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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!

6920 reviews in the archive.

Recording King  RK 25 resonator Banjo Reviews

Submitted by OldiebutNewbie (see all reviews from this person) on 7/1/2016

Where Purchased: Musicians Friend

Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: 299 to 249 ($US)

Sound

Sounds perfect and loud. You have to appreciate an instrument that sound so good and annoys so many people. I got 3 due to the great sale recently. Keep 2 as bluegrass and removed the res and flange from the third. Again, for my vast months experiance, they all sound great. Have I mentioned that these things stay in tune

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

No set up, but 1 actually had pencil marks in the exact bridge location. Not hard to do by tourself evenas a beginner, I feel the price was very fair even with no set up

Setup Rating: 5

Appearance

All three of my r25's arrived perfect except for a small dent in the tail piece cover on one. Recording King has already replaced it, so how could I complain

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Question....What is the best banjo under 1000.00? Four recording King R25's. My guess is they will hold up fine, and a lifetime warranty does not hurt

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Again, my only gripe is no phone contact with customer service, but their responses by email are quite timely and I had my tail piece cover before I even expected it........

Customer Service: 10

Components

Still of the belief they are about as good as you can expect on this level of banjo

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

These banjos were a great deal and helped fill my need to create hoard a few.

I have to also give hats off to Musicians Friend, they lowered the price to 249.00 after I bought my first 2 and they refunded my 100.00 with no questions at all. Can you do the math.....100.00 refund.....150.00 out of my pocket....and I got one of the last 20 they had to bring me up to 4 of these.

I am sure as my abilities and knowledge progress I will add a few Rolls Royce quality banjos to the collect at sometime, but it will not be because my current banjos sound like crap.

Thank you Recording King

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by sknight (see all reviews from this person) on 9/30/2012

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

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

Sound

My "music style" is that of a new, beginning banjo player. While I'll be the first to admit that my exposure to hearing a large variety of banjos first hand is limited, I have been able to listen to several different makes - all played by experienced folks - and all with tone rings. When my R-25 "Madison" was recently played by my instructor, I was hard pressed to tell any significant difference. The tone is great, with a rich sound that's loud enough to hold its own in almost any situation. My instructor ( an awesome picker of 32 years) who had only previously heard about the R-25 but never played one, confirmed that its quality, playability, tone and volume are all truly impressive for a banjo in its price range. Great sound quality, and he was hard pressed to believe it does it without a tone ring.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I was fortunate to meet Tom at Janet Davis via phone who was extremely helpful with my decision which banjo to buy with the dollars I had to spend. He personally set the R-25 up, and upon arrival here at the house it was perfect. Again, as a true beginner, at this point I'm only learning cords & roll patterns so I don't feel qualified to comment on the banjo's action. But, again referring to my instructor's experience playing it, he confirmed that it was 1) set up really well and 2) it's action is great.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

One of the many reasons I went with the R-25 is the finish - I truly like a satin finish. The color, grain and finish is flawless. The banjo's build and component quality was very important to me as I wanted to buy a banjo that I would gladly keep for a long time vs. having to "trade up" for a higher quality instrument as my skill develops. I'll have to become a heck of a player before I would feel the need to buy a better banjo. Very pleased with all aspects of the R-25's quality.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Once again, to be as honest as I can, with my limited experience, I have to rely in my instructor's opinions here. I specifically asked him about the overall build quality, as well as the quality of the components. He shared that for what I paid for the R-25, I would be very hard pressed to buy a banjo of any better quality (both build and key components). Just for the fun of it I asked if it would be good enough for him to play in one of his many future gigs. His response was; "In a heart beat". (However, I'm pretty sure that he would want to stick with his $5,000 instrument over the long haul)!!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Only experience I've had with Janet Davis is my banjo purchase as well as the purchase of a Lakota strap just last week . I called several different banjo vendors that are out on the net for guidance & advise when I was trying to learn about buying a banjo, the advantages of the different brands, and what if anything to avoid. I experienced nice folks with every call, but too many one or two word answers. Tom at Janet Davis gladly spent almost an hour with me, walking me through all my questions and offering great advise. Very helpful, friendly and very responsive.

Customer Service: 10

Components

No cheap parts, no quality concerns. I may play around with a different bridge in the future to see what (if any) difference it might make in the banjo's sound, but that would be for fun, not out of a concern for the quality that came on the R-25.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

After researching which banjo to buy for almost three months with the money I had to spend, I truly believe the RK R-25 was a absolutely the best buy. I struggled over the tone ring question, fearing that purchasing a banjo without one just wouldn't be a wise move in the long run. Now, having heard my "Madison" played first hand by a professional there's absolutely no doubt that this banjo with its excellent quality and great sound will be all that I will ever need now, and well into the future.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by muse451 (see all reviews from this person) on 4/5/2012

Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 599 ($US)

Sound

Sounds very good. Each note is clear and precise. Not as loud or bell like as a tone ring instrument, but that's to be expected with its construction. I like it.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Two of the four thumb screws that attach the resonator to the body are not aligned. They have to be screwed in at an angle. Disappointing, but doesn't really affect anything other than esthetics. The action is a bit high from the 12th fret up the neck. The screw that holds the tail piece in place was jacked around too. I'm surprised it was shipped to me with these problems.

Setup Rating: 5

Appearance

Nice looking banjo. The quality of wood, finish, and components is good.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Appears to be made with reasonable quality materials for the price paid. I don't see any reason at this time to be worried about durability.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

I did get a prompt response to my phone call/email concern about the thumb screws. I was given a dismissive, in my opinion, explanation that non alignment of various screws is common in banjos. Not impressed. I'm sure that they would have replaced the banjo if I had asked, but I like the sound so much that I decided to forgo the hassle of an exchange over a cosmetic flaw.

Customer Service: 6

Components

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

Just what I was looking for in a second banjo. It's light weight, good sounding, and budget priced. This is an excellent instrument. I'm glad I purchased it. I just wish I had been able to buy it in person rather than mail order to avoid the problems I experienced.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by The Old Timer (see all reviews from this person) on 4/22/2011

Where Purchased: Gruhn, did not purchase, just tried it

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 575 ($US)

Sound

No tone ring, just beveled wooden lip on rim. Loud, and clear, but kind of "punky" compared to Mastertone-type banjo. Instant impression of the sound is "lightweight", which is also initial impression of the banjo when you pick it up. I was very curious about this banjo, but decided it's not for me. Kind of hard to compare this banjo to any other.

Sound Rating: 5

Setup

Yes, well set up on the floor at Gruhn's. I would have tweaked it just out of curiosity, but there was nothing "wrong".

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Looks better from the front than the back, where the dark walnut-type stain has sort of a "slap dash" thin and dull appearance, and stain intensity varies in the 3-piece spliced neck construction. Resonator and neck wood grain appears to have had no judgment or selective criteria used at all, but that helps keep the price point low, for sure. Nice sea shell inlays, good looking metal, fingerboard, peghead, etc. It's odd, but much cheaper instruments have much nicer stain/finish work.

Appearance Rating: 6

Reliability

The hardware seems to be of same quality as all the higher priced RKs, nothing wrong at all, pretty much all Masterclone. Tuners were OK but nothing special. Hardware seems to be the best part of this model.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I've never seen a 3 piece spliced neck before. I expect it is plenty strong, but the stain "took" differently on each individual piece, so it has a patchwork appearance. Hardware is the best. Wooden parts all "feel" right, but look cheap from the back. Personally, I admire the old fashioned pehgead and the nice sea shell inlays. Very well put together.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

An excellent "step up" banjo for someone who has gotten beyond beginner status on a $100-$200-$300 banjo. Not a Masterclone, but a very well put together instrument that is going to "feel" like a Masterclone except for its light weight. Not a "power" instrument by any means. If the stain job showed a little more care, I could really give it rave reviews. But the stain/finish detracts from the overall impression. But I'm sure that helps keep the price low. One would have to try it to determine if the tone/volume suits them, it's unlike any other banjo I can think of. Would not be a suitable "substitute" or "airline" banjo for someone used to a Mastertone. But it does have a unique price point, filling a price gap very nicely, if someone has this amount of money to spend. Can't get a much "better" banjo, even used, at this price point.

Overall Rating: 6

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