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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!

6920 reviews in the archive.

CloverLick  Eklectric  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by dillerbanjo (see all reviews from this person) on 4/9/2007

Where Purchased: Directly from Kramer

Year Purchased: '05
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

the banjo i will be reviewing is ''Grandad Edgar'' it has 11 1/2'' x 3/4'' tony pass rim with a 'pineywoods' neck.
my 'eklectric' has the capacity to be played lightly with a lot of snap, yet still will cut the mustard. these are not dead-beat dull washtub banjos. for decades i have cringed when i have heard those kind of banjos. however, the eklectrics will not stand for those of the 'heavy hand' persuasion to be crashing about.
these banjos have NO steel in the tone ring; whereas those available commercially, as far as i know, now have a steel ring in the 'whyte laydie' tone rings. that practice started in the '20s.
since there is no steel
under the head, the tone is much warmer; none of the tinny crash. plus combine these home made tone rings with the 3/4'' tony pass rims, the result helps me not to play loud [because i do not want to], but to play quick and strong whether slow or fast. am more able to control the sound since it is so very very responsive.
except for 'black diamond' i have always just used the cheaper medium or lite medium strings but right often w/ a worn out .012 in 5th string position. cuts down on the 'ring'. again, i always want the rich, full, ringing sound that a proper brass/bronze tone ring gives a banjo. it is worth the investment. [but gibson style tone rings need NOT apply]

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Jeff sets my banjos up so the string height above the head and up near the end of the fingerboard is high enough so my thumb can properly drop behind and down a bit below the 5th string. this makes for a banjo that can be played with all sorts of rhythms rather than the silly playing up the neck and only getting one kind of rhythm. i have always ordered my banjos with a setup to maximize playability. also NO 'no knot' tailpieces are applied to these banjos. 'no knot' style banjo tailpieces are very inferior to the many available out there. the only reason to put them on is to cut corners.
the radiused fingerboard and having my 5th string peg installed on the 6th fret is great help. i only want the 5th string key which has a capstan. there are the other geared ones which wind up the string down inside. they need to go the way of the 'no-knot's. i never bother to 'tune' the head; just pull it down tight. most generally, as tight as possible before breaking. and also the 'renny' heads work well with eklectrics. absolutely no fibre skyn heads on the premisis.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

my banjos have no need of all the fluff on the fingerboard. a very tasteful peghead 'trillium' inlay w/ side dots will do me just fine. i personally have no use for inlay. it adds to the cost and is not cost effective.; save the money from that and apply it else where. such as keith tuners and/or the all brass hardware. i use only 23 1/2'' scale with wider neck but not baseball bat thick. the fingerboard ends up being probably as wide as any out there. i had a beautiful sounding and playing banjo using 11 1/2'' lange rim and a gibson scale neck but very intricate shaped peghead. i used that banjo for alout a quarter century. however the style of skinny, narrow 'princess' necks that ss stewart was building late 19th century as women's parlor instruments have carried right on thru. for down stroke banjos, the skinny necks/fingerboards make slides, hammer ons, pull offs more difficult for me. this is where much of my rhythm is developed when i get my right hand going properly. plus what is the use of all that weight from a 26 1/2'' hanging out there. just as well be a rock for all the good it does, in my experience. folks have said, i wouldnt want a 23 1/2'' scale because i would have keep it tuned to 'A' all the time. i almost never do that.

these banjos of mine have a finish that is tough, built to stand up against heavy use and immediately repaired if need be. is not dull but is not a mirror. i have seen high dollar new banjos with 'varnish' that was literally wearing off w/ in 4 months of purchase. plus these are not spray booth shiney slick that will chip off. i have had my fill of these kinds of banjos over the past almost 40 years
on the banjos i have placed specific orders, i like either the thin red or green veneers used under fingerboard, peghead, between heel cap and sandwiched between the split neck.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

recently the 'all brass hardware' is what i have ordered. is more expensive but over the long haul, is really inexpensive. the extra brass mass helps the sound.
there is something wrong with most of the newer geared tuners. i used the 5-star and V2 tuners for years. however, recently after being used for awhile, they start to 'grind' inside. i order my banjos with 'keith all brass' tuners. since the brass hardware has no 'finish' on it, there is nothing to wear off. patina just gets better.
the home made aged brass brackets, shoes, stretcher band is one of a kind. i want no other if i can afford it.
the only reason for a backup at a gig would be if an auto ran over the cloverlick i had at the moment.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

i have had several of these cloverlick banjos over the past few years. early on, i would get one and one of my students would want to purchase it as soon as they played it. so the amount paid would allow me to reorder. however, the fit and finish and sound and playability has been the same throughout the developement period. i cannot remember #1's name, but i do remember #2 'Charmin Betsey' and she is a real powerhouse today and getting better if played properly. if there would be something out of order, i would contact cloverlick. it would be fixed

Customer Service: 10

Components

there are banjos out there that are 3X the price, but quality and sound and playability cannot match these i play. if there were anything needed upgrading, it would be any of the earlier banjos with the lesser tuners need be replaced with 'keith' tuners.
just compare these top of the line cloverlicks with home made brass hard ware to all the shiney, nickle plated and also sometimes inferior parts. that heavy duty brass on mine is real beauty.

early on, such equipment like '5 stars' worked just fine. but all the newer banjo tuners are being built with some shoddy innards

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

i make no money, no kick backs from cloverlick banjos. i play them because they have done for years exactly what i need my banjos to do. presently i have had 'Grandad Edgar' [11 1/2'' x 3/4'' rim eklectric] for 2 or 3 years and Thumper' [12''x3/4''pass rim eklectric] for about 4 years or so. these banjos have no plan for leaving my household. but if one were stolen/destroyed and jeff were still building, i could get another just as good as far as sound and playability and construction.
as a professional, i need the best i can get. if i had $10,000 to spend, i would still purchase one of these.
also the way i justify my purchasing is: if i were to purchase a new auto, it would, as i drove it off the lot, depreciate enough to purchase at least one more of these banjos.

word has it there is a newer model with the 'tony pass thin skirt' rim. this kind of rim is receiving some good words in some quarters.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Mary Banjo (see all reviews from this person) on 8/25/2006

Where Purchased: Stringed Instrument Services

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

My CloverLick Eklectric has a powerful voice, with as much sustain as you want to release. It rings of sweet earthy tones with the all wood rims, and with the special tone ring, it projects enough volume for a dance all if you want to let it loose. I chose a wider neck which lets me be as articulate as I choose and not need to worry about unwanted overtones. You can overpower this banjo if you want but you can hold back just a little and the sound is real sweet mellow with a lighter touch. It’s like having the best of both worlds in one.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The set up was perfect when I got it. The action was just where it should be, high enough to get volume but still had good placement for speed. The surfaces were all smooth and completely finished. There was nothing needed to be done after I got it. It was amazing. The craftsmanship was as good as it gets. After owning it for more than a year now I can say, it is still fantastic. No buzzing ever(even in low D tuning) and the hardware has needed not adjusting.

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

Beautiful in appearance; The banjo I purchased is a very unique looking banjo. I had custom work done on it such as using babinga and zebra woods. I requested the rennaisance head for it’s deeper sound but it also gives a more historical or overall authentic look. I did have some inlay work done but kept it simple and the workmanship was perfect. The banjo also came with a certificate of Title and was sent with extras in many areas.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware is holding up really well and oIt will no doubt last a long time. I can completely depend on it and continue to. I do use it on gigs with no back up and it does very well.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have dealt with customer service but only to buy some other goods from the companies offering; always available and helpful.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I would list the stand out components to be as follows: EKlectric tone ring, Tony Pass Rim; Kershner tail piece, Keith Tuners and the special bridge he uses that I can't remember the name of.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would recommend this banjo for the price I paid. It was less than other more expensive banjos that I've purchased that haven't sounded nearly as good. If I had it stolen, I would first cry, a lot, then order another and be patient to get it. It's worth the wait. My favorive feature; sorry, it's the whole of the many parts that makes it a CloverLick--the best. I asked a lot of questions before purchasing it and learned a lot about banjos in the process. It's hard to compare it, and I'm not knocking anyone elses product when I say, it's just better than everything else but I would say that if I compared it to my Cedar Mountain banjo, I would say it has more potential to play it with volume and sustain and has a richer voice. If I play it with picks and compare it to my Deering Calico, I would say it's even stronger than that if I play it that way, but I can't play it as fast because I have the wider neck and a higher set up. Okay, I remembered one special feature that stands out for me. I had an arch neck made and I love it.

Overall Rating: 10

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