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!
6918 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: ZEPP
Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1000 ($US)
I have had this banjo now for about 7 months and have played it every day so I'm past the honeymoon stage and can give a fair review.
This banjo gives back what you put into it. Nice and soft or loud and punchy. I really like the balanced sound across all five strings. Gives a nice bass, good midrange and treble without sounding tinny. I have had many people at jams and festivals comment on how good it sounds.
I don't give 10s because there could always be something better.
Sound Rating: 9
Was set up with a Ramsey bridge, Renaissance head, no knot tail piece and light strings. Nothing wrong with that. I have changed out the bridge to a heavy moonbridge because I like them. Might have improved the sound a little but not much. I also run a strip of leather through the strings right above the tailpiece and have a small sock stuffed lightly under the tailpiece end of the dowelstick. This cuts down a bit on overtones but is just my personal preference and not necessary.
Action suits me very well. I have an 11/16 bridge on it which gives plenty of room for the right hand without making it uncomfortable for the left hand. The neck is a bit clubbier than those of other makers but it feels great in my hand and I got used to it very quickly. Intonation is perfect.
Setup Rating: 9
This banjo is unique in that it has a star inlay at the fifth fret. Normally the Amish only comes with dots. While this was a goof-up in the Ramsey workshop I like it because it makes the banjo unique.
There are a few very minor flaws in the grain filling of the mahagony neck but nothing that distracts. One hook is different from the other ones. I guess they grabbed one out of the wrong bin. Again to me that is more endearing than annoying and shows me that it is a banjo built by hand.
I like understated looks and that is what you get with this banjo. Despite the minor flaws I will give it an 8.
Appearance Rating: 8
No problems here
Reliability Rating: 9
Customer Service: not rated
Components are good. Changing the tuner buttons to black might improve the looks.
Components Rating: 9
I love this banjo and anticipate that I will play it for a very long time. The sound and (to me) playability are its standout features.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Zepp Country Music
Year Purchased: 2001
Price Paid: 664.50 ($US)
Wonderfully full and dark with enough clarity to cut through in any band situation. Excellent volume and tone. Good quick response for an open-back. 12-inch pot with brass hoop tone ring makes smaller open-backs run away and hide. This bad boy is the perfect clawhammer banjo. It was a custom job that someone passed up. I'm glad that they did.
Sound Rating: 10
Zepp had this thing set up perfectly with a Fiberskyn head. I put a 12" Renaissance head in its place. Made a slight difference for the better, but it sounded great with the Fiberskyn as well. Came with a 5/8 bridge that I promptly swapped out for a no-name 11/16 bridge. High action for playing over the scoop. It was custom ordered with guitar frets and they really do the trick. I'm sold on them. Has a wider neck than most banjos out there and the extra width really makes a difference in playability. Gives you a little extra separation between the strings. Tough to describe but it translates to a really nice feel.
Setup Rating: 10
Plain Jane banjo with simple MOP dot inlays. Dark stained two-piece maple neck with Martin style tenor guitar headstock. The rim is painted black. Nothing fancy but not ugly. It ain't called the Amish model for nothing. Finish and fit are typical of Mike Ramsey's banjos - very good.
Appearance Rating: 10
Should last forever.
Reliability Rating: 10
Ramsey gives you a 5 year warranty. Haven't used it.
Customer Service: 10
5--star tuners, no-knot tailpiece - all good quality components. Hooks, brackets and tension hoop are top quality too. No need to upgrade.
Components Rating: 10
Great open-back banjo. It has beautiful tone and the larger guitar frets make it a joy to play. Really great feel. For the price, it was a steal. I'll die with this one.
Overall Rating: 10
'Keith D Tuners' 19 min
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