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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!

6918 reviews in the archive.

Wildwood  Wildwood Minstrel (cherry wood) with Bubinga tone ring Banjo Reviews

Submitted by chickenstalker (see all reviews from this person) on 10/10/2010

Where Purchased: elderly

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 1425 ($US)

Sound

I absolutely love this banjo. I play clawhammer (roundpeaker)and seeger style as well as the occassional mountain mix. I have it strung with nylgut strings, rather than steel, due to my own taste. It is a surprisingly loud banjo, with a sweet tone. With the steel it was really really punchy and ringy. WIth the nylgut the punch is still there, but there is a sweet rich mellow sound. The cherry wood i think makes this banjo alot lighter than your average wildwood (in my understanding), but it is still adequately loud in the setting in which i use it (3 piece group). I find it to be very responsive to subtle changes in right hand technique, and up the neck it is bright and beautiful. The 4th string is plunky enough, the fifth has the most beautiful ring..capoed at the second fret and played it has the most pleasant pop.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Everything was great with the banjo when i got it. The bridge of course was flat for shipping, but elderly had even very lightly and carefully with a pencil outline the corner points of the bridge. I messed up the way they had the tailpiece set when i changed the strings to nylgut, but it was easily adjustable (waverly). The stock waverly has seemed to work very well with the nylguts; ive never used that style tailpiece and was a little worried. The intonation is excellent and i have no complaints.
I have read some people dont like the brackets used by Wildwood (saying they were too long) but I have not had the slightest bit of discomfort, and like the way they look as well.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It is very pretty, made of cherry wood on the neck and laminate block pot. It is darker than the pictures on elderly made me think, which was a big plus to me. Vega style peghead, inlay is dot all the way up the neck except at the first fret, which has a simple but beautiful "shape." It kinda looks like a heart with wings maybe.. prob reminiscent of some vintage design or shape with which i am not familiar. The Neck is 1 3/4 at the nut and very comfortable, and beautiful as well. The pot has a walnut cap on the bottom of the rim, and there is an ebony cap on the neck ( the fretboard is really pretty ebony, too).
I think this banjo is extremely beautiful and striking, and am excited to watch it age.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Its new but it seems to be very sturdy. The Tuners, Hardware, and Construction seem to be extremely well crafted and sturdy. Ive already used it out in a public gig and left my backup at home. I joked at church tonight to someone that asked if they could touch it that "they couldnt hurt it; i could probably beat someone to death with it."

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Elderly was great. Wildwood has an excellent reputation, but ive not dealt with them directly (yet). Im thinking about having them scoop the neck. i emailed them about the banjo and found it was 1 or only 2 made like it, so maybe a prototype that they decided for whatever reason not to produce, or from a specific tree, i dont know.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything about this banjo screams of superior quality. I will probably upgrade the bridge to a compensated moon bridge (due ot Zepp's testimonials about them), and i thought i would change the tailpiece from a waverly to a no-knot, but as of now the waverly seems to work fine with the nylguts...

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

this banjo is really really beautiful and sturdy. I like it more everyday. It only weighs about 7 lbs (due to the cherry construction and wooden tone ring) i think, but it is plenty lound and has the most beautiful wooden sound, both snappy or poppy and bell like at the same time.

Overall Rating: 10

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