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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!

6628 reviews in the archive.

Deering  Sierra  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by talljoey (see all reviews from this person) on 9/30/2014

Where Purchased: BanjoHangout

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This is a grand banjo, just what I was looking for. It is heavy but the tone ring vibrates and hums, it is awesome

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Since I got it used, I had it tuned up. It ended up sounding terrific after getting a set of new strings and having the head tightened.

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

Lovely. Just lovely.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I got this because I heard a Sierra will last a lifetime. I play it at my jam and get compliments on the sound.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I contacted them twice and they were not only polite but very helpful. I have also watched their videos on how to change out my own strings.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Happy with the banjo as she sits.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I read a lot before choosing this banjo.† Even though it is heavy, the sound is fantastic.†

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by banjaboy (see all reviews from this person) on 2/14/2013

Where Purchased: Rufus Guitar

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This banjo is great, got rid of an RK-35 to get this. the sound is full and rich with perfect sustain.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Great set up, I suspect Deering set it up at the factory, I just had to tune it. I split the bridge, totally fault and I'm thinking of an upgrade

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It is a thing of beauty, not pimped out with cheesy inlays, just enough nice scrolly inlays on fingerboard and peghead, much better than the round dots on older models. I took the resonator off and man, the rim is finished as good as the visible stuff. You get what you pay for!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hardware looks great, better than an old RB 4 I used to own years ago.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I sent a query to Deering regarding the nut material[ebony], I got a reply the next day. I also emailed regarding the fact I put the warranty card through the wash, Janet herself emailed me, thanked me for my purchase and was totally happy with me registering online! RK can take a lesson from Deerings book re customer service, from zero to a 10. I'm one happy camper

Customer Service: 10

Components

The finish on the rim REALLY impressed, this banjo was obviously built by hand with care. Good old American pride. Might not beat Asia pricewise but quality? Second to none. If I had $30,000 I would seriously think of getting their top of the line instrument.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

So pleasant to buy a product that exceeds your expectations these days.No wonder Greg and Janet can compete and prosper against the flood of Asian junk out there. This is like night and day compared to my RK.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Onlinedrumtracks (see all reviews from this person) on 4/22/2012

Where Purchased: Holland, Europe

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: Eur (1995) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I play Scruggs style and a little clawhammer. I like the sound very much. Full sound. Lots of variety. Good projection in both scruggs and clawhammer.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was perfect. It was setup by the shop I bought it.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Very good appearance. I have the maple series and the wood just looks amazing. also the hardware and all other thing are well crafted.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Looks like it will last for a long long time.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Have not dealt with them yet however I filled out a warranty card and they put me on their maling list because within a week I received a mailing. Not spamming or whatever. Just info that I like.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I like the pearl inlays and the finish of the wood.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

A very very nice and good looking banjo. Wow how I like this! Wish I could play just as good as this banjo is.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by jman72 (see all reviews from this person) on 8/26/2011

Where Purchased: Online

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 1275 ($US)

Sound

I have the 2011 maple version of the Sierra. It is tremendous banjo, in quality, sound and it is beautiful with the satin antique brown finish! I've played Gibsons and other Deerings, and this one tops them all! I play lots of types of music, and I this banjo is great for anything.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was top notch! Plays like butter.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

It is maple, and has the dark satin finish. Amazingly beautiful wood on the neck and the resonator. I love the new and updated inlays as well. Some people like the older, simpler dot inlays, but I think this is both classy and tasteful. Love it!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Seems like it's build like a tank. Will likely last for my grandkids to play in 50 years.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Have dealt with customer service with general questions, and they've answered my emails with a day.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything is top notch, from the finish to the wood to the components. Not quite sure about the tailpiece and bridge, but they might be replaced with higher quality components.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

Tremendous banjo! Definitely a professional quality banjo. I would highly recommend it.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by tmoneygetpaid (see all reviews from this person) on 1/11/2011

Where Purchased: Old Town School of Folk Lincoln Park, Chicago

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 950 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Let me first say that I am drawn to the sound of mahogany banjos. I searched for 3 months for a bluegrass banjo that played well and fit my hands and whose sound I loved. The two I ended up having to choose between were both mahogany neck/ mahogany resonator instruments (the other was a montana rose by flatiron). In the process, I tried out GTRs, a number of Gold Stars, a few other Deerings, Gold Tone BG and OB series banjos, the Recording King Madison banjos (tried the new RK R35, the R25), and a bunch of others. I tried pretty much everything under $1k in Chicago and Boston. I even made a trip to Elderly Instruments in Lansing, Michigan to sample their extensive used stock at that price point.

The sound is right up my alley. It is really loud, especially moving from the Gold Tone openback that I've been playing, which I still love the sound of, and is preferable to me for clawhammer playing. Taking the resonator off gives me a nice alternative clawhammer banjo, albeit one whose setup is clearly more tailored to bluegrass player's likes with low action.

The sound varies really nicely depending on how far up/ down the neck you place your right hand. It's also really responsive to different types of picks (got a Blue Chip thumb pick for Xmas, which sounds really different from the nickel propik thumb pick I've been using). It's not as biting as an all-maple banjo, but that's what I wanted.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was perfect for my playing when I tried it at the store, which is largely why I got it. Everyone plays slightly differently and has slightly different preferences in terms of sound, so I'd strongly recommend anyone considering buying a banjo go out and play as many as he/ she can in his/ her price range.

The things I noticed about the setup and playability instantly were: the 5th string is really easy to fret, which is not the case with about anything else I played, and was important to me as I am drawn to "melodic style" which frets the 5th string often; a really fast neck that allowed me to change positions fluidly and felt way "faster" and more comfortable to me than others I tried, especially the Gold Stars; perfect intonation all the way to the 22nd fret; nice action that was at a great midpoint between the extreme low action that most bluegrass banjos are setup at, and the higher action that I like playing clawhammer with.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The appearance is not overly ornate, but I really like the look of it. The guy at the music store told me this was their minimally-fancified banjo, and that was done intentionally to keep cost down. The inlay are nice (I got a 2008, which has some really pretty maple in vines around the mother of pearl circle inlay) without being over-the-top. The new new ones have really nice inlay that looks beautiful.

The fretboard is ebony, and I've always preferred the look and, more importantly for me, the feel of an ebony fretboard over rosewood, so that was another big draw for me. The fretboard is not whitebound, but the resonator is.

Finish is pretty minimal-- not as glossy and thick as on my gold tone or the higher-end deerings. But this, too, is presumably to help keep cost down, and I'd gladly trade some shine for a cheaper price tag.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I can't look into the future and see how soon this banjo and any of its parts will need maintenance. Anything you use heavily will eventually need some work.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Tuners are great. The gold standard for tuners before I got this were the planetary tuners with leather washers that are on my Gold Tone White Ladye, and these feel just as good and hold a tuning just as well. The tuners and other components, and the apparently high build quality, are actually what made me choose this banjo over the Flatiron Montana Rose I was otherwise gonna get.

Mine had a snuffy smith bridge swapped in for whatever was stock, and I have no intention of changing that. The bridge and all other hardware seem great. The resonator comes off easily. My only gripe is that all the resonator-securing bolts are not as equally well fabricated/ threaded. One or two seem to not want to go into one or two of the nuts on the resonator. Not a big deal, but it will be a pain if I have to replace them eventually.

It also has a couple flagship "nice banjo" components, like the dual coordinator rods, one-piece flange, and bronze tone ring, blah blah.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I am still thrilled to play this banjo every time I pick it up. It sounds fantastic, is a joy to play, and is clearly well built. Honestly, I was really hesitant to even give Deerings a chance, since I have come to associate the company with their Goodtime series, and many of the Goodtimes I've played have been terribly setup and feel kinda like kiddy/ pony banjos to me. I should've looked at them sooner. Don't make my mistake! At this price point (right at $1k used), I can't imagine finding anything that sounds and plays better.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by jmann (see all reviews from this person) on 12/20/2010

Where Purchased: ebay

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 975.00 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

mine is an arch top and has an awsome crack and believe it or not its fat and warm on the top side

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

no!!! but i did get it used and truely believe had it been set up well he wouldnt have sold it

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

mine is a 2003 and only has dots im hopeing to get some inlay work done

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

perfect

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

ive had no experience with them

Customer Service: not rated

Components

the components on this banjo are secound to none

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

i couldnt believe the amount of banjo i got for the money. it sounds as good as any banjo out there under 5000.00

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by sammysam5000 (see all reviews from this person) on 11/21/2010

Where Purchased: janet davis music

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

perfect sounding banjo.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

could not have been better

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

mahogany. The 2010 model had beautiful inlays on the neck. Dull finish which I like and think plays faster

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

yep. Hardware is on par with Deering $30,000 banjos. It just isn't as pretty.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

so far so good!

Customer Service: 10

Components

The tailpiece comes lose occasional. 40 second fix

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

IMHO best bajo for the money. I think Gold Stars are nice too. But don't hold value like the sierra does!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by sadko (see all reviews from this person) on 11/15/2010

Where Purchased: 12th Fret (Toronto)

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 1750 (Canadian) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Mine is the new maple version. Sound is excellent...I compared it to several Gold Stars, Gibsons, Wildflowers and higher- end Deerings. It really held its own, with a slightly mellower sound, but not as mellow as the mahogany version. Nice bite and ring near the bridge, and very full near the neck.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The secret is in the set up. Grant at the 12th Fret did a beautiful job tuning the head and ensuring the neck had just the right bow in it. With the factory installed light gauge strings itís incredibly easy to play...the neck reminds me of my custom telecaster...very fast!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Not a fancy banjo by any means...but this new model has nice inlays in the neck and headstock and the satin maple finish is really nice, if not understated. May not be for everyone's taste but suites me fine.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Still quite new (a few weeks) but looks very solid and well built. I'm not concerned.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

No experience here but I've heard good things and the 12 Fret is a master dealer so i should have no issues.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The neck is fantastic...all the parts look solid and well-assembled.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I'm really thrilled to have made this purchase...it's been several years since I've owned a banjo and this one is clearly the best I've had. I do not anticipate having to trade up as the Deering will always be better than me!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by bb4claret (see all reviews from this person) on 4/6/2010

Where Purchased: Eagle Music, Huddersfield, UK

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: (GBP) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Although I'm only a novice-ish, with a very limited repertoir on the banjo, this 19-fret tenor sounds absolutely magnificent. Using different picks (I use Jim Dunlop 0.36, 0.42 and 0.6mm), the instrument will give out a range of different tones and volumes. It's bright, with good long notes when you want them.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I tried the Sierra 19-fret tenor at the Deering 1000 event this year. It was set up for jazz tenor, but I wanted it for playing irish tenor style. there was also a Calico there, which was strung with thicker strings. It sounded much better. I spoke to Steve Noon, who assured me that, if the Sierra was strung the same way, it would sound the same, since it's the same basic banjo, only less ornate. true to his word, Steve had the guys restring it for me - and it's great ! - He even got Greg and Janet Deering to sign the ID label for me !

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Although I say it's not as ornate as the more expensive "professional" banjos, the new 2010 Sierra design is far from dull, with intricate inlays on the neck. The woodwork is matt. All of the craftsmanship is flawless, and the Sierra has a traditional Deering motif inlay on the headstock.
Again, for the price - OK I got it at a great event-day discount - you'd struggle to beat it.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The build quality is solid. The banjo has already (in less than a month) been in and out of my car on half a dozen occasions. I know the Deering build quality, as I've had a Maple Blossom 5-string for a few years.
It's built to last.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Eagle Music Shop are the tops, when it comes to customer service with a smile and plenty of advice. Steve Noon could have sold me a more expensive banjo on the day - in fact, I was considering either the Deluxe or Maple Blossom models - but his advice was to go for the Sierra. He promised me to have it restrung for Irish tenor (from CGDA Jazz to GDAE), and had everything done and the setup complete in a couple of days. It's easy to see why they're the top international outlet for Deering and why Greg and Janet Deering come there every year to support them. (What a wonderful, down-to-earth couple they are, too. They show a genuine interest in their customers. I love them.) I'd give them a rating of 20/10 if I could !!

Customer Service: 10

Components

Basically, the same components - apart from the decor and less expensive woods - as teh top-of-the range Deering banjos. Deering 06-20 sand-cast virgin bell bronze tone ring and one-piece cast zinc flange, tropical mahogany resonator and a wonderful fast-action neck

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This instrument will encourage me to take my picking to a new level. One day, I may upgrade to the Calico - but, before I do, I will think twice and remember the advice I got.
This Sierra is a beautiful instrument, made by some very nice people and supplied through a caring team of professionals. Thanks to everyone in the supply chain !

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by uncdavefan (see all reviews from this person) on 10/23/2009

Where Purchased: N/A

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Play all kinds of banjo music from bluegrass, blues, jazz, to Irish etc..
Very bright, balanced sound - good mids, plenty loud. The few Gibsons I tried
had more bass in the sound.
Variety of sounds - not sure, since not enough experience with banjos.
Dislike - as good as this banjo is, there was a Crafters of Tennessee banjo
that sounded similar, but more punchy and louder. The Crafters cost twice
as much.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Banjo had so-so setup when I purchased it. The sound was great, but
not excellent as it is now. I recently got a Desert Rose Vintage Z bridge and
tried Earl Scruggs medium strings and the heavier strings (came with lights) and
new bridge plus a professional setup by a knowledgeable banjo repairman
improved the sound and playability 100%. Action is lower, more punchy sound,
more volume, better overall banjo tone.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I prefer plain instruments. The Sierra is perfect for me, as far as that goes.
I am not sure of the exact year of this banjo, but I believe it was sitting in a
store for a few years. It is probably a 2005 no-hole model. It has the dots
on the fretboard, which is fine by me.

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

Except for the bridge, which I suspected could be improved, the hardware
is excellent. The bridge, for all I know about banjos, might be excellent too, but
with the new setup and bridge, everything improved greatly, so I am not sure
how much is due to the bridge. Nothing rattles, though I got a little rattle
initially from the tail piece but it went away when the humidity changed and
hasn't come back. This is built like a tank and I haul it around to jam
sessions - it weighs a ton, so I think it will last forever.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I heard Deering has the best support, but no first hand experience.

Customer Service: 10

Components

all components are very good. The bridge could be upgraded. Use medium gauge
strings for better tone.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Excellent banjo. If you buy one, get it set up properly, since you may not be
able to accurately judge how good it is in some of the stores you go to.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by randall96 (see all reviews from this person) on 1/4/2009

Where Purchased: Janet Davis Music

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 2000 ($US)

Sound

It is very rich, powerful & crisp. The sound is fantastic. Beware Gibson users.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Tom at Janet Davis had the banjo setup flawless right out of the box. Other banjo players were amazed at well how this thing plays and sounds.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It has a satin finish. The fret board was beyond outstanding. Beautiful instrument.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Normal wear on the armrest. Everything else is great.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Resignator was slightly damaged during shipping. Almost unnoticeable. Deering repaired resignator & had it shipped back to me in a week. They also built and sent me a brand new resignator to make up for any inconveniences caused. Never had I received any better service. They were just unbelievable to deal with. Also, Janet Davis was very accomidating..

Customer Service: 10

Components

They are all high grade parts, but however, had Tom at Janet Davis to install a SNUFFY bridge.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would HIGHLY recommend this instrument from the Novice to the Expert!!!!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by DENNISNDODIE (see all reviews from this person) on 12/20/2008

Where Purchased: Willis Music

Year Purchased: 1997
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Sounds good has a sweet mellow sound.I prefer the mastertone sound but I bought it without playing it they didnt have one in stock ordered it from a deering advertisment.But again sounded alot better than my previous banjo.The newer sierras have a different tone ring and a different tail piece. I think mine was one of the first ones sold.The sound when played up the neck was not great a little dull not as crisp and bright as I would of liked. It is a mahogany banjo the newer maple sierra banjos are probably more to the sound that I like.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

set up was close had to move bridge and lower tail piece but you got to expect that from a store that dont know much about banjos.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

Looks good but nothing fancy about it.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Never had any problems with hardware but the tail piece was to small and short I thought, probably why they changed it on the newer models.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

never had to make a call to them

Customer Service: 5

Components

Well made banjo nothing fancy was a big step up in sound from my previous banjo a flatiron montana rose I should of replaced the tail piece may of changed the sound a little more to my liking.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

A good sounding quality banjo ,but not the classic gibson sound, but all the same sounds good.If I had it all to do over again I would of bought a Mastertone or Master clone just because I like that sound better. I did like the neck alot very fast and slim easy to play. Sold the banjo in some hardtimes.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by Banjo Vern (see all reviews from this person) on 11/1/2008

Where Purchased: Eagle Music UK

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: £1299 () historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I started learning to play about nine month ago and baught a Stagg banjo for £130. I'm still very much a beginner but practice at least an hour a day in the week and several at weekends. It started to feel as though the stagg was holing me back so after research I decided on a Deering Goodtime Special. Once at the shop I made the mistake of trying the Sierra and although the Special was good the Sierra's sound was wonderfull, crisp, deep and warm.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Eagle Music were overun with customers for a Friday morning but Alan gave me plenty of time and straight forward advice. Once I decided he set it up and gave it a good test. I can take it back when I'm ready for them to check over and tighten up where required.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Lovely unfussy appearance with faultless finish.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Only baught it yesterday (30th October 2008) but with the way it looks and feels I don't expect any problems.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Superb as my comments above. Thanks Alan and Eagle Music.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I can't see anything that would appear to need upgrading.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I baught this to replace my cheap starter banjo with a view to it being for keeps. My playing has got a long way to go to catch up with my new banjo and the idea is that this one will outlast me.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Hat Man (see all reviews from this person) on 10/1/2008

Where Purchased: JD Music

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 1799.00 ($US)

Sound

I think the sound is excellent, bright with good bass also.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

In my honest opinion it was not set up although I was told it would be when purchased. The bridge was well over 1/2" off. Tail piece was angled upward and it was more or less floating on back of the rim. If you happened to lay you hand on the tailpiece it would rock to one side easily and you'd have to retune.

Setup Rating: 3

Appearance

I love the look of the maple inlays on the frets surrounding the pearl inlaid dots.
The satin finish is really nice as is the finish on the hardware. The contour of the neck is excellent and all parts seemed to be well fitted and smooth.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

So far it's been a great banjo that stays in tune and plays very easy.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Lifetime warranty. Called Deering about the bridge setup and a very helpful lady called me back and lead me through the proper process of setting the bridge correctly. Told me to call back and she'd lead me through any other problems if I needed help if this didn't cure what ailed it. I anchored the tailpiece better and adjusted the angle to where it should be and it we were off and running..

Customer Service: 10

Components

My opinion is the banjo as a whole was made very well and all parts seem to have been machined well as well as being finished excellently.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would recommend this banjo to anyone... If stolen I'd buy it again. Although a learning newbie it is a truely fine instrument. The only other banjo I can compare it to is a China made banjo and the Deering could never play bad enough to even compare to my first banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by sutrx (see all reviews from this person) on 8/9/2008

Where Purchased: old town school of music

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1500 ($US)

Sound

sound , is great, , i have had it for over a year now and feel qualified to rate it, the sound keeps getting better

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

where i purchased it, the salesman was a banjo player and he set it up and gave me great advice, so i was lucky, a good company and a good salesman

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

I love it, nothing fancy, nothing special, But it fits me perfectly

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

i have had it a year now, so i feel qualified to rate it.,I play it about 5 times a week 1/2 to 1 hr each time. Tuners are still sweet,The tail piece is easy to adjust and easy to change the strings with. I do not have the orginal bridge

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Company has been easy to respond with , downloading all info from the website. The only thing was getting my deering gold card took a little longer than i thought.
but website makes everything quite easy

Customer Service: 9

Components

Love the tuners, Frets are still in good shape and tailpiece is easy to work with , did change the bridge tho, and got a better sound

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I am a 4 yr banjo player and this will be the best banjo i get, will probably purchase a goodtime banjo for traveling so do not have to worry about damage, I wish i would have asked about safety issues when traveling with banjo. Lets be honest i am no ralph stanley, so this banjo will cover all this novice to intermediate player will ever need

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by wilsonHSpkr (see all reviews from this person) on 3/8/2008

Where Purchased: Pioneer Music

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 1800 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

I like the sound that this banjo creates, very full sounds, the bass booms.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

This banjo wasn't particularly well setup, but keep in mind, the setup is always adjustable.

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

There is a look of over all quality to this banjo. Everything is simple, but nothing is very ugly, the beauty is shown through things like the wood, the mother of pearl, and the nickel hardware.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

The hardware is all nickel plated brass, nothing seems cheap to me

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Haven't had to deal with the company.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The tuners are absolutely outstanding, no changes need to be done there. There are a few components I have changed that should be changed on most all banjos to create a better sound, the first being the bridge (I'd recommend either Cat Eyz or Sullivan Factory Floor bridges) I had an issue with my strings staying in the tail piece, so I changed that, and the nut's 3rd string slot was cut too wide, so i will have to change that one out (probably to bone).

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I would absolutely recommend this banjo to anybody looking for a step up from a beginners banjo, it is a high quality instrument. Most of the parts are great, the sound is great, and you can find used ones in great condition for around $1000.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Echo (see all reviews from this person) on 2/8/2008

Where Purchased: Guitar Center

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1500 ($US)

Sound

For the price this is a well made and great sounding banjo

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Guitar Center did an awful job at the set up

Setup Rating: 1

Appearance

This is a well make banjo, no fancy inlays or finish, just a simple look

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

After about a month I noticed the finish was bubbling up around the top outer rim of the resonator. The rest of the banjo is great.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

I live in VA and was on a business trip to San Diego. I showed up on their doorstep and showed them the finish that was bubbling up on the resonator. They said they had used a new finish and it was not working out very well. Very friendly service. Said that I would have the resonator back in two weeks. It showed up two weeks to the day. Looks great.

Customer Service: 10

Components

No problems

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I work hard for my money. I spent 1500 for this banjo and I'm glad I did.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by lost_virginian (see all reviews from this person) on 8/6/2007

Where Purchased: Turtle Hill Banjo

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I is warm, rich and mellow a great sounding banjo.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I order this from Turtle Hill Banjo company, It was well packed and perfectly set up. (It was still in Tune when I got it!)

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It has the satin finish and is smooth to the touch. Deering has a very high quality look even on thier entry models, not flashy but good creaftsmanship throughout

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

So far so good, bu then I still have a Gibson J45 guitar I bought in the 70's and it still is perfect so I am easy on my instruments.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Never had to use them

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Good heavy parts, maybe a better tailpiece.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I love this banjo, I have it insured for replacement value .

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by treecounting (see all reviews from this person) on 7/15/2007

Where Purchased: harry & jeanie wests' fine instruments

Year Purchased: 98
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

great considering the alternatives in the price range. deering advertising seems to imply they take great pains in getting things right before they leave the factory. they missed big on mine. fairly loud.
my Aria PRO II is every bit as loud and responsive BUT , sadly, it has what feels to me a more friendly fret board.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

i expected more from deering but didnt get it in terms of 'setup'. the 'helpgul' info pamphlet also leads an unsuspecting novice such as myself down a dangerous path in terms of providing instruction on settings using the truss rods. I'm now seeing the sad results in the rim.

Setup Rating: 5

Appearance

outside appearance just fine. disappointed to pull tone ring and note they applied the stain to the rim AFTER installing the tone ring. rim top shoulders now unstained and the wood rough; didn't even finsish sanding. the 'slot' they cut in the tone ring is total slop. appears like somebody just hacked till they got an opening; not even close to squared nor finished.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

finish seem OK, should last. its sturdy enough to got it alone.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

haven't tried. like to see more info on their website.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

don't know what or how but the tailpiece that came with this one is a disaster with minimal functionality.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

its OK. i've tried some other of the new sierras in stores and they don't sound as good as what i have. that being said; i;ve seen a lot of other brands, much higher priced, that had nothing to offer over the sierra.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by dpbaker (see all reviews from this person) on 5/5/2007

Where Purchased: Guitar Center

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1300 ($US)

Sound

I like the sound of the banjo very much. It has a very rich and full sound. The sound is quite a bit different than my Mastercraft Classic Mahogany. The Mastercraft is a bright bluegrass sound with a lot of pop. The Sierra is a richer, fuller sound with a lot of ring. It's different but nice.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The banjo was not set up when I got it. I had to do that myself. Guitar Center just doesn't know what to do with a banjo other than sell it. The head was about to fall off.

Setup Rating: 3

Appearance

Solid and attractive. This is a plain banjo but I like it that way.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Seems solid.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

No experience. The banjo has a lifetime warranty that I hope to never use.

Customer Service: 8

Components

I upgraded the tailpiece but this was not necessary. The one that came on the banjo was very nice.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I think it's a great banjo and better than I deserve at this point in my playing ability.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by harperk31794 (see all reviews from this person) on 3/3/2007

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1500.00 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Rich full sound and great playability

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Janet set it up just like I wanted it, low action with no buzz. It was setup very well

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This Banjo was a special order, it is the Sierra Maple model but was ordered with a natural finish. It is beautiful and unique in appearance

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hardware is very sturdy. The arm rest shows some discoloring however it is 2 years old and was played very heavily.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

I have dealt with the company quite a bit, they are extremely focused on quality and on making sure no instrument leaves their store until is it right. Tends to make them a little slow on shipping. Thought it was the quality but I recently ordered a TKL case for my Martin D28 (74 BRW), it was in stock, no setup required and it took them a week and several phone calls to get them to ship it.

Customer Service: 6

Components

Not particularly fond of the Deering (Presto) tail piece, other than that every thing is well made

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

This is an absolute great banjo and an excellent bargain at the retail price. It compares with the $3,000-$4,000 Banjos I've played with the exception of the fancy inlays and engravings. I like the simple look (Position Markers are Dots, and the head is marked simply with a Deering Logo and no inlay)

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Rusty (see all reviews from this person) on 1/9/2007

Where Purchased: Homestead Pickin Parlour

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 1789.00 ($US)

Sound

Incredible sound for the money!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

You cannot beat Deering and the fine tuning of Marv at Homestead Pickin Parlour, they should call it Banjo Homestead!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Simple, no frilly ornate decoration for me, solid beauty!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hold tuning and tone all down the neck!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Rockin!

Customer Service: 10

Components

Solid!

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is an amazing banjo for the price, professional level for entry price!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Andy H. (see all reviews from this person) on 11/2/2006

Where Purchased: Fuller's Music

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 1599 ($US)

Sound

Loud, bright and exceeded my expectations. Great sound! It holds a consistent tone up the neck.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Set up was great. Just added new strings.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Nice satin finish. Neck feels great. Nothing flashy. Just a good looking banjo.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Hardware appears to be very reliable.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Lifetime warranty. Had questions concerning other Deering accessories and the folks were a pleasure to talk with.

Customer Service: 10

Components

No complaints. The sand cast bell bronze tone ring is incredible. I am very comfortable with the protection the nice case offers.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would highly recommend this banjo for the price. I looked at and played others around the same price range. I think for what you get it is unbeatable. You get what you pay for in this banjo and more. I love this Banjo. If it were stolen I would hope to replace it with another Sierra as soon as I could. The sound, feel and quality of this banjo is great. I am thankful that a quality banjo can be purchased at a reasonable price.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by boomchuck (see all reviews from this person) on 4/14/2006

Where Purchased: Cartwright Music, Stayton, Oregon

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 1200 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Very good sound. Crisp and clear. In searching around I played many other banjos and this sounded as good as any and better than most.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Banjo was used. The owner of the shop made sure it was all set up and had new strings before I took it home. Excellent

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I'm not into the flash of some fancy banjos so I really did like the simple understated appearance of the Sierra. The satin finish on the neck feels especially good and easy to play. There was a little wear on the head and armrest from the previous player (had it 5 years, 4 of which it was in the back of the closet) but nothing unusual for a used banjo. All wood was in excellent shape.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

No reason to think I'll ever wear this banjo out. It's built solid and should last forever.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Bought used so no warranty.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

All parts appear to be top notch. Holds its tune well.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I'd definitely recommend this banjo to anyone looking for a top quality banjo at a great price. If stolen I wouldn't bat an eye at replacing it with another Sierra.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by randallh (see all reviews from this person) on 2/16/2006

Where Purchased: Lipham's Music- special order

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Great! High volume, full sound. The best part is that the volume does not change as you go higher up the neck. Extremely even

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The head needed to be tightened a bit. The action and brigde placement was perfect in all respects. I switched to a Huber bridge for personal preferences, but it was not needed. After a few personal adjustments, I was very VERY pleased with the sound.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

I love the satin finish. It is beautiful in a simple sort of way. Just perfect.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Great hardware. Nickle plated, zinc flange, awesome. Totally dependable, a true workhorse.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Great customer service. Lifetime limited warrenty. They send out a "gold card" to all orginial owners. I like it more than my credit card!

Customer Service: 10

Components

Sand cast bell bronze tone ring. Wow! Fully adjustable tail piece, very sturdy and durable. I REALLY like the case! Form fitted, no pressure on the bridge, just barely touches the tuners on the headstock to provide great protection. Looks nice also.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would recommend this banjo over just about any other. I played some other brands costing twice as much, and found them actually having less quality work. A student of mine bought one as well and he is very happy about his investment. In my opinion, this is the best professional banjo for the price. If it was stolen, I would quickly buy another one. It is louder, clearer, has more sustain and balance than most other more expensive banjos that I tried. Just awsome.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by leftybanjojack (see all reviews from this person) on 12/16/2005

Where Purchased: banjostore.com, Atlanta

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 1600.00 ($US)

Sound

It has a real loud bell sound, Espcially the 5th string,Does not have a true state of the art banjo sound. Would not hold the same note fretted at the 12thfret

Sound Rating: 5

Setup

Being a lefty, it was not setup properly, I had to make changes. The bridge was11/16", the neck was not flush with the drum.It was too heavy and the neck was too skinny for me. In fact, I got mad and accidently droped it and broke its skinny neck.Being a woodworker I repaired it and its good as new.(had to, Deering wanted 1200.00 to repair it, and would not sell me a neck.

Setup Rating: 5

Appearance

It looked good, but did not feel good in the playing position.I finally made a new neck out of walnut, Drilled the tone ring(Which was not drilled)and set it up. It still sounds ringy, but a lot better than when I bought it.Incidently, it I had been able to try it out before buying, I would not have it Today

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

The hardware looks good, and the finish is good, but I got tired of messing with it and make me a Homemade Banjo, out of Walnut, Birch and Chestnut.Bought the hardware from Stewmac, and now I have a State of the Art sounding Banjo. Dont know what I will do with the Deering, would not wan"t to put it off on anyone. They would have to try it out before I would sell it.

Reliability Rating: 3

Customer Service

They sound good on warranties and Guarantees, but dont try to get them to do anything.They never did give me a answer on why the tone ring was not drilled and why it had a 11/16" bridge..It had a lifetime warranty. On what I never did find out. They quit talking to me.

Customer Service: 1

Components

Bridge, Tailpiece, Tone ring, Neck. all substandard

Components Rating: 3

Overall Comments

I would not recommend this banjo, under any circumstances. I would laugh if it was stolen(Before I Remodeled It) It sounds fair now, but my home made one is far superior.

Overall Rating: 3

Submitted by Unknown on 7/12/2005

Where Purchased: myfavoriteguitar.com

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 1250 ($US)

Sound

The sound isn't as bright or loud as I expected, but the sound is ok.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

The drum needed to be tightened and neck adjusted, but it had been in shipping for about 10 days before I got it, so that and weather changes could have been a factor.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

It looks great. It is very basic, but very well made and nicely finished.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Hardware looks like it is made to last.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

No contact with company yet. Warrantly is lifetime for original owner I believe.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The wood is really finished nicely and the metal parts couldn't look better. I am dissappointed that there aren't any hardware loops to fasten the strap to. I saw a cheap import that included some triangle shaped metal loops to fasten the strap to and I would have expected something like that on a banjo of this quality. Not sure what kind of strap will work best.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I would recommed the banjo and would replace it with the same or maybe the next step up if it were stolen. Wish I had asked about hardware to fasten the banjo strap to. The finish of the wood and feel of the neck are my favorite features.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Unknown on 3/24/2005

Where Purchased: Lark Street Music Teaneck, NJ

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: $1250 ($US)

Sound

The Sierra is clear and loud up and down the neck. While shopping I picked a number of other banjos, including some Morgan Monroes in the $1000 range and the Gold Tones up to the OB250+ and the Sierra was noticeably superior to all of them, to my ear. I have picked a couple of better sounding banjos but they were both in the several thousand dollars range. If I were to compare it to the Tenbrooks Saratoga Star I would give it an 8, but that's a $4000+ banjo. So the 10 takes into consideration I spent less on the banjo than I did on my car.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It had been on the store shelf for awhile. I did need to tighten the head but otherwise it was fine.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

The fit and finish are excellent. I have really come to appreciate and prefer the nickel finish and dot inlay. If you want fancy, the Sierra isn't for you.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

There is alittle wear on the armrest already, which surprised me.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Sierra has been pleasantly supportive. The Presto tailpiece was buzzing alittle. Rather than advise me on how to fix it, which I understand is not difficult, they are sending me a $97 brand new Deering tailpiece, which I am told is now standard on the non-Goodtime Deering banjos. I am told it is much better than the Presto.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The weak components are the Grover bridge and the Presto tailpiece. This banjo sounded great new and with the Snuffy Smith 5/8" compensated bridge it sounded twice as good. I'm not impressed with a buzzing non-adjustable tailpiece but to be fair to Deering they don't use the Presto anymore, and supposedly the new one is a high quality product. The parts actually attached to the banjo seem great. It came with a h/s/c which is nice.

The neck on this banjo, with the finish they use at Deering, really stands out. It is a satiny finish, very fast and comfortable.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I do not believe you would find a better new banjo for the price I paid. I like good customer service so it was important to me to buy new, and it's already paid dividends, as I mentioned. I love it.

My favorite 2 features: the superior quality of the sound and the magical feel of the neck.

It's plain looking but to my ear it's superior to everything I tried in the price range. Between the sound, the neck, and the customer service, I recommend it without hesitation.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by banjoec (see all reviews from this person) on 2/28/2005

Where Purchased: Jack Hatfield

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 1400 ($US)

Sound

Can't quite give it a 10, but love the sound. Full sound with a 4th string that growls w/ medium strings.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Jack Hatfield did an excellent set-up. We spoke on the phone and he pretty much knew how I wanted it. Even called me back to double check something.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Sierra is a basic looking banjo, but thats what I expected. Didn't buy for looks. No Flaws.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Very Solid.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I've asked Jack a few questions since, and he was patient and helpful.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Obviously, the tone ring is the same on more expesive Deerings. I have replaced the stock Deering bridge.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Definately would recommend it. If banjo was stolen I would call Jack to re-order. Favorite feature is the feel of the neck, and the ability to get low action without any buzzes. Pretty much asked a lot of questions before purchasing.
I owned a Golden Era a few years back that I wasn't as happy with. But I didn't know much about set-up then, and niether did the company I bought it from.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Unknown on 2/8/2005

Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 850 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

I've heard a few banjos that sound better, not many, and none in my price range

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

very good set up Elderly knows what their doing

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Looks good for being 12 years old, fairly plain, but I bought it to play, not look at

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

It's 12 years old and is almost like new, it has a few minor dings in the finish, and the finish is worn off on part of the neck but everything else is fine

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I e-mailed a question to them and they got right back to me.

Customer Service: 8

Components

everything is good

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I don't think I could get a better banjo for the price

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by phatstanley (see all reviews from this person) on 2/4/2005

Where Purchased: The Music room (West Yorkshire, UK)

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 1149 (sterling) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Full, clear sound up and down the neck. Not super loud, but plenty loud to jam with.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Set up BRILLIANTLY. Just needed a tune and I was off!
Had 3 spikes put in (by Deering)

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Mahogany, satin fininsh. Simple to look at, but I'm planning to add my own inalyed peghead cap.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Seems solid enough.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

They were brilliant, as were Deering (except for the fact that it was a month late in being delivered over to the UK shop - for various reasons) whenever I emailed Carolina with a question. Lifetime warranty.

Customer Service: 7

Components

The neck is great and fast and comfy.
The screen-printed logo on the peghead is a bit lame - but hey, I wasn't buying it for the looks.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

Absolutely recommend this banjo. I love it. If it was nicked, I'd be DAMN sad. It beats the absolute p*ss outta the import I had before it.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Unknown on 11/18/2004

Where Purchased: This Old Guitar, Seymour, IN

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 1,300 ($US)

Sound

Sound is very good after luthier setup. Tone is crisp and bright and just loud enough to deliver on stage but not overwhelming in a jam.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Banjo was poorly setup upon purchase. Action was low with a buzz. Head was quite loose. Raised action, thinned bridge, tightened head, widened grooves on nut (to minimize "string catch" when tuning), replaced railroad spike fifth string nut with brass nut. Luthier completed modifications with no problems.

Setup Rating: 3

Appearance

Banjo is plain, simple, pleasing to the eye.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Nickel plating cracked where tension hoops make contact with the rim when the head was brought up to proper tension. This was done by an experienced luthier who said the plating job was subpar.

Reliability Rating: 4

Customer Service

Dealt with them after purchasing the banjo. The factory placement of the fifth string spike nut was incorrect making it impossible to restring (did not notice until the first time I changed strings). This instrument should not have left the factory like this. My luthier ended up replacing the spike with a brass nut which works fine. Customer service was responsive to my questions on this problem. Upon contacting them a second time regarding the nickel plating chipping (see above) they never responded after 2 emails and a phone call (answering machine only).

Customer Service: 4

Components

Neck shape w/satin finish is fast and very playable. See previous for complaints.

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

I would highly recommend the banjo with the exceptions noted above.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by Bax (see all reviews from this person) on 4/10/2004

Where Purchased: musicground doncaster UK

Year Purchased: 2000
Price Paid: 1700ish ($US)

Sound

Good sound, good volume, accurate up the neck. Different sound to Gibson or Stelling. In 2004 improved tone with a Fults Cumberland 20 Tailpiece and custom bridge (Desert Rose, KatEyz & Scorpion all work great for me), very good now but my Huber has the edge in tone and is more responsive (so it should at twice the price)

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Excellent setup, only adjusted head which may have stretched slightly. Easy low action a joy to play.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

The plain mahogany looks very nice but not so flashy as some banjos, would have liked more ornate inlay than the plain dots I had, Deering quoted $499 extra for a wreath pattern inlay as a custom option (June 2004). The peghead logo is pretty poor too.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Shiny stuff shows marks easily but a very solid reliable instrument. Accidentally damaged in 2004 due to my stupidity, fixed up fine.
The Satin neck does gloss with use over the years.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Took over 2 weeks to get a reply to an email with a query about this banjo, the follow up e-mail got no response. Though I got no failure report apparently Deering did not receive the 2nd email explaining the lack of response. When I mentioned this on a topic here Janet Deering looked into it herself. Bottom line resend your emails if they dont respond, they will respond if you mention in the Discussion Forum here so you will get there in the end. Lots of others on the hangout have had good service from Deering.

Customer Service: 8

Components

The neck is fantastic, best neck I have held, slim, very easy action, great for beginner (was my first banjo), the satin finish is very fast with a great feel, makes you want to pick it up all the time. Get a new bridge - I tried 6 different bridges all gave better tone and more volume, I found Desert Rose, KatEyz & Scorpion all great for a bluegrass sound, Sampson Birch really good for a mellow rich tone. Fults Tailpiece drastically improved richness and ring of the banjo.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

The Sierra is an excellent banjo, is a joy to play, great for a beginner, especially if you have smaller hands.
Probably I would not buy another if it was lost though, these days if I was to buy in this price range I would think about a Goldstar (or maybe the new Recording Kings), less money for a prettier banjo with more of a Gibson tone. The build & finish on the Sierra probably has the edge though, the neck is great.
Not so responsive as my Huber Lancaster where subtle differences when playing slides etc make a noticeable difference to sound, that probably makes the Sierra easier to play when starting out.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by Unknown on 3/31/2004

Where Purchased: Music Folk

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 1450 ($US)

Sound

I had to choose between a Gibson-RB and this. The Gibson had slightly fuller tone, but the Sierra was significantly louder and the Sierra has a tone ring, the RB does not. I am happy with the tone of the Sierra, though. It's mellow and bell-bright at the same time

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

Action seems fine to me, I had only been playing for 5 months when I bought it so I didn't need to alter anything. I added a Kelly Emerson Power Bridge and improved the tone noticably. The tone sounds more like a Gibson now and the up-the-neck notes are louder and more bell-like.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

No-frills, not too pretty, but solid and that's important. I like the flat finish because it is fast and doesn't show tiny scratches (or maybe it doesn't scratch). However, I suspect the finish will wear out faster than a glossier one.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

The banjo seems about as durable as they come. The chrome finish shows fingerprints a little, but cleans up easily. I got the deering hardshell case and think this could survive a drop from an airplane.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I didn't deal with deering directly, but I hear that they have good customer service.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Tuners are geared and pretty solid. I'd like to upgrade the waverly-style tailpiece as it rattled a little when I play loud. However, I took a pliers to the bending part of the tailpiece and bent the edges sideways so it doesn't rattle anymore.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This is the top-of-the bottom-of-the-line of banjos. This is about as good as it gets before you get up into professional grade instruments. It has no significant shortcomings or exceptional features. It is quite simply good in the best sense of the word. I love mine. There's plenty of room to upgrade to a better banjo in the future, but there's also no need.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by bobdel (see all reviews from this person) on 3/24/2004

Where Purchased: musician's friend

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 1299 ($US)

Sound

very bright and loud.really like the sound

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

head had to be tightened and bridge adjusted.but sure that was due to shipping and coming from the dry west coast to the humid east

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

everything was perfect.excellent quality,sort of a plain jane but i like that

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

very nice solid hardware,good finish.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

very nice people to deal with .had no problems with the banjo but called to ask them a few questions in general.very helpful can't say enough nice words about them.

Customer Service: 10

Components

like the nice smooth thin neck.very easy to play. might change the bridge but thats about it

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

it's a great banjo for the money.you can't go wrong with it.i'll have this banjo a long long time

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by gstiles (see all reviews from this person) on 3/5/2004

Where Purchased: folkofthewood.com

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 1238 ($US)

Sound

I'm learning bluegrass and upgraded from a Goodtime 2. The Sierra's sound is very rich and warm with great range of sound...especially if I tighten the bridge down. Very clean and even sounding up and down the entire neck.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Action is great...spikes on 5th, 7th and 9th frets are perfect. Keith D-tuners work flawlessly! Only need to tighten the head some and adjust the bridge slightly. BIG temperature and humidity differences between New Mexico and South Florida during shipping are the culprit.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Very easy on the eyes....clean and handsome...understated elegance...not as

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Too early to judge but if my GT2 is any guage this will last holdup very well. Fit and finish are EXCELLENT!! Hardware operates very smoothly.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I've had no reason to contact Deering but FOTW continues to amaze me with their attention to customer satisfaction. This Sierra replaced a new OB 250+ I had ordered that had problems (neck, finish etc). As in the past, FOTW went out of their way to see to it that I was MORE than satisfied with a great deal and follow-up...thank you James and MIckey!

Customer Service: 10

Components

At this time everything looks fine. I might upgrade tailpiece down the line but all is great for now.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Definately recommend the Sierra and FOTW...a great combination. It's my second Deering and no disaapointments. SOLID ALL AROUND!
Smoother neck than the OB 250+ I received first . It has a richer sound and more solid feel. Better fit and finish and attention to detail.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 2/2/2004

Where Purchased: Music Barn

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: $1090 ($US)

Sound

I play a style of banjo somewhat between Sammy Shelor and Abernathy. I am not greatly enthused by the sound of this banjo. It doesn't have the somewhat bell like sound I expect out of a banjo. However I was used to the Mastertone style. The banjo sounded somewhat thin and dry. I did like the neck.

Sound Rating: 6

Setup

The setup was horrible. The head was probably tuned at an F, the bridge seemed to be a two or three dollar Grover, and the tailpiece was one of the hateful Waverlys. I pretty much had to change everything.

Setup Rating: 5

Appearance

The banjo looked great nothing wrong with the cosmetics except for it looked kind of cheap. But I got a good price, so well thats expected.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I must say even though I don't like the tone, it is reliable. The banjo always sounds the same. I think functionally it is very reliable. I have noticed however, that the hardware is very easy to tarnish, but is structurally very sound.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I have try to deal with the company. I tried to send in the warranty but they kept returning it and I dont know why. When I tried to call or email, I can never reach anyone, and they certainly don't return your messages.

Customer Service: 1

Components

I didn't find anything wrong with the main aspects(neck, resonator, etc..) However the bridge and tailpiece were very cheap components. The tuners were the 5 star, and were as expected(ok).

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I can say(as a purchased this banjo just to try a Deering)for the price I guess you can't beat that. I dont like it very well. However I did absolutely love the feel and playability of the neck. Maybe other Deerings sound better and I'm sure they do. Alot of people I've met play Deerings and they're fine I'm pretty sure though, that this isn't the only bad one.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by Paul Spillenger (see all reviews from this person) on 9/16/2003

Where Purchased: House of Musical Traditions

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 1250 ($US)

Sound

I play 3-finger Scruggs bluegrass and some melodic style. On stage I use an AKG C1000 mic either with the house PA or with the band PA (Mackie 808S stereo powered mixer with 8 low-impedance inputs and 2
600 watt outputs; 2 Yamaha cabinets with 15

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It was very poorly set up when I purchased it, which is what allowed me to bargain the store down to a good price. I took it to Mike Munford and he set the banjo up from scratch, replaced the factory bridge with a Snuffy Smith, and put in a bone 5th-string nut. It was very easy to make set-up changes with. I give it a 10 for the Munford set-up.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The Sierra is often called

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

All the hardware seems very high-quality. So far (a few months) I see no wear and tear on the finish -- just the usual scuffing on the head. My one complaint is that I get some skips in tuning, which I suspect has to do with the widths of the nut grooves rather than the quality of the tuners. I would recommend slightly wider grooves so the strings don't catch. Yes, it's very dependable and it's my working banjo.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I haven't had any experience with Deering on this banjo yet. However, when I tried to get a response from them about an issue I was having with my first banjo, the Goodtime II, they didn't answer my phone calls.

It's got a lifetime warranty.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

So far, I haven't found any weak or cheap parts.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I did a lot of research before I bought this instrument, and I played a lot of banjos. In the end I had gathered the opinions of many people, some of whom urged me toward the Sierra, some of whom urged me elsewhere, for example toward the GT OB250+. In the end, I used my ear, eye and instincts and made the leap. I've never looked back. It is a great banjo, and I would recommend it without hesitation. Someday I may be able to afford an even better banjo, or at least a banjo with a different kind of sound. But for now, the Sierra works perfectly for me. I have a lot of work to do improving as a player before I need a better banjo than this one.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by berickso (see all reviews from this person) on 8/18/2003

Where Purchased: Folk of the Wood

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 1238 ($US)

Sound

Just about perfect to my ear. A nice ringing tone with a warmth that is unlike any other banjo I've played. A really fat tone in the midrange, and plenty of volume. Strumming it with the thumbpick gives me goosebumps...

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Folk of the Wood did a great job. The head is nice and tight, the bridge is set in the right place, and there's not a bit of buzzing. It shipped for five or six days and it still arrived in tune.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I like the looks, but I sold a 30 year old Vega to finance this purchase, and that Vega was a real looker. The dot inlays are nice, and the satine finish is okay, but a banjo that sounds this good could be a little more dressed up. It certainly looks sturdy, however. The frets are set well, and the nickel plating is perfect.

Appearance Rating: 6

Reliability

No argument here. This thing feels like a German sportscar. Maybe that's not the best example for the

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Folk of the Wood was great, and I love their 100% trade-up policy. Deering seems to be up there with the best in customer service, also. I sent out for several brochures from different makers before I purchased, and they were the only ones that seemed slightly interested in selling me a banjo. And you can't beat a lifetime warranty...

Customer Service: 10

Components

The tuners are great, the bridge sounds fine to me, but we'll give that time. The tailpiece I'm not crazy about, but there's nothing I'm dying to switch out on this thing. And the tone ring is the finest one Deering makes (unless you're a grenadillo fan). Where it matters, this banjo has it taken care of...

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Buy a Deering. Buy it from Folk of the Wood...

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 7/27/2003

Where Purchased: Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 1278 ($US)

Sound

Much cleaner sound than my Korean axe. Volume is significantly greater with the same picking force on the strings. Very full, rich tone across the entire range. Frets are accurately placed, no tuning problems.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The action was so high on my old banjo that it took a little getting used to the new one -- although I must say that out of the box, the Sierra felt marvelous and it seemed remarkably easy to play. I took it to a luthier to check out, and he changed the bridge and lowered the tailpiece slightly.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

I think everyone's major criticism of the Sierra is that it is plain looking -- just mother of pearl dots on the fingerboard -- but it is plain in an elegant way. Of course, the simple inlays save money over more elaborate ones. My fellow band members really like the way it looks. It is a beautiful instrument. Everything was bright and shiny, no flaws apparent. Man, is it heavy! Upwards of 17 pounds, I believe. Get a GOOD strap.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

This is a vastly superior instrument to the one I was playing. The other customers in the shop all said the same thing when they saw me with it:

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Haven't had to rely on customer service yet. I did get prompt replies to the e-mails I sent, usually in less than 24 hours. I ordered some new strings a week ago but they haven't arrived yet.

Customer Service: 9

Components

I LOVE the lightweight strings that ship with it. My fingers feel like they fly effortlessly over the fretboard. My fingers feel a little closer together on the fretboard than they did on my other banjo, but I am adopting. Everything seems high quality. The case is heavy-duty but a little cramped -- have to take off the strap and stow it in the pick compartment.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I'm very happy with this instrument and am proud to play it in public. It's inviting, fun, and I have not had a moment's regret for purchasing it. I can tell I will be playing it for a long time. I highly recommend it for an intermediate player or anyone who wants to move up from a beginner's instrument to a quality, professional-grade instrument.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by bob (see all reviews from this person) on 4/22/2003

Where Purchased: Hogeye Music, Evanston, IL

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 1,400 ($US)

Sound

Nice rich full tone with lots of volume.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Set up pretty well. I lowerer the tail piece to get a crisper sound. Also the nut on the 5th string makes it necessary to retune when capoing the 5th string. I may replace the nut with a spike to fix this. After two months of play a tightened the head a bit and changed to a smith compensated 5/8" bridge. It really sounds great.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Although the siera does not have fancy inlays, it is very pretty with nice wood finises and plating. No flaws.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

This banjo seems rock solid and I feel that it will be very reliable.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

After I posted this review, Deering contacted me! they looked up the fabrication notes on my banjo and let me know that the nut on my fifth string was added after it left Deering and that Sierras typically come with a sipke on the fifth string. I was very impressed with how they reached out to me and followed up to answer my questions.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The components seam to be of good quality. My siera came with a price tail piece. Have not needed to replace anything. Also it came with a hard case which is a must to protect this great banjo.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

The Siera is a great banjo, I would definetly get another one if anything happened to it. I also looked at the Goldtone OB-250, but I liked the tone and the neck of the siera better. Also I looked at several music stores and found a great variation in the quality of the setup. Hogeye's set up was by far the best I found.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by SDF (see all reviews from this person) on 4/16/2003

Where Purchased: Mountain Music, Old Forge, NY

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

sounds really nice. Definetely got my attanetion the minute I picked one up. I didn't realize how bright it was until I got it home though, not a bad thing just loud and bright. I prefer loud and a bit muddier, changed the stings to mediums and changed the head tension a bit, perfect now!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Action and playability is second to none in this price range. Al, the owner of Mountain music looks over each banjo he gets and sets them up.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Very nice instrument, not fancy at all but when I first picked it up- wow! It's heavy. Personally, I was looking at other qualities other than appearance. There are alot of prettier banjo's out there, I was looking for

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Seems very solid, everything's tight, nice neck.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

haven't needed to bring it back for anything. If I did, I wouldn't hesitate to bring it back to Al, very knowledgable

Customer Service: 10

Components

The only thing I changed were the strings- sounds perfect.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I looked all over before buying this, I really don't think there's a better banjo for the money. I really like it alot. Can't wait to get home and play!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Butterbean (see all reviews from this person) on 11/23/2002

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2002
Price Paid: historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound


Better after set-up.



Sound Rating: not rated

Setup

Kershner tailpiece. Emerson bridge. Better tone!

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

Ok...

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

Ok...

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

.Set-up went well.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Presto vs.Kershner? Trash the Presto and get a Kershner or Price.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

Alot of choices out there. Play one and you be the judge. Everyone knows what sound they are after.

Overall Rating: not rated

Submitted by Unknown on 7/9/2002

Where Purchased: Previous owner

Year Purchased: 2000
Price Paid: 800 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Sound is excellent..Rich full sound, great response. Classic bluegrass sound.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It came with a noisy, rattling Presto tailpiece and a cheap bridge. Changed to Price straightline tailpiece, an Emerson

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

Neck and resonator look like mahogany or cherry finisg, with a satin finish. Very slender resonator and neck, easy to play, god to look at Nickel is slightly dull due to humidity in my area and lack of polishing..

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I think the hardware on this banjo are going to last a long time. The finish isn't even showing signs of wear, and I use it at most of the gigs we go on because of the looks with the black head.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The only dealing I had with the company was whenh I called to enquire about the lifetime warranty, because the guy I bought it from told me it could be transferred and they wouldn't. I bought a new head from them and they were pleasant and quick.

Customer Service: 8

Components

The bridge and tailpiece were cheesy when I bought it. The tailpiece rattled like heck. Changed them both and put on new strings and it is great.
The neck is easy to handle and everything else is good.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

One of the best banjos I own. I would take it anywhere to play. I love it and would get another if anything happened to this one. My favorite feature is the black banjo head. I get more comments on that than anything.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 5/9/2002

Where Purchased: Mountain Music; Old Forge, NY

Year Purchased: 2002
Price Paid: 999.00 ($US)

Sound

This banjo sounds really nice. I have only been playing for a year, but I feel the sound is right up there with the best of them. It sounds like what a banjo should sound like. It's hard for me to say, but I have had alot of nice compliments. And not just from my playing, since I have more practicing to do.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

When I purchased the banjo, Albert Worthen, the owner of Mountain Music had it all disassembled and checked over and set up ready for me to play. Al told me he will only sell good quality banjo's. After looking over and playing some of his inventory I see that he was right. I don't know a whole lot about setting up a banjo, but Al made it look easy. When I purchased it I was told to bring it back in 4-6 weeks and again in 6 months for a checkup and tuneup. My first checkup looked good with only minor adjustments. Al saw the way I was playing and adjusted the action, making it easier for me to play.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This banjo has everything I was looking for. I didn't have the money to spend on a fancy banjo with mother of pearl inlay and glossy finish. The nickle plated tone ring really shows it off. It still looks impressive compared to my first banjo. My first banjo was an old, warped Madera, which got me started but also handicapped me. I may invest in looks on my next banjo.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Everything on this banjo seems to be rugged enough to play for a long time, if I take care of it properly. Time will tell.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I haven't had to deal with the company. But I was told that Deering is very pleasant to deal with if I have any problems. I would probably take it back to where I bought it first. Either way, I'm sure they would take care of me. That is why I bought the banjo from them.

Customer Service: 9

Components

The Sierra has most of the same components as their top of the line banjo. The tone ring is what really stands out for me.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

So far this is the best banjo I have ever owned. I did alot of research on banjo's before I bought this one. I didn't have the money to buy the best banjo on the market. But for what I needed, I feel I got more than my money's worth. It's nice that Deering makes good, quality banjo's that will fit everyone's tastes. I shopped around and found that Mountain Music offered me the best price and service. I can't say enough about the excellent service from both Deering and Mountain Music. That adds to the value alone. My advice for anyone out to buy their first banjo is to go to someone who know's something about them and has played them. Don't make the costly mistake I did, expecting to get a nice first banjo from your local music store. Check out Deerings website (Deeringbanjos.com)and Mountain Music's website (Banjoshop.com).

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Merrill (see all reviews from this person) on 4/28/2002

Where Purchased: Folk of the Wood

Year Purchased: 2001
Price Paid: 975 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Sounded decent when I got it, but really got it cracking after some work was done. My teacher says it sounds better than his Mastertone (when he's playing it, anyway)

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Setup was decent overall, although the head was loose and the bridge needed some work. I bought it from Folk of the Wood mail order after they just got it in used, so I don't think they did anything with it.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

It's a nice looking banjo, but very simple in design. The inlay work is very basic (just dots on the fretboard) and no binding on the neck. No flaws as far as I noticed.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

It seems like it will hold up pretty well, its certainly the heaviest banjo I've ever picked up. The tuning pegs are kind of flimsy (I've already broken one) but they hold a tune just fine.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

I've heard Deering has good service, but I don't have any experience with them

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The really important components (neck, rim, tone ring, ect...) are excellent quality; I believe they are the same as on the higher priced Deerings. I highly recommend replacing the crappy Presto tailpiece with something better, I used a Kirschner. I prefer a Five Star head to the stock Deering head, but that may be a matter of personnal preference. The banjo sounds a lot better with a real bone nut (as opposed to the original ebony). And, the fifth string sounds a hell of a lot better with a piece of bone, instead of a spike. The tuning pegs seem kind of cheap, I haven't gotten around to replacing those yet.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I tried a lot of different banjos, and the Sierra is by far the best value I could find, considering what my budget was. It was pretty decent out of the box, but after swapping out some parts it sounds fantastic; lots of tone and volume. If you have 2 grand to blow you might as well get a Mastertone, but my Sierra sounds pretty damn close.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by ilikebanjo (see all reviews from this person) on 12/23/2001

Where Purchased: Alfie Mhyre's Music

Year Purchased: 2000
Price Paid: $2100(Canadian) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This banjo sounds great. Nice and loud and
sounds very good.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The banjo seemed set up well when I purchased it.
Action is good and has needed one slight tweaking
for a buzz.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

I like the head stock on the Deerings and I like the
simple dot inlays on the neck. It's a mahogoney
banjo with an ebony finger board.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

It seems like the hardware will last. I believe alot of
the hardware is the same as Deerings higher
priced instruments.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

The Folks at Deering are very frienly. I've received
follow up letters after making the purchase and
have talked to them on the phone and email. I'm
not sure what the warranty is but I'm not too
worried about it either.

Customer Service: 9

Components

As I understand the tone ring in the Sierra is the
same as the highest priced Deerings. I'm not sure
about the other components, but I know they are
good quality and they stand by their banjos.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I would recommend the Deering Sierra for anyone
who is looking for a great sounding instument for a
great sounding price. I've played other banjos from
other manufacturers but, I can honestly say that for the price you can not beat this banjo.
I love my banjo.

Overall Rating: 9

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