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!
6661 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: eBay
Price Paid: 86 ($US) (bought USED)
A very sweet-sounding instrument. I like to play old-fashioned folk, sometimes even minstrel-style, with bare fingers. Most modern instruments (beautiful and nice as they are!) are too loud and clangy for my purposes. I couldn't afford to speculate on one of the wonderful gourd banjos that I see in the catalogs, so I had the idea of buying an inexpensive open-back banjo and putting some La Bella nylon strings on it. I bought this 5-string Harmony Reso-Tone on eBay, and loved the tone so much I never got around to trying the nylon strings on it. Very mellow - possibly too much so for some people's taste - but if you're into old-fashioned banjo, this thing is the cat's meow!
Sound Rating: 10
This banjo had been knocking around for two generations in somebody's summer cabin. Kids had played with it, taken it on picnics, you name it. All I had to do was tune it when I took it out of the box. The neck is steel-reinforced, but not adjustable. It's very simple and rugged.
Setup Rating: 10
I like its simplicity. It has a dark brown Bakelite "Reso-Tone" body, and a brown-painted neck. I own the optional Reso-Tone resonator (R 8005), but prefer the open back sound so I keep it off.
Appearance Rating: 10
It's already lasted forty-plus years, so I'm guessing it's good for at least another forty.
Reliability Rating: 10
Harmony is still in business, under different owners. I'm sure they're great to deal with, but I'm giving them a good rating for making something so good that it never needed repair.
Customer Service: 10
The body is dark-brown Bakelite. Harmony called it "Reso-Tone". The neck is wood, though I don't know what kind. It's straight and true, whatever it is. The hardware is simple and basic - 16 brackets and a tailpiece.
Components Rating: 10
I love this banjo! I knew nothing about Reso-Tone banjos when I bought it. I was just looking for an inexpensive open-back to put some nylon strings on for an old-time banjo sound. It would be a prefectly good banjo for someone who wanted something to take camping as well, but if you're into old-time banjo, this one sounds wonderful for that stuff! Light as a feather, too! (I loved it so much I went back on eBay and bought a tenor, as well!) These old Harmony Reso-Tones are the '55 Chevy of banjos - cool old classics!
Overall Rating: 10