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!
6920 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Deering through Amazon
Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: 650 ($US)
I have a wide range of music styles. This is my second banjo in 5 years. The first one was a piece of junk "just to learn on". The sound response was awful and hard to tune. However, the Deering Goodtime 2 Classic is very warm but still has the brightness and great tone response.
Sound Rating: 10
I was amazed when I tuned it up, that the intonation and action were already well set. The head is tight enough for bright sound.
Setup Rating: 10
I was also surprised at the feel and appearance. The mat chocolate finish is almost as smooth as a baby's butt. There were no blemishes or flaws of any kind.
Appearance Rating: 10
This banjo is built to last. I'm happy with this purchase and will be playing this banjo for the next four years at least and then I may upgrade, but this banjo will never be put down for long.
Reliability Rating: 10
The banjo has the standard Deering warranty.
Customer Service: 10
All parts seem solid and well made/assembled. This instrument has the 4:1 planetary tuners. After decades of playing guitars and mandolins with 12:1, 14:1, and 16,1 tuners, it was took a bit of getting used to tuning up but that's the nature of the traditional looking tuners. To keep the price down and the quality craftsmanship up and USA made, the banjo only has one compensator rod, there's no truss rod, the resonator and flange are removable (not master tone style), the inlay is basic and logo is just stamped on the headstock. However, the neck is still easy to play and not made thicker from lack of truss rod. This is something that I was not paying attention to until I opened the box. It did worry me at first but I realize that I'm not going to be playing a lot outside and in varying conditions, it will not be kept in a hot and humid location either, so I'm not worried.
Components Rating: 9
The Deering Goodtime 2 Classic banjo was an excellent choice. I'm happy that I made this purchase rather than buying a Chinese or Korean made instrument. I've owned a few instruments made in China and Korea and they weren't too bad but there is a huge difference in quality between an instrument made in the US and one made in Asia. I'll take the chance with an instrument I know well but I wasn't going to take the chance with a well adorned but lower quality made instrument. Now I need a better mute so I don't disturb my neighborhood. A review of Mike's banjo must is on its way.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: eBay
Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 400 ($US)
It has a great sound; very bright and with a fair amount of volume. It needs some strings (I bought them , I just haven't put them on yet), and I know that will improve things even further. Compared to this banjo, my Washburn sounds tinny and weak.
It is much lighter than my Washburn.
The neck feels terrific; it is easy to play all the way up the neck and is perfectly in tune all the way up.
It came with spikes, and these work really well. I've been having fun playing in different keys.
Sound Rating: 8
Needed the action lowered a bit and it needed new strings.
Setup Rating: 7
I like the satin finish; very classy and understated.
There are NO side fret markers. Well, ok, there is no binding because it is (like most of the low-end Deerings) a one-piece neck, and most of the time, side markers are put into the binding. But, I think I could live with this if it weren't for...
the fingerboard fret markers WHICH ARE BLACK ON A DARK BROWN FINGERBOARD!! How does that happen? Did anyone play this design and say "Well, the fret markers are invisible, but no one will care"? I can not see these markers, and I practice in a well-lighted area. I will tell you right now, I'd pay an extra $100 for white fret markers; in fact I may pay more than that once I find a luthier that can install them.
Appearance Rating: 3
Reliability Rating: 8
I did not call Deering for anything.
Customer Service: not rated
Components seem ok. I may upgrade the bridge
Components Rating: 8
I understand that Deering is concentrating on the sound in these low-end models, and I appreciate that, because the sound is great, considering the money I paid. Fret markers and side markers do not add to the sound. But, I can't see how a contrasting color fret marker would have made this banjo any more expensive. Although I like this banjo a lot, I'm not completely sure I would recomend this model given the fret marker issue. If you can stand the blonde maple model, go with that; the dark markers on that finish are visible.
ADDENDUM: After adding side markers myself (drilled holes with a 1/16" drill bit, then filled them in with white epoxy) as well as upgrading the bridge (Desert Rose Old Growth maple) I now rate this instrument a 9. Has a great sound, and the new side fret markers REALLY help. Most of all, get one because they are made in the U.S.A. and are quality instruments.
Overall Rating: 7
Where Purchased: DATPro Audio - Ebay
Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 589 ($US)
This is the Goodtime with resonator and dark finish. JUst added to their catalog this year, and I have not seen too many around yet. The sound is great. I think it holds its own with any banjo under $1000. I play bluegrass style, but to small audiences, in a small band or alone. So I don't need the punching power of a brass tone ring. The Deering Goodtime family have a rich, mellow sound compared to others in this range. Loud enough for me. Maybe not loud enough for a stage band - the only weakness?
Sound Rating: 9
All set up and ready to play, except that the strings were shot. Must have been hanging in a busy shop and got tried out a lot. I cleaned up the metal parts a bit. After the warranty ends I will replace the tuners with planetary ones. That will make it look like a more expensive Deering model.
Setup Rating: 8
The Goodtime series is plain, but the Classics with dark finish definitely look the best. And the fiddle shaped peghead.
I loved the sound of the Goodtime 2 when I played it 2 years ago, but the blond finish kept me from buying. When I heard about the Classic, it was the answer to my quest. Looks simple but elegant.
Appearance Rating: 8
Generally the hardware feels real sturdy. The finish is satin semi-gloss, so I don't know how well it will hold up over time. I would feel confident about using it in a show. Deering has a rep. for quality parts.
Reliability Rating: 8
Got one year warranty. Hopefully I won't need it. Company shipped it fast.
Customer Service: 7
The wood and metal parts look great and sturdy. The guitar style tuners are ugly, but they hold the tension good. Swapping them for planetary tuners should really help the looks, but I'm gonna be careful to get quality parts that won't spoil the instrument.
Components Rating: 7
I shopped around for 2 years, and this was the best deal I saw. I almost got a Gold Tone Bg250f instead, but I think the DG2C tone is even better. The Gold Tone is a nice banjo for the money, probably louder and sharper sounding, and a little better looking. But for my needs, the DG2C has the bet sound. The only better sounding banjos I heard were well over a grand. I'd only spend that kind of money if I were a pro.
I love it, but if it were stolen I could live with the Gold Tone instead I guess.
Overall Rating: 9
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