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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!

6919 reviews in the archive.

Slingerland  May Bell 5 string  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Hans Gruber (see all reviews from this person) on 5/14/2006

Where Purchased: Trade Me (NZ e-bay equivalent)

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 450 (NZD) (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter


Sound is warm and sweet with a nice pop but not much crack and fairly bright. Volume is good overall and from string to string. I am learning bluegrass, but am keen branch out - I believe the sound will respond quite well to adjustments in bridge, tailpiece angle to give the flexiblity to try other styles.

Sound Rating: 8


Banjo was poorly set up when purchased - the skin head was crooked, the action too low and some sort of wood butchery had been done to the rim to adjust the neck angle. The rim was repaired, the dowel stick lengthened the head replaced with a frosted hight crown remo and a 5/8 bridge installed. Later I replaced the non adjustable grover presto tailpeice with a kershner from stewmac to increase the brightness - and it did particularly up the neck. (May put the presto back for clawhammer etc when I buy another Banjo) My rating now that I've set it up correctly would be 9. Oh and I had to get it re-freted

Setup Rating: 2


The pot and resonator required sanding and re varnish(?)ing. The neck inlays are quite plain but attractive, the peg head has a nicely inlayed may bell on the front and ivoroid tuner nobs. The resonator, pot and neck appear to be walnut. The resonator has a lovely painted on design and white bindings. The rim has handsome marquetry.

Appearance Rating: 8


As stated in the other may bell review - it lasted this long..(75yrs)

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

not applicable

Customer Service: 1


The resonater can be easily removed and has the flange attached to it. The pot is solid and thick - the tone ring is quite unique - sort of dishlike over a hollow truss rod - but the neck is still true.
Neck is a little on the narrow side.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I love this Banjo - it's my first - I think because it's vintage charm I found it easier to pick up practice when tired..If it where stolen I would be very unhappy - to replace with a new banjo of simular (intermediate) quality would cost a whole lot more than I've spent...

Overall Rating: 9

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