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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.

Ramsey  Student fretless Banjo Reviews

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

Where Purchased: BHO Classified

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 800 ($US) (bought USED)


I am very partial to the tubaphone sound, so I was not expecting to be impressed with the simple brass tube sound of this Ramsey pot, especially with the very thin rim. But the 12” pot sounds really rich and surprisingly clear. It’s got good sustain for CH playing and just the right amount of plunkiness for the fretless sound I was hoping for. The bass is really nice. It responds well to a heavy hand – it just pushes back and barks out some very cool CH sounds. You can hear examples of this banjo my BHO page. (I’m not sure how an 11” pot would sound, but I'm guessing it would not be as good.)

Sound Rating: 10


I bought this banjo (slightly) used. It came with light gauge steel strings that sucked badly for it (due to fretlessness). I changed to heavy gauge nylon strings that (for me) are perfect. I love the feel of the nylon strings on this neck.

It had a thick 5/8” bridge that is just right. I played around quite a bit with bridge position to get the best scale length for my hand, and now it fits nicely.

It came with a no-knot tailpiece that works well with this banjo. I can’t imagine that a Waverly style tailpiece would help much, but I have one that I may try at some point. Still…I’m reluctant to fool around with something that sounds so right as is.

It does not have an armrest, but it really needs one because the bracket band and hooks dig into my right arm. I’ve ordered a Chuck Lee wire armrest that I’m hoping will arrive soon.

It came with a renny head that is perfect.

Setup Rating: 9


The Ramsey Student is super simple. It has one bit of inlay (a star on the headstock) that looks really nice. The finish is simple with light stain, which I really like.

Appearance Rating: 10


It’s not the least bit temperamental weather-wise, which is surprising to me given the 12” pot and nylon strings. Otherwise it’s quite solid, but also really light given the thin pot.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I bought it used so.... I had a question for Mike Ramsey about adding an armrest, and he responded to my email right away.

Customer Service: 10


It’s got nice five-star tuners (I think) and otherwise good hardware – grooved bracket band and “cobra” style bracket hooks.

I’ve never been really impressed with no-knot tailpieces, but it sounds right the way it is.

The neck is really nice – three ply with a strip of ebony in the center (unlike the earlier Student models). Ebony fingerboard, which I don't think is typical for the Student model. Anyhow, it feels great with a vintage Vega-like v-neck that is wide enough (generous even).

This particular banjo came with ebony tuner buttons that I now consider to be an essential upgrade for any OT banjo – it just looks way nicer than the standard plastic buttons on most banjos.

It really REALLY needs a simple armrest!

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This fretless “student” has a special place in my heart. It’s my first fretless and we get along very well. It opened up a whole new world of banjo playing for me.

Don’t let the “student” model designation fool you. This is a serious banjo for serious banjo players. I’ve considered buying a fretted version, even though I love my Wildwood a lot.

At $800 you can’t go wrong with this top notch OT banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

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