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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!

6950 reviews in the archive.

Deering  Top Tension Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Porter Claxton (see all reviews from this person) on 3/29/2012

Where Purchased: Deering banjo Co.

Year Purchased: 1989
Price Paid: 1,000 ($US)

Sound

The Deering Top Tension was custom made for me by Greg Deering. Originally it was Greg Deering Limited #10. In talking with him, he agreed to convert it for nothing as he had always wanted to make a top tension. Later on, he modified and deepened the resonator to give it more volume.

This banjo is a very pretty sounding banjo, great for melodics or types of music other than traditional bluegrass. There's plenty of both top end and bottom end. It is loud and resonant. I have had people come clear across from the other side of a bluegrass festival campground to hear it. They could hear it over all the other jams and sounds. My only complaint is that I have to remove the armrest to tighten the head.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

This banjo was set up nicely by Greg Deering. Later I tried a Snuffy Smith bridge 7/8" and a Remo head. I admit trying to get a Scruggs sound out of it, which didn't work. The drum tuning on the head (my idea) was ineffective on this banjo. A looser head is much better, as in the original factory setup.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

A very beautiful banjo with Indian rosewood and ebony. The heel is tastily and intricately carved. The metalwork is deeply engraved including the tailpiece and armrest. The style of engraving is "Saddle and Spur" on nickel plate. The tension hoop is tightened with a nickel plated allen wrench. The Mother Of Pearl inlays on the neck are Greg Deering originals, nicely done. The finish is beautiful with no factory defects. The only flaw is also my own doing. I put a sliding 5th string capo on and there are 2 little pinholes left on the neck from when I took it off.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

The hardware has held up nicely and the only piece that needed repair was the tailpiece. The metal fatigued and broke at the weld. it has since been replaced. I would use this banjo on a gig without backup.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Greg is very accommodating and easy to work with. I was pleasantly surprised when he offered to make the conversion to a top tension for free. The banjo was to have "Gun Engraving" but his engraver screwed up and did Saddle & Spur". Greg was very apologetic and sincere so I agreed to the change. After seeing the result I actually liked it a lot more than the "Gun Engraving" which would have been thin and shallow. Whenever I called I spoke to Greg himself and there was seldom any wait. Customer service was the best.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The metal engraving, the resonator, the carved heel and the top tension hoop are standout parts. There are no cheap parts or shoddy workmanship.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Deering is a good company and they are easy to deal with. Their products are top shelf. Greg and Janice work hard to keep Deering Banjos a high quality outfit. The overall workmanship of this Deering Top tension is remarkable. Greg is a true craftsman!

Overall Rating: 9

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