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: JDMC
Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 2000 ($US) (bought USED)
Just got my used mint X-Fire. Beautiful shape. I removed the foam and felt that pushed the pickups against the head. I installed screws and springs just like on an electric guitar pickup and now the pickups are off the head and adjustable. This opened up the unplugged acoustic sound greatly. It is a lot louder unplugged now. It also gives the shim under the head a chance to vibrate and interact with the pickup in the bridge position. I believe it sounds better now too. I am going to experiment with a shim under the neck pickup next. I did that with a magnetic pickup on my Gibson and it increases the output and gives it a more banjo(y) type sound. You have to have a good acoustic amp and a descent EQ to get the best banjo sound. I am using a Crate Telluride. I don't want it to sound like an electric guitar like I hear on most videos. I want the X-Fire to sound like a banjo.
Sound Rating: not rated
Action was a little high for me. Shimmed the neck to my liking. 3/64ths at the 12th fret. The pickups were packed in with foam and felt and smashed right up against the head. They should mount them like regular adjustable guitar pickups...which is what I did (explained above).
Setup Rating: not rated
Mint used. No complaints. Better than expected.
Appearance Rating: not rated
Seems pretty solid now after my pickup mods.
Reliability Rating: not rated
Called them to see where in the country I could purchase one and they helped me out.
Customer Service: not rated
Pickup mounting is weak. Components are great. Someone wanted to know how I mounted the pickups. I got long electric guitar pickup screws that fit the EMGs and the springs. I drilled two holes the size of the screw shanks in each wood block that covers the pickups. Drill completely through the wood block. The holes must match the pickup mounting ears. Then in the same spot I drilled two holes the size of the screw heads halfway through the wood block. Now insert the screws into the holes, put the springs on the backside and screw into the pickup. The pickups can now be raised and lowered off of the wood block.
Components Rating: not rated
Overall, I am stoked to own this and having a blast playing and tinkering.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Eagle Music (UK)
The sound is interesting. It's not quite as banjoish and more guiarish than I expected, but its getting better the more I play with the Amp and Tone controls.
Sound Rating: 9
The setup was excellent. No problems at all. It played pretty much perfectly straight out of the box.
Setup Rating: 10
I bought the golden crossfire rather than the standard. The finish is absolutely perfect and have no complaints whatsoever
Appearance Rating: 10
This is a really solid piece of kit. You would really have to try hard to damage this.
Reliability Rating: 10
There were some initial problems with getting the banjo delivered from the states. This was because they found a flaw in the banjo that was to be delivered, so held off until another could be made. Personally I would prefer this kind of service than be sent a flawed instrument, so I am very happy.
Both Eagle Music and Deering were very responsive to the problem.
Customer Service: 10
The components certainly seem pretty solid... no complaints so far
Components Rating: 10
I love this banjo. It is certainly the easiest banjo that I've played (although I am a bit of a newby). I love the fact that it's great for practising quietly at home, without an amplification.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: deering
the sound of the crossfire is not unlike a electric guitar on certain settings. with a little ajusting you can make it sound very close to a traditional sounding banjo.
Sound Rating: 8
the set up is just great. its very easy to play and allows you to attack those harder licks up the neck.
Setup Rating: 10
a little different to look at but cute. paint job well done.
Appearance Rating: 8
the hardware is very robust and well finished and will last for years and years. have worked on stage with it and had no problems at all.
Reliability Rating: 8
deering people are just the best.i had no problems with them at all and the service is second to none down here.warranty 12 months
Customer Service: 10
all parts are just great.
Components Rating: 8
very happy with the banjo and would recomend to anyone thats plays in a band.............
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Ivor Maraint London UK
Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 2750ish ($US)
Unplugged is much quieter than a 'proper' banjo, very quiet without picks but clearly audible with picks(quiet enough to practice in a different closed room without disturbing anyone else in the house)
Loud as you want plugged in.
Unplugged & more so plugged has a hint of country electric guitar sound, was a bit disappointed did not sound more Banjo like, but there is a good bit of banjo in the mix at one extreme. Range of tone adjustment very good compared to electric guitars I was told by a friend with years of guitar experience. Can sound very mellow guitar like at other extreme of adjustment.
Sound Rating: 7
Action nice and well setup. There is a problem with the strap location buttons & balance, the Crossfire wants to be almost horizontal so you end up supportting the neck.
Setup Rating: 7
Nice styling, does not look as 'fat' in the flesh as in photos, but still plump compared to an electric guitar.
Standard Black body & Blonde neck a good colour combination. Nice shiny finish on body & neck. Being picky if look carefully can see poorer (lumpy) finish on hidden part of body, under head tensioner but most would not notice. Peghead shape not very appealing.
Appearance Rating: 7
Hardware seems very solid and shines easily after marked.
Reserve judgement on the shiny body for long term and minimal little pick up selector switch(both fine so far). Generally a solid Instrument.
Reliability Rating: 9
Took over 2 weeks to get a reply to an email with a query about my Sierra, 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: 7
Am told range of sound available better than usual on electric guitars, so assume pick ups etc good.
Neck good, maple looks nice but feel not as good as the sierra, at least in part due to gloss finish not feeling so fast.
Components Rating: 8
As usual with Deering a solid instrument with good feel and good value for money (compared to electric banjos - but can get top name electric guitar for a lot less money- UK very expensive for banjos).
Would have liked it with more 'banjo' sound and the balance of the instrument is wrong with the strap button locations, which irritates slightly.
Would probably buy another if stolen, prefer the look of electric Nechvilles some with more sophisticated circuitry but 11month wait too long and more expensive, gold tone electrics look awful but cheaper - crossfire best compromise.
Good quiet instrument for practice with the option of plugging in as well, handy if some of your friends are electric.
Overall Rating: 8
'Good Thursday Morning' 4 hrs
'[FF] String Chickens' 9 hrs