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.
Where Purchased: ebay
I was iffy on an archtop but wanted mahogany. Love it! Plays like a flathead but with a little pop/ attitude. Not as bright as my Maple Blossom- smoother. I haven't begun to tap its potential but I'm struck with how easy it plays. Pull offs are effortless and full. Major changes in tone/sustain with small shifts to and from the bridge. Near the bridge it will poke your eye out and each string seems to say "next!"
Sound Rating: 10
Came to me with older strings that played fine. Swapped them out and the sound rocketed. Snuffy Smith bridge and the original head. Low action and super fast neck. I have smallish hands and nothing is a stretch. May go from light to mediums to see what happens.
Settled on Siminoff Straight Up strings Lights. Great match!
Update: Bill Keith Lights are the way. Great low action. Snugged the head a touch and WOW. Tried a few other bridges and came back to the Snuffy
Setup Rating: 9
Pretty- classic- just enough fancy to keep you smiling.Mahogany is rich and looks right. Finish is great for a 33 year old banjo. All the metal has an aged patina- nothing blinding but a nice shine. The binding/purfling(?) etc is yellowed to a beautiful ivory color. H & F Inlays look like they should- no mother of toilet seat here. Tight and smooth.Added a banjomate wood arm rest. Love that.
Appearance Rating: 10
Made it this far! No concerns. A banjo that's broken in not broken down.
Reliability Rating: 10
No experience. I'll give them a gentleman's 8
Customer Service: 8
Nothing I can see.
Components Rating: 9
Great banjo- A keeper. Work horse. Plays great and didn't break the bank- I'll take good care of it but I don't have to worry who plays it or where. A banjo people won't be shy about asking to play. I expect it will draw a crowd and I'll enjoy passing it around. What more can you ask for?
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Amazing Grace Music, San Anselmo, Ca
Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 1300 ($US) (bought USED)
Loud, brassy, but clear with that killer Stanley sound, it just lights up with light pressure, great tone with minimal effort, though with light vega strings I can't wail on it too hard or it gets to buzzing-I with vega mediums, it is more mellow and no buzzing, but I am just geting to know it.
Sound Rating: 8
seems to be set up about perfect. John at Amazing Grace is a master-great resource, as I've picked his brain for useful bits. The action is low, the neck is fantastic and thin-better than any 60's-80's gibson I've played, but you can see the similarities. I has the original tailpiece and a grover bridge-i ain't sure if I will give in to the custom bridge hysteria just yet-but I'm tempted.
Setup Rating: 9
Its pretty, just real nice finish work all around. It has that solid heft and feel, a fine quality thats hard to describe. It just seems to stand apart from lesser banjos, I could never feel in love with the gold tones or similar rigs that I tried-this banjo feels like living wood
Appearance Rating: 9
everything is rock solid, stays in tune for days with constant playing-i'm suprised a that.
the only fly in the ointment is a hairline crack up the heel-several knowledgable folk have looked at it and said it fine and nothing to worry about. I'll keep an eye on it
Reliability Rating: 9
saga seems solid, but I haven't dealt with them, nor would expect to
Customer Service: not rated
all tuner and plating are top knotch, I assume they're original.
John threw in a new "golden gate" archtop case-this thing is so sweet, I'll never worry about the gold star when its packed away this snug.
Components Rating: 10
I paid a fair amount, maybe more than I would expect, but I still feel that I couldn't have made a better choice-the banjo just spoke to me.
Its the banjo that I daydream about-it begs to be picked up. I like lifting it out of its case, or when it's weight settles down upon my shoulder.
I compared it to quite a few banjos, some costing five times the price of the Gold Star. I played Deerings, Wildwoods, a Tennessee, other older imports, a new gold star, and quite a few gibsons, new and old. While I was impressed with the gibson black jack and many others, the only ones I truly love cost well over $3500+...versus my little Gold Star, all worn in and beautiful for just over a grand with all sorts of stuff thrown in the bargain. Plus I was able to support my favorite independent old time music shop. 'nuff said.
Overall Rating: 10
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'John Prine' 1 hr
'Super Moon' 1 hr