the fifth string. No tone ring.
Components Rating: 7
It sounds okay, but it doesn't really impress me a great deal overall. It is playable, but the neck is not a standout as far as comfort goes for me. Sounds as good as any, but has no tone ring. In this price range, most others give you at least a rolled brass ring. So while I like it, I don't get crazy for it.
Overall Rating: 7
'Rim laminating' 2 hrs
'Zelda Dungeon Theme' 3 hrs