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.
Where Purchased: banjo.com
Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 499.00 ($US)
I play a Gibson Mastertone (ESS), the sound and action are probably among the best available but with age coming on, it's heavy and I needed something to take the pressure off when just noodling, practicing and jamming. I looked and played most brands and models looking for something light and was sold on the Vega Bluegrass Wonder but the price point was not attractive. I had heard about the Madison line but most weighed about what the Gibson did, a woody was what I needed. I stumbled across the Madison RK 25 and based on several reviews, bought one and am glad I did.
Sound Rating: 7
What set up? They shipped it with the bridge standing, who does that, wonder it did not puncture the head but then it was loose (head) so I doubt if that would have happened. Action was about what you would expect coming out of a Chinese factory. Bridge must have sold for at least $ 1. I switched bridges, tightened the head, shimmed the neck away from the tension hoop, adjusted the tailpiece, put a decent set of Gibson strings on it. Action is now excellent and the tone is acceptable but after playing a Mastertone for some time, it has a ways to go but it has a woody, earthly sound and it's a pleasant change.
Setup Rating: 2
I would guess it's a "blem". Lots of nicks up the fretboard, nickel finish is not consistent, truss rod cover leaves alot to be desired but all in all, not bad for the price, a little tweaking and it's more than acceptable.
Appearance Rating: 7
Looks well built, components look like quality, Recording King claims they use the same hardward on their entire line, except for the shape of the peghead, it's pretty much a Mastertone clone.
Reliability Rating: 8
Lifetime warranty, only reason I bought it from banjo. com is due to their pricing, did contact them with a couple of questions, never heard back, probably busy answering questions of those that bought the upper end models.
Customer Service: 4
All in all, components look good, other than the bridge and stings and possibly the head, after the set up, I will leave it alone and just enjoy the different sound.
Components Rating: 9
For the money, I would buy another one and just might do that if the price is right. I tried many of all makes and brands and feel this model with a good set up will serve the average banjo player for many years and if you want a true tonering sound someday you can change that. Neck is better than most, tuners are adequate, bridge is a Presto cloan, the same as I use on my tonering banjos, no problems there. I like the satin finish, I would recommend the Madison RK 25 not only to beginners but seasoned banjoists looking for a different sound, something fairly light weight and well built.
Overall Rating: 9
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