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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.

Deering  John Hartford #2 Banjo Reviews

Submitted by kames (see all reviews from this person) on 6/23/2003

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2002
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter


This banjo has a unique sound. Hartford designed it to have 24 frets, and the little bit of extra length of the fretboard allows the bridge to be moved closer to the center of the head. Consequently it has a very full, rich sound with a lot of sparkle but a really rich, warm midrange and deep bass. Unlike the John Hartford #1 it has a bell bronze tonering and thus more of a bluegrassy sound. So like the standard Deering sound on their upper end models (with the tapered resonator) but bigger, deepr and warmer - with two full octaves of access. I just love it.

Sound Rating: 10


It was a great setup, but the action was a little low for me. I raised the action to suit my preference, and switched the bridge.
Since there's no real place to say this, I think Deering necks are the best I have played -- for my hands. They are very quick and confortable.

Setup Rating: 10


I think it has the prettiest inlays I've seen, ranking with the Wreath and Whyte Laydie for beauty.

Appearance Rating: 10


Hand rubbed tobacco colored stain on the maple resonator. Extremely durable laquer finish on the neck. Outstanding finish and super dependable.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Deering is great.

Customer Service: 10


Mostly good, but I want to upgrade the tuning pegs. Kind of cheap. Otherwise top flight hardware.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

It's a really unique, professional quality banjo. Great for bluegrass but with a special sound different from the classic pre-war flathead, although close enough that it's good for FMB, etc. It's particularly great sounding for backup. Just listen to JH, this was the main model banjo he played in his later years.
I would certainly buy another one. It's equal to my Timeless Timber, which has the classic flathead sound and power, just different. More people should try these banjos, I think they are some of the best banjos available, Hartford put a lot of thought into this model.

Overall Rating: 10

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