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: Larry Hill
Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 275 ($US)
I switched the rim from an amber bamboo (Jackrabbit #009) rim to this, a cherry/ash hybrid.
Relative to the bamboo, it's thicker, wetter, louder, boomier. It's a denser sound that feels as though it will open up in time...whereas the bamboo was springy, loud, ringy right out of the case. It's comparing a California white wine, in the bamboo, to a Southern Spain sherry wine...the latter tends toward more complexity, more thickness, there's just more there. I LOVED the bamboo sound, but I like to change things up.
The Phoenix sustains as much as the bamboo, same projection, simply meatier and more complex. Awesome.
Sound Rating: 10
Yeah, well Larry transferred the Jackrabbit neck to this rim and lowered the action, so yes, we conferred, per usual. No surprises, it's just right.
Setup Rating: 10
I love the neck from the Jackrabbit, but let's keep this to the new rim...
The contrast between the woods, the cherry and ash, is not as stark in person as it appears to be in pictures. I LIKE this. There's great continuity to the grain between the two woods. The upgraded hardware is great, notched hoop, perfect. It's a beauty. I'll post pictures shortly after I post this.
Appearance Rating: 10
Hardware has been upgraded. Everything is rock solid, love it. I had thought about going bronze, but I find this hardware perfect.
Reliability Rating: 10
I'm used to Larry, been in and out of contact for a year or so since picking up the Jackrabbit #009, so I know what he values: communication and MUSIC. Talk SOUND with him. I called him with sound preferences in mind, and aesthetics in taste as well. We listened to some knock notes and I chose the hybrid. I initially wanted oak, as I've got lots of twisted oak in my yard, but I stayed true to sound, and Larry is always accommodating and more than happy to talk MUSIC.
*Anybody who is new to banjo or instrumental music and reading this, considering buying from Helix...I know that talking "sound" is intimidating at first, unnatural. We think in terms of money and written review. Well, go online, get to a store, do a lot of listening, and find SOUNDS you like -- and do NOT like. Know what you like to hear. It's huge to be able to articulate this, even in simple ways (deep, high, sharp, etc) and at least TALK to Larry. If you don't leave the conversation having ordered a Helix, you'll at least have engaged yourself in musical, aesthetic thinking and conversation...you'll come out ahead either way.
Customer Service: 10
The rim is the new thing, and yeah. It's fantastic. I'm a drummer, originally, and I love hearing the shells open up. This will be incredible, it already is, and will be moreso...the ledges, too, whew. Unbelievable.
Components Rating: 10
Very happy. Very, very excited about this one.
Overall Rating: 10
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