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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.

Recording King  RK R80 Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Jesse C (see all reviews from this person) on 3/8/2009

Where Purchased: banjohut.com

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Sounds great. Much better than two Morgan Monroe Cascades that I tried out (although they also sounded good). I switched out the stock bridge for a Roger Seckler locust bridge and the banjo has a real bluegrassy pop. I love the way that it sounds.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was set up very well. Banjohut.com has a reputation for a good setup and they did not disappoint. My only issue is that the nut needs to be slotted a littlebit lower -- the action at the first fret is too high.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

If anyone has seen these banjos they know that they look great!! No visible flaws at all.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware seems like it will last. The tuners are much higher quality than the tuners on the Morgan Monroes that I tried out. However, only time will tell so I'm gonna give 'em a 9.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Haven't dealt directly with Recording King.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I think that the best parts are (1) the neck...the inlays and binding are beautiful, and (2) the peghead. Of course,the whole banjo is gorgeous.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I'm not mentioning the price because I got a really good deal. I would recommend it at MSRP and below. If it was stolen I would immediately replace it. I highly recommend Recording King banjos they are much better than the Morgan Monroes I tried in the same price range.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by serialOC (see all reviews from this person) on 2/7/2008

Where Purchased: The Music Link

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

We all know RK are great by now. I got one from Clyde @ B&B last year. I roadie for a band outta Austin Tx, The Gourds & our multi instrumentalist, Max Johnston liked my RK so much he got one. We like to thank Greg, Steve, Ali & the good folks over @ The Music Link for Max's RK-R80. You guys are the best!!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Done by The Music Link. Max uses an Arthur Hatfield compensated bridge & D'Addario J-57 Custom Medium Strings.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Nice clean lines, great finish, what a working musicians banjo should look like.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Heavy! Solid feel. Nice smooth neck. Great action. Max used my RK-R80 for well over 75 shows all over the lower 48 & Alaska, it is still rock solid.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Banjo w/ life time warranty!.. nuf said.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I think the tone rings in these bad boys are very stand out for the price & high quality parts from top to bottom. Makes the perfect banjo for touring.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I personally played over 200 banjos while shopping for my own RK & everyone thats played it from Mississippi Chris Sharp who was kind enough to help me set it up to Arthur Hatfield who invited me to his shop & made us bridges to pickers we encountered all over the US touring all love it, I stopped bring mine on tour cause I never get to play it anyways.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Mister_Banjo_II (see all reviews from this person) on 1/2/2008

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1,400 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

luckily, i got ahold of one of the earlier models--serial number is between 90 and 100. plays better than any Gibson or anything i've ever played, except for this ONE Huber banjo. owned by John Lawless

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

i bought it used-set up perfect. but i'd like to have things checked up on. replace the head--ive worn it almost all the way through!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It's gorgeous! no flaws at all! i would like gold hardware. but chrome is purty too!

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

everything (except the arm rest and fifth string peg-which i bumped against the side of my set up table while changing strings) appears as if it will last many more shows. the armrest has been held up against some VERY sweaty arms, so it's a little rubbed up.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

haven't had to. but the warranty i'm sure was voided by buying it used!

so i'll give them a 5.

Customer Service: 5

Components

i would upgrade the armrest. eventually, not right off, i would use it and then after a while change it. other than that nothing NEEDS to be changed, i put a Snuffy Smith bridge on that bad boy and he sings like no other

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

the price for this banjo has gone down rapidly just recently, but if you can get ahold of an older model (pre Johnson) then it is def. worth $1,400!

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by banjomon (see all reviews from this person) on 12/26/2007

Where Purchased: Banjo Hangout Classifieds

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 800 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

The sound of my RK is astounding and it has everything that I wanted and expected. I purchased this banjo over a year ago for playing hard driving bluegrass and it does not disappoint. It meets or exceeds the sound of other "high end" banjos that I've played even though it is 1/3 to 1/4 the cost depending on which high end banjo that you're talking about.
It gives me a nice growly low end with just the right amount of brightness and it is actually quite loud. It has plenty of pop and crack and it actually does have a "pre-war" sound to it....which I've had the opportunity to play several pre-wars.
It holds its own whether I'm picking in a jam or on stage and really adds to the bluegrass flavor of our group's music. I get a lot of compliments on how good the banjo sounds so that says a lot right there! I am extremely happy with the way this banjo sounds and couldn't be happier!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The Hangout member that I purchased from may or may not have done some set up on the banjo before I got it - I don't really know. Even still, I did the usual stuff: replaced the bridge with a Kat Eyz 5/8" pegged bridge; adjusted the action; adjusted the head tension; adjusted the bridge placement; installed 5th string spikes at 7, 8 & 10.
But even from the very beginning, I planned on taking the banjo to a pro for a complete set up - which I did after having it about a month. My only complaint about the banjo was the string spacing on the nut - which my set up guy took care of. The 1st and 4th strings are still a bit too close to the fretboard edge to my liking (the 4th string especially) but not as bad as it was when I first received the instrument. This is really a non-issue - for the most part as I do not have problems with it very often.
So outside the usual things that one does in regards to set up, my banjo was actually set up fairly well when I received it. I have not needed anything major done like recutting the heel or turning the rim.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

The photos that you typically see on the internet of the RK-R80 does not do this thing justice at all. This banjo really needs to be seen first hand to fully appreciate its beauty. The stain and finish is perfect and really brings out the natural beauty of the wood grain. There is absolutely no flaws in the inlays or bindings and the builders did an impeccable job. You would almost swear that this was a custom banjo and not a production model. Its appearance is really that good!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

There is no question about the reliability of this banjo or any of its components - it has and does - hold its own! I have played this banjo in jams and on stage during the year that I've owned it and have never had - nor do I expect to have - any problems whatsoever. It's as solid as a rock and I do not even think about a back up.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

As I am not the original purchaser, there really is no customer service expected. BUT - I will add this: after I received this banjo and found that my banjo had the same problem as many in the first batch (mine is number 21) with the nut string spacing, I immediately contacted Greg and Scott to see IF something could be done. They in turn got me in contact with Travis at Music Link. Now, between all three of these guys, they managed to help resolve the issue by sending me (at no charge) a replacement nut! Talking about a big surprise for me......yeah no doubt. Here I purchased this banjo 2nd hand and they helped fix a problem that really was not their problem, if you catch my drift. Now to me - that's going way beyond the call of duty and standing behind their product! How many other companies would do that? My hat is definitely off to all of these guys and Music Link - thanks!

Customer Service: 10

Components

To be honest, I have not had a single problem with any of the components on this banjo. Everything seems to be holding up just fine with no issues at all. I think one of the most outstanding parts on this banjo - well.....besides the tone ring and flange - is the tuners. These things stay in tune no matter what. Many times after loading, traveling to a gig, and unloading and setting up gear - I have not had to retune at all! Geez - I think these things would hold a freight train in place. Don't get me wrong, they are as smooth as butter and tuning is a snap but this banjo basically stays in tune in almost all conditions. Actually, when I have to start retuning regularly - that is my flag that it's time to change strings! Some say they change out the tail piece, but mine has not given me any trouble so the original is still on the banjo.....and will be unless it breaks for some reason - which is doubtful that that will happen.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would very highly recommend this banjo to anyone that is looking for a good, quality banjo at an affordable price. As mentioned previously, I have played other high end banjos costing 3 or 4 times the street price of this RK - and my banjo is by far a better sounding and playing instrument. No - it's not a Stelling or one of the other "boutique" banjos, but it wasn't built to compare to these types of banjos. But, it is not that far behind in sound, playability or dependability and over all is a great banjo - regardless of the price. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced picker, this banjo will exceed your expectations and will last practically forever if you take care of it and not abuse it. It is extremely reliable, well built and has great looks to boot! It is probably the best choice for the average picker that doesn't want to mortgage your home just so you can have a great instrument to pick on and enjoy for years to come. Although I do plan to own a Stelling in the future, this RK will be with me for life. No doubt about it!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by tburt (see all reviews from this person) on 11/21/2007

Where Purchased: Elkins Acoustic Instruments

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1395.00 ($US)

Sound

This banjo sounds like a banjo should. Loud , bluegrassy .

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Gene at Elkins did a fantastic setup on this banjo.
He takes them apart checks everything then puts it back together with
improvements.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Very nice look to it not real flashy . Inlay work is exellent.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This banjo is very well put together I have no reason to think this
instrument wont last for years

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Ive had no issues at this point don't expect any.
Gene made a follow up call to make sure everything was good.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The banjo was not in out of the box condition when I purchased it
it was already upgraded with Gene's in house bridge,and medium
Scruggs strings and railroad spikes.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is my 2nd banjo its quite a upgrade from a Rover,I could have paid
less for it but the value in having a banjo builder like Gene go through
and completely enhance the instrument is worth the price difference.

Overall Rating: 10

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