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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.

Washburn  B-17  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by mikewood7 (see all reviews from this person) on 7/14/2012

Where Purchased: project music Exeter UK

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: £290 (GBP) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

My girlfriend plays bluegrass and it suits her style to a tee.
Sounds great after a bit of tweaking n fettleing.
I like it sounding loud and bright so I tightened the head,which made a heck of a difference

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

It was set up to play right out of the box,the action was good and compared much the same to my Fender FB59

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Very good finish,the gold is a better finish than my Goldtone TB250 which cost twice the price.
The inlay is really nice although the carved neck is a bit gaudy.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

No real problems there at all looks like the gold finish is of reasonable quality and built to last.
The clamshell tailpiece is rubbish,both rattley and cheap looking.

WASHBURN B17 6 MONTHS ON,PLAYING 2 TO 3 HOURS A DAY
The gold plating is already wearing off the generic engraved armrest,and the top of the tension hooks.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

Lifetime warranty,can return to store if not pleased in 2 weeks.

Customer Service: 8

Components

Usual cheap quality clamshell tail piece which seem to be used on most chinese made banjo's works ok though I would think a more up market one would be better.
The rest is very good for the knock down price I paid.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

I traded in my old Ozark and bought this banjo for my girlfriend. Apart from the wood used and the inlay on the neck the construction is almost identical to my Fender FB59.
The quality is much the seem too, sorry but both th7ese banjo's knock spots of the Goldtone with regard to build quality.
It even feels the same to play as the Fender once set up,lets face it I bet they even come from the same factory now with a different name.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by Mississippi Mike (see all reviews from this person) on 2/18/2011

Where Purchased: Funky Munky Music

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 969 ($US)

Sound

I love the sound, it's crisp, bright and loud, without puttin' much effort to it, and as I result, I'm able to play a lot faster and very accurately. I upgraded from a Washburn B-8, so it is a heck of an upgrade and the difference is huge. The fretboard is comfortably wide enough to make everything just so much easier to play. I love the hammer-on sound this banjo makes. I can't say there's anything I dislike on this banjo! I just love my new B-17 and would highly recommend it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was setup perfectly, just had to tighten a couple of screws. The store had a luthier to perform a perfect setup. Since it came with its own hard case, even the bridge was perfectly positioned. The folks at Funky Munky Music are very nice people and went out of the way to make me their happiest customer!

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

The most beautiful banjo I have ever seen in person! This is an incredibly beautiful banjo, when you open that case, it simply radiates beauty and lights up the room! The gold hardware is outstanding. The armrest is beautifully engraved and even the neck is engraved, carved-rock style, it's so beautiful. The clam shell tailpiece is also very attractive, and so are the pearl inlays. The wood is flamed maple, and it has a superb finish. No flaws anywhere, this banjo is something a man can be proud to have and every single time I look at it, I fall in love with it over and over again! I cannot emphasize enough how beautiful this banjo actually is.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This banjo will definitely last forever and will be around long after I'm dead! And that is guaranteed with an assuring lifetime warranty.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Again, Washburn has a lifetime warranty on this banjo. I didn't have to deal with the company, as I bought it from Funky Munky Music, but I heard 'round that Washburn is very helpful and their folk are there for you if you ever need them.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Nothing I would like to change at the very moment, it's perfect the way it is. I hear of folk that change stuff to suit their own personal taste, but to me, it's just the way I want it.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would recommend this banjo to anyone who wants a professional, everlasting, good soundin' banjo for an affordable price. This is Washburn's top of the line banjo, and make no mistake about it, they did a very good job making this banjo! It's perfect and each and every way, and I can see myself picking this banjo till I'm old and gray. If Washburn B-17 has crossed your mind, I tell you what, go ahead and buy it, you won't regret!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by RacingStude (see all reviews from this person) on 11/27/2008

Where Purchased: flea-bay

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: $500.00 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This is definitely a professional quality banjo and sounds like it! Rich, full, snap, pop, growling lows, clear-as-a-bell highs, ALL the way up and down the entire neck. No buzz, overtones, wolf tone, nothing but sweet bluegrass! Did I mention LOUD? EASY play, neck couldn't be any better for fingers. This banjo, without ANY doubt, rivals ANY of the mega buck banjo offerings of any banjo maker, PERIOD. TRY IT YOURSELF! It's definitely a 10!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I bought this banjo used, (as you can tell by the price I paid), from someone who had it under the bed and never played it. It, and most ALL new banjos, MUST have a complete setup, this banjo was no different. It did sound very good to start with, but new light cryogenic strings, my own style bridge, tightened the head, lowered the action a touch, adjusted the tailpiece and voila', WHAT a difference! It don't git no better.... For the non-setup when I got it, I rate it a 7.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

Unless you buy some kind of "presentaion", "ultra" or custom made banjo, there is NO way to beat the looks of this B-17! From the quality gold plating on every piece of metal to the superlative MOP and Abalone inlays, (NO filler anywhere), to the flawless fit and finish, engraved headstock and neck, awesone matched woods and sunburst resonator, just EVERthing about this banjo says "class and quality"! TRY to find a more beautiful instrument for the price, I DARE ya! It is NOT a garish, "pimp-my banjo", bag-o-bolts, as I said it's all C L A S S....

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I play daily and ten of us have played and have beat the snot out of it, (including on stage), NOT a single problem. What else can I say?

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Never dealt with Washburn, although I know that they make MANY different instruments. From what I've heard, Washburn instruments are probably the best for the bucks. Something that I always look for. This B-17 has not disappointed.

Customer Service: 10

Components

As I stated in the "Appearance" section here, this banjo is nothing but quality components. There is no way to beat this professional quality banjo for the bucks. I've seen and played MANY different banjos, once again, I DARE you to compare!

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I "moved up" from a 20 year old B-12 Washburn to this B-17. I bought another Washburn because of the great experience I had with the first Washburn! I work at a music store and have seen/played many, many banjos. All I can say is, I do not care what ANYone says, Washburn banjos, especially the high end Washburns, are the VERY best deals for the money, ON THE PLANET, PERIOD. I DARE ya to find out for yourself...

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Washburn_B17 (see all reviews from this person) on 6/17/2006

Where Purchased: Music Plus, Tallhassee, FL.

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: $789.00 ($US)

Sound

I love the sound of my B17. I use it for Scruggs & Melodic style playing. Pickin' at the bridge is loud, bright, & crisp. Pickin' at the neck has a good low softer tone to it. A professional banjoist I know that has both an old Gibson Bowtie (not a reissue) and an old Baldwin has told me "Wow, this sounds better than my banjos". My teacher/professional banjoist who plays an early '70s Fender Concert Tone told me "You've gotten more sound out of that banjo than you deserve".

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The B17 was setup well from the showroom. But, for my taste I made some changes. My 1st change was an Emerson Power Bridge. That really made a big difference in tone, brightness and clarity. I also got the Emerson Power Bridge 2. That still makes it bright & crisp but more bottom end. I tightend the head more than it was. The head is tuned to a D# WITHOUT the resonator. Then the resonator is gapped to produce an A#. I changed the stock Clamshell tailpiece to a Fults Cumberland tailpiece. I use Ernie Ball Earthwood Bluegrass Banjo strings (phosphor bronze 4th string). To me the phosphor bronze 4th really helps bring out the low end in the tone better than standard nickel wound. The only thing left I want to do to it is to change to a 5 Star head. I have heard that the rim holds its tuning better than the Remo's do.

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

This is a very beautiful banjo. Very nice inlays on the fret board & head stock. Carved scrollwork on the back of the headstock and on the heel. Gold plated hardware with an engraved armrest. Very solid & heavy.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

This banjo is very durable. The finish seems to be consistant and thick. I play it all the time 7 days a week anywhere from 1 - 5 hours a day. I am not didappointed.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

I have dealt with Washburn customer service before with my D46S flat top. Getting an RA# was easy, and the turn time was very short on the repair.

Customer Service: 9

Components

I would say that the only components that are a must to be changed out are the tailpiece (the clamshell tailpieces on any banjo are a little flimsy, and you cannot get the proper tension on the bridge with it). Also, those big thick tree trunk Grover style bridges gotta go. They really muffle the sound transfer to the head. The geared tuners are not the best quality, but they are very functional and I do NOT have any trouble with them slipping out of tune. They could just be a little smoother.

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

I deffinately recommend this banjo to anyone. The MSRP on this banjo w/hardshell case is $1589.80. Where I bought mine the store owner does not believe in excessive markup and you can get these for about half of the MSRP. I am completely satisfied with it, and cannot see any reason to spend $4000 - $6000 on a more expensive banjo. I have never been much af a STATUS SYMBOL guy. I am a utilitarian and believe in functionality.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Unknown on 7/29/2003

Where Purchased: allpro music, hattiesburg,ms.

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 999 ($US)

Sound

Very nice sound

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

music store set up.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Very beautiful banjo, has all gold hardware, bell brass tone ring,
unique mother of pearl inlays, rock maple neck, flame maple resonator,
hand carved heel and headstock.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Real tough banjo

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

No problems. Has lifetime warranty!!!

Customer Service: 10

Components

High Quality components.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is Washburn's top of the line banjo.

This one is a real EYECATCHER!!! NEW MODEL!!!!!

Exceptional performance overall!!!!!!!!!!!

Overall Rating: 10

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