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: music go round
Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 950 ($US) (bought USED)
Sounds great after setup. Put new snuffy smith bridge on it and replaced the head. Has a fast thin neck.
Sound Rating: 10
No set up. I adjusted everything on banjo. Now sounds great.
Setup Rating: 5
Great looking banjo. Tobacco stained maple, ebony board, wreath inlay, Checkerboard binding. Chrome looks great
Appearance Rating: 10
Very reliable. 70's model and looks great.
Reliability Rating: 10
Never dealt with them.
Customer Service: 10
All components look great and reliable except for tailpiece. I will probably change to a prucha presto or 4 hump.
Components Rating: 10
Great banjo. Sounds great after a set up plus is a lot lighter than most tone ring banjos which is a plus!!
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: E bay
Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 592 ($US) (bought USED)
I play bluegrass and some contemporary stuff like Eagles, Fist it fine.
Full sound. Good base and treble with a bit more brightness then usual but not overly so. Ever so small amount of a hollow sound. Barely noticable but I am picky.
I was very satisfied after going through a settup. Easily worth 3 times what I paid.
Sound Rating: 9
I went through a complete setup. Action, head tension, tightened the neck to the rim, Moon heavy bridge, already had a Price tailpiece on it. A definate bonus!
Setup Rating: 6
Nice natural maple finish, ebony fingerboard, MOP Wreath inlays. Fit and finish very very nice.
Appearance Rating: 9
It's 26 years old as looks is in near mint condtion. No reason to think it won't last. No plating wear.
Reliability Rating: 9
Never dealt with company.
Customer Service: not rated
everything on it is nice. might change the tone ring if I really wanted to but probably not. sounds good like it is. I was glad the Price TP was on it.
Components Rating: 9
I'd recommend it in a minute. If it was stolen I don't know what I'd do. There's no way I could replace it for what I paid for it.
I like it a lot. I was very surprised at the quality and sound for the price.
Sounds almost like my J.D.Crowe Gold Star, just a but brighter and a touch hollow but still great. Thicker head might take care of that but untill it wears it isn't worth the trouble. Fine instrument.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Frontline Music -- Kingston, Ontario Canada
I'm a fingerstyle guitarist turned bluegrass banjo player, so I have an affinity for a "woody" tone, something with a bit of depth and texture. This banjo has little of that warmth, but competes with some of the bigger boys in volume when set up correctly. You can get a really piercing tone from this Mastertone copy, especially with a clear head (which can also give a relatively warm tone when played with restraint.) It is typically bright and strident, but keeps up pretty well in volume when jamming with the likes of a Beard dobro (loud as HELL those things!)
I'm scoring a little low because I put more value on tone quality than I do on destructive power.
Sound Rating: 6
Needed to be set up straight away. The owner of the store didn't know much about banjos so it needed some tweaking. I had it set up with a low action (was just starting out), kept the 1/2 inch bridge it came with and the clamshell tailpiece as well (junk). Should have replaced the tailpiece but wanted to keep it as stock as possible. No serial number anywhere but all original as far as my research could tell me. With a 5/8 or 11/16 bridge that Ibanez would probably howl with volume.
Changes were easy, and I was not timid about messing around with it. This was my learning banjo, and I tore it down and set it up numerous times.
Setup Rating: 4
You can see an example of it here: http://www.break-even.org/ibz74/imagesibanez/1974/banjo/la/la-591fb.jpg.
Quilted maple resonator, maple neck, rosewood fingerboard with a wreath-style (Mother of toilet seat, probably) inlay in the fingerboard and peghead. Binding and purfling on the sides of neck and resonator. Purfling rings on back of resonator. The blond finished maple is striking. Hardware is also chrome plated, so when polished up it looks fancy. The finish is surprisingly good, with very few scratches. I don't think it's ever been a hard-working banjo, and it shows.
Appearance Rating: 8
Hardware's nice and solid. Annoying tailpiece rattle (clamshell cover) solved by wedging a piece of paper between the base and the cover. 5th string peg felt particularly good. Chrome plating kept metal looking new, even after 25-odd years.
An obvious repair had been made on the tube of the flange and it didn't hold when I cranked down the head one day......off to the welder to fix. A quick tig shot and it was good as new. Can hardly see the weld. After that repair was made, I would have no problems gigging with it, no backup.
Reliability Rating: 8
It's a mid-70s model, so warranty is long expired. Only repair was made by me, and it turned out okay!
Customer Service: not rated
Tailpiece has gotta go. Tube and plate flange could use replacement (what with the weld and all). Bridge choice is key to get the best out of this banjo, and 1/2" ain't it.
The rim is multi-ply veneer, so there's lots of glue to deaden the ring, but it's solid and the volume shows it.
I'm sure the tuners are import planetaries, but they were great. No looseness or tuning problems.
Brass tone ring, flange, and tension hoop. Tone ring not exactly precision mounted, but not bad.
Components Rating: 7
Definitely a solid banjo for most situations. For the novice it would be a good buy, but good luck finding any. They were only produced for a few years and I can find very little literature on them.
Good banjo for those who want a little pizazz in appearance, but aren't ready to fork over thousands for a banjo that really has "the" tone. It will get you by in a jam and get you a look or two when you step up for a break. Good workhorse for the parking lot.
Overall Rating: 7
' Virtual Fiddle jam.' 19 min
'Good Wednesday Morning' 5 hrs
'Building a case' 8 hrs
'Newbie Questions' 9 hrs
'Appalachian Rain' 9 hrs