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: Private Purchase
Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 700 ($US) (bought USED)
This banjo has an amazing sound. Incredible lows and very nice pops on the mids and highs. Perfect for my playing style.
Sound Rating: 10
Had a great setup upon purchase. Have only changed the bridge and tailpiece. I have the head tuned to G# and the setup has pretty much held its own since.
Setup Rating: 10
Hearts and Flowers inlays. I love the look of this banjo. VERY easy on the eyes.
Appearance Rating: 10
Everything about this banjo screams reliablility. VERY well built instrument, will last a long time.
Reliability Rating: 10
TML is extremely helpful. Excellent company to deal with.
Customer Service: 10
All the original parts are excellent. The only reason to change out parts is because of personal preference.
Components Rating: 10
Would recommend this banjo to anyone, beginner to professional alike. Once you have this, you have a great banjo for life.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Angiesbanjo.com
Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 1000 ($US)
I am a beginning bluegrass banjo player. I attend a weekly jam and at times wish this banjo wasn't as loud as it is so my flubs wouldn't be as obvious.
Sound Rating: 8
Although the bridge seemed to be optimally located, the action was a bit high. I have since re-adjusted the neck to lower the action, but I think it still needs more adjustment. One of the "setup services" offered free of charge was the installation of railroad spikes, of which I have no complaints.
Setup Rating: 6
Overall, the R80 is a sharp looking banjo. The MOP inlays are done very well and the wide binding is very distinctive. I have noticed a couple of minor flaws that, if this Banjo had cost $3000-4000, I would be very upset about. The thin top edge of the resonator that is visible when looking straight-on at the banjo leaves a little to be desired in the finish department--it is a little rough. The other Item is the arm rest. Besides the nickel plating already wearing off after only 2 months, it has a very rough inner edge. If you ran your finger hard enough on the inner edge (facing the bridge), you could probably leave some skin on it. Neither of these items effect the sound or performance in any way. Like I said, minor flaws.
Appearance Rating: 9
See the "Appearance" item for my nickel plating complaint. To be fair, I am not ruling out the fact that it could be a reaction to my body acid that is accelerating the deterioration of the plating. Aside from that, I am fully expecting that some lucky family member will inherit this fine instrument.
Reliability Rating: 8
I have not had to deal with the company's Limited Lifetime Warranty (to the original purchaser), nor do I ever expect to have to. I will say that in this price range and below, there is not a better warranty available.
Customer Service: 9
This banjo is a Gibson Mastertone clone--nice job Greg! The MOP inlays on the headstock and neck are outstanding and the wood finish seems like it will last quite a while. This does not look like a $1000 banjo. Again, my only complaints so far are the edge finish on the resonator and the stamping/plating quality of the armrest.
Components Rating: 9
Without hesitation, I would recommend the RK-R80. I am a beginning banjo player and I expect this banjo to meet my needs for a long time.
If this banjo were stolen, I would try to see my way clear to replace it with a Stelling Red Fox, but failing that, I would definitely buy another R80.
As far as a comparison to other banjos, I haven't played any others except for a $200 Fender, and as you might guess, there is no comparison.
Overall Rating: 9
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