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: Smakula
Totally blown away! I did not expect the power and volume of this banjo. It came with the Fiberskyn head so I expected a mellow muted town but I love what I'm hearing. It's a cross between mellow and bright - not sure how else to describe it. Volume and resonance is outstanding. Compares to any other 11" banjo I've owned and I've had banjos by most of the American makers over the years.
Sound Rating: 10
Smakula is great to work with.. My favorite go to seller by far. Action was good. I thought I would need to change the Deering tuners for Gotoh but don't need to at all. Same with the Deering bridge.
Setup Rating: 10
Looks really nice. Nothing fancy. Pretty ordinary actually but the wood and the worksmanship is perfect. Maybe I would have liked just one fancy do-dad on it but when I pick it up and play it that never occurs to me.
Appearance Rating: 9
I feel I could depend on it but I just play it in my own home and won't be taking it anywhere anytime soon. Closet pickers pick in the closet.
Reliability Rating: 10
No need to contact Deering. I've owned their Goodtime banjos and this is worlds better.... No comparison.
Customer Service: 10
Like I said no need to change the tuners or bridge. In most banjos I've purchased I always swap out the tuners it comes with for Gotoh. But not now. These hold the tune really well.
Components Rating: 10
I'm pleasantly amazed I will say that. I was concerned the the fiberskyn head would need to be changed but no way. The banjo looks ordinary but plays anything but... This is the Vega Old Tyme Wonder. Vega is stamped on the peghead. It's a tad longer than some other 26 1/2" banjos but that hasn't deterred me. Haven't even noticed it. Kudos to Deering for this babe.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: The Homestead Pickin' Parlor
Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 895 ($US)
I play a pretty eclectic range of music and this Banjo seems to do justice to them all. I use HEAVY gauge strings and go for a full-bodied sort of sound out of this open-backed Banjo. I have the traditional cloth diaper inside as a damper and I have mounted a minature condenser mic on the stablizer rod for micing the instrument from the inside. I usually use external mics, but in high noise situation I add in the internal mic into the mix with the external mic. Love the sound.
Sound Rating: 10
The Banjo came setup perfectly for my tastes except that I replaced the medium strings with heavy and tensioned the head a little tighter than they had it at the store. The Banjo is easy to adjust and once setup requires very little adjusting other than to allow for the changing seasons effect on head tension
Setup Rating: 9
The Banjo is nicely finished, It is made out of flamed Maple but is stained darker to look a little like walnut or a very dark Oak. This is a plain instrument with the traditional frailing scoop out of the fretboards where the neck joins the rim. The plating is all high qulaity and the finish looks real nice. There were no flaws in any of the construction hardware or finish elements of this instrument. I get lots of comments about the appearance and the sound of this instrument even though it isn't very flashy.
Appearance Rating: 10
This is a rugged Banjo. I gig with it regularly without a backup instrument and it has been played hard for the last 3 years with no signs that anything is wearing thin or wearing out.
Reliability Rating: 10
I haven't had to deal with Deering directly at all since I purchased this instrument. Prior to the sale they were extremely helpful and responsive. I really pound on this thing and it holds up beautifully. This is a very well-made Banjo. I'll give 'em a 9 only beacuse I haven't needed any warranty work so I don't know how they are post sales.
Customer Service: 9
I particularly like the Deering bridges and the neck on this thing is spot on for intonation. As to replacing or upgrading I'm still debating about replacing the arm rest (a very small rolled metal thing) with a wider (and wooden) arm rest but I haven't gottent around to it in 3 years of ownership so you can see it isn't that big a deal with me.
Components Rating: 9
I would recommend this banjo to old-time or folk players without reservations. The price today for these things has risen to around $1200 new which may make it pricey for some folks but all-in-all I think it is a lot of banjo for the buck. If it was stolen I would cry and go out and replace it with another Old-Tyme Wonder.
Overall Rating: 9
'[FF] String Chickens' 2 hrs