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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.

Recording King  RK-R85A-SN Archtop Banjo Reviews

Submitted by k-dawg (see all reviews from this person) on 8/1/2011

Where Purchased: eBay

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 649.00 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This model has a very bright tonal quality, and has great volume. I like it for bluegrass. It plays nice up the neck, with no buzz, or deadening of strings.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I bought this one used, although, it was a factory second, as the 5th string nut had been replaced, it was otherwise a new banjo. It was not set up, but needed only a minor bit of "tweaking" , to lower the action, and get the intonation set, which I was able to do myself. Overall, it was fairly decent right out of the box. I had a friend of mine who is a trained luthier give it the once over, and also had him install RR spikes for me. Next time I change the srtings, I will add a set of Schaller D-tuners.

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

This banjo is absolutely beautiful. Figured maple resonator, and neck, finished in sunburst. Headstock is typical RK MOP inlay. Hearts and Flowers, MOP inlays along the ebony fretboard. Fretboard feels smooth, and inlays are very nicely applied. Ebony feels like butter compared to rosewood.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I think that the hardware this came with is pretty good. I'm a banjo newbie, but I think the quality is here. For my use, I'd depend on it. It stays in tune, and when tuning is needed, it tune up very well.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I think that the components that go into the RK banjos, are top notch. Right off, the only change I recomend is different strings, and better bridge. In my case, GHS PF-140 strings, and a Sosebee bridge, .656 (21/32). This is the only one I've owned, but if this is representative of the other, less expensive banjos in the line up, I might buy another one down the line. A hard shell case was included with the purchase.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Before I bought this banjo, I had an opportunity to try it out along side some Deering models, specifically, the Sierra, the DeLuxe, and the Maple Blossom. The 3 models that I was considering to purchase. I tried out the RK-R85, because I'd never had my greasey mitts on a Recording King banjo before, and also, had no idea what an archtop sounded like. Well, after one bad round of "Cripple Creek", I was in love. The feel was wonderful, easy to play as my Goodtime, and the sound and looks were great. The price of the RK was $1399 at this store, and the Deering models were $2000-$3500, so the money was a "thing" as well. I knew that one was available on eBay for a start of $649, with free shipping, and this was the second time it had been listed, so I bid, and won it for $649. I was very pleased to find out that it was in new condition when it arrived, 4 days later via the Big Brown Truck. Very happy indeed. I would buy another one for sure, should it be lost, stolen, or damaged beyond repair. Without a doubt, the best banjo. (Well, for me anyway.)

Overall Rating: 10

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