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.
Where Purchased: Beartown Banjos
Year Purchased: 2018
Price Paid: $950 ($US)
Beautiful short scale banjo (20") with a lovely full sound. Great tonal quality, clarity and sustain. I play mainly clawhammer, but with lots of chords. Was very surprised that a small banjo with a 9 inch pot could sound so good. Thought it was just going to be reserved for travel, but it has become my main instrument. Slightly less loud than an ordinary banjo, but this works very well for me in terms of the balance of voice and instrument volume.
Sound Rating: 10
Came packaged in a TKL mandolin case (29" X 12"), with extra foam to ensure it never moved in transit. A quick tune and it was up and running. Very happy with the curved Beartown bridge and the goatskin head has needed no adjustment so far.
Setup Rating: 10
The emphasis of this banjo is on the quality of the wood and the brass fittings. The Padauk fretboard is gorgeous. Check out the Beartown site for full details.
Appearance Rating: 10
All very solid. I can't imagine this banjo breaking before I do.
Reliability Rating: 10
David has been a pleasure to deal with, answering all my questions and doing a lot of extra small things free or at a very reasonable cost.
Customer Service: 10
Pretty, much as I described before - the wood, the brass fittings, the curved bridge and the goatskin head. Also really like the block rim build - strong, seamless and seems to provide a great basis for the note clarity and sustain.
Components Rating: 10
I guess it's clear that I like this banjo very much. Compact, easy to travel with, but still sounds like a proper instrument.
I used to play mainly guitar. For many years I prided myself on playing the cheapest laminate guitars available. Then I played a slightly better guitar and finally a Martin 000-15m guitar. Unsurprisingly, the Martin seemed an infinitely nicer instrument, with a tonal richness that you just can't get it in a cheap laminate guitar.
I'm having a similar, slightly abbreviated experience with banjos. I started out a few years ago with a cheap resonator banjo with an aluminum pot. I straight away liked the abrasive sound and volume, but very hard to tease out anything sweet and melodic. Then I got full size handmade open back. Very nice instrument, but still lacks some indefinable element of melodic sweetness. Then I got this travel banjo and that was it, I'd found my equivalent of the Martin experience.
Overall Rating: 10
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