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.
Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments
Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 925 ($US)
This is where I'm supposed to use words like mellow, sweet, bell-like, plunky, brassy, metallic, dark, bright, sharp, dull, balanced, edgy, popping, piercing, and so on. But I'm a neophyte when it comes to banjos, and I don't have a clue what most of those terms mean, so I'll simply say that I love the way my new Deering sounds. I'm very pleased with it.
Sound Rating: 10
Elderly Instruments has a policy of shipping their banjos with the bridge laying flat against the head. Even if the banjo was set up before it was shipped, by the time it reaches its destination and the bridge is reset, the instrument will be out of tune. Pencil marks were visible on the head to indicate where the bridge belonged, and it wasn't difficult to set the bridge upright and retune the banjo. In fact, shipping the bridge flat probably helps prevent it from being broken during transit. Nevertheless, I have no way of knowing for sure if it was set up before being shipped.
Setup Rating: 9
This is a Goodtime Classic Special, and it has that old-time traditional look. The word "special" indicates that it comes with a steel tone ring. The word "classic" indicates that the resonator, neck, and fretboard are either brown or reddish brown instead of blonde, and it uses planetary tuners instead of guitar tuners. In other words, the tuners protrude backwards instead of sticking out sideways like ears. The peghead has a symmetrical Fairbanks-style shape, which is a huge improvement over the old Gumby eraser shape. The satin stain, the woodwork, the nickel-plated metal components, and the head all look great.
Appearance Rating: 10
Based on its appearance, it looks solid and well built. The craftsmanship is excellent. I expect this banjo to last a lifetime.
Reliability Rating: 10
When I ordered my Deering banjo from Elderly Instruments, it arrived with a small crack on the wooden resonator. I immediately contacted Elderly, and was instructed by George to repack the banjo so FedEx could pick it up, free of charge. In the meantime, George arranged for a replacement banjo to be sent to me, free of charge. The replacement banjo had no defects, and it's the one this review is based on. In my judgement, Elderly Instruments provides outstanding customer service.
Customer Service: 10
The Deering Goodtime Classic Special weighs about 8 pounds, so it's not a honking boat anchor, although I'm well aware that many experts feel that the heavier a banjo is, the better it sounds. I don't own any other banjos, so I have nothing with which to compare my Deering. Personally, I'm happy with an 8-pound banjo. The only criticism I have of my new banjo is the limited number of straps that are compatible with the Goodtime series. Most straps (especially leather ones) are too thick and will not fit a Deering Goodtime banjo because the space between the J-hooks and the pot is too narrow. I finally found a nylon Neotech Super Banjo Strap that fits, which I purchased from Janet Davis Music. I also discovered later that compatible straps are available from Deering's internet store.
Components Rating: 10
This is a great banjo for a beginner. It's exactly what I wanted, at a good price, backed up by excellent customer support from Elderly Instruments. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to load a Murphy Henry instructional DVD into my computer and learn a few more licks from Banjo In The Hollow.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: www.instrumentalley.com
Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: $779.98 ($US)
Rich/Full sound, suprisingly loud! I am impressed with the way it really booms out the sound. When I first played it, a couple family members had to come upstairs to take a look! Definitely not for quiet strumming.
Sound Rating: 9
Instrument Alley did a fantastic job at setting up this banjo. Bought a Guardian CG-020 Hard Case with it, pulled the banjo out, tuned it up, and thought "WOW!" Had bought a Bart Veerman Banjo bridge to switch from the Deering bridge, but decided against it because I like the way it sounds already.
Setup Rating: 10
Brown stain on maple looks great. Has black dot inlays which are hard to see against the brown stain. Same satin finish as other Goodtime Banjos. Double-cut style peghead. Slight stain flaw on peghead near nut, like a piece of tape was stuck there when stained, but barely noticable.
Appearance Rating: 8
Same as other Goodtimes. Made to take where no other banjos have gone before, except this one is a little fancier than the regular Goodtimes, so may give you a pause.
Reliability Rating: 10
Customer Service: not rated
As rugged as any other Goodtime, although I still don't care for the guitar type tuners. They work fine though. Also has a steel tone ring.
Components Rating: 8
I would definitely recommend this banjo! And Instrument Alley has the best price I could find. Set-up was included in the price, and it was awesome! I would recommend this banjo to anyone who wants the ruggedness of a Goodtime, with a little fancier look. I got what I paid for, and more. That's why I give it an overall rating of 10, for what it is: A GOODTIME!
Overall Rating: 10
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