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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!

7077 reviews in the archive.

Backyard Music  Fireside Fretless (Assembled) Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Goodandgreasy (see all reviews from this person) on 12/15/2015

Where Purchased: internet

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 189 ($US)

Sound

I like to play in many styles, right now its clawhammer plus working on 2 finger style. Great sound! (for what it is, mainly a learning or practice instrument) I got the mahogany sound board and the nylon strings sound great for practicing or even a micro performance.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Nicely set up with nylon strings, easy on the fingers. I ordered the armrest and put it on myself. No setup changes needed between styles as the fingerboard is elevated above the sound board by design (making for very easy action) and at the head the strings are well up off the head.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Beautiful and clever design. I got the mahogany sound board which looks and sounds great.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This is a great practice instrument and would work great as an introductory instrument for youngsters. It is very sturdy but not for a toddler. The hardware is cheap but sturdy.

Reliability Rating: 6

Customer Service

The folks are very friendly and responded to me quickly.

Customer Service: 10

Components

This is a unique instrument. The design is clever and is kind of related to the dulcimer. The amazing thing is the neck is more stable than a conventional instrument. The pot is cardboard but with the wooden soundboard and "all the way thru" neck it makes up for the material of the pot and is very sturdy.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Ok, my picture is still upside down (the flip side of banjo?).  My grandson is a budding musician and likes to play on my banjo when he's over here.  He's only 3 1/2 and I sent my old very beater guitar over to his house and that didn't last long.  So I'm looking around for an instrument for him and came across Backyard Music's website.  After talking to David Cross via e-mail I decided to get him the junior dulcimer which comes with 2 books by David and Sarah Morse.  It is set up with numbers on the melody string to go along with tunes in the book.  Now I know he would love the banjo, but I decided that I always wanted a fretless so I decided to get one for myself and he can play it when he's over here (meanwhile I'll see how it goes with the little dulcimer which is very sturdy, also beautiful and sounds great!)  Now I am using it for a practice instrument which really works great as I can practice without driving my wife nuts (unlike the bagpipe) and it is just a hoot to play! Full size fingerboard too!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by alvacouch (see all reviews from this person) on 8/14/2012

Where Purchased: Direct from Backyard Music

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 155 ($US)

Sound

It's an ideal practice instrument for fretless. I opted for nylgut strings, which makes it a very quiet banjo. I do not amplify it; I use it solely for practice. Its quiet tone is ideal for that. So I rate it as "totally suitable for its intended purpose".

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The setup is fixed; there is no adjustment. That being said, it needed none. The drone string sometimes skipped out of its bridge slot; I deepened the slot a hair and that is no longer a problem. Because of the low tensions on nylgut strings, I doubt that I will ever have to adjust anything.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is a basic no-frills mountain banjo. Wood inlays at frets 1,2,3,5,7,10,12 greatly help the fretless beginner and are aesthetically pleasing. It looks like what it is; a basic banjo made for practice and just starting out.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It is darn near indestructible. I bought it to carry it around a lot and it stands up well to that. The finish is an oil-finish, easily renewed with watco oil. The plywood drumhead is strong and resists damage well. The hardware is basic but sturdy and easily repairable if it does have problems. It's a basic banjo, intended for travel, and it lives up to that rating well.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The company has been very helpful in several interactions. I've bought a few banjos from them.

Customer Service: 10

Components

This is a practice banjo intended to allow people to try fretless for small money. I would not upgrade components at the expense of making the price less attractive.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I read a lot about fretless but the entry-level prices for quality fretless banjos were too high. given my lack of confidence that I could actually play the thing. Then I read that backyard music makes fretless models on demand, on a limited basis. The price was 1/8 of what I was quoted for a "real" fretless model, and got beneath my price point for "experimentation". So, I took the risk.

A few months later, I can say that it is one of the best investments I ever made, and I'm considering ordering a "real fretless" now that I've built up confidence. I play it about an hour a day. The price drew me in, and hooked me.

I would very strongly recommend this banjo to anyone considering trying fretless, but not sure whether they can "do it" or not. It hooked me and reeled me in. It'll do that to you, too.

Overall Rating: 10

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