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!
6918 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: From Maker
Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 800 ($US)
I'm a begginer and play bluegrass style and enjoy fiddle tunes and melodic arrangements as well as standard Scruggs arrangements. This banjo has a wonderful sound. The sound is full, alive, rich and well balanced. When I tighten up the head it gets very loud, but I prefer the head to be a few cents flat of G#. I've found that I really like melodic songs since I've began in April and the mellower tone of the slightly looser head is sweet and beautiful. I can't say enough good things about the sound of this banjo. I let a guitar player that also plays banjo play my banjo and was blown away by the sound of it from an audience standpoint. If you are the kind of person who says about a banjo, "Sound is the most important thing to me", then you should seriously consider getting a Helix. I don't give ratings of 10 lightly. This banjo has a "10" sound.
Sound Rating: 10
When I looked at the banjo the action was too high for my taste. Larry adjusted it for me and I came back a couple days later and purchased the banjo. Since then I have made more adjustment to the action and replaced the brige with another that Larry gave to me with the banjo. I can tune my Helix with an electronic tuner and it sounds in tune. Many other banjo I've played seem to need some tweeking even after tuning with an electronic tuner.
Setup Rating: 8
It looks good. The hardware has a nice polish. The Gold Tone neck that Larry used for my banjo has a nice snowflake inlay pattern and a nice flame maple veneer on the head. The grain pattern on the rim is very pretty. The only crtisism I have for this banjo is the resonator back is basic and has a shellac finish that I don't like and the flange isn't quite even all the way around.
Appearance Rating: 7
I think this banjo will last me a lifetime.
Reliability Rating: 8
I'll probably work on the 'jo myself if I ever have problems, but Larry suggested that he would be happy to help me fix anything that needed fixing. He also said that he would stand behind his instrument if there were some kind of larger issue that made the banjo unplayable.
Customer Service: 9
From what I've been told and from my experience Helix banjos sound great because of Larry's proprietary block rim. No one else is making block rims like Larry and the sound generated from them is steller. I will probably change out the tuners eventually. I don't know if all planetary tuners are like this, but I have to keep the torque on the screws that hold on the buttons just right.
Components Rating: 9
I would definitely recommend this banjo for the price I paid (it came with a very nice case). My favorite feature of the banjo is the full rich sound. I'm proud to have something hand made and would feel like I had lost a friend if it was stolen. I researched Larry's banjos before I bought it, so I knew what I was getting into. I won't be purchasing another banjo, unless perhaps I can come up with the four grand for an Ome. I've played a lot of Fender's, Deerings, and other banjos at music stores that are in the price range of my banjo, none even came close to my Helix.
Overall Rating: 9
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