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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-50 Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Brooklynbanjoboy (see all reviews from this person) on 6/15/2010

Where Purchased: FRETWELL BASS, STAUNTON VA

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 800 ($US)

Sound

This RK-50, the lightweight model without a tone ring, is loud and crisp, clear and consistent across the fingerboard, with great intonation south toward the rim and real depth on the north end of the neck. I was looking for a simple modern banjo I would not have to fuss with too much to coax a great sound out, and this banjo checks that box without a doubt.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Zack Deming of FRETWELL BASS, Staunton VA's center of gravity for the music community, did the set up. See the July issue of BANJO NEWSLETTER for an article on Zack. I like the height of the bridge he selected. I'm a clawhammer player looking to do some up picking, and I tend to like a bridge high enough to drive a truck under. Zack has this action low across the board with a half inch bridge, and I'm surprised how accessible the strings are, how good it feels to play this way. He also has it set with light strings. I tend toward mediums, but I like the way these light strings feel responsive, and don't require a lot of banging to get them to work.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This banjo is simplicity personified. I wasn't looking for anything dripping in jewels. The finish is consistent and the inlay is done well. Nothing ornate about this one, and to me that is its strength.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I think the hardware is top quality. Nice plating. Quality tuning machines. I think the stock inventory will last long, and more importantly the banjo can be easily upgraded with higher end hardware. I might change the tailpiece. Not sure yet.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

RK offers a Limited Lifetime Warranty, which is fine because -- as it the case with most banjo players -- I expect to have a Lifetime that is hopefully long but ultimately limited. I need to say that Recording King is a stand up company. Greg Rich tolerates incessant questions and answers them directly, honestly and with a real commitment to his product. FRETWELL BASS, the RK dealer in Staunton, is a squared away store. Always a pleasure to buy local.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I might swap out the bridge eventually, just because I enjoy experimenting in that way. I might try a higher end tailpiece just because I'd like to bring one of those (maybe a Fults?) to the RK and see what it does to the banjo. I also might end up changing the armrest. I favor a wood top to the armrest over the plated stock rest.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I am happy to have this banjo. I won't have to fuss much with it. I can focus on playing, learning, jamming with the confidence that this thing will do the job.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Zosobonzo44 (see all reviews from this person) on 4/7/2009

Where Purchased: Banjo Hut

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 900 w/ case ($US)

Sound

Excellent. I was worried when buying a banjo online because I don't like the traditional banjo sound, too metallic. I like a woody soft sounding banjo and this banjo is just that. It doesn't have a tone ring which I like and the intonation is good.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The action is a little high and the bridge was off by a millimeter. I may have the action reset next time I put new strings on. Also I had to change out the light gage strings with medium gage. Making setup changes is more difficult than my last banjo, I'll probably have it done professionally.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

It's beautiful. It has a nice dark rosewood freetboard with fan inlays and the resonator and neck are finished with a thick shine. The maple rim is beautiful, and the chrome hardware is gorgeous.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hard to say because it's new but the hardware seems robust. It has planetary tuners, a prewar style flange and everything is chrome finished.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Have not dealt with them yet. But I've heard good things

Customer Service: 8

Components

Everything seems good. Don't think I'll be replacing anything. The case is especially beautiful. High quality stitching, thick padding and has a humidity gage.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Excellent. Would recommend this banjo to anyone who likes the non-tone ring style banjos.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by jamie_t123 (see all reviews from this person) on 3/25/2008

Where Purchased: internet

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

Sound

I play clawhammer style in a stringband/bluegrass/oldtime band. I wanted a nice clean balanced tone without to much sharp attack etc. With a bit of set up work, this one hits the nail on the head. I wanted the resonator to get some volume to keep up with the band..this was a good choice with no tone ring..a nice woody sound louder than my openbacks..sweet toned

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

I was set up fine for BG...took it apart and re-set it up for my style..

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

a very nice looking jo. overall finsh is nice.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

even the tuners are decent....thought they would be worse...I normally change them out 1st thing...but these work OK

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

They were very nice....sent me a hat!

Customer Service: 9

Components

probably the tuners at some point....maybe the tailpiece at some point..but no complaints

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I really like this one and look forward to giging with it. will be a different sound for me...

Overall Rating: 9

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