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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!

6909 reviews in the archive.

Instrument Alley Music Store Reviews

Submitted by kristovski (see all reviews from this person) on 11/18/2012

Overall Comments

I recently purchased a Rover RM-75 mandolin at Instrument Alley. I was leery because I had read some negative reviews about the site, so I sent them an email and got in touch with Ben. He was extremely communicative and my order was shipped in a day. I couldn't find anywhere that came close to the price I got at Instrument Alley. Ben also upgraded the case that came with my mandolin for free and included a free strap. Great value (not to mention they don't charge sales tax). I would recommend buying an instrument from Instrument Alley to anyone.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by June Y (see all reviews from this person) on 11/3/2012

Overall Comments

I ordered a Deering before I read these reviews and I was worried. Although it took 5 months from date of order to delivery, (even though the website stated that the Deering was "in stock"), I saved between $600.00 and $1,000.00 depending on store. Ben answered every email and did not charge my card until banjo was sent. A long wait but well worth it.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by cqpayne33 (see all reviews from this person) on 7/13/2012

Overall Comments

First off it took almost 3 months to get my Morgan Monroe banjo with a hard case! When I ordered the website said everything was in stock, after about 10 days I sent an email asking if it had shipped yet. This was the first email saying that the case was not in stock and would be in the following week, at this point I was ok with waiting the additional week. The following week, i received no shipping document so I sent another request for a status update. This is when "BEN" told me that the cases he received were to small for my banjo to fit into so they reordered them and they would be there on Monday. Monday came and went and I got no shipping status so I sent a email to "BEN" and said to cancel my order, this is when I was given shipping data! It was 8 weeks later that my banjo actually left "BEN" to come to me in Hawaii. I did get what I ordered and at a good price. The 1 star is for poor customer service because when I asked to cancel and was given shipping status it was a flat out lie. I also told "BEN" his customer service sucks and I got a pretty good comment back from him. I will not do business with them again even if the price is good!

Overall Rating: 1

Submitted by whitey01 (see all reviews from this person) on 4/18/2012

Overall Comments

Just had delivered a Gold Tone OB 250 from Instrument Alley. Only took 2 weeks from order to get to Oz. No issues but was concerned with purchasing after readind earlier reviews.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by luckyrock (see all reviews from this person) on 2/19/2012

Overall Comments

I just got ripped-off for $148 bucks. I ordered a Eastman Airline guitar along with a hard case and four leather straps. It took forever to ship and when I finally opened it I was short the guitar straps. Ben finally responds with "we put them in the case" so screw you! Yeah screw me. I had to order them from myrareguitars like I should have from the beginning. My advice stay away from InstrumentAlley. I GOT MUGGED IN INSTRUMENT-ALLEY!!!!

Overall Rating: 1

Submitted by andspence (see all reviews from this person) on 10/18/2011

Overall Comments

I guess I will echo previous negative reviews for this store/website, and the main contact: Ben.

I wanted to order a Flinthill FHB-300, which was stated as in-stock. I was nervous about stock, so I checked several times, and it maintained an in-stock status (both the FHB-300 and the FHB-300A archtop were in-stock).

The day after I placed the order, Ben emailed me and said that the 300's were out of stock, but that he had many other similar banjos to offer me. I promptly checked the stock status on the 300 and the 300A, and watched the status change in front of my eyes. I haggled a bit, which obviously irritated Ben. Almost every other sentence was "you must not understand how good of a deal this is". In the end, all he really offered me was ~10% off of a banjo that I didn't want.

When I emailed him to say I wanted to cancel, he was unresponsive for more than a day (previously had been emailing every few minutes). I tried calling at all hours, but no one answered. I finally got an email confirming my cancellation, but didn't miss a chance to be a d*%k, and tell me I was stupid for not taking his deal.

I would never deal with this company again, no matter how good the deal.

Overall Rating: 1

Submitted by gbanjoman (see all reviews from this person) on 9/30/2011

Overall Comments

I had similar very bad experience with Instrumentalley.com and want to add one more caution. I was told things were in stock that were not. Told things shipped that were not. Then they stopped all communication, refusing to acknowledge my cancellation notices (even by certified letter). Then after I had to get my credit card to do a charge back, Ben (who was my main contact the entire time) suddenly starts contacting me again. Said that I would essentially be charged a fee for the charge-back.

A note about agreements. Yes, you agree to their terms when you order. But they also are making an agreement with you to be honest and truthful, and to be a legitimate business that attempts to provide what they claim. When they lie to you, try to trick you, stop communicating with you, and fail to hold up their end of the agreement, then the agreement is broken. At that point any agreement you made is void. They have no right to charge you return fees or charge-back fees.

So here is the additional tricky thing they do and how to overcome it. If you have to do a charge-back from your credit card, which I highly recommend as soon as possible, then instrumentalley will tell you that you owe them a charge-back fee. And here is how they try to collect on that. Your credit card will give you the full amount back. Then when instrumentalley sees the charge-back, they will issue a refund for a lesser amount (their fee), so essentially you have two credits. And then at a later date they will request a correction from the credit card for the first charge back amount. They are trying to trick the system this way, hoping you don't notice. Simply call your credit card dispute center, tell them what is happening, and when instrument alley requests the full amount back they will be denied.

Now, I want to admit that this is all really my fault for not reading the reviews and going for the cheap deal. All of this stress is not worth $25, $100 or even $500 in savings.

Overall Rating: 1

Submitted by srothkin (see all reviews from this person) on 8/21/2011

Overall Comments

I ordered Smartscore X songbook edition. They didn’t ship it for almost 2 weeks and ignored the email I sent a little over a week after placing the order. Their order status page showed it was still “in process,” and the charge did not yet appear on my credit card. So I instructed them to cancel it while ordering from another vendor that offered online electronic delivery.

InstrumentAlley then shipped it over 6 hours after first responding negatively to my cancellation request. So they could have cancelled the order at that point without shipping it, but they chose not to.

I refused to accept it from UPS. InstrumentAlley gave me only a partial refund -- less a 20% restocking fee.

They claim that their terms don’t allow for orders to be canceled and include restocking fees for returns. My defense against that is that I didn’t see or read those claims when I placed the order. Sure, I checked a checkbox saying I agreed to the terms because I couldn’t place the order without doing so. But who has the time or patience to read through terms that often run for several pages and are often written in legalese. I looked at their terms on the day I disputed the charge with my credit card company (unfortunately the dispute was ultimately rejected) and they are 4 printed pages long!. So at the time of placing the order I never saw anything about how long it would take to ship the order (I assumed it would ship within a few days, not nearly 2 weeks later) or about policies/fees regarding order cancellations and returns.

They also threatened to charge me with a chargeback fee and send that to a collection agency!

Here is a detailed timeline

May 24 (Tuesday). Order placed. The order receipt email does not show any terms. Nor does it give any indication that shipping of the order may be delayed.

June 1 (Wednesday). I emailed inquiring when the order would ship.

June 5 (Sunday). I emailed my cancellation request after ordering a downloadable copy of the program from another vendor.

12:49pm NY time June 6 (Monday). They responded to an email where I told them to cancel. While they say it has “shipped,” the UPS tracking report (see below) shows that it didn’t actually ship until over 6 hours later. So they still could have canceled it at this time.

5:39PM NY time June 6 (Monday). Their email states a 10% restocking fee.

7:05pm NY time (4:05pm WA time) June 6 (Monday). UPS picked up the package from the shipper as shown on the tracking report which also shows that UPS has the package and is returning it to the shipper.

June 9 (Thursday). Charge posted to my credit card.

June 15 (Wednesday). Package received by UPS for return.

June 15 (Wednesday). Email states 20% restocking fee.

My overall opinion is their service sucks and I will never buy from them again.

Overall Rating: 1

Submitted by GWRdriver (see all reviews from this person) on 4/29/2011

Overall Comments

First I will say that eventually after 21 days I did receive what appears to be a new factory fresh instrument and case as-ordered (and advertised as in-stock), but this purchase did give me a few anxious moments. After about 7 days I inquired about a ship date and was told the order had been shipped (via FedX) when in fact from FedX tracking it was clear that it had not shipped and would not actually be shipped for another week. I'm willing to wait for a reasonable time, even an unreasonable time, if I'm kept informed, but if I'm not kept informed and once I'm lied to, for whatever reason, I won't do business there again. A personal message explaining that there would be a delay, or an explanation of why it was not shipped when they said it had shipped, would have changed all this.

Overall Rating: 3

Submitted by walkingblues (see all reviews from this person) on 4/6/2011

Overall Comments

The reviews here made me pause, but the banjo I wanted was so much cheaper there that I had to reconsider. The Morgan Monroe OB 50 open back went for $450 pretty much everywhere, but for $370 (with an easily found $10 off coupon) at Instrument Alley. For that saving, I could wait 2 months. I emailed and asked if it was in stock. Ben wrote and said it was. I ordered it on Friday and received it (in NY) on Tuesday. No complaints here, and the savings are pretty astounding.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by JayPHunt (see all reviews from this person) on 2/11/2011

Overall Comments

I think complaints about Instrument alley are exaggerated. I ordered a The Loar LM-700 mandolin over their web site Jan. 10, 2011. It showed as in stock at the time. I received an e-mail from Ben a couple of days later stating that it had just gone out of stock and that it would be 2-6 weeks before he could fill my order. I was not in a great hurry so that didn't bother me. The mandolin was shipped to me by FedEx on Feb 3 and arrived in perfect condition Feb. 10 complete with high quality hard shell case and leather strap as promised. My credit card was not billed until the instrument shipped.

I have heard reports of internet sellers taking orders without having stock and placing them once they have received sufficient orders to cover the cost. I don't know if this is the case with Instrument Alley or not. In any case, considering the excellent price and free shipping, I think the small delay in delivery was well worth it. Overall, I am pleased with the service i received from Instrument Alley and would not hesitate to buy from them again.

Jay Hunt
Hooksett, NH

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by PolBanjo (see all reviews from this person) on 7/8/2010

Overall Comments

I ordered Recording King Songster Banjo Package as a gift to my nephew in US, paying from Europe in Euros (paying in Euro was the main reason to choose Instrument Alley, not the price). Unfortunately, I upgraded muy order from typical gig bag to hardshell case. Because it was a gift, my nephew, who received banjo, did not know that guys from Instrument Alley cancelled mostly all of items included in Package offer, (chromatic tuner, stand, strings, instructional DVD, etc.) sending him only banjo, hardshell case and strap.

I was sending emails from Poland to Ben Peterson over 2 months. Finally, after 2 months, he sent me an email:

"That is very odd. I can either issue a refund for the items (it would not be the retail value because we offer the package at a discounted rate), or, I can send the additional items out today. Let me know.
Regards, Ben'

Of course I asked him immediately to send items... and did not received them so far. I sent few more emails to Ben, with no response. And in my opinion, this case is not only the lack of professional service, but also an arrogance of company owner.

And the Utah Better Business Bureau Report is also an explanation of Instrument Alley quality:
http://www.bbb.org/utah/business-reviews/musical-instruments-dealers/bcp-sales-in-logan-ut-22003955#

BBB graded Instrument Alley C+. My grade for this company is D.

Here's archived post of my experience with Instrument Alley
http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/152032

Overall Rating: 1

Submitted by mike61 (see all reviews from this person) on 5/26/2010

Overall Comments

I just purchased a Morgan Monroe MFB-4DX from them and their service and help was great. It took nearly three months to get it because of backorders. We exchanged over 30 e-mails durring this time and Ben answered every one promptly. It shipped when he said it would and arrived in perfect condition. With their discounts and package deals I did'nt see any others come close to their prices. I asked for a case with burgundy interior and thats what I got. I saw some pretty nasty reviews on them and I am inclined to believe that these people would have a problem with Jesus himself! I will definitely buy from them again. I also feel that some problems occured because they were things out of their direct control. The package I got included a deluxe banjo case, deluxe leather strap,chromantic tuner,and stand. Out the door for $865. Now beat that! When I unpacked it I used the new tuner ,set the peg tension, tuned it up and checked the intonation at the 12th fret and it sang like a bird!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by 5-stringreiny (see all reviews from this person) on 2/4/2010

Overall Comments

Abhorrent customer service. Never answerd the phone, only replied to emails that were sales related, never received email reply on customer service related issues. Ordered Gold Star and was told it was backordered (unerstandable, and OK). However, had to prompt and prompt for updates, was always told "this week" and after several weeks I cancelled order. Was balled out and cursed over live chat for cancelling order.

Overall Rating: 1

Submitted by FC picker (see all reviews from this person) on 12/21/2009

Overall Comments

I purchased several items via their website on 11/29 and my credit card was charged immediately. one item shipped within 2 days directly from supplier (Gold Tone, not instrumentalley.com), but I received no status update on the other items ordered. after requesting status update via email on the rest of my order on 12/5, I received reply on 12/8 that some items were back-ordered and that I would be receiving my order by the end of the week (12/12), possibly early the following week (12/13). Within a few hours of this email reply, I received another notification from the company that my order had shipped and I was provided a tracking number. however, the order still did not ship until 12/14, nearly 6 days after receiving the email that it had shipped. I asked the seller via email if my order was now complete at which time he told me everything was included except for one DVD. In fact, another item was also not included in this shipment. i received notification from the company on 12/14 that a third shipment had been made to me, but it was not until 12/16 that this package actually shipped out. In the end, I received all the items I ordered, nearly 3 weeks after placing the order. Instrument Alley was deceptive in their sales practices by 1) indicating the items were in stock on their website when they really weren't, 2) providing no status updates on my order when it must have been obvious to them that the items I had purchased were not in stock, 3) indicating shipments had been made when they really hadn't, and 3) by telling me I would receive the items by a certain date and then not delivering them until a full week after this date. On top of that the owner was rude, unapologetic for his lack of communication and misinformation. I will never buy from them again. better to spend the few extra bucks and get what you ordered, when you order it.

Overall Rating: 2

Submitted by fnfal89 (see all reviews from this person) on 9/16/2009

Overall Comments

i agree with the previous comment on customer service. the site is great they offer a lot of great deals and also have nice selections. the only problem i have is with the customer service. live chat is alright but they like to take their time answering you. ive called them many times but always got directed to the machine. left a message and never got a call back. big thumbs down on the customer service but aside from that, timely shipment cheap prices and nice layout

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by Lonestar Newb (see all reviews from this person) on 7/17/2009

Overall Comments

The Instrument Alley website looks 1st rate and their prices seem very good. I ordered a new banjo and a starter set from them and I received the banjo 5 days later (shipped straight from the factory where it was put together, but not set up). I didn't receive the rest of the parts and pieces until 2 weeks later. Now I understand about backordered items, but my rating of them is based on their lack of customer service. They never answered their telephone, never returned an e-mail, and only once returned a phone message. If they would just pay more attention to their lines of communication it would really cut down on irritated customers.

Overall Rating: 5

Submitted by mxpshu90 (see all reviews from this person) on 5/28/2009

Overall Comments

Ordered Deering Maple Blossom banjo. The price was very good and email questions were answered quickly. I was kept up to date on the status as this banjo was not in stock and had to be ordered from Deering. I was very pleased with everything about this order and would definitely suggest checking Instrumentalley.com out.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by rgire (see all reviews from this person) on 12/21/2008

Overall Comments

Received Deering Sierra 2 weeks after ordering. They kept me updated via email when it would ship. Set up was perfect. Played right out of the case with a slight tuning.

I will buy again from Instrument Alley

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by rgire (see all reviews from this person) on 12/15/2008

Overall Comments

Ordered Deering Sierra on Dec 10. Got FedX tracking on Dec 15 that it shipped. Got email from Ben at Instrument Alley that the set up was complete and my banjo sounded sweet! I used live chat to check on progress twice and got immediate answers on status of my banjo. Excellent service!! What more could I ask for?

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Reneker (see all reviews from this person) on 5/31/2008

Overall Comments

Poor customer service. I hope hope things have changed since I bought from them. My order was shipped only after I called and left a message to cancel my order.

Overall Rating: 1

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