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!
6919 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Ebay
Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: $700 ($US) (bought USED)
After trying some Chinese-made 6-strings, including an upgrade model, I was getting into 6-string banjo enough that I thought I'd like to start adding it to my performing arsenal. But the 6-string I had wasn't cutting it. I would have looked at Gold Tone, but they don't sell 6-string banjos, only something they call a "banjitar," and I won't buy from a company that doesn't even know what to call its products. So I found a well-used 1990s lefty Deering on eBay, made a low bid and got it, with the idea that I might be able to replace the nut, reverse the bridge, and move the tailpiece. Turns out that the nut is 1/16" wider than it's "supposed" to be based on the original product description, which means that a new nut would have to be custom made. Plus, it looks like the varnish was added AFTER the nut went in, so my local guy said he was afraid that prying the nut out would destroy the finish on the head. I toyed with the idea of sending it to Deering for a redo, and the people there were VERY friendly and helpful. But they said that since the engineering for the D6 has changed since the day this was made, they couldn't just put a new D6 nut on it. Or a standard D6 bridge, either. So it was going to need a custom nut AND bridge, plus shipping - I was likely to have another $300-400 into it in a hurry. It would have been worth it on one level to have a "like new" D6. But I was more concerned about my present needs than my pie-in-the-sky wishes.
In addition, nearly every metal surface was damaged by fingertip acids. The owner's fingerprints were litterally etched into the nickel plating a couple of places. So I figured I'd clean it up, then decide what to do with it. My local guy suggested trying to notch the 5th and 6th-string slots enough to take bigger strings and seeing how far that got me. So after I got it more or less presentable, I tried that, turned the bridge around, and moved the armrest. The banjo played fine. Nine instead of ten because of all the work this particular banjo required.
Sound Rating: 9
See above - I ran into obstacles trying to convert it from left to right hand, but other than that there were no huge issues. I haven't even adjusted the neck yet. I figured I'd give it time to set with the new strings, etc. BTW, what's the deal with not accepting loop strings? Bought a highly recommended set of 6-string banjo strings, then wound up pulling the little balls out of the old set to put in this one. A nice guitar string set I COULD have used was too short - the windings on the D string didn't go all the way to the peg. Nobody near here sells the Deering 6-string set, so i guess I just need to order a couple to have on hand for next time. 9 instead of ten because of the string issue.
Setup Rating: 9
Now that I've cleaned it up, it's pretty. By current D6 standards, it's pretty basic looking. No really fancy inlays, etc. Quality of parts is 100% Nine rating only becase the new ones are prettier.
Appearance Rating: 9
Seems VERY solid, I expect it to last another 50-75 years, properly cared for. I would take it to ANY gig without a backup. Case is VERY solid, too. Of course the combination weighs something like 40 pounds. :-)
Reliability Rating: 10
They are VERY helpful. There was no warranty for the work I needed done (nor should there be), so it wouldn't have been covered. But they put a lot of thought into their suggestions. As it turns out, I was able to get the things done here that needed to be done, so I didn't send it for repair. Probably should be a ten but since I didn't actually send it in . . . .
Customer Service: 9
The tuners are VERY finely graded, so it takes a LONG time to change strings without a string winder. I suppose that helps them keep the banjo in more consistent tune, so it's an advantage of sorts. That said, I can't help wondering if there's a planetary set I could try on the thing. If nothing else, just to watch the banjo bigots at the back of room crossing their eyes trying to count the strings.
All of the parts should last a lifetime. Even the bridge, which I could/should have considered replacing works fine. Wish the nut wasn't varnished into the banjo head. Also there's a tiny bit of varnish failure near the nut on the edges of fretboard. Which makes me wonder if that is even original - who varnishes the edge of ebony or rosewood fretboards ? Nine only because of the varnish issue. Again, that may not be original, but i have no way of knowing that one way or the other.
Components Rating: 9
I'm sure this will need adjustment as it settles in with the new strings and as I adjust to the full-scale neck (my other 6-string banjos had 24.3" scale). But I don't see any reason I would expect to replace it in my lifetime. GREAT banjo!
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Mundt Music
Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 750 ($US) (bought USED)
This banjo has a phenomenal tone for a 6 string banjo. I use XL electric guitar string and modify the tuning to ggdgbd, with a drone g string like a 5string and an added bass g string. In this way I can finger pick and strum or flat pick. The tone, both picked and strummed is great. It is full and rich.
Sound Rating: 9
I purchased this banjo used and it needed a new head and setup. This is no reflection on Deering or the dealer.
Setup Rating: 5
This is an older version with split diamond inlays. The wood, fretboard, etc. Are very nicely done. It is a VERY nice looking banjo.
Appearance Rating: 10
This banjo is well built. The neck is sturdy but not too thick. The metal parts are well done. I don't expect any problems.
Reliability Rating: 9
I have owned other Deering banjos and have dealt with the Deering company on a few occasions. They are easy to contact and know how to treat a customer.
Customer Service: 10
Nothing cheap used on this banjo. The tuners, flange, rim, etc. are all too notch.
Components Rating: 9
I bought this banjo as an impulse buy. I was considering a 4 string plectrum when I found this used 6 string for only a couple hundred more that the 4 string. The quality was evident and I loved the sound. I am very pleased with this purchase. Since I already have a 5 string banjo, I use this mostly for plectrum flat picking and strumming. I don't like the sound of these banjos in eadgbe tuning like a guitar, but setup as I have it, it's a real winner!
Overall Rating: 9
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