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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!

6918 reviews in the archive.

Recording King  RK-OT25 Banjo Reviews

Submitted by kisom (see all reviews from this person) on 6/11/2016

Where Purchased: Elderly

Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: 550 ($US)

Sound

It sounds great to me.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The bridge was adjusted when it arrived. I swap out the stock bridge with a moon bridge on occasion (the stock bridge lets me play with a mute). It's easy to swap out the bridge, and re-stringing is easy.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It looks fine. I don't put much stock into fancy inlays and all that. I'd much rather it have a well worn look, and I'd like to give that look through years of play.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This is one of the heavier banjos I've held.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I didn't have any interactions with Elderly, but I didn't get a shipment notification for it. The day I was going to call them to find out if it was going to ship soon, it showed up.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

I'm a new clawhammer player; I've got an Ibanez B50 and a Fireside that I built from a kit. This is the heaviest of the three, but it seems the most solid and I think it's the best sounding of the lot.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by rickhayes (see all reviews from this person) on 12/7/2013

Where Purchased: Sounds Cheap Music (Ebay)

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 314 ($US)

Sound

Has a nice OT sound to my ear. I put a washcloth between the coordinator rods which tones it down just a bit, but it sounds OK without it too.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The setup was fine and so was the action. I haven't made any changes as I am happy with the way it arrrived.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is a maple rim and neck banjo with simple dot inlays. It has a satin finish that is comfortable to play. The seller advertised it as a "B Stock" open box with minor blemishes, which were fully documented in pictures on their website, and that matched my inspection on arrival. Because of this there was no factory warranty but I took a flier since the seller has a full return poilcy.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Looks solidly made. I've been playing it daily for a month now and have no reason to believe it will have any problems.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Before purchase I sent a couple of questions. They responded quickly with fully satisfactory answers. They ship quickly. I ordered the banjo on a Sunday evening and was playing it Thursday afternoon.

Customer Service: 10

Components

This is an inexpensive openback banjo but nothing is cheap looking or feeling. I am completely satsified with it.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I don't think you could go wrong with this banjo as a starter open back, especially if you can get a blemished one like I did for a significant discount below the going price (which was around $500-550 when I was looking).  I even think it would be a good intermediate choice. If you would like to hear it, you can take a look at a video I just submitted for the December 2013 Auld Lang Syne Challenge.   I'll try to post a link below but you shouldn't have any problem searching for it in the video library.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_ACBhjnYN4

 

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by irvtrue (see all reviews from this person) on 11/14/2013

Where Purchased: Elderly

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 549 ($US)

Sound

I'm new to banjo ( about 6 months) but I have 50 years of guitar experience. I play both classic and old time banjo. This banjo does both well. Sound is rich and full. I "put a sock in it" to smooth out the minimal rough edges when played aggressively. Supports hammer-ons and pull-offs well. When moved away from the body and played over the scoop, the volume is surprising.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Setup from Elderly was right on.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It's not fancy, but has an appealing simplicity. It looks like it was made for function rather than fanfare, and in my opinion it was.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Finish on both the wood and hardware is good. Based on past experience with other instruments, I expect durability and dependability from this instrument.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The components are a good match to the basic instrument and price range.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I waited 6 months before writing this review. I play daily for personal pleasure. I don't play out. I'm quite confident that this banjo will last me for many years, and that for my purposes I'll probably never need to upgrade. Were I starting again, I'd make the same instrument choice.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Crusty (see all reviews from this person) on 12/12/2012

Where Purchased: Smakula

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 330 ($US)

Sound

This is a really good sounding banjo for clawhammer. It's on the bright side but a cloth pad on the underside of the head and a no-knot tailpiece makes the tone just right for melodic playing. It's surprisingly loud without a tone ring, though I suspect the maple rim top which is beveled to match a Mastertone tone ring does contribute to the sound, just not as much as a brass tone ring. The scooped neck allows you to pick in that area and lose the resonant tones you get when picking over the head.

After some months of playing it, I've got it setup with a Renaissance head, a Kateyz bridge, a no-knot tailpiece and Nylgut strings and I think it's difficult to find a better sounding old time banjo. Everyone comments on how good it sounds. The tone is full and sweet and in an OT jam group I have to play easy so I don't overpower everyone else.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It was setup reasonably well though the head needed tightening. I did have it fitted with a no-knot tailpiece and that killed some of the brightness.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

It's plain but a nice looking plain. The maple and rosewood finish is satin rather than glossy and the hardware is all bright nickel plated. It's got simple dot inlays on the fretboard and the RK logo rectangle on the peg head.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

The construction seems standard professional quality to me and I expect it to last a long time with few problems. I expect it to be very dependable and I would take it to a gig without a backup.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Smakula's shop is well known for quality work. All warranty work is handled through the selling dealer and I expect there to be no problems if any warranty work is ever necessary.

RK's have a Limited Lifetime Warranty to the original purchaser.

Customer Service: 9

Components

Three ply steam bent 3/4" thick maple rim, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, planetary tuners, Fiberskyn head, bone nut, maple/ebony bridge, and nickel plated brass hardware (except for the coordinator rods)

The arm rest won't lower far enough for me (it's ½" above the head) but I've learned to adapt to it. Update: I removed it because I was getting a nickel allergic reaction on my arm.

The bottoms of the hook nuts don't extend below the underside of the rim and they're smooth so they don't poke you.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This is a decent open back banjo for old time music that delivers rich, warm and clear bright tones (with a little ringing that is easily cured with a folded cotton sock under the head). The plunk factor is evident too. This is a good intermediate level clawhammer banjo.

Overall Rating: 8

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