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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.

Wildwood  Heirloom  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by clawgrasser (see all reviews from this person) on 9/18/2019

Where Purchased: Guitar Center Chattanooga

Year Purchased: 2019
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I play primarily old time clawhammer in my own Round Peak style. It's got enough volume and power for bluegrass, but not the right tone. With it's heavy block pot and tubaphone tone ring it produces a tone from an earlier era.

The tone is strong with both bright highs and strong lows. Unstuffed it can be ringy, but lightly stuffed the tone is heaven.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was uneven at purchase. The nut needed work. I didn't like the Waverly tailpiece and replaced with a noknot. This change opened up the sound and made it more authentically old time. I also replaced the bridge with a high quality Bailes 11/16" which made it more useful for clawhammer

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

It's a great looking banjo with a blond finish Western broad leaf curly maple neck. With it's heavy maple block rim, it heavier than most old time banjos. Although the banjo was like new, the case was definitely worn. I swapped it out for a new case which I was resting an old banjo in.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

This banjo has first class hardware and a bombproof gloss finish. It seems indestructible. I bought it as a roadworthy professional banjo to assist my more fragile and irreplaceable 1900 Rettberg and Lange. This Wildwood should stand up to about anything.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Unknown. Mark Playing has now retired and the Wildwood company is a thing of the past.

I'm stuck with it, but that's okay. It appears to be so strong that it will last.

Customer Service: 5

Components

Standout parts are the beautifully strong neck and solidly built rim.

My only dislike is the Waverly tailpiece which I feel is inappropriate for old time sound production.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

The banjo is an old time powerhouse.  It's not a plunker like many of the new generation of old time reproduction banjos like Enoch or Pisgah.  It's more like an open back Stelling.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by toneman (see all reviews from this person) on 4/10/2010

Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 1850.00 ($US)

Sound

A truly excellent sounding open back. very clear with exceptional bass. a great choice for me since I did not want a thumpy sounding open back. just the right amount of brightness and decay. very good for old time music or irish music. played softly it sounds excellent, pushed and it reproduces bluegrass tone.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

banjo was a mess. must of been on the floor. action was way too high and height of strings above the first fret was terrible. it might be made this way to accomodate some players but it makes for more difficult intonantion and picking.

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

I had to disassemble the banjo and remove the tarnish. wood was dry and fret ends were sticking up. oiled/polished fretboard sanded fret ends. polished wood with Stew Macs Preservation polish (great stuff) other than that wood choice= excellent/inlays excellent/ bone nut/excellent.

Appearance Rating: 4

Reliability

Finish appears to be a smitch thin. could of been buffed out better. tuners are average. I replaced the 5th string tuner with a waverly and lowered the 5th string nut to accomodate this tuner.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Mark, was great. very patient with many questions I had, being this is my first open back.

Customer Service: 10

Components

bridge is poor, in relation to other components. waverly tailpiece is ok.
neck and block rim, very well made and high quality of woods chosen. nice long heel on neck.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I would buy it again in a heartbeat. so far I like the banjo ALOT.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Bagpussfrog (see all reviews from this person) on 5/28/2009

Where Purchased: Frailers UK

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This banjo has a perfect tone for clawhammer/frailing/old time music, the TuBaPhone tone ring and fibreskin head balance the tone out nicely - and the block maple rim gives a woody undertone that give this banjo a far warmer sound that other TuBaPhones I have played.

In standard G it is bright with a warm bottom end and even sounds right for bluegrass style pickin'

However, where this banjo really shines is in Double C tuning. It is something else - beautiful rich tone, lovely sustain and plucky on the 4th string,

A lovely sounding banjo and infinitely superior to the Vega #2 IMHO

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

setup was nice out of the case, I hadn't seen this banjo, and really took a chance on it, what surprised me, is that it came through the post with the bridge still set up, and lo and behold, it was still perfectly in tune!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is a beautifully crafted instrument, the hand engraved MOP inlays are lovely to look at, the neck is a rich stanined curly maple - the binding and purfling are 1st class. Aesthetically, this is top class!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This is quite heavy for an open back banjo and seems to be solid as a tank! I will point out that many people are surprised by how heavy these banjos are, however, they are NO WHERE NEAR as heavy as a quality bluegrass resonator banjo (I had an OB250+ and it was a monster) This is light as air in comparison and is comfortable when played with a strap.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Haven't needed to deal with them, but I hear Mark is a very nice guy.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

This banjo has obviously been built with the best quality parts, and as such - I am 100% sure that it will outlast me!

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I Love everything about this banjo. It is so well built, so easy on the eye and so great to play, with a sweet tone, that for me, it knocks all other banjo's out of the water - of course you need to like the TuBaPhone sound - but if you are considering a Vega #2 - try one of these if you can - miles better IMHO

If this banjo was stolen, I would get another in a New York minute!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by dbarnhart (see all reviews from this person) on 9/18/2004

Where Purchased: Folk of the Wood

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 1600 ($US)

Sound

I was fortunate enough to be able to play many banjos before deciding what I liked the best, and for me the best was the Heirloom. I really like the warm round sound of a tubaphone tone ring, and of the tubaphone banjos I played, the Heirloom sounded the best. I particularly like the fact that when I play quietly, the Heirloom produces notes that are almost profanely sweet.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I have done nothing to it except switch to my favorite light gauge strins (Earlwood)

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

I chose the natural blond finish and it is beautiful with no flaws whatsoever. The inlay is hgh quality and has an understated elegance that I prefer.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I expect this banjo will last me for the rest of my life

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

n/a

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything seems to be high quality. No complaints.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I love this banjo and would recommend it to anyone.

Overall Rating: 10

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