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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!

7087 reviews in the archive.

Dean  Backwoods 5  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Irongrass (see all reviews from this person) on 1/22/2013

Where Purchased: Guitar Center

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 420 ($US)

Sound

The banjo generally has a bright, loud sound when played acoustically. However when put through an amp, you can create all kinds of crazy sounds with it. Very cool.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Guitar Center had to order the banjo special for us. The first one that came (keep in mind, brand new) had a large crack on the resonator, about 4 inches long. They realized this and sent it back. The second one that came was almost flawless, but the 5th string nut was broken in half, and hitting the fifth string would cause it to come off the bridge. After getting a new nut for no charge, it played great. However, the problems in the beginning was a pain.

Setup Rating: 3

Appearance

The banjo has a dark walnut finish on the neck, and an almost black finish on the resonator. Only complaint is that the original head is clear, and you can see the pickups and wires through it. To fix this, I ordered a custom head online (refer to profile picture) and now it looks absolutely incredible. Overall appearance out of the box, without flaws, not bad.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

The finish seems to be extremely strong. I would only bring a backup to a gig in the event of a regular string breakage, because the banjo itself seems to be reliable. I can depend on it. The fifth string tuning peg is a little hard to work, but does not pose a problem at all.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

My biggest complaint is Dean's customer service. The people on the phone seem to have no idea that the company they work for even sells instruments. This is why we were thankful that we used a third-party seller. Would not recommend even attempting to contact them in case of a problem, let the store you are buying it from handle it.

Customer Service: 2

Components

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

With a little bit of tinkering, this banjo became the workhorse of all of mine. Providing no issues occur in shipping and it arrives flawless, would certainly recommend. It's also probably the best value on an acoustic-electric banjo out there, if that's something you're looking for. As much at I want one, I don't have $1000 lying around for a Gold Tone EBM.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by PaulKirby (see all reviews from this person) on 9/12/2007

Where Purchased: Music 123

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 400 ($US)

Sound

Bright loud sound. Good for bluegrass. It's of course a little sweeter near the neck. Doesn't have the depth of character that a more expensive banjo has, but overall a bright, well-balanced sound.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

I had to set the bridge on it and tune it, but that was it. The action was pretty comfortable. The banjo was ready to go in 5 minutes. It was a good basic set up for this level banjo. Some whine in the 5th string. I've adjusted the nut height, and it's fine. A well-known component maker with lots of experience was impressed that the tension rods were pretty much as they should be. The head needed a little tensioning, but not much. It sounded great practically right out of the box.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Attractive looking banjo: nice traditional-looking fingerboard inlay. Excellent finish: virtually no flaws.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

The tuners were a little loose, but I tightened them slightly and now they are fine. It seems like a dependable instrument.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

No experience yet. I ordered the banjo online and it got here in a few days.

Customer Service: 7

Components

I've put on a Kateyz Prowler bridge, and will probably put on a bone nut. While tensioning the head, I noticed that some of the bracket nuts don't exactly fit the wrench. Tuners are nothing fancy but they are solid and work well.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

I would definitely recommend this banjo for it's quality/price. It's an excellent value. With the kateyz bridge this thing absolutely howls. I bought it without doing too much research, and I feel like I was super lucky. It's an excellent entry-level bluegrass banjo. Beautiful, heavy and loud. At the luthier's I got to play a pre-war Gibson Granada, and the Dean obviously doesn't have the soul of the Gibson, but it's pretty astounding considering its price.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by loanwolf (see all reviews from this person) on 12/28/2004

Where Purchased: Music 123.com

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 399 ($US)

Sound

bright full sound, a little plunky when played up the neck but not bad, much better overall sound than any banjo in this price range. Wood rim provides mellow bass notes while tone ring adds some punch. You could buy a banjo at twice the price and not get a better sound.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

Had to install bridge, head needed to be tensioned. Other than that set up was fine.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

Beautiful banjo to look at. Nice hearts inlay, not real fancy, but not bad. Much better than the simple dot inlays on most banjos in this price range.
The finish was flawless not a scratch to be found.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Nice chrome hardware and nice touches on armrest and tailpiece. Geared planetary tuners look like they should provide years of playing with no problems.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

I called Dean and Music 123 prior to purchase. Although I have not had any service related issues they seem really eager to help. Dean gives you a 1 year warranty with 1 caution. They will not honor the warranty on any banjo that has been modified (so railroad spikes, or sliding 5th string capo will likely void warranty)

Customer Service: 8

Components

Components seem to be mid grade parts. You could upgrade, but why bother on a banjo in this price range. I'm sure with proper care and maintenance you should get years of play with no problems.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

I played and looked at every banjo in this price range, and the BW-5 had them all beat hands down. No cheap aluminum here. You would be hard pressed to find anything close to the BW-5 for looks and playability.

Overall Rating: 9

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