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6918 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: direct from Jason Romero
Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 3000 ($US)
Jason built this banjo to order for me and it was to be a wood tone ringed reso banjo for bluegrass style picking. It is a surprisingly loud and clear sounding banjo with hints of overtones which are just a little different than your standard bluegrass banjo. It is pretty bright in the upper registers but not in the way some metal tone ring banjos can be when they are approaching "tinny"
It has great tone up and down the neck and most people hearing it dont realise it has a wood tone ring. It sounds good played hard or soft and even though I dont consider myself a hard picker I can get a lot of volume out of this banjo. It has plenty of sustain and that low 4th D string has a lot of "grunt". I like light guage strings and even so this instrument could only described as "powerfull" .
This summer just gone I played it a lot outdoors , including at a local festival, and sitting under a tree, playing with other people is just where this instrument sounds at its best
Sound Rating: 10
I asked Jason to set the banjo up with a low action, which he did. The bridge was removed for freighting and I had to fool around with it for intonation etc. I replaced the strings with my preferred light guage brand . I have had to angle the bridge a little and the compensated bridge of Jason's own design and manufacture could have done with being slightly more compensated (IMO) I gradually tightened the renaissance head over a few weeks and had to tighten the tailpiece. Otherwise everything was fine and the instrument plays beautifully.
Setup Rating: 10
This is an excellent looking banjo. Check out Jason's web site. Make sure you wear protective clothing because of the drool factor.Mine is 0547 in the reso banjo set of photos. As others have said, photos dont do justice. I wanted a slightly understated look with simple but highly visible inlays, so I came up with a slight variation on a couple of Jason's earlier designs.
Wood: Santos mahogany with Cocobolo fingerboard, headstock veneer, and armrest. T45 tone ring- Katalox,bubinga. Ebony binding, "sun" inlay;pink abalone,mother of pearl. "Hard oil " finish
Combination of gold and chromed hardware.
Being something of a woodworker myself I have inspected this banjo top to bottom and could only come up with perfect
Appearance Rating: 10
I cannot see why this banjo would not last a lifetime(or several). Jason does only use one rod inside to connect neck to shell but this all seeems strong and any way the banjo is very light, for a reso banjo. I dont know where he sources his hardware but it seems of top quality. I asked Jason to make a wood armrest something along the lines of Nechville, which he did and it is very comfortable and seems strong. The wood parts are finished with what he describes as his "Hard Oil "finish which I must admit I had my doubts about , as I have a background in surface coatings. As people in the industry will know ,polymerised tung oil is used as part of the base for a lot of modern clear one pot polyurethanes. Cooked (polymerised) at high temperatures it offers considerably better physical propeties than in its raw state. The feel of the finish while playing is very silken, and after many months of hard playing is unmarked, so I think it will compare favorably with other finishes for durability. Jason offers a conventional style laquered finish as an option . Overall, it compares well with any top of the range instrument. I would use it at a gig without a back up although I didnt really buy this as a "band" banjo
Reliability Rating: 10
Jason is great to deal with and was helpful and friendly during the design and planning stage and was quick to turn a concept into reality, though, (as I suspect with most custom instrument builders) his estimate on completion time was a little optimistic, though to be fair ,it was also during the time he was shifting workshop. His instruments have a lifetime warranty for the original owner. I live in New Zealand so I hope I wont have to ever send it back.
Customer Service: 10
All components are good and nothing but the best woods are used. The wood armrest turned out particularly well. The wood tone ring sounds great and of course contributes to the light weight of the banjo. The inlays are beautifully done .
The hard case TKL is excellent too
Components Rating: 10
This banjo was very reasonable cost wise for a custom instrument and I suspect Jason Romero is becoming very highly regarded in the banjo world. I would have no hesitation dealing with Jason again. This particular banjo was never going to be a "Masterclone" but it has a pleasing ,distinct tone, clear and loud, that makes it unique plus it's a great looker. It's a little hard to compare with other instruments but it certainly stands up more than favorably in terms of sound,playability, and appearance compared to other banjos I have played
Overall Rating: 10
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