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: Deering
Just as they say at Deering, this banjo has a sweet and melodic tone. It isn't as bassy as other tone rings, but you can hear the acoustic properties of the wood due to the lighter weight. At the same time, you can dig in and get a real bluegrass bite out of it, too. In that way, its under rated for its versatility (as all Little Wonder tone rings are...)
I've often received complients on the sound of this banjo. I play in mostly a two finger style (ala Dock Boggs) and play primarily hillbilly Americana with a Kavanjo pickup and Tonebone PZ Pre DI.
Sound Rating: 9
Setup was great, and very easy to adjust as temp/humidity changes. Really great jumbo frets that make playing easy. Only downside is that they don't include a wrench for adjusting the head tension, which seems to me to be a ridiculous thing NOT to include with a banjo at any price level, which is why I give it a 9.
Setup Rating: 9
I don't like fancy stuff all over my instruments, and would rather the tone/playing speak for itself. The Star inlays ARE a nice classy touch, though. The banjo itself is rock maple with ebony fingerboard. A small blemish from laquer peeling off occured early on in the life of this banjo, so I have adjusted my rating to reflect that. Truly not a big deal, though.
Appearance Rating: 8
It seems pretty much bomb proof, and can be counted on to stay in tune for a long period of time. Great tuners and all hardware in general is fantastic (though maybe slightly less beefy than some I've seem from Stew Mac)
It stays in tune for a ridiculously long time.
Finish is satin, which I prefer, allowing the oils from your skin eventually wear into the banjo and make it smooth and fast on the neck.
Reliability Rating: 9
I purchased this direct from Deering (I work for a major music retailer) and Barry Hunn was pretty much awesome. He really helped me out, was super patient and friendly, not to mention he answered all my questions superbly. In the end I went with this model banjo based on my needs and Barry's opinions and was not disappointed. Lifetime warranty for original owner can't be beat, either. Plus you get a sweet Deering Gold Card as your registration.
Customer Service: 10
This banjo is identical to the Vega Senator, but with a resonator.
This banjo used the TOP portion only of a White Laydie tone ring, a brass rod with a brass sleeve outside. This makes it extremely lightweight, and a good choice for those with back issues.
Components Rating: 9
I don't think enough people have had a chance to hear/play these Vegas to get a good feel for them. I think that bluegrass players would be pleasantly surprised if they tried one out, and its an excellent choice if you are older, or have back issues, and are tired of the weight of a typical tone ring. Or especially if you are a clawhammer player that wants to liven up your options.
I will say that the new retail cost of this banjo seems out of line with some other banjos out there. Its a bit overpriced compared to the field, so it might be worthwhile to try to locate a used one first. I was working at a music store when I purchased it new, so paid dealer cost (which made it a no brainer).
That being said, I've played it for 6 years straight, at hundreds of gigs, and its always been rock solid.
Kavanjo makes a great simple adaptor, too, for fitting the input jack in an integrated manner into the flange that I have not seen on other banjos.
Overall Rating: 9
'Add confusionmore ' 6 min
'955 Sound Sample 2' 2 hrs
'New Money (TOTW)' 3 hrs