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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!

6920 reviews in the archive.

Deering  Black Diamond Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Banjonutjob (see all reviews from this person) on 7/4/2010

Where Purchased: Mandolin Brothers

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 2600 ($US)

Sound

I bought it when I was drunk. That's not to say it's not a good banjo. Only it isn't exactly what a trad bluegrasser like myself is likely to buy. The reason I bought it (apart from being drunk at the time) is it's got quality workmanship overall. I compared it to two Gibson RB-250 banjos also on sale at the store and quality/workmanshipwise it won hands down. I took the resonator off the Gibson banjos and was appalled by the lack of attention to detail handicraftswise I witnessed. So, I bought the Deering partly because it was simply better bang for the buck. However, it's got maybe a little too much sustain for my taste. I like a bit more of a staccatolike sound. It works in a traditional bluegrass setting but I think it's more suited to melodic style playing.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The banjo wasn't at all well set up when I bought it. Of course it had that ugly black head on it which I proceeded to change at my earliest convenience. No problem there except the black head was busted on one side. No wonder it sounded like a piece of the proverbial brown stuff. I also put a Snuffy Smith bridge on it. I use the GHS "Sonny Osborne" stringset on it. Works for me. Yeah, and I put an adjustuable tailpiece on it. You know, the kind that moves up and down. It had a Presto tailpiece on it.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Now that I've got a white head on it, it looks OK. I sort of like it also because it looks rather plain. No fancy inlay work like on some specimens. Yet, the workmanship is beyond reproach. The banjo didn't have any flaws when I got it. It was in mint condition which is what you'd expect from a brand new instrument.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

This banjo's a workhorse. I can definitely depend on it. It's never let me down yet. I've had it a few years now and it still looks just about the same as when I got it. Only the plating on the armrest is a little worse for wear. I reckon I might fix that by polishing all the hardware but I sort of like a banjo that looks like it's been used. In fact that's one of my pet peeves with regard to this banjo; it doesn't seem to 'age' the way my Stelling did for instance.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I guess it comes with what they call a limited life-time warranty. (Whatever that means). Well, I never had any problems with it. I did get in touch with Deering and told them I didn't like the fact I couldn't adjust the tailpiece. They said they had a different tailpiece design available if I wanted one. I didn't because a friend of mine gave me a straight-line tailpiece for free. They're friendly people at Deering and service-oriented.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I like a pretty high action, so the bridge the banjo came with didn't suit my needs. It was probably a good bridge but I've been using a Snuffy Smith bridge so long that I sort of naturally chose one for this banjo also. I don't like a Presto tailpiece, so I had that removed as well. I'm thinking of buying a new tailpiece for the banjo. It's got a straightline tailpiece on it now that goes up and down but I'd really like one that moves forward and backward as well (like a Stelling bridge, for example).

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

A great instrument which I bought instead of a Gibson in the same price range. It doesn't suit my traditional playing style that well but then again, I should have gone into a music store while under the influence of alcohol. So, there's a lesson for you all!

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by cm1266 (see all reviews from this person) on 11/26/2008

Where Purchased: Banjo.com

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 2600.00 ($US)

Sound

This banjo is a treat to play! Really bright and loud. I also have a calico and the calico is really mellow and rings. Although this black diamond sounds really crispyl! I think anyone who buys this banjo will love it! The neck is a little smaller than the Calico which IMO is better! Really easy to play.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

(Barry) at Banjo.com is a genius!! Thanks Barry! There is nothing that I would change! If you need any adjustments, Barry is the man!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Wonderfull instrument! Classy! Sexy!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Its a Deering! Play the hell out of it!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Awesome! Caroline will take care of anything you need. They are a wonderfull company. You can actually talk to a real person.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I did upgrade to the Sosebee somerged bridge. Thats about all I would change IMO. Very heavy and well built! Screams class!

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I would recommend this for anyone who appreciates a well built quality instrtument! The guys at banjo.com are awesome! (John and Barry). Very nice and helpfull! Good people. Thanks again guys. I love this banjo and if it were stolen, I guess I would bum out until I could replace it. But,I still have my Calico!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by mike_cabinet (see all reviews from this person) on 12/10/2004

Where Purchased: Sommerhays Music

Year Purchased: 1998
Price Paid: $1,800 ($US)

Sound

The first time I saw the Black Diamond I had to touch it. The first time I played it I had to have it. I had not shopped for banjos in this price range so I had nothing to compare it to, and being a beginner I had no knowledge of what to look for. What I did know was it was the prettiest thing I had ever heard, even my wife said "I could tolerate the sound of that banjo". The mellow sound of the mahogany was captivating and haunting. The first time you hear one of these you'll know this is not like any other banjo.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

As a novice I had no idea what I would change. After a few years of picking and comparing other banjos in the same and higher price range there were some changes to be made. I set the head a little tighter, about the A range and I changed the bridge to a Gary Sosebee submerged wood compensated. This made the first string come alive and the third string stays on pitch even way up the neck. Speaking of the neck. The slim neck is very easy to play and the string height was set perfect for me. I have noticed, since there is no binding on the edge of the neck, that in Utah where it is very dry the neck seems to have shrunk in width and the frets sit a little proud and sometimes catch my finger tips. I am told these can be filed but I won't attempt that myself and I don't want to be without my banjo long enough to have it done so I guess I'll just deal with it.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

This is a beautiful banjo and the high gloss finish was flawless. There were however some flaws under the finish, one very noticeable on the back of the head and the serial number stamping on the back of the head was done very poorly. The first number is illegable and the last number is cut very deep. This banjo lacks much of the fancy pearling as seen on other banjos. That would be a nice option.
There is one thing on the appearance I have been considering changing.
I would like to change the nickle plating to a black chrome. That would improve the overall black "thing" that makes this banjo so attractive.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

The nickle finish on the armrest is looking very worn but this is to be expected I'm told. This can be prevented by wiping the plated parts down every time it's used. I'm much too lazy for that. The tuners seem to be put together very well. The hardware is heavy and seems to be fit very tight to the rim. The neck shows some gap in the fit to the pot but doesn't seem to have much affect to the negative. I have a backup banjo for campfires and traveling but that one hasn't seen the light of day for years. I take my Black Diamond everywhere.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have had no need for customer service but it comes with a lifetime warranty to original owner.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

This seems to be a very well built reliable banjo with quality parts and reasonable craftsmanship. The only thing I would suggest upgrading would be the bridge and possibly the armrest. Nothing wrong with the originals, just personal preferences.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is probably my last banjo. I don't compare my banjo to others. I compare others to my banjo. For those who want to get away from the harsh twang of maple banjos I highly recommend you look at the Black Diamond first and last.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Unknown on 11/28/2004

Where Purchased: Nashville Used Music

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 2175 ($US)

Sound

Love the sound!! Clear, bright and bounces off the black shiney head beautifully!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I have not made any changes to the way it was set up...didn't need to. Everything about it sounded just right.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I fell in love with the appearance of this banjo. The wood is mahogany and the binding is black. This is one FINE looking banjo!! There are diamond inlays on the neck and head. It has a high gloss finish. The black shiney head looks and sounds terrific. Is there such a thing as a sexy banjo? If so, this is it!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I just bought this banjo a couple of weeks ago, but I have every reason to believe that this fine instrument will hold up without any problem. The hardware is sturdy and well made, and the finish certainly appears to be thick enough to hang in for the duration. I would see no reason to have a back up banjo (unless I just wanted to support my banjo habit).

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I called Deering before I bought the banjo and left a message saying that I wanted to talk to a sales person. A lady named Caroline called me back within a few hours. She was very nice, very helpful and answered all of my questions. The banjo has a lifetime warranty for the first owner, and that would be me. (Another reason I wanted to buy a new Deering as opposed to a used Deering).

Customer Service: 10

Components

There is nothing on this banjo that I want to upgrade. To me, everything about this banjo is standout. It looks incredible, it plays incredible, I love the slim neck - feels great in my hand, the sound is outstanding, and I look GREAT playing it! What else matters?

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I'm still a novice banjo player and this is my first "real" banjo after learning to play on an inexpensive banjo. After shopping around a little bit, I realized that I wanted a Deering banjo. What sold me on them is that great feeling slim neck (especially good for small hands like mine), the fabulous sound, and the reasonable price compared to other banjos I have seen. I didn't have $5,000 to spend on a banjo, but thank God I didn't need to. I found a fabulous insturment for an affordable price. Yes, I absolutely would recommend this banjo with no hesitation. This banjo weighs 11 pounds according to my bathroom scale. That's heavy - but most other banjos I played weighed that much or close to it. (Is there a standard banjo weight?) I think the price I paid is reasonable considering that it retails for $2899. The sales man at the store didn't know a lot about Deering banjos, so it was very helpful to talk to someone directly at Deering. I would recommend doing that if you are considering buying a Deering banjo of any kind. If this banjo was stolen I would be TICKED! I'm praying that God puts a special banjo angel to watch over my instrument so that never happens! (I sent my warranty card to Deering and am waiting for them to send me my card with the serial number on it). I did go to the Gibson Cafe and check out several Gibson banjos. They make great insturments but I love my gorgeous Deering Black Diamond more than any Gibson I checked out. I highly recommend the Deering Black Diamond banjo to anyone!! You'll look as good as I do playing it!!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 11/14/2004

Where Purchased: Pickin Porch-Conway, AR

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 1900 ($US)

Sound

This Black Diamond has a very clear, full sound. It doesn't "bark" like a traditional Bluegrass banjo. It has a fat, mellowness that I am really enjoying. It sounds big and round to me...like a grand piano.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

It was set up perfectly when I purchased it. Naturally, I took it apart completely and set it up after I polished every little thing. But, Im anal like that. I was happy that it had been set up so well in the first place. I tightened the head to G# just because it had been hanging in the store a while.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

The Black Diamond looks like the Darth Vader of banjos. It is very modern and progressive loooking. Very black and racy like a black sports car. The engraved inlays are a nice touch. I get a lot of compliments on it. Traditional Bluegrassers hate it. It looks wierd to them. That's what I like most about it-I like being different. The mahogany is outstanding and the maple stripe that outlines the banjo is a cool idea.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It's a Deering...it weighs a million pounds...I can use it as a weapon...it will be around longer than I will! I'm not a nickle fan. It turns easily on the armrest. I would rather that be chrome and I may do that.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

My e-mails are responded to quickly. This is an awesome American company. Try e-mailing Gibson sometime. Good luck.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The tuners and all hardware is exceptional! I think the standard bridge is as good as many of these custom ones I've tried.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I highly recommend this banjo. I feel bad for the guy on here who apparently bought a lemon and reviewed the Black Diamond poorly. Mine is wonderful and greatly under rated. If it was stolen? I'd easily find the jerk. Not many people are playing this freaky cool looking black banjo. I wish it had all of the same power but somehow weighed less! It's a beast!

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by ManyaManya (see all reviews from this person) on 8/10/2004

Where Purchased: folkofthewood

Year Purchased: 2000
Price Paid: 1700 ($US)

Sound

A bit cut off and difficult to get the right balance. Many better choices on the market. I've played some Deerings that sounded very good, but this wasn't one of them. I was inexperienced when I bought it and paid the price.

Sound Rating: 6

Setup

Not good. The coordinator rods had to be cranked in to get a reasonable action. KNowing what I know now, I would have sent it back. Obviously the neck was not cut correctly.

Setup Rating: 4

Appearance

A beautiful banjo - very sharp! Perfect

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I assume the parts would last, but I have since sold the banjo.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Outstanding!! Barry at Deering spent hours on the phone with me to get the banjo set up just right. Rwally a committed group at Deering, I think this was just a lemon banjo (noone is perfect)

Customer Service: 10

Components

The neck cut was off in cut - but not in playability. The neck played beautifully and the detail work was fantastic!

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

Play one before you buy it - if you're inexperienced as I was when I bought this, definately have someone check it out first. I have since sold this banjo and probably won't buy another.

Overall Rating: 5

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