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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!

6773 reviews in the archive.

Tranjo  8.1 Banjo Reviews

Submitted by jswkingsfield (see all reviews from this person) on 3/5/2015

Where Purchased: Direct from Sam Farris

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 930 ($US)

Sound

Sounds surprisingly rich and full for a mini banjo with a PVC tone ring. It is not loud enough for a regular jam, but sounds like a banjo, probably would work for a house jam. Actually performs better up the neck than what I remember of my starter Fender banjo. Does not replace a quality full-size banjo, but more than adequate for an amateur to practice on while travelling, or to keep at the office.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The original set-up is fine. Sam Farris provides you with everything you need to tighten the head, and pop the neck off for travel. I did swap the bridge for a Kat Eyz bridge, which amped up the volume.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Innovative, sparsely handsome design. My walnut Tranjo has a tasteful laminate strip down the back of the neck. Very well-thought out design to make a compact banjo while retaining a full-scale neck.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Everything seems solid and thoughtfully put together to survive your average plane trip as a carry-on, in a super compact form. The Steinberger tuners are recessed to help protect them. The stained finish is a bit prone to dings, but hey, the thing survived just fine after being stowed on top of several rollaways tucked into a 737-800 overhead bin.

UPDATE: As of the three-year mark, have tossed gig bag with Tranjo into back of loaded station wagon, on top of the family's stuff, for several long road trips, including several summer drives. Have also taken it on at least 6 plane trips, including a couple of overseas vacations. So far, this thing is solid, holds up like a champ, no problems at all.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Sam is a great guy to deal with.

Customer Service: 10

Components

It's nice to have a travel banjo with a full sized neck. The tuners take a little getting used to, and you're not going to easily practice D-tuner pieces. But, given this gizmo's mission as a lightweight, easy to carry & pack banjo for practice purposes, it gets the job done. The only item that bothers me is the soft gig bag that comes with the Tranjo -- something with stiffer side walls might be a good idea (finding something that fits the bill, though, might be the hard part).

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This is a super-light banjo, less than five pounds.  I am not a large person, but easily carried this slung in its soft gig bag over one shoulder, with a backpack on the other shoulder plus pulling a rollaway through several airports.  The thing actually weighs less than my regular purse.  A Mike's Mute easily slips on for practice in hotels.  If I had to, it can break down and fit into the rollaway without it taking up much room.

Beyond the Steinberger tuners, there are other features that take a little getting used to. Without a nut, it's slightly less responsive than a regular banjo. The hand stop is behind the first fret, rather than set behind the nut (this is because the headstock was eliminated to save space).   But to stay in practice while traveling on business or with family, it is a compact, sturdy, cleverly-designed instrument.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by banjothrasher (see all reviews from this person) on 8/25/2014

Where Purchased: From Sam Farris

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Sounds a lot better than you might think given its size. Exceeded my expectations.
Can sound quite bright once you tension up the head. I usually play with a hand towel wedged under the head to keep it quieter.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Not a lot to adjust. Setup was fine.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

I really like the look and feel of the Tranjo.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Had a couple of back plates fail within the first few months. Frustrating as they left it unplayable. Sam said he had a bad batch. No problems since.

Reliability Rating: 5

Customer Service

Sam was great when I had the back plates fail. Promptly replied to my emails and quickly despatched replacements at his cost including overseas shipping. After the second failure he offered to pay to have it repaired locally (in Australia) due to the shipping times involved. Sent me a gift also with the second replacement. Couldn't be happier with his follow up after a problem.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Tuners work well but are a little fiddly till you get used to them. Neck is very playable.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

A great idea and a very useful banjo to hit the road with. 

I bought a Lanikai baritone uke case which is a lot more protective than the case that came with it and fits perfectly.  Also has room for all the other crap I take with it.

I think that the true measure of a business is how they treat customers when they have a problem.  Sam was really great until everything was fixed to as new condition.  Couldn't fault his service or follow up.

 

 

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Blackpete (see all reviews from this person) on 10/4/2011

Where Purchased: Farris Travel Banjo Co.

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 900± ($US)

Sound

I play clawhammer and this is obviously set up with 3-finger style in mind. I wanted something small and light as my job involves moving around and a lot of unproductive waiting time. I'm happy with the sound out of the box, but tinkering with it is part of banjo fun.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Well set up, nice low action without buzzing, adjustments very easy. I couldn't sound the 5th string consistently when frailing around the upper frets, so I've had a scoop put in it. A Tranjo first?

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

An unusual but handsome little beast. Gets lots of WTF comments. I opted for the walnut model with ebony fingerboard. Good choice. No flaws- everything is top quality and well finished.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Came fitted with Steinberger tuners - a simple and elegant tuning solution. Makes you wonder, like wheels on suitcases, why they weren't invented 100 years ago. Neck has a low lustre finish that plays fast and smooth. Not designed as a performance instrument, but it's loud enough for jamming.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Banjo arrived within promised time even with a long flight time to NZ and Customs delay. Have not needed to contact company, but Sam Farris has a reputation for friendliness and efficiency.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Top quality 3-piece neck with beautiful walnut - blind fret groves.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I wanted a light knockabout banjo with full-scale neck for daily practice and the Tranjo has exceeded my expectations.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by peewee (see all reviews from this person) on 12/22/2010

Where Purchased: Sam Farris / Tranjo.com

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 850.00 ($US)

Sound

I really didn't expect much for sound quality but this thing sounds great. The Tranjo sounds better that some of my cheaper Asian banjos. The volume is lower than a resonator or open back but that's to be expected with a 8" head, and a solid wood back.

Sound Rating: 6

Setup

Setup was just right. All I had to do was tune it up and it was ready to go.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I got the blond maple with Ebony fingerboard. The finish is satin, and appears to be oiled not varnished. Not sure though. Fit and finish was superb. Everything was well sanded and the overall quality seemed high.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Appears to be built like a Tank. It has the new Steinburger tuners that are all black colored. These are straight pull tuners, and they replaced the old roller tuner setup. When I first got the Tranjo I had it tuned in less than a minute. These tuners are really easy to use.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Sam Farris is the owner of the Company. He was great to deal with and answered multiple phone calls and emails. Good customer service. He also promised me I would have it by Christmas and it showed up on Dec. 22nd.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I just got the banjo today so I will have to evaluate over a longer period of time. Nothing stands out as being cheap.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I got this banjo to be a road warrior. I spend 15 days a month on the road, so I will re-evaluate as time goes by. It appears well built with nothing sticking out that could get damaged. The tuners fit within the thickness of the body, no headstock to damage. This is an expensive travel banjo and as such I will expect a lot from it. Time will tell. I did order a Colorado Soft Case because I did not think the gig bag that came with the Tranjo would be enough protection.

Overall Rating: 9

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