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!
6628 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: local music store
This is a resonator banjo without a tone ring/flange -- just four chromed plates screwed to the rim that allow you to attach it to the resonator. Having said that, and also noting I am new to Banjo (although I have heard and played some very good ones), this has a pretty bright tone and some really nice resonance -- quite pleasing for under $200. I have noticed, as with a number of cheaper banjos, the 4th string seems a bit "thuddy" or lifeless. But, for less than $200, it certainly sounds like a banjo.
Sound Rating: 8
I thought the action was great, although I tweaked it a bit with the coordinating rod (one rod, actually) and got it quite low. Even when it was higher, there was one major problem -- the second and third strings choked out on the sixth fret. I took it to Elderly Instruments (I DID NOT buy it from them, but I live close enough to drive there and I like the work they have done for me in the past) and had them glue and re-level the frets -- they were pretty off. Fixed the problem perfectly; plays great now -- super fast neck. I'd give the set-up a better rating, but that original fret problem just can't justify more than a 6 in my opinion (altough I had the same problem with a Epiphone guitar once, and lots of import instruments need a fret job). Oh, and when I went to see about adjusting the truss rod, it was totally loose -- no room to go with less tension. One positive, however, was that the bridge and intonation were excellent right out of the box.
Setup Rating: 6
I have no idea what kind of wood it actually is, although it's light weight, which, along with no tone ring, is nice. It is finished like walnut and it looks very nice. I very much like the darker shade of stain (almost black)at the heel and back of the headstock on the neck, kind of like a sunburst. The peghead logo is just screened, so it is not really attractive to me, but the pearl-ish buttons on the tuners look nice. No real inlay, other than what are probably plastic dots at the usual frets, but the frets look nice and are pretty well polished along the edges. The inside of the resonator is painted black and looks okay. The blocks to which the thumbscrews attach the rim appear to merely be stapled onto the rim (although they may be glued as well); it seems to work well enough and no one can see that anyway, so it's a non-issue. Overall, however, it looks great for the price.
Appearance Rating: 9
I think this will last -- I have no reason to doubt it. Like I said, the stapled blocks holding the thumbscrews worry me, but, quite frankly, I play this mostly as an open back and store the resonator. I'd still feel confident, however, even if I left it on. One thing I was very, very impressed with was the fact that every screw and bolt on the rim and other parts were on tight with no sign of letting go. Oh, and even with the guitar style tuners and the friction fifth peg, this thing stays in tune wonderfully -- very impressed with that aspect.
Reliability Rating: 9
have not dealt with the company
Customer Service: not rated
Well, at this level, I would not expect much -- guitar style tuners, friction fifth peg -- but what it does have seems to work and gives no sign of breaking or wearing out any time soon. Keeping it in the context of an entry level, $200 banjo, it deserves a very positive rating. I even like the bridge.
Components Rating: 8
I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an inexpensive banjo with a resonator -- I'm glad I discovered it. This was lowest price I could find on a resonator banjo without having to go used. It sounds good, plays very well (once the frets were leveled, which is not an expensive job). It certainly looks good, is very light (I bought if for my nine year old son to play, so I wanted something light), can double as an open back, and looks like it will last a long time. You really do seem to get well more than what you pay for in this model, and I look forward to playing it myself. Overall, a real bargain for beginners, and I think some more experienced players may even be impressed/surprised by it.
Overall Rating: 8
'Scorpion bridges' 1 hr