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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!

6919 reviews in the archive.

Deering  Classic Goodtime Special Openback  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Strumbody (see all reviews from this person) on 9/8/2016

Where Purchased: Musician's Friend

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Loved my basic Goodtime, but I wanted an open back that looked a little more traditional and was a little louder. The tone ring maks it louder and brighter and gives it a more "chimey" and less "plunky" sound than the base model. I can still play fairly quietly, but I can get quite loud if I hold it out perpendicular to my stomach and play hard. My favorite openback for tone, competes with some expensive classic openbacks I have tried.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It was a return to the store, so it's hard to tell if it came that way set up from Deering or if the first owner had tried to set it up. I'm going to guess the former, though, since it didn't look like it had ever been played. Arrived with the bridge in place, which I don't usually expect, but I had to set it anyway, which I did expect. Other than that, it was VERY playable and well adjusted on arrival.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Pretty. Serves the need for a more traditional-looking instrument. Deering has replaced the Classic with the Artisan, which has the stain going all the way through the fingerboard - I expect that I'll wear the stain down a little on the fingerboard of this one. But EVERYTHING about the banjo is top quality, including the finish, etc. Giving it a 9 because I still think the star looks a little silly. :-)

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

The finish is satin, not shiny, but seems top quality. The tuners are very nice. I have used it on gigs with out a backup.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I've never needed repair on a Deering product, but I've rebuilt two of their better models, and they were always very helpful.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Planetary tuners, geared 5th string, 3-ply maple pot, spikes at frets 7, 9, and 10. I can't imagine this needing repair unless I drop it down a flight of stairs or something.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I wouldn't hesitate to use this one for any professional open-back application.  If it gets lost, stolen, or strayed, I might replace it with the Artisan equivalent, which fixes the two cosmetic things that I've mentioned - the Goodtime Star and the surface-only stain of the fretboard. 

Again, if you have your heart set on some fantastic, expensive, classic open-back collector's item, do an A/B test with one of these and see if it's really worth the difference in price.

 

 

 

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by DaveS (see all reviews from this person) on 7/1/2012

Where Purchased: private sale

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 600 (CDN) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Great banjo for clawhammer.
Really loud, which is great. On the bright side. I like a plunkier sound. I've tried it with nylgut and steel strings and it works well both ways.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Set up was fine when I bought it. I didn't change anything. I have a skin head that I want to try on it but haven't got the gumption to take the banjo apart yet.
I've added a no-knot tailpiece (although the one that came with the banjo is good) and a higher bridge for better frailing.
The action is really low. Normally, this is what I want, but I actually wanted to raise it a bit with the bridge.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Very nice.
Gorgeous dark stain. A fine looking banjo.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I'm amazed how thin the neck is, but it's a solid banjo.
Has a stainless steel tone ring that seems to give it its kick.
I sometimes jam at a friend's place and have to use his banjo, and it's not near as nice as mine.
Rail spikes on four frets. Stays in tune.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Not dealing with the company because I bought it used.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I like the tuners on this banjo. They work well.
I've changed a few parts (bridge, tail piece) but it's not because of their quality. I've just been experimenting with different parts.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

A great banjo. I think if I wanted to go to bluegrass, I'd get the resonator. I sometimes think it's a banjo that wants to have it more ways than one. But it feels great and sounds great. For the price, it's a great deal. My next purchase upwards would probably be from an independent builder for an old timey sound (e.g Romero, Calkins, Masten, Ramsey)

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by lucydog (see all reviews from this person) on 5/11/2010

Where Purchased: Spruce Tree Music

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This is the newest (2010) model that has the "patent pending" tone ring. I must admit that the sound is *far* crisper than the standard Goodtime open back. There is a large sound difference. Where the standard sounded a bit muddy and thick (in a good way), the new tone ring cranks up the higher frequencies significantly. I replaced the stock head with a Renaissence head which balanced the highs and lows very well.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

This is a no-brainer: Spruce Tree setup the banjo beautifully. If you can't get a local shop to do the setup, buy from another vendor (Elderly comes to mind) that knows how to setup a banjo properly. This makes a HUGE difference. One additional factor is the head tension. The tone ring seems to prefer an even 10kg./cm. to 12kg./cm. (on a Neary Torque Wrench) in order to boost the clarity and volume of the notes.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It is a beautiful instrument. I like the dark stain and prefer a satin neck, so this really appeals to me.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

The finish seems to be pretty bulletproof. The neck is tight, everything is squared up correctly and the frets are evenly glued (no buzzing). I see no reason why this wouldn't be an excellent choice as a gigging instrument. It is basic and solid with a very good tone.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

I actually did deal with Deering indirectly, both through some e-mails and via my local store. At every turn, Deering patiently answered my questions, gave me status without acting frustrated, etc. I'm a dyed in the wool cynic, but Deering really is paying attention to their customer service. Bravo for that.

Customer Service: 9

Components

I like the simple tailpiece and no-frills hardware. Everything fits together and there isn't anything fussy about it. If I were to nitpick, I'd say that it would be nice to have an adjustable tailpiece and better Planetary tuners, but those are only mild issues and don't detract from the instrument as a whole.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I'm extremely happy with this purchase. I was pretty skeptical about the new tone ring, but it really does sound great. It really is worth its price. I would have no reservations with taking this to a gig - it would certainly hold its own.

Overall Rating: 9

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