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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!

6936 reviews in the archive.

Wildwood  Troubadour Banjo Reviews

Submitted by wygyg (see all reviews from this person) on 7/19/2016

Where Purchased: janet davis music

Year Purchased: 1990
Price Paid: 1800 ($US)

Sound

This is a fabulous banjo for the money. The wood work is top notch and the sound is full and vibrant. It can be set up to sound plunky or bright.

I ordered mine with the optional rim bracket.....which turned out to be a good thing. This option provided increased volume and brightened the tone making this an option for various bluegrass styles.

I have owned dozens of banjos which I gave to my students when I moved to Florida. Of all of those machines, this is the only one I wish I had back.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I have always done my own set up work. When it arrived it was a bit too plunky for my taste.

I was able to brighten it up significantly for a more upbeat bluegrass style.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The detail work on this banjo was flawless....rivaling much more expensive machines.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hardware was top notch and stayed in that condition for the five or so years I played it. I played this banjo on a daily basis and used it when teaching students.

As an aside, every student wanted to have this banjo.

It was one of the few banjos that I played every day.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Can't recall the details of the warranty and did not have the need to use it.
Wildwood has a reputation for standing behind their products.

Always smart to buy from a reputable retailer. I purchased all of my banjos from Janet Davis Music.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I have owned banjos which were more expensive than the troubador.

The woodwork was flawless and all hardware held up well in spite of me playing the banjo every day for a number of years.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I cannot think of much more to add.

I think it speaks to the quality of this banjo when I say this is the only banjo that I wish I had back.

If you would like to chat about this banjo or general set up work call me at 309-242-0867 (Cocoa Beach, Fla).

Roger

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by dirk (see all reviews from this person) on 11/13/2013

Where Purchased: Wildwood banjo

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 3000 ($US)

Sound

Fits perfectly - this is banjo I was looking for since years

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

All was perfectly setup - no issues

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

custom inlay in the peghead

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It has and gives the feeling of lasting for a lifetime
very solid

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I bought it directly from wildwood banjos

Customer Service: 10

Components

the bracket shoe band
Heel craftwork
custom inlay at the peghead

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by jato109 (see all reviews from this person) on 9/8/2013

Where Purchased: elderly

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 1700 ($US)

Sound

beautiful tone, clear, nice sustain, give or take - about half way
between old time and bluegrass (a touch on the bluegrass side)

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

set up is perfect (thanks elderly)
elderly even added railroad spikes -- no charge

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

goregeous banjo; nice maple grain, flawless lacquered finish,
nice trim on pot & neck, beautiful inlay work
but then aren't all banjos rather good looking.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

only owned for 3 months; but it is stoutly built (a little on the heavy side for an open back)
can't imagine anything short of a 3 day drunk and a head on with a pick up truck xxxxxing it out
finish is good looking and deep in appearance

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

no contact with wildwood other than visiting their web site
+- 600 times
elderly music (lansing, mich.) tops !!! (for both service and knowledge)
i parked in their show room for +-3-4 hrs comparing one banjo to the next; deering vega to bart reiter's, to wildwoods, and on & on.
well worth the 6 hr drive each way. (way fun too)

Customer Service: 10

Components

can't nit-pick a thing with this instrument

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

grogeous lines, voice sweet as warm honey, sensitive to my touch - yep - i'm in love

when it comes time to plant me in the ground - this banjo's comming with me - nuff said

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by foggers (see all reviews from this person) on 4/10/2012

Where Purchased: 2nd hand via Ebay

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 1449 (£) (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This is a beautiful, mellow-toned Tubaphone banjo, with Maple pot and neck, ebony fingerboard and good quality plating throughout.

There are some weird sharp/rough ends on some of the fretwires which, upon closer inspection appear not to have been snipped off in a nice rounded way. The ends are too close to the fretboard to be filed without damage to the wood, so it is something I have to live with: it is not a deal breaker and within 2 days of playing I am just not noticing it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The person bought from obtained the banjo from Frailers in Cheshire, and he had not done anything in terms of maintenance, so it is difficult to give a set-up rating on that basis as I don't know what the set-up was like from new. The action was a little low and I have addressed this by tightening the head (it was a little flabby and was sounding a wee bit muddy too) and I have also swapped the bridge for a Snuffy Smith 11/16ths compensated one. These changes had been enough to give a nice attack and a warm mellow voice. It is very responsive and lively to play.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

The Maple is natural tone; there are beautiful bird inlays as fret markers and the chequered binding up the neck and on both sides of the pot makes a lovely finish.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Gotoh planetary tuners and good workmanship all round are evident. It is well built and responsive. Chrome plating is good and came up like brand new with a little buffing.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Unable to comment on Wildwood as a company or on the orginal retail source though it appears from other reviews that both have a good reputation.

Customer Service: 10

Components

All components are of a good standard.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

I have longed for a tubaphone banjo and this one was an unexpected bargain: I love it, love it, love it and rate it as my best instrument by far.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Boydj5a (see all reviews from this person) on 11/4/2011

Where Purchased: Wildwood Banjo Shop/Bend, OR

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 1800 w/ H. S case. ($US)

Sound

Wonderfully rich and full tubaphone sound. Great bass tone. Can play it softly or loud, as needed.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was perfect for my style of playing (clawhammer). Great action.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

A beautiful, well made banjo. Neck inlays and binding are flawless. Highly figured neck and pot look great also.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Solid construction and wonderful finish. Should last a lifetime without any problems.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Banjo returned to Wildwood for a minor neck adjustment. Mark Platin (owner/builder) completed the adjustment quickly (and with no charge) and was very easy to work with.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Components seem to be of high quality. I see no reason to upgrade any of the compnents.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is a well constructed and beautiful banjo. I was vacationing in the West and decided to visited the Wildwood shop to take a look at Mark's banjos. I was so impressed with the Troubadour that I bought one on the spot and had it shipped home. Best sounding banjo I have ever played.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by polymath (see all reviews from this person) on 10/27/2011

Where Purchased: Artichoke Music

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 1800 ($US) purchased new with hard case

Sound

Incredible full, even, clear sound. I have never heard a banjo sound so good! Very, very crisp, and it is astoundingly responsive- can play a whisper or keep up with a fiddle! My Troubador has the bracket band option- which makes the sound even crisper.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was perfect- notes in tune from top fret to bottom fret all strings, action super-responsive

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I am utterly amazed at the level of craftsmanship in this banjo- impeccable. Blew the other banjos out of the water, and I looked at Reiter, Ramsey, Ome, even an original Vega.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It's built like a tank. i don't ever expect a problem with it.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Mark took the banjo back to adjust the bracket band so that the nuts didn't dig into me so- no charge. I have no doubt that any problem that came up would be taken care of without a hitch.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Wildwood openback banjos use their own hardware, including the tubaphone ring. Fit and finsh are outstanding. The Gotoh tuners are great. The instrument stays in tune.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is hands-down the most beautiful instrument I have ever played- or seen or held. It is worth it to pay extra for the bracket band- crisper sound. I feel lucky to own this wonderful instrument.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by larry loebig (see all reviews from this person) on 5/15/2010

Where Purchased: ebay

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 875 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

I am a beginner at banjo and have been learning clawhammer, old timey and folk. The Sound is full, rich and warm. Took some lessons at the Freight and Salvage. The wildwood projects and responds well to clawhammer and three finger picking - even without the finger picks this banjo has incredible sound and tone.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The Setup was a little high - took it to the 5th string in berkeley and we switched out the bridge and adjusted the action - and it is now a joy to play.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

This Wildwood is well made and always gets positive comments. The inlay work is clean and tasteful. I do experience a sense of pride of ownership. I thought about trading up to a more ornate wildwood and decided I liked the clean and simple design. This is a traditional banjo with some modern enhancements.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This is a solid, beautiful and well built instrument. When I tune it - it stays in tune.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Bought it used and have not had any need to call Wildwood. so i will rate them high since they did such a great job building it.

Customer Service: 9

Components

The craftmanship of this banjo is outstanding. everything about it makes me proud to own it.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is a substantial instrument - and I would compare it in quality to the other tubaphone banjos. I played it side by side with a vega 2 and the wildwood was comparable in sound and weight. If wildwood could make this banjo a little lighter - that might be a good thing if it could be done without compromising sound and quality. It is not uncomfortable, it has a solid rim and a tubaphone tone ring. I know I have a solid well built instrument.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by finnslr (see all reviews from this person) on 1/23/2009

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

Year Purchased: 07
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I play Old School, Seeger, Clawhammer, etc. This is the best I have ever played. The sound is outstanding. I rings and sings!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Set up for me. All I had to do was tune it!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Curley Mapel you can't get better than that. Inlays flawless. Harware outstanding. Nothing Cheap about this one.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

So far so good. Heavy stuff.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

No reason to call them.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Nothing but good.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is the best I have played in 50+ years of playing. I put my old Vega in its' case and this is the one that now sits by the picking chair. I love to play this thing and can't put it down.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by OmeZenabi (see all reviews from this person) on 2/25/2007

Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1,445.00 ($US)

Sound

Wanted an open-back for clawhammer/frailing. Good volume. Bright when strung with steel strings and plunky when strung with Nylguts. Love the Fiberskin head. Sounds good (don't all banjos?).

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

Was set-up well. Bridge was lying down under the strings (for shipping) and the head was marked for precise bridge placement. Head was uniformly but very lightly torqued (doesn't even register on a Neary torque wrench). One tension hook was loose and flopping around. Action is a bit low (but could be related to the light head torque); may get a taller bridge.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Very pretty; even more so than I expected. All maple (neck & rim), dark stained. The woodwork appears to be very high quality and the dark stain really brought out its character. Very nice gloss finish. Inlay is standard for the Troubador (birds), tasteful and very well done.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

All the hardware appears to be good quality. Finish is a rich high-gloss that I think will hold-up well. Overall it seems to be well made and a pretty durable instrument.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Only one question for them so far and they responded very promptly and courteously. Based on what I've heard from other Hangout members the service will be excellent. Five year warranty.

Customer Service: 9

Components

All parts, including the neck & rim, seem to be well made and of high quality. Tuners are very nice (Gotoh). I see nothing that warrants an upgrade. Neck is comfortable.
A few very minor flaws in the finish: a few specs of dust under the lacquer, a couple of thin or cloudy spots on the sides of the peghead,and a couple small nicks /scratches on the peghead (could have occurred at Elderly). One spot on the inner edge of the tension-hoop where the plating is gone and brass is showing through.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

No regrets with my selection. I'm very pleased with it and I'd recommend people consider Wildwoods. It's very pretty, well made and seems to be a fair value for the price.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by Penchaser (see all reviews from this person) on 11/11/2006

Where Purchased: 5th String Berkeley

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 1500 ($US)

Sound

Great sounding banjo for clawhammer playing. Nice round sound with the tubaphone tone ring. Lots of sustain.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Set up is just fine for right now. Set up well by 5th String.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Very nice banjo for the price. Inlay is well done and tasteful. Now flaws that I have been able to detect. Glossy finish looks like it is very durable and will keep the banjo looking great for years to come.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hardware appears first class for a banjo in this price range. Should be very dependable.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Have not had any reason to deal with the Wildwood company.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

All components are appropriate for a banjo in this price range. No "weak-links" that I can see.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Would recommend this banjo to anyone. Is a lot of banjo for the price.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by BConk (see all reviews from this person) on 1/18/2005

Where Purchased: Ebay

Year Purchased: 205
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I love the sound of this banjo. I had imagined what I'd consider the perfect tone for a banjo and as soon as I tuned this beauty up - I heard that tone. Rich and full with wonderful sustain but still plenty funky. I like to play it slowly to savor every note the spills out of it....am I drooling? yep

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I have no idea who set this banjo up but it's perfect. The action is low and it plays like butter all the way up the neck. Barre chords are a dream.
I think I'll play it like it is for a few months before I monkey around with it...if at all.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This banjo is gorgeous - blond maple with a rich warm color. Although it is pretty thoroughly decorated with abalone bird inlays on the ebony neck, an abalone torch on the ebony peghead overlay and marquetry purfling up both sides of the neck and all around the inside and outside of the block maple rim - the decoration is very tastefully done. The neck is 3 piece flamed maple with a pencil thin ebony center that is perfectly centered. All in all the neck reminds me very much of an old Rettberg and Lange Paramount Style A I had briefly - it looks fabulous...The whole banjo looks fabulous

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware seems to be of high quality and very serviceable. The finish is beautiful but looks pretty durable all the same. I have no idea how old this banjo is but it shows little signs of aging. It has the high quality look of a banjo that will be around a lot longer than I will.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

a nice old style Wavery tailpiece came on it - I like it. It has a Tubaphone tone ring and what appears to be fibreskin head that looks very much like real calfskin head. I'm not sure if it's an older head but I am sure the newer Fibreskin heads that I've seen look nothing like this one. The tuners are very nice and have a solid feel to them yet are very easy to turn - they also hold very well.
The only thing I'd change if I had my 'druthers - I think it should have two coordinator rods.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

For the price I paid ? I think this banjo is a steal! I see they list at more than $1,700 which I'd think was worth it for a new one - but I also see they're available for around $1,300 which I'd consider a real bargain - If this one were lost or destroyed I wouldn't hesistate to get another.
I love it - it plays like a dream - like butter- the neck is slender yet wider than I'm used to and I love the way it feels in my hand. The finish gives the perfect combination of speed and grip and the sound is beautiful. I have a feeling my other banjos are going to be gathering dust for quite awhile now. This one's a keeper.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Warren (see all reviews from this person) on 12/18/2003

Where Purchased: From Wildwood

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: $1375 ($US)

Sound

Typical Tubaphone sound with a little more depth due to the maple-block rim and the added optional bracket shoe band.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup is great, I probably won't change a thing for awhile.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Beautiful woodwork, bindings and inlays. Stained finish is deep looking and glossy.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Looks to be very durable high-quality banjo. Time will tell.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Talking and working with Mark was a pleasure.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Very nice tailpiece. Tuners are solid mid-quality.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

Very nice banjo for the price: A heck of a value.

I have to go play it now!

Overall Rating: 10

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