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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!

6661 reviews in the archive.

Tranjo  Standard Maple Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Grum (see all reviews from this person) on 8/22/2010

Where Purchased: via internet direct from Sam Farris

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 800 ($US)

Sound

With a 6" head this banjo is not going to sound like my Stelling but it does have a perfectly acceptable banjo type tone. The 1st string sounds a little thin while the 4th sounds surprisingly full and meaty. The harmonics are clear and loud. I've added a compensated Snuffy Smith bridge which had fixed any intonations issues up the neck. For a travel banjo I would say the sound is very good.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

I tried to tune it for quite a long time before I realised the bridge had been shifted about 1cm during transport. After setting this right it tuned up well, though it is awkward with the tuners in the body (rather than on a peg head) Action is excellent, head tension fine.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

I opted for the ebony fingerboard and radiused neck. All woodwork is excellent in appearance with a very nice satin lacquer which is not "grippy" against your skin. Most people immediately comment on the quality of the appearance when they see it up close.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I noticed that it would go out of tune easily. I assumed this was due to things settling in. Eventually I realised that the fit between the neck to body was not tight sideways. There was 1-2mm clearance on each side, allowing the neck to rotate sideways if bumped putting everything way out of tune. Tightening the single bolt would not help. I was disappointed at this apparent lack of quality control on an otherwise beautifully made instrument. Rather than complain, I applied a shim of "iron-on" timber veneer to each side of the socket in the body. This has fixed the problem perfectly. After my "repair" the Reliability Rating would be 10.

Reliability Rating: 5

Customer Service

I have not yet informed Sam Farris of the neck/body fit issue. Purchasing and delivery issues were fine.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The strings start at the tuners inside the body, bend 180 degrees around wooden pulleys before running over the bridge, along the neck to finish at the nut. The wooden pulley wheels seem to add a little friction to the tuning action. Perhaps some ball bearings would be good here. Maybe Sam could offer this as an optional upgrade.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I am VERY pleased with my Tranjo, now that I have fixed the neck wobble issue. It's simple to take apart and reassemble. It looks good, is light weight and is very nice to play (full length neck). It's not loud enough for jamming but that's not it's purpose. I've had to rate it as a 7 due to the neck issue but that was a simple fix. If not for that I would have awarded a 10. I really love it now.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by Dragonnail1 (see all reviews from this person) on 12/31/2008

Where Purchased: This is the Tranjo #100

Year Purchased: BHO drawing
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This is a well made jo.............pretty quiet compared to my Gibsons, Great for practicing on and not disturbing others in the house or at work. It has a bright sound, and is much lighter than my other banjos. I usually keep it next to the couch when I'm home. Took a little getting used to the peg head not being where it usually is.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Sam set it up before he shipped it. All I had to do was tune it up and i've been playing it since it arrived

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Very nice looking. I believe its a cherry body and a maple neck. with a very nice finish............smooth as a baby's b..............ebony finger board, and a samson bridge. and gold tuners around back. It has a six inch frosted head.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware is high quality also the finish looks very well done. I am not playing in a group so I am only playing for my own enjoyment, I would think it would have to have a pickup to be heard in a gig, or a microphone

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have talked to Sam Farris a few times and he seems to want to help anyone that might have a problem with their Tranjo. There is a 5 year warranty on all his instruments.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I was used to my own metronome so I am probably not going to use the one on the back of the Tranjo that covers the pick and capo compartment. Once this is in tune it stays that way

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I won this in BHO drawing,If it was stolen I would most likely replace it with the same. Its light easy to carry, not as loud as my other standard banjos, compact design to set on floor against the couch so its always close by when I want to play.I know this will work out good around the campfre playing

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by joebok (see all reviews from this person) on 11/30/2006

Where Purchased: From www.tranjo.com

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 550 (?) ($US)

Sound

For a travel banjo with a 6 inch head and a PVC tone ring, it sounds great! It's on the quiet side but still has good sustain. I replaced the regular old bridge that comes with it - makes a very noticeable difference.

I use it just as often to practice with at home as I do my "regular" banjo - a pleasure to play all the time.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Banjo came ready to play, action fine. It's designed differently than a regular banjo - the fretboard arrives about 1/4 inch higher than the rim. That leaves the action low and easy to fret (with no buzzing) but plenty of room for the fingers and picks of the right hand. It has a 2-way adjustable truss rod as well. The ingenious take-part design is great - just takes a few seconds to take apart and assemble - and your setup is just the way it was before. Mine came with 5th string spikes at 5, 7, 9, & 10.

Compared to a standard banjo, I find it a little hard to tune. It uses guitar tuners - they don't have the same gear ratio as I'm used to - a string winder is a must. However - this is a small price to pay for the convenience.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Looks weird, but very cool if you are not hung up on the whole pre-war gibson business. I put a Lamson Balanced Bridge on it - it sounds great and also really goes with the futuristic feel of the Tranjo.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I have Tranjo #2 and had a couple bugs that are not in later Tranjos. The slots where the strings head down & under to the tuners were not quite in the right position and I had a little trouble with on of the bars that holds the tuners. All issues were quickly resolved and should not be an issue in the new Tranjos. Very reliable.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Sam Ferris has been excellent - quick replies to questions and he made sure I was happy with the instrument.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The Tranjo is tougher than any other banjo I've seen. It's solid wood, nice rosewood fretboard and 3-piece laminated neck. There isn't much hardware to it, what there is is good quality. The design is where the Tranjo stands out - looks weird when you first see it, but it fills it's role as a travel banjo excellently.

The neck removal is fantastic. You get a real banjo with a full scale, full size neck that will fit inside a backpack. It's tough and durable - I've taken mine on many trips - it's been knocked around a lot in airports and cars and where ever else - but it sounds and plays great all the time.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

For somebody looking for a banjo to take with them on the road or camping I would highly recommend this banjo. It's durable, packable, easy to play and sounds great. I love mine - if lost or stolen I would call Sam right away and get another.

It will go where you are going and let you amuse & entertain yourself and your family/friends at your destination.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Unknown on 1/12/2005

Where Purchased: banjo.com

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 699 ($US)

Sound

I rank this a 7 for sound. This is not anything against the Tranjo as I feel this instrument is built primarily around portability and not sound. However with the small head and the standard banjo bridge, the Tranjo does in fact sound like a banjo, however it does not have the volume of a regular banjo. You can tighten and loosen the head for different sounds like a regular banjo. There are also several different head types available since it uses a standard 6" drum head. Again the only reason the Tranjo does not get a 10 in this category is that it is not designed to produce the volume and sound of a regular banjo. However the sound and volume that is produced is very enjoyable and very nice to practice with.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

The Tranjo was very well set up when I received it. Bridge was positioned properly and the action was "just right" in my opinion. The only changes I have done is tighten the head just a tad for a little bit brighter sound.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The Tranjo is a bit strange looking for sure. You will get many people asking "what's that thing?" when you play it. The overall woodwork and appearance is just fine. The finish appears to be good quality and all of the wood parts and inlays are very well done. One thing I noticed is that the fret slots appear to be milled into the fretboard, as in you can not see any slots cut when you look at the side of the fretboard. This gives the neck a very clean and smooth appearance. The rosewood fingerboard on this particular Tranjo has some beautiful woodgrain.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

You can tell that the Tranjo is a top quality instrument. This is no toy or gimmick banjo, this is a true travel banjo that is built to last. All of the hardware and wood seem to be excellent quality, you can tell that Sam does not cut any corners on the construction of these. With proper care I would expect the Tranjo to last a lifetime of playing with no ill results.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Banjo.com where I purchased the Tranjo was excellent. John and Barry did an excellent job helping me with my purchase. I have also corresponded with Sam Farris, the creator and builder of the Tranjo. Sam is a great guy to talk with and he has created a heck of a travel banjo. I'm sure he would stand behind his product. I think the Tranjo comes with a 5 year warranty.

Customer Service: 10

Components

My Tranjo has a maple body and neck with a rosewood fingerboard. There is also a walnut version which is a very nice looking instrument as well. I'm not sure of the tuners, I think they are Gotoh's, they are very nice quality.There is no tailpiece, the bridge is a Grover. Again, Sam didnt spare any expense in making this, he used top quality parts throughout.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

The Tranjo is a very nice instrument. I was needing something I could carry with me throughout Asia when I traveled, and I wanted something that could fit "inside" a suitcase, so I wouldn't have to answer tons of questions at customs and border entries, etc. The Tranjo fits this bill perfectly. The neck quickly detaches and the entire Tranjo can fit into an 18" carry on suitcase. You can go to www.tranjo.com to see the details of how the Tranjo breaks down for travel. I have taken it down a couple of times, really just playing to see how easy it is. As long as you follow the instructions you will have no problems (use the string clamp and capo). I also marked the bridge position just in case it slid during breakdown. The ONLY thing I wish was that the price was about $100 or so cheaper. If Sam could find a way to build this same quality instrument in the less than $500 range I bet he could sell tons of these. However I am in manufacturing myself and I know the hurdles that one must jump, especially in domestic manufacturing, and I don't see how this would be possible. I feel it is worth the $699 that I paid, because it fit my needs PERFECTLY!! I would definitely purchase one again if this one was lost or stolen. I don't think any other "travel" banjo comes close to being in the same category as the Tranjo. The Tranjo can fit into an 18" carry on, yet has a FULL SIZE neck. I feel this is essential to have if you plan on traveling and getting in lots of practice time. I will be taking this to Asia with me for about a month so I will update my review when i return.

Overall Rating: 9

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