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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!

6662 reviews in the archive.

Epiphone  Epiphone Masterbilt MB500 Banjo Reviews

Submitted by The Old Timer (see all reviews from this person) on 12/19/2008

Where Purchased: Seen at Sam Ash New Haven CT

Year Purchased: not purchased
Price Paid: $850 ($US)


Appears to be a good solid traditional Mastertone style banjo, made in Korea, at low price. Right in the music store it had a "decent" tradtional bluegrass tone and volume. Could be tweaked to be better like any banjo.

Sound Rating: 6


Action was a bit low but not bad. 5th string action was far too low and buzzed on the frets a litlte. Head was moderately tight. Tailpiece was set very low and could not be adjusted with the fine thread screw provided. Couldn't overcome string tension. The banjo was playable though.

Setup Rating: 5


Showy curly maple in reso and neck. Very nice sunburst. Good finish work and bindings. Typical modern gold plate, nothing to rave about. VERY cheesy cast or pressed "engraving" in arm rest didn't suit me. Tailpiece was a clamshell style, very heavy and clunky and out of character for a Gibson style banjo. Nice rosewood fingerboard with swirly grain. Very nice unique "cloud" inlays in fingerboard and unique "thing" in peghead and Epiphone name.

Appearance Rating: 8


Banjo is VERY heavy, well up in the Mastertone range, maybe heavier? Once piece cast flange seemed "too thick" to my eye compared to Masterones. Clamshell tailpiece far too thick and heavy. Tension hoop and tone ring seemed of typical Mastertone style and the rim was typical heavy mutit-ply hard wood. Nothing flimsy or lightweight about this banjo.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

I didn't buy, I was just shopping. Sam Ash salesman couldn't have been more accomodating, he let me take the resonator off and brought me picks! I know nothing about strength of Epiphone guarantee, etc.

Customer Service: 5


Weak: clunky imitation clamshell tailpiece. Pressed/cast fake "engraving" in arm rest. Tuners seem on the cheap side of acceptable. Remo head stamped Made in Taiwan. One piece flange casting seemed "too thick" to me. Does not include a case at standard Sam Ash advertised price, would have to buy a case.
Standout: Nice wood, sunburst and finish. Good fitting of bindings and wood to metal. Good looking tension hoop and tone ring. Very nice "unique" cloud inlays and Epiphone device in peghead. Decent modern gold plating.

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

Was tagged at $999, with 15% off on Dec. 18 only. If on sale after Christmas I would buy as a "flying banjo" for the airlines. With tweaking, I think it would sound OK, like a decent Mastertone, with a unique cool "look". A banjo you wouldn't cry over if stolen or destroyed, but perfectly acceptable unless you're at the very top of the game. Apparently no longer being made. A decent "something" different inexpensive Mastertonep-type instrument. I'd like to own one if they go on sale.

Overall Rating: 6

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