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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.

Ramsey  student Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Kev1 (see all reviews from this person) on 6/11/2012

Where Purchased: BHO Classifieds

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 850 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

I had been playing clawhammer banjo for almost a year when I bought this banjo. I had been learning on a very cheap would-be bluegrass banjo so far and I knew what sound I was looking for. All I can say is that this banjo delivered! The sound is rich, full, powerful (you'll be heard at a jam!). Old time sound guaranteed!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

My banjo has a Stern Tanning co calfskin head that was pre-mounted by John Balch, a Romero bridge and it is strung with Romero strings. Sounds absolutely great, plunky as I like it !

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Very plain looking banjo, as advertised, a no-frills banjo. That's exactly what I was looking for.

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

Haven't had the slightest problem with it so far. Looks like the banjo will live longer than I will (I'm 29 ; )

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Great transaction here on BHO! Ordered the banjo on a friday evening, got it 6 days later. (the banjo came from the US and I live in France)

Customer Service: 10

Components

Every single part of the banjo seems very robust and quite likely to last a very long time.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I could not be happier, this banjo is perfect. A couple of friends played it and told me they loved it enormously. One of them has a Gold Tone 350+, he could not believe he paid more for his banjo than I did on mine and he loved the sound/playability of the Ramsey better. Again, a GREAT banjo!!! Thank you Mike Ramsey.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Sherwood (see all reviews from this person) on 12/14/2009

Where Purchased: McKenzie River Music

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 650 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

I'm new to playing but even I can get a nice tone out of this banjo.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Haven't made any changes. Everything seems set up well but I don't have anything to compare to.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Two-ply maple rim. Highly flamed maple dowel stick. 3-piece maple rim. Star inlay on the head and 5th fret. Dot markers elsewhere. 11" pot. I love the look and feel of this banjo.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Seems like it to me but again I'm a newbie.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

McKenzie River Music out of Eugene, Oregon was amazing. E-mailed me extra pics when I asked. Included an extra set of strings and a TKL hardcase that was in new condition. I can't recommend them higher. Check out their website.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

I'm thrilled to be learning the banjo on such a nice instrument.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Lonesome Steve (see all reviews from this person) on 11/14/2007

Where Purchased: BHO Classifieds

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 800 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

I’ve only owned one other “serious” banjo (a Bart Reiter Special), so I’m going to be comparing my new Ramsey Student to my Reiter Special a lot in this review. The Ramsey has a 12” rim, which gives this banjo a much boomier, fuller tone than the 11” Reiter Special. Right away I noticed a “kick in the gut” when playing the fourth string that the Reiter just doesn’t have. The Ramsey is loud and very solid sounding. It's not terribly plunky, but it’s also not as bright and crisp as the Reiter Special. The Reiter sounds a bit thin in comparison. Neither of these banjos has a problem being heard when playing with others, but I suspect the Ramsey would drown out the Reiter if I could figure out a way to play them both at the same time.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I purchased my Ramsey Student second hand and it was setup with nylon strings when I got it. I changed it back to steel strings, so the setup obviously needed some tweaking. As a result I’m not going to give a rating for setup. However, it’s a well-made banjo with an adjustable truss rod, so I’m sure a competent luthier can make any Ramsey Student play well unless it’s been severely mistreated. I’m not sure this belongs in the setup category, but since I don’t know where else to put it I’ll mention here that the neck on the Ramsey is my favorite banjo neck I’ve ever played. This neck is no wimp. It’s a .45 magnum, Clint Eastwood, “make-my-day” sort of neck. The Reiter neck is very nice, but feels slim in comparison.

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

My Ramsey Student is cosmetically a little different than the standard Student model. It has a reddish brown stain on the pot and neck (blonde finish is standard), ebony fretboard and peghead overlay (rosewood is standard), and no inlays at all (star on the peghead and pearl dots on the fretboard are standard). It also has a three-piece neck like the more expensive Ramsey models rather than the typical one-piece neck. Otherwise it matches the current specs for this model. I love the look of this banjo. It’s pure and simple, but with a little more elegance than something like an Enoch Tradesman. I occasionally miss the dots on the fretboard, but I’ve only been playing it for a short time so I suspect I’ll get used to that. The Ramsey is a beautiful instrument, however if you start comparing cosmetic details, the Reiter excels. The Ramsey is nice, but the Reiter is cosmetically nearly perfect. The wood isn’t quite as pretty on the Ramsey, and there are details in the way it’s put together that just aren’t quite as nice as the Reiter. I’m talking about pure cosmetics here, and personally I like the overall look of the Ramsey better, but when you’re really studying the details, the Reiter is the clear winner.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

The Ramsey Student is a well-made banjo that should last a lifetime or two. That said I wouldn’t expect it to be completely trouble-free. I had to fiddle a bit with tuners that had loosened up, and the fifth string tuner fell out when I changed strings. I don’t see these as major issues. After all, this is a used instrument and these issues are easy to fix. However, my Reiter is about the same age as the Ramsey and everything about it is still tight and rock-solid, like the day it left Bart’s shop. So, the Ramsey is fine but the Reiter is better.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

No basis for comment

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The components used on the Ramsey are all good. The tuners feel a little rough at times but they keep the strings in tune well and basically do what they’re supposed to. I prefer some of Ramsey’s component choices (like the Renaissance head and the No Knot tailpiece) to the components Reiter chooses for his banjos, but that’s purely a personal preference thing. The tuners on the Reiter are smoother than the ones on the Ramsey, but both do the job just fine.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

The Ramsey Student is an incredible banjo. It's cheap enough that I could add, "...for the money," but at any price it's a very good banjo. The sound is big and solid without being brash, exactly the sound I was looking for. I mentioned several ways above in which the Ramsey is not quite as well built as my Reiter. For me these are niggling details (mostly easily correctable) that are outweighed by the tone, character and overall feel that the Ramsey offers. You also have to consider that the list price of the Reiter Special is about $250 more than the Ramsey Student. I love my Reiter Special. It’s a great all-around old-time banjo. But the Ramsey Student has a unique personality that makes the Reiter seem a little boring in comparison. If these two banjos were Gilligan’s Island’s Mary Anne and Ginger, the Ramsey would be the one in the leopard print cocktail dress hitting on the professor.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by vano (see all reviews from this person) on 3/30/2006

Where Purchased: privately

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 780.00 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

great all round oldtime banjo

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

changed the strings to nylgut otherwise needed nothing

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

amish in apperance
this is a no frills banjo which suits me fine

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

everything is working fine

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

havent needed any but i do hear mr ramsey is hard to get a hold of

Customer Service: 8

Components

renn head and a moon bridge seem to be the only upgrades

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

if you want a brass ringed plain jane this is it
no offence jane

Overall Rating: 10

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