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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!

6738 reviews in the archive.

Nechville Reviews

Submitted by stonebroke (see all reviews from this person) on 1/11/2018

Where Purchased: Classifieds - Banjo Hangout

Year Purchased: 2017
Price Paid: $3,000 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

I play bluegrass...traditional Scruggs style. It suits my style

First of all, I will rate all aspects of this banjo in comparison to other high end banjos I have played. So, when I give a rating of 5, that doesn't mean it's a mediocre banjo. It means on average, the banjo compares with other banjos in a relatively similar price range. Comparing a $4,000 or $5,000 banjo, for instance, with a $800 banjo is like comparing apples to oranges in most cases. I'm 67 years old and have played since I was 10. Over the years I've played and heard a ton of banjos, both inexpensive makes and models and very expensive makes and models. When I go to a music store, I play everything they have and I've played other people's banjos at festivals and have owned several banjos over the years...

I bought this banjo last summer (about 6 months ago). It appears to have been hardly played. There isn't a scratch or ding on it. I wanted to play it for several months before doing a review so I would be able to give a better opinion of the sound and other aspects of the banjo. Obviously, everyone has different likes and dislikes on the sound they want out of a banjo and of course, setup makes a huge difference as everyone knows.

I've experimented quite a bit with this banjo. Sound is difficult to describe, but I like a very distinct separate of notes, a deep bass response, and good volume. I've tried different tensions on the head, a couple different bridges, etc. I've not tried different strings yet, but I plan to. So far I'm happy with the sound. It compares with other banjos I've played in this price range. I wouldn't say that it stands out above any other higher end banjos I've played, but it's a quality instrument with very good tone.

Sound Rating: 5

Setup

Here's where some people might take exception to my review. When I got the banjo the action was just a bit higher than I like. I went by the manual to try to lower the action and I had a heck of a time getting it even back to how it was when I got it. I spent a couple hours on it and became really frustrated and ended up calling Customer support at Nechville for some help. The person I talked to was very cordial and said something to the effect of "Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve to adjust the action on the neck", which really wasn't much help. He basically told me what the manual stated. I finally ordered a lower bridge, but still don't have the action quite how I like it. I looked up how to adjust the neck on Youtube. The video makes it look very simple to adjust the neck, but for me it's anything but.. Lots of trial and error and frustration. There has to be an easier way to adjust the neck on a banjo than what currently is out there (with all banjo makes!).

Adjusting the head is very simple. No doubt about that. I don't know about other people, but once I have a banjo setup the way I like it, I don't touch anything. I have an old Gibson Bowtie (the banjo I learned to play on when I was a kid) and I haven't changed anything on that banjo in well over 30 years except the strings and the bridge. So, unless someone likes to tinker, is changing heads a lot for some reason, etc., I really don't see a big advantage in the Nechville design. A traditional banjo does take some time to tear down and put back together if you change the head, but it's only a couple hour job for me and how often does a person change a head anyway? Having said that, I am considering trying the wooden tone ring just for fun and changing that out should be pretty simple with the Nechville desing.

On the plus side, I really like the wider frets, but I really don't see any advantage in a radiused neck. I played a couple other banjos with a radiused neck and didn't see any difference with them either, so it's obviously not that this banjo is a Nechville. For me, I see absolutely no difference in how it plays compared to a flat fret board, but that's me. The big disadvantage of a radiused fret board is that you need a radiused bridge and a radiused capo. I have a bag full of different bridges I've tried on banjos I've owned over the years and 4 or 5 capo, but I can't use them with a radiused neck.

The tuners are very nice... very smooth and the banjo stays in tune very well even when bending the strings..

I really like the ease of adjusting the tailpiece also...very simple with a small Allen wrench.

I also really like the wooden armrest...very comfortable. I also really like the neck profile.. It's very comfortable up and down the neck.

Setup Rating: 4

Appearance

The wood on this banjo is absolutely beautiful and the workmanship is flawless. Very nice inlay design. I have mixed feelings on the material the pot is made of and the tailpiece (the black material...not sure exactly what the material is....I went through their website and couldn't find what the black material is). The nice aspect is that it doesn't tarnish and will never need to be polished, but it has kind of a space age look to it (to my eye). I haven't quite gotten used to that particular look. Overall this banjo is very pleasing to the eye.

Appearance Rating: 5

Reliability

I really haven't had this banjo long enough to rate the reliability. It appears that it will stand the test of time. It's a quality instrument, no doubt about that. Yes, I'd have no problem using it for a gig without a backup and have done so.

Reliability Rating: 5

Customer Service

My only contact with Nechville was regarding setting the action. Nechville has a great website. There's a lot of information there, several videos demonstrating a variety of topics regarding their banjos, etc.

Customer Service: 6

Components

I've mentioned these things previously

Components Rating: 5

Overall Comments

This is a very nice banjo.  Don't let my review of a few aspects I didn't care for discourage you from buying a Nechville.  Is it better than say a Huber, Stelling, or any other higher end make similarly priced?  No,I don't think so.  Keep in mind that like a guitar,mandolin, fiddle, etc. a banjo gets better with age.  Nechvilles haven't been around for 60 years.  So, comparing a relatively new banjo to a vintage banjo isn't realistic.  I like this banjo and overall I'm very pleased with it.  I don't have it quite where I want it yet, but I'll continue to do a few tweaks and I'm sure I'll get it there.  I play my banjos every day.  They're all just a little different, but they are all fun.  No two banjos are alike...

Overall Rating: 5

Submitted by Taylor S (see all reviews from this person) on 11/23/2015

Where Purchased: Tom Nechville

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This banjo has a phenomenal sound. I have used it in a variety of situations ranging from a free jazz trio to a traditional bluegrass group and it holds it's own with most any tone I dial in. I can get a very traditional banjo sound out of it as well as a modern sound. It is very loud and punchy. It is also generally very full and rich unless I tune the head to about a B. One minor issue I found was 2 dead notes no matter how I set it up. But they're the high c# and g#. Hardly an issue.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The banjo was set up perfectly when I got it, and I have since messed with the setup to no end. I was very happy with how easy it was to modify the neck height and change the head tension on it. Tom's banjos are consistently easy to play.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The maple in this banjo is beautiful. It is a killer banjo to look at with simplistic inlays and attention to understated detail. The only criticism as it was used was a tiny barely visible scratch on the resonatior.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Everything on this will last. I don't have a backup banjo as it serves all my purposes. I've now had this banjo for almost 2 years and never broke a string.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Tom Nechville is a wonderful person. He has worked with me on my payment plan and been so patient with any question I have ever had. I can't thank him enough for all he has done with making sure the banjo was at peak condition. He treats everyone like a friend.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The helimount frame is amazing! I would only change the tuners for the ones he uses now as the ones it came with aren't quite as smooth as I would like.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is a killer banjo. I have compared it to several others and don't see myself switching anytime soon.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by peter somerville (see all reviews from this person) on 8/17/2015

Where Purchased: posted to Australia

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 3000 ($US)

Sound

this banjo has a big clear sound, less top end than a standard bluegrass banjo. volume quite loud. the tone is consistent in tone on any fret. I'd say from a technical point of view it has less overtones than most banjos, more of the primary note. the clip- on tuner works better on this banjo than my other banjos. It's not only a beautiful warm tone for clawhammer but also punchy for bluegrass picking. the more i play it the more i appreciate it's tone.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was set up well when i got it but it's so easy to adjust anyway. The neck settled a bit after a couple of months so i decreased the amount of relief in the neck. I also replaced the original bridge which sounded nice but i found cateyze bridge gave it even more volume and a bit more brightness. this isn't a critiscism, just my personal taste and i wanted as much volume as possible for some gigs. i can't fault the set up. i've cautiously cranked the head pretty tight too as it loosened a bit from when i bought it. I wish i'd got a scooped neck for playing clawhammer, my mistake. the neck and frets are the nicest i've ever played. great profile, a bit wider, and frets are wider gauge. why doesn't every banjo have these wider frets? tuning pegs slightly smaller i think than standard, work great. i could've got 5th string spikes fitted with purchase but chose to put them in myself.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

heck it's a weird looking banjo! but i like it. i ended getting a copper finish on the metal work because they were having issues with the nickel plating at the time. They''re making them with a matt black finish, i think that's a cheaper option but i didn't like the look of that at all. the neck is really attractive. peg head looks goo., tuning pegs slightly smaller i think than standard, work great.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

only had about 3 months, so far so good.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

good communication. Delivery was slower than i expected due to some plating issues, luckily i got it on time for a trip to China. a great travelling banjo as i just took the neck off and took as carry on luggage.

Customer Service: 9

Components

the whole dang thing is a winner. weight is reduced by its unique construction. i love the super adjustability. super easy to tighten head, action, neck relief, tailpiece height. quick to dismantle banjo and reassemble (ideal for plane trips). perhaps they could include a wrench for adjusting the truss rod. Frets are stand out, being wider gauge as well.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

You get what you pay for, or maybe more. it's expensive but it's a unique banjo. it has its own sound, but then again it can be adjusted easily sound wise for personal taste. Tom Nechville describes the sound as very musical. i have no idea really what that means. my guess is these banjos have more of the primary note and less overtones and extraneous sounds that you probably don't want. this one is lovely for clawhammer and good for bluegrass but doesn't have the shear volume of a resonator top range bluegrass model. it''s a tubaphone tone ring and an open back so it's better than i expected. it's light enough for me to put on my back and walk considerable distances ( gigs in Shanghai recently). I'm a fan. They take a little while to get used to the look of them and no doubt not to everybody's taste appearance wise.

 

 

 

 

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by rmcdow (see all reviews from this person) on 5/13/2015

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The sound is very full and rich on this openback banjo, and comes from the side of the banjo as well as from the head. It is a great sound with the wood tone ring.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The set-up was great when I purchased it used. I subsequently took the neck off to fly to another town with it, so needed to set it up again. Once I got used to the way the Nechville flux capacitor neck attachment worked, with tension on the strings, set-up is relatively for the action height. The flux capacitor could use an alignment key slot or something to keep the fretboard level with the head, as there is a lot of floating around of the neck position to deal with when adjusting the neck. Tom was very open to my input about this.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

The Moonshine neck is beautiful, and with the radius fretboard and aluminum frame, is a real work of art.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Built like a tank, to last. I don't feel there will be any issues with this banjo.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I bought this banjo used, and it had a resonator bolted onto the flange of the frame. I wanted to convert it to an open back, and called Al, who sent me the new frame as an exchange. I liked the old frame better, but wanted to remove the flange except where the tailpiece attached. Tom offered a frame like this in exchange, but I opted to modify the one I purchased and send it back in for re-coating after I removed the flange and polished the metal. Tom and Al give the best customer service you could ask for. They go beyond what you normally get in customer service, and are a pleasure to deal with.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I was looking for a light openback as a gift to my fiance, and after looking at the Nechville, decided to replace the steel bearings with wood balls. This removed about 11 ounces of weight from the banjo, and to say the least, didn't hurt the tone. I can't tell if it improved it or not, but sent a set of wood balls to Tom, who installed them on his banjo, and said the sound was amazing. He is still evaluating it at his jams the last I heard.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

The Nechville design is a true improvement on the banjo construction, as it takes all the stresses on the rim and puts them on the frame, which is built to carry them well.  The flux capacitor, once you get used to adjusting it, is a great design that I am going to use on the two banjo necks I am currently building, as it allows one to swap out necks with relative ease, and to change the action quickly.  I am continuing to work with Tom on improvements to the banjo, and it is a pleasure to work with someone who is constantly looking for ways to improve his product.  I highly recommend the Nechville with its Helimount frame and flux capacitor neck attachment to anyone looking for a banjo with a great sound that can be adjusted to your own preferences.  I look forward to building a couple of these, and am turning one tone ring now for one.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by NiceDecnals (see all reviews from this person) on 11/17/2014

Where Purchased: Direct

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Such a fantastic banjo. I bought a Nechville soon as I heard about how customizable they are, and having almost zero experience with banjos I called Tom up and placed an order. It suits what I like to do (claw&scruggs) just fine. The more I play other upper end banjos the more I enjoy my Nechville even more. I've still yet to find one that I would spend the same amount of money on. The main thing I also notice is the variety of tone I can get anywhere from super warm to ear piercingly bright. I love everything about this banjo.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Coming from guitar, I am VERY picky about setup. The banjo came a bit too high for my taste, but because it's a Nechvillle, it took literally 10 seconds to change it. The only changes I have done was change the head from the Renaissance to a Coated weather King (super easy.. HELIMOUNT!!) and install a custom humbucker (super easy)

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Cmon. Curly maple. Sunburst. Ebony. Black binding. Space themed inlays. End. It's gorgeous.
Everything came out of the box perfect. Again, I'm nitpicky and i can't find any errors worth mentioning.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It's perfect.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Lifetime warranty. There is a large story behind this banjo, but ultimately it did come down to their service that sold me.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Standout components: the entire banjo.

I feel like these questions are meant to review the 1970''s aria banjos and not a professional quality instrument. Goofballs:)

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Just do it. Just buy one. If you're stuck in the past and won't give something new, unique and amazing a try than keep on playing your (insert any other brand) and be a lame old timer. The more I hear people complain about the cosmetics, lack of adjustment, balance, and of course the weight of their banjo, the more I keep saying Nechville. 

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by banjothrasher (see all reviews from this person) on 8/25/2014

Where Purchased: Turtle Hill

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Sounds great. A little more sustain than I'd prefer but it is settling down a little with playing and I'm experimenting with some changes.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Set up well. Action was a little high for my tastes but a couple of minutes only to adjust with the Nechville neck adjustment.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

A great looking banjo. Really well finished.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Too soon to know for sure but seems built like a tank with high quality components and finishes.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Haven't had the need to contact Nechville. Filled out the registration card but have heard nothing back.
Dave at Turtle Hill was a pleasure to buy from .

Customer Service: 9

Components

Head and neck adjusting are quick and easy. A great design. Really happy with the feel of the neck too.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Very happy.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by psikes (see all reviews from this person) on 7/23/2014

Where Purchased: Emerald City Guitar

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The volume of this open back banjo is remarkable. A very rich sound that works well for clawhammer or three finger either one.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The setup was absolutely spot on. Al Price had done a setup on it in the store before I got my hands on it. The intonation is superb.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I love the Saturn inlay design for its simplicity and the looks of the Nechville banjo in general so it just could not be beat for my preferences.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I am very impressed with the tuners that Nechville uses and the rest of the banjo looks like a tank could roll over it without damaging it. No reason to expect any future problems with this banjo ever.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

If you have ever had dealings with Nechville then you know they have customer service second to no one. Whether you deal with Tom or Al, it is like you are talking to an old friend that cares about you.

Customer Service: 10

Components

No weak points that I can see at all.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I will more than likely add the pop on resonator before too long, but I am totally happy with the open back for now. 

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by MrNatch3L (see all reviews from this person) on 5/9/2014

Where Purchased: BHO Classifieds

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 1250 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This is proving to be a nice banjo for the way I do clawhammer/frailing... some traditional style and some not exactly, with some occasional 3-finger without picks.

I would describe the sound overall as "woody with some zing". The zing is not the same zing you'd get with a metal tone ring, but it's there, and you can emphasize or de-emphasize it with setup (see Setup below). I think the stock Renaissance head is a good choice for this banjo, but I'm partial to Rens anyway. You could probably get a more old-timey sound with a Fyberskyn or Elite head. It has a sweet clear tone in general.

Volume is less than a metal tonering banjo, but I think it would hold its own in a string band. In the sea shanty goup I use it for, it needs amplification to be heard with all the voices, an accordion, and Illian bagpipes... an extreme situation you must admit!

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Setup was not an issue for me, as I knew the strings would be de-tuned and the head loosened before being packed to ship and travel internationally by air. This banjo has the unique Nechville Flex-tone (a.k.a. FLux Capacitor) neck attachment system that makes action adjustment easy for almost anyone. I haven't tried it, but it's supposed to be easy to detach the neck for travel. There's a removable dowel stick that isn't really necessary, as it doesn't have anyting do to with adjusting the neck. I'm not sure why it's there other than it makes the thing look more like a traditional open back banjo.

The action was set very low, even lower than my bluegrass banjo and I was hitting the fretboard all the time, so I raised it some. This has a really interesting approach to a scoop: the fretblard is scooped under the 5th string only, so you have access to all notes up the neck on the other strings. Nice combination of both worlds.

I found there was quite a bit of sound variation possible just form head tension. With the Ren head looser, I got a more plunky, old-timey sound, with more wood characteristics. Tighter head starts brightening things up, bringing out that "zing" I mentioned before. I got a sound I preferred with a pretty tight head... in fact, I was starting to worry that any more might be too tight for the wooden flange.

I took some angle off the tailpiece from where it was set when I got it. That not only got me to the sound I liked, but actually increased volume a bit. Tailpiece is weird - it attaches to the tension hoop with 3 hex (allen) screws. But the mounting is solid, which helps a lot when you change tunings. It takes 2 different size hex keys to adjust fully. (The angle is adjusted with just one). All in all, super easy DIY setup.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The banjo has kind of an understated look, which I happen to favor in general. There is one block in the rim near the neck that isn't quite flush with the others, and it looks like some glue has dried, powdered, and fallen out of the joint on one side. I suspect the banjo might have been stored in dry conditions and not humidified, especially since the fretboard was in need of oiling. According to the seller it hadn't been used much for quite a while. It's not serious enough to worry me, and I will inject some glue into that joint and keep an eye on it.

Overall the materials and workmansip are what you'd expect from Nechville.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

The person I bought it from is a well known professional musician who, to judge by the case, had traveled and gigged with this banjo. But you wouldn't know it from seeing the banjo without the case. Not enough fret wear to be concerned about, and other than needing the fretboard oiled, the instrument was in primo condition. So I would have to call it solid and reliable.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Well, even it it has a lifetime warranty, it's in Russia now and I'm on my own something needs fixing. I'm used to that. All the setup adjustments require hex (allen) keys and I didn't know if they were U.S. or metric, and didn't find the info online. So I sent a PM to Tom via the BHO and got a quick reply back.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The neck is a joy to play... slim profile and fairly narrow. Coming from bluegrass banjo, I really like it. But serious clawhammer players might find it a bit too slim and too narrow. It's the "Standard" (i.e. non-radiused) model.

I like the tailpiece, but it's worth mentioning that beause of the mounting design, you couldn't easily replace it with a different one because there's no mounting bolt down thru the flange. The whole thing attached to the tension hoop.

I ended up replacing the Nechville bridge that came with it. I had a Kat Eyz McCormick spice factory maple + ebony bridge lying around and when I tried it I really preferred it. The Nechville is a nice bridge though. In fact, for grins I tried it on my 1924 Vega conversion, replacing a Kat Eyz purple heart top bridge, and ended up keeping the Nechville there. BTW - both bridges are compensated, and this particular banjo seems to need that, at least with the current amount of neck relief, which I don't want to mess with unless really necessary.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

This "Standard" model openback is the most comfortable banjo I've ever played. It's an all-wood pot (except for the tension hoop), with a walnut block rim and some kind of wood tone ring ("exotic wood", according to Nechville's web site). So it's lightweight, which is great for my bad back. The Nechville arm rest impresses me a lot. If I'd thought they were this comfortable I'd have put one on other banjos I've owned.

Setup is super easy, feel and playability is amazing if you like a slim, narrow-ish neck. I think there's quite a lot of potential for varying the sound... I got quite a bit of variation from head tension, tailpiece angle and bridge. Different head would be a whole new ballgame.

I've been intrigued by Nechville banjos for years but the price was always well above what I felt I could justify given my level of playing skills. This one cropped up in the classifieds at quite a nice price which included a hard-shell bump case. It proved to be in excellent shape, so I'm a happy camper. It's a gigging banjo for me because, in worst case, it's readily replaceable whereas my old Vega is not.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by psikes (see all reviews from this person) on 4/20/2014

Where Purchased: Penny Lane Music

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I love the sound of this banjo. I play 3 finger style and the sound from one end of the fret board to the other is clear as a bell. Beautiful ring and sustain.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The setup was great. Out of the box all I had to do was raise the bridge and tune it up. With a Nechville I never need worry about setups again as I can do it all myself with minimal fuss.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I for one like the looks of Nechville banjos. The minimalist inlay on the Saturn was one of the things I liked most about it. The inlaid planet Saturn looks very cool and the stars complete the look. The finish looks like it should outlast me for sure.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

What hardware there is on a Nechville all looks substantial and well done. I would never worry about this banjo without a backup on hand.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

None needed. The folks at Nechville are second to none. Tom did some work on a Deering for me at Wintergrass and was as gracious and friendly as anyone could ask for.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The Enterprise bridge is great. I had Tom put one on my Deering when he was working on it and it never sounded better. The helical mounting is fantastic. I love the radiused neck too.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

One year later and still in love with this banjo. Even though i have only had the banjo in my hands for 2 days I have hardly put it down in that time. This is a very comfortable banjo to play and hold weighing a fraction of what my Golden Era weighs. That is what started me on this journey in the first place, looking for a woodie banjo that didn't weigh a ton but still had that bluegrass crackle when needed. 

You will have to look long and hard to find better people than Tom and Al. I think we need to add a Spinal Tap rating of 11 on here.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by bzanger (see all reviews from this person) on 3/18/2014

Where Purchased: Penny Lane Emporium

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I love playing on the radiused neck. As a newbie I was afraid that this would be difficult to play but instead I find my fingers gliding easily when moving up and down the neck and playing chords. I have a bad back so I bought the Cyclotronic Ball Bearing conversion Kit for Heli-Mount 300. The TimbrTronic tone ring system lightened up the banjo and dropped it down to around 7.5 pounds from the 10-11 pounds it weighed with the 20 Hole Bell Bronze Tone Ring that it came with. Overall it was a lot lighter than the Sierra model that it replaced by a couple of pounds but my back still wanted more relief the heli mount design allowed me to change the tone ring out in less than five minutes. As I learn more about my own playing style the Nechville aloes me to easily change my settings

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was perfect when I bought it. I liked the action set a little high and just by turning a canter levered screw in the neck I can adjust the action and try different styles. Because of the heli mount system I can just tighten the head for a brighter sound or loosen it for a warmer mellow sound. I am not a luthier I am all thumbs when it comes to working on instruments so I guess I am more of a Lex Luthier but I have worked on this banjo like an expert. Tom has built an instrument that is miles ahead of the rest of the industry. It is innovative and just brilliant.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

People who walk (or are dragged) into my home always comment on the beauty of the Tiger Stripe Maple Neck and Resonator woodwork. It is stunning. The pearl and abalone cascade inlay is stunning and the dotted fret markers make it easy to tell where I am on the neck with just a quick glance

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

From my knowledge of banjo equipment I believe that this is built to last. Tuners are precise and I rarely have to retune during any playing session after I check my tuning at the start. They make a special instrument that is highly dependable. I have had no regrets since I bought this model

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Customer service between dealing with either Tom Nechville or Al Price is a breeze. They are helpfull and take time to help me out no matter how dumb my questions can be. They truly stand behind their product and make sure that it's the best experience you can have. It's not an act either. They both are committed to what they do and being the best. I am not sure what the exact warranty is but I think it covers the original owner for as long as you have it. If I'm wrong I will repost with the actual warranty

Customer Service: 10

Components

The heli mount system the flux capacitor system for removing the neck. The Nechville In-Line Tailpiece and the Nechville Enterprise Bridge which come in three heights for string angle are all top of the line

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

The only disappointment that I have after three months is I wished I got the galaxy inlay instead of the cascade inlay and I wish I had purchased a tunneled fifth string but these are just my own preferences that if I had to do it over again I would change. Other than that I am happy with my purchase and I could not have bought from a better manufacturer or dealer. Made in USA means something special in this case

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by kwik605 (see all reviews from this person) on 7/8/2013

Where Purchased: Turtle Hill

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I am a classical guitarist turned banjo player and know a thing or two about fine instruments. My Phantom is one of them! The tone is rich and pure - a true thing of beauty. After I picked up the Phantom at Turtle Hill nothing else compared. Not even all of the Gibson collector's items that Dave let me play - including a rare $75,000 Gibson Flathead.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Everything was perfect. Dave warned me that the action would probably need to be raised as I broke things in. Indeed he was correct, but even though I was a little nervous, I got out my Nechville tools and raised that action to just the right spot in less than 5 minutes. How cool is that?

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I got the curly maple with galaxy inlay. It's a gem! I love the Phantom's overall simple beauty.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It is obvious to me that a Nechville demonstrates fine craftmanship built to last. I have no concerns whatsoever about its longevity. That said, I am good to my instruments.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I need to give recognition to Dave at Turtle Hill, one of Nechville's trusted dealers. I drove down to see him from Baltimore and he couldn't have been more hospitable. I don't think he would have minded if I stayed all day. After 2 hours, though, I knew that the Phantom was going home with me. Dave is extremely knowledgeable and generous. I would urge anyone in the Maryland area to take advantage of what he has to offer.

Customer Service: 10

Components

You can't beat heli-mount and its brilliant design and function. The tunneled 5th string is a stroke of genius as well as all of the other great things that Tom Nechville has done to make the banjo user-friendly. Can you tell that I have nothing but glowing, positive things to say!?

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

What more can I say? Buy a Nechville!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by revellfa (see all reviews from this person) on 5/20/2013

Where Purchased: Goldstarman on the Hangout

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

A variety of voices. You really had to "dial in" the tone that you wanted. With a loose head it sounded "plunky" (I imagine an Amber Elite head would really make it sound good this way) and with a tight head the sound was piercing. With a tighter head the sound was piercing. It really had a bark and a pop but it wasn't overly loud and powerful. Not mellow exactly either.

Cut through a mic and recorded like a dream. No unpleasant overtones whatsoever. When you hit it you got just what you needed. Barley needed to play it to make a sound. Very even up and down the neck. This banjo was also good for clawhammer believe it or not. Very versatile and pleasing banjo. Crisp and clear.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Unsurpassed. You can adjust this banjo to do anything in the world. Once you adjust it--it stays adjusted. Just unbelievable. Radiused neck and very comfortable to play.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Fit and finish was spectacular. Beautiful traditional inlays. The stain was done to perfection. However in this price range I would expect some fancier binding, perhaps even of abalone. The fit and finish and traditional appearance are good enough keep it from being a seven instead of an eight. Mine had the older black "flange" (not really a flange) which was different and not what some people prefer. They now make them to look like a regular flange. It looked pretty good to me though.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

This banjo stayed in tune from the day I got it until the day I sold it. Unbelievable. I would play 3-4 hours and NEVER have to tune ONCE. This is a great stage banjo for that reason alone. The Heli Mount (I think it's called) stripped out once while I was tightening the head (and you do really have to crank it with all of your strength to get it as tight as I like it.) It was no big deal as there were many more threads to use. Tom sells a special oil that you can use to lubricate the wrench--perhaps I didn't start with enough lubrication. I'm sure it will survive a long time.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Just call Tom and he will bend over backwards.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Non-traditional design means non traditional components. First of all this banjo has a smaller rim. The diameter was still 11 inches but the depth of the rim didn't seem to be as large due to the design of this banjo. Also, because of the unique design, the neck doesn't meet the rim.
It took me FOREVER to get the head tightened to where I wanted it but after I got her there she didn't move.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

This is one I'd still like to have in the stable. With it's tuning capability, reliability, versatility, construction, and sound it would be a great performing banjo.
IMHO the fact that the rim is more shallow than other banjos and the fact that the neck does not contact the rim sacrificies the volume of this banjo. To me those are two of the strongest components in a banjos sound. Overall still a great banjo as the price reflects.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by wayne77 (see all reviews from this person) on 1/31/2013

Where Purchased: Nechville

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Love the sound, and others have stated the same.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Perfect setup for myself.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Top Quality !!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Would appear to last many life times....

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Can't say enough about the service and the time given to me with this purchase. A real treat for me!!!

Customer Service: 10

Components

The most standout component of this banjo is the Sagmoen Neck.

Best advice is try it, as my limited vocabulary prevents me from truly explaining the ease and comfort.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

May I suggest, If one is thinking about purchasing a new banjo, do yourself a big favor and hold and play a Atlas before putting your hard earned cash down!!

I get so upset when I think of the money I could have saved over the last few years, as my search for the perfect banjo has been long and expensive.

NO, surprises with this deal, a real treat for me.....

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Clawhamr (see all reviews from this person) on 12/16/2012

Where Purchased: Direct from maker

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

See overall comments

Sound Rating: not rated

Setup

See overall comments

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

See overall comments

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

See overall comments

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

See overall comments

Customer Service: not rated

Components

See overall comments

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

This year, I bought two new banjos, both from Tom Nechville; an Atlas openback (custom scale and full scoop) and a Vintage bluegrass banjo. Here's why I think that Tom is a genius, and that the future of the five-string banjo resides in Minnesota.
Rather than issue yet another "masterclone", Tom embarked some twenty-five years ago on a quest to correct several design deficiencies inherent in existing banjo tech. Number one on his hit list: the inconsistent sound and setup stability caused by the hook-and-nut head tensioning scheme. If the Helimount system had been around in the 30s, skin heads might still be in wide use. The ease and simplicity with which the player can tune the banjo head on a Helimount instrument cannot be overstated; one can get PRECISELY the tone desired in seconds. Genius.
The second proprietary invention (but no less epoch-making) is the neck attachment scheme that's an integral part of the Helimount frame. The precisely curved surface at the neck heel matches the one machined into the frame, and enables the player to set the action to the desired height with ANY desired bridge of ANY height, from 1/2" to 3/4". This capability, coupled with the Helimount tensioning system, lets the player set up the banjo exactly as desired, without a trip to the luthier. Additionally, without the standard cuts in the contact surface of the neck heel inherent in the Mastertone paradigm, the mating surface of the neck to the frame is greater in area by far. This makes for more (and more efficient) transfer of vibratory energy from the neck to the pot. I believe that this is the primary reason for the Vintage's completely even timbre of tone from the first to the last fret. There is a purity of sound in the notes issuing from a Helimount banjo that seems to contain more apparent fundamental than distracting overtone.
Both of these banjos have re-invigorated my playing, even after fifty years of practice and professional experience. The Atlas, though not a Helimount, has the Nechville neck attachment block and the solid, woody tone I get from it inspires my clawhammer efforts. The Vintage gives me the combination I've been seeking for decades; even tonal response along the whole span of frets, ease of maintenance and adjustment, and (due in no small part to the wider-than-standard, compound-radius fretboard) an ease of playing the just pulls new music out of me. I strongly urge fellow five-stringers to make an effort to play a Nechville banjo, and to support Tom's effort to perfect the design of an instrument which had remained largely unchanged since the nineteen-twenties.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by DbBanjo (see all reviews from this person) on 8/24/2012

Where Purchased: Part of a trade ...

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: () (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I was looking for a banjo which would: 1. Have a lighter weight; 2. Have smaller no. of metal parts (in order to reduce the prob of corrosion - I often play outside in hot, humid conditions) & 3. Have a radius neck. This model of Nechville, Athena, took care of each of these items.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Note: The original owner (and seller) of this Nechville wasn't primarily a banjo player. The action was a bit high for my taste & I both lowered the action through use of the Heli-Mount neck (wonderful concept) & a shorter (height) bridge. Note: I choose the replace the Nechville bridge with a Kat Eyz bridge. The Nechville bridge was a bit thich for my taste (though it was well made and had rock solid intonation).

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Outstanding design and wood selection (Black Walnut).

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Outstanding quality, material selection & design.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Excellent & informative website.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Very helpful and response to both questions & in requests for help. Also, I when I purchased some upgrade parts (black chrome tuning keys & tailpiece), they shipped quickly and offered to purchase (not credit - purchase) my old, replaced parts.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

Outstanding and well designed.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by jonfinder (see all reviews from this person) on 8/24/2012

Where Purchased: Nechville site

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 4253 ($US)

Sound

Sounds is just that perfect pre-war bluegrass bark that is so sought after these days (including by me). It's a perfect bluegrass banjo. What is cool is that I achieved the sound I wanted with a wooden tone ring! That is the cocobolo ring on the tone spheres.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I did not alter setup. The string height was perfect for me out of the box.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I think it's a beautiful banjo. Came with black buttons on the tuners, very cool and distinctive. Nicely finished.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Just got it but this has a great rep for finish.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I mostly deal with Al Price, who was incredibly patient and answered my many questions over both email and telephone. But Tom Nechville himself was easy to reach and offered many options.

Customer Service: 10

Components

This whole banjo is stellar. Nothing cheap or second rate. Excellent tuners.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Don't think of Nechvilles as just for pickers who do jazz or play like Bela. Don't fear the Nechville: This is a straight ahead bluegrass banjo. I chose this banjo because the sound was great, the price point was right and because it is the lightest banjo made. It's kind of incredible, the sound that comes out of such a light banjo. And what a great company to deal with from start to finish. I am told that a banjo head can be changed out in like 10 minutes, too. I am sold on the Nechville. I have a few other banjos that I also love, but this one has an amazing sound and weighs very little.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by banjo dog (see all reviews from this person) on 4/22/2012

Where Purchased: Turtle hill

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Banjo sounds amazing. I purchased mine with the 20 hole tone ring that sounds amazing. New out of the box is very punchy and bright, but you can tell there is a lot of depth to it. I originally heard the one in his store which has the same depth, but less punchy. I am fine either way. I was between this and a Deering Sierra. The Sierra also sounds amazing and was much louder. That being said the phantom is just so cool and I felt just a little more depth and warmth out of it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was perfect. I would have liked some thicker strings, but easy fix. I would change nothing. That being said its the easiest banjo in the world to set up the was you want.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is the most beautiful piece of art I have ever seen. Mine waws specialty made with cocobola fingerboard and cocobola striping around the maple pot. The wood is a stripped maple for the neck and pot. Seriously, The most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Yep it does!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Besides sending a thank you letter to Nechville. No Customer service was needed except for the purchase from Turtle hill. Turtle Hill on the other hand was amazing and worth the drive. They let me play a bunch of different banjos and allowed me to choose the one I wanted. I really never thought I would have chose the Phantom as I am much more traditional. That being said I'm not looking back.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Pot is amazing and the helimount frame and neck is very easy to adjust.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Most beautiful banjo ever. Check out my pictures in my profile.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Clawhamr (see all reviews from this person) on 4/10/2012

Where Purchased: Direct

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I was looking for a sound between classic M*st*rt*ne and a darker tonality; a "Fleckish" tone. I told Tom Nechville what I was after and he replied, "no problem. He delivered. Punchy yet articulate, full-toned but not tubby, it's exactly what I asked for.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was perfect per my spec. The Enterprise bridge (3/4") intonates near perfectly. I anticipate no changes except the addition of Keith tuners on 2 & 3. Playing action is comfortably low with zero buzzing. The compound radiused fretboard is a joy to play on.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The mahogany resonator and neck are of top-grade wood; the frets are jumbo and nicely crowned and finished and the bindings and other details are first rate. The very traditional flying eagle inlay is precisely installed and gives me the vintage vibe I love.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Like all of Nechville's instruments, this is a solid banjo that feels like it's all one piece, rather that something that's an assemblage of parts. I have no doubts as to its durability and I'd rely on it to carry me through any playing situation for decades to come ( I should live so long...).

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Tom and Al are the best. They want to give the player exactly what he or she wants. and they go to great lengths to provide complete satisfaction.

Customer Service: 10

Components

In my humble opinion, The Helimount pot is sheer genius. It provides a solid base for the banjo to be built upon, as well as making maintenance and adjustment stupid-easy. It also (I believe) is largely responsible for the Vintage's dense, focused tonality. The other inspired Nechville innovation is the neck mounting system, which facilitates a rock-solid connection between the pot and the neck as well as giving fingertip control over action adjustment.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is my second Nechville banjo purchase this year (see my recent review of the custom Atlas openback). I believe that Nechville is in the forefront of banjo development today, turning out high-quality, hand-built banjos that are innovative in the best way; his engineering achievements improve tone and playability and increase the durability and stability of the instrument. Bravo Nechville.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by briln (see all reviews from this person) on 1/13/2012

Where Purchased: Tom Nechville

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The sound is superb. You can adjust it to most anything you like. Each string blends beutifully.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Perfect. The ease of setup is what is unique about a Nechville. So inovative and easy to adjust.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is a Walnut Phantom with cocobolo fingerboard, truss rod cover, headstock, tone ring (timbertronic) and armrest. It has full curly maple binding on resonator, neck (custom narrower than normal) and headstock. The resonator is walnut burl. The metalwork is flame sprayed bronze, even the resonator bolts and tailpiece. The tuners are gold, The tone spheres are a mix of delrin and plastic.

The only reason I am rating this as a nine instead of a 10 is because the helimount casting is a bit rough in places and the finish is close to but not perfect. How about a 9.75 rating.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

The flame spary should be very resistant to wear

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The attention to detail and effort to please the customer is second to none.

Customer Service: 10

Components

All components are superb.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Not only is this banjo beutiful and sounds great but also at about 7 lbs it is very kind. Absolutely fantastic.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Clawhamr (see all reviews from this person) on 10/29/2011

Where Purchased: Direct

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The Atlas took the least amount of tinkering to get my sound than any other banjo I own. The blend of "pop", short note duration and mellow tonality is perfect for clawhammer playing. I use a Renaissance head (I spray the back with lacquer to add mass) medium tight and a Sampson "Rivet-Busting" bridge for the desired sound. It's perfect.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The "Flux Capacitor" neck coupling block makes setup a breeze. Loosen one Allen bolt in the neck heel and slide the neck up or down and re-tighten the bolt; that's it. This enables one to use any height bridge one desires and still set the action to suit. The mount also allows head changing with the neck in place. The truss rod adjuster is (hallelujah!) in the headstock where it belongs, so you can set the relief with the banjo strung up and tuned to pitch. Other builders take note!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I chose the Standard model with flat fretboard, a Saturn inlay at the fifth fret and tiny starburst inlays at the appropriate positions. The dark walnut stain is attractive, though I wish Tom would buff out the finish to a smooth matte rather than leaving it in a slightly rougher condition. Still, it feels good to the left hand. The hardware is first-rate, the plating deep and rich and the hoop-mounted tailpiece (a la Stelling) is three-point adjustable.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

The tuning stability seems rock-solid. I would use the Atlas in any playing situation with no reservation.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Tom Nechville is a banjo visionary that cares deeply about his customer's satisfaction. He even made the neck in my desired 25.5" scale length and with a slight V profile. He's always available by phone during business hours and loves to talk banjos. His products carry a limited lifetime warranty.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The elegant engineering evident in Tom's Helimount designs is apparent in the Atlas as well. The all-wood pot (designed by Wayne Sagmoen) does away with bracket shoes, metal flanges and bracket bands, making for a super lightweight instrument that I know will be a delight to tote around at festivals. The dowel stick is not a part of the structure; it's there for looks and to serve as a pickup mount or to hold your choice of tone-modifying "stuffing" in place.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Since meeting Tom Nechville many years ago at a NAMM show, I've been impressed with each successive innovation in banjo design to issue forth from his shop. His approach to banjo design is function first, and while his instruments have caused some traditionalists to scratch their heads, those pickers that admire original thought will continue to bolster Nechville's reputation and sales. My next acquisition: a Nechville Vintage bluegrass model.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by DerekWest (see all reviews from this person) on 10/18/2011

Where Purchased: Music Outlet in Sevierville, TN

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Absolute best banjo for my tastes. I play mostly in and for church, the mellow or fat tone is perfect to blend in with piano, guitar, bass and vocals.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Being a surprise birthday present, I wasn't consulted for my preferred setup, though the banjo was pretty well setup when I received it. The head was a little loose, and the great thing about Nechville, a few turns of the wrench and ready to go! I was playing it at the party I received the banjo, 15 minutes later!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Most beautiful finger board ever laid is the Nature's Art cocobolo finger board. No inlays to distract, just beautiful grained wood. I love it.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The heli-mount frame is, in my opinion, superior to hooks... less parts to distress and eventually fail. Having the banjo for about a month, and putting it through a lot of travel and in and out of the case, I can say that every mount point is solid, the neck hasn't moved

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

My wife has nothing but positive things to say about Tom Nechville. She was shocked she actually talked to Tom and not just staff. He was very accommodating with her few changes as she secretly learned about what I wanted in my banjo.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I've spent a lot of time in music stores playing expensive banjos. The Nechville Heli-Mount is easy to configure, (dis)assemble and as a system make the banjo a joy to own. The neck and resonator are beautifully finished, and the comfort bevel armrest make the banjo so... well comfortable. Even the tailpiece is a hefty chunk of solid steel. I'm very impressed with everything on this banjo.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

What more can I say... play one, be happy - once you buy one.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by pschulte (see all reviews from this person) on 8/2/2011

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

My style of playing has evolved from driving bluegrass to a mix of bluegrass, folk, and old time. And I'm getting tired of hauling two banjo's around for different styles of music. I presented the challenge to Tom Nechville and he quickly adjusted the heli mount system to just the right sound. Now I only need one banjo to meet all my needs.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The sound was perfect for my style of play in 2004. My style of play has shifted, but with a few adjustments, it still sounds perfect. Suggestion: Try removing your resonator to vary the sound and finding a balance for different styles of music and better interaction with other players. The banjo does not have to be the loudest instrument in the jam.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I get lots of comments about the beauty of the instrument, especially about the burried 5th string. Once you get used to it, you never want to go back.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I've been playing my Nechville since 2004 and will never go back to a banjo with all the traditional parts and problems.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Everyone at Nechville did a great job of making me feel welcome. They even make great coffee.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Tom only uses top quality parts and leverages new technology whenever possible to make the "machines" more reliable when traveling and playing.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I am very impressed with what Tom and his team have created. A beautiful, dependable, great sounding instrument. He has the most comfortable playing neck in the industry and great customer service. Paul S. - Lakeland MN

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by ProfessorBanjo (see all reviews from this person) on 2/6/2011

Where Purchased: Music Folk, St. Louis

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 2600 ($US)

Sound

The Geometric has plenty of tone, power and depth despite the fact that it does not have a brass tone ring. The wood tone ring is part of the rim.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Like all Nechville Heli-Mount banjos, the Geometric is very adjustable. It came equipped with a radius/compensated bridge. Along with the optional radius fretboard with the larger, guitar style frets it plays very easily.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I was attracted to the simplistic design. A fancy banjo is not a better banjo. The fretboard is inlayed with only dots and the headstock has inlayed "Nechville". The finish was perfect although the stain was not as good as some I have seen. Actually I would like smaller dots on the fretboard.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

It plays perfectly in tune up and down the neck. Even when I put on a capo it stays in tune with only a slight adjustment of the 5th string.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Tom has been very helpful to take the time to answer all my questions and help with the setup. He listens to suggestions and thoughts about his products.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I have it set up with a pickup that was purchased from Nechville. I use a L.R. Baggs Para Di for a pre-amp. They work very well together.

It came with a TKL gig bag. As for as gig bags go it is a very nice one. But I just don't trust gig bags especially with a banjo. The long neck really seems vulnerable. I don't understand why it is shipped with a gig bag, this fine banjo deserves a more substantial case. I bought a heavy duty fiberglass case to protect this fine machine.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I am very satisfied with the banjo, it's price, quality of workmanship and sound. This is the lowest priced Nechville Heil-Mount but I think it is the coolest model he produces.
The absence of a heavy brass tone ring and the combination of the innovative Heil-mount make this banjo very light weight. My back really appreciates this during long a long gig or jam session.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Hoss (see all reviews from this person) on 1/27/2011

Where Purchased: the Twelfth Fret

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 1450 (Cdn) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Beautifully full, warm and woody.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The Twelfth Fret knows how to set up banjos, but I prefer a slightly higher action for clawhammer. The adjustable neck on the Atlas made this exceptionally easy with the turn of an Allen key. However the banjo comes with a 5th string spike as opposed to a pip, which results in the 5th string action being pretty low for clawhammer. I'll probably have this changed.
UPDATE: I had the 5th string spike replaced with a pip. A $10 fix. Problem solved.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

The 12" walnut block rim with wooden flange is a unique design by Wayne Sagmoen. It has a cocobolo tone ring and comes with a Renaissance head, The neck is walnut with a simple Saturn inlay at the 5th fret and a thumb notch in place of a full neck scoop. I love the appearance of this banjo and it gets lots of compliments wherever I take it. Some however may be put off the fact that it doesn't have that traditional openback look.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

No issues here. It all seems to be of top quality.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I'd rate this even higher if I could. Tom Nechville and/or Al Price treat you as if you're their most important customer, answering all email inquiries promptly and thoroughly.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Gotoh tuners, Nechville Enterprise compensated bridge, patented adjustable neck. Nothing here which needs upgrading unless you are into radiused necks, in which case you would get the deluxe version of this banjo..

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I waited a year before posting this review to see how I felt about this banjo once the honeymoon period was over. I'm pleased to say that I couldn't be happier with it and have never for a second regretted the purchase. It is in my eyes a beautiful instrument with a gorgeous sound and the most comfortable neck I've ever played. It is also as light as a feather thanks to the pot design. If you like the sound of a wood tone ring you should seriously consider this banjo,

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Stuart Bowen (see all reviews from this person) on 8/9/2010

Where Purchased: Nechville

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Nechville installed a "Flux Capicator" adapter to adapt the (used demo) Nechville Vintage neck to a 2 Piece Flange pot. A Nechville radius bridge and tailpiece was installed to match the redius neck. This is the most comfortable and playable neck I've ever played.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I couldn't be more pleased with the neck the set-up and the overall result.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by dpete210 (see all reviews from this person) on 4/2/2010

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Rich beautiful sound that lends itself to different styles of playing. Can be set up for hard driving bluegrass or to fit in with a more old time or laid back approach. It records very well and can quickly and easily be set up for a loud bright sound or for a fuller more mellow sound.
The Classic Deluxe model comes standard with a 20 hole Bell Bronze Tone ring, however, mine has the 40 hole Megaphonic tone ring with Cyclotronic system.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The Nechville folks know how to get the most out of their banjos. While the factory set up is terrific, I tinkered a bit to find more out about the possibilities and capabilities of this banjo. The Nechville is the easiest banjo I've ever seen to make set up changes. This is but one of its innovative advantages. A head change takes from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how experienced one is. The neck can easily be adjusted to suit the action one prefers. The main change I've made is I now tighten the head more than what I previously did. I go between a Remo frosted head and a renaissance head, both sound great on this banjo.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

You can see the banjo here: http://www.nechville.com/classic.html
The neck is a curly maple with the diamond wing inlay, which reminds me of maple leaves and fits right in since I live in a heavily forested area. The rim is 3 ply maple, and the resonator is also maple. It has the amber brown sunburst non cracking finish. I switched from a flat to a radiused neck, and while the flat neck was a very good neck, curiosity led me to swapping for a radiused. So now it is a full fledged Classic Deluxe. One thing I really like about my banjo is the black trim and buttons. It really sets the banjo apart from others. My wife noticed that right away and typically she doesn't recognize one banjo from another.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The fit and finish are excellent. The hardware is quality made, and the craftsmanship is solid and very dependable. It has functioned superbly since I bought it and have never had issues while performing with it.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Tom Nechville is great to deal with. A problem occurred with the pot which had cross threaded when I was replacing a head. He replaced the pot no charge (a $600 item), hassle free, and explained that they had gotten an order of pots from the supplier where he wasn't satisfied with the quality. As one would expect with reputable and conscientious banjo makers, Tom strives to make his customers happy and satisfied.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I have not seen any evidence of any sub standard parts used. Tom uses his own tailpiece design. The tone ring is first class and works great with his cyclotronic system. If I'm not mistaken, Gotoh tuners are used. It comes standard with Tom's compensated Enterprise bridge and beveled wooden comfort arm rest. There is no need to upgrade anything. After having the banjo a couple of years, I did upgrade to a radiused neck, however that was because when I purchased my Nechville I was as a banjo rookie and was unaware of the difference between a standard flat neck and the radiused. I had never given any thought to a radiused neck. I'm glad I switched. My mistake in making that change was I should have kept the flat neck instead of trading it in because I could have used it on another banjo along with the flux capacitor. Nechville necks are outstanding!

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This banjo is a joy to play. Not only is it a very versatile banjo that sounds wonderful, it is easy to maintain and make set up changes. I highly recommend Nechville banjos not only because they are a wonderful banjo, but also because Tom Nechville is a straight shooter and he has a terrific staff working with him. I can't think of any negatives only positives when it comes to dealing with Tom and his staff. If ever in Minneapolis (Bloomington), stop in to see Tom's workplace and meet some of his people. Gentle warning: you just might end up with your own Nechville. :)

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by tonybach (see all reviews from this person) on 9/23/2009

Where Purchased: Nechville

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 5015 ($US)

Sound

Sounds beautiful. Better than my Earl Scruggs Golden Deluxe.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Tom basically finished building it right in front of me. Great action and sound. Easy to adjust.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Inlays are striking. The burled walnut is amazing. You can check out my photos on my homepage. Absolutely beautiful.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Great fit and finish. 24K gold plating looks like it will last.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Perfect. Tom is the best. He will do whatever you need to make you happy.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Super. All the parts are top notch.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

The neck is the best . No 5th string tuner midway up the neck. It plays like an electric guitar. The radius is sweet. It is hard to go back and play other banjos. This banjo will step up your drive to learn and excel on the instrument. I really think this is the best banjo on the planet.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by trapdoor2 (see all reviews from this person) on 2/28/2009

Where Purchased: Nechville Products

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 3,233 ($US)

Sound

Huge sound. On the treble side of "balanced" but the bass side is quite clear. Very loud and penetrating with quite a bit of ringing sustain. It is new, so the sound hasn't settled in yet and I haven't done any adjustments. Excellent, though, right out of the box.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

While it was perfectly set up out of the box, the ease that one may change setup on a Nechville means it will be a while before I am finished finding a "favorite" set-up. Frankly, I could be quite happy without ever messing with it.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Simply beautiful. Tom and I worked together to pick out the woods used and I supplied the fingerboard. It looks just like the picture I had in my head...perhaps better. The whole banjo is "custom", but there are no inlays beyond "Nechville" in the headstock. I did not want a standard "truss rod cover" or exposed screws so Tom made a flush magnetic cover venerred to match the headstock...perfect!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I'm sure this is a multiple lifetime banjo. I just hope somebody in the next century enjoys it as much as I'm going to. There is no reason to not depend on it.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Tom, Al and company are a first rate group of people. They work with you to produce a product as close to your wants/needs as humanly possible. They have been in constant contact, both via email and over the phone. This has been a very good experience.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The "Nechville" components on this banjo are the neck, resonator, "Flux Capacitor", tailpiece, fit & finish (and the talent to bring it all together). I supplied the pot assembly (Sullivan Factory Floor rim, Kulesh "Big Ten" tone ring, First Quality: tube, plate, tension hoop and hardware) and wood for the fretboard. Everything is of the highest quality. I am really liking the wide frets (similar to an electric guitar style fret), they are very comfortable. Tom's "comfort bevel" armrest is a great addition, it looks great and feels great. Tom's tailpiece design is excellent as well.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

It is a custom; nobody but Nechville could have done it. The price exceeded the high side of my guesstimate...but not by much. After receiving the banjo, I would say the price was very fair.

I have a single picky thing to note: I ordered "5th string railroad spikes" at the 7th and 9th frets...and received spikes at 7,8,9 and 10. It isn't a problem...but it isn't what I ordered either. 'nuff said.

So far, it plays like many "high end" banjos I've tried over the years. I think it is actually louder than my Stelling Archtop...if that is possible. It has a better bottom end than the Stelling and seems to be cleaner up high. Playability is excellent, which I credit to the conic radius on the fretboard...and of course, all that great workmanship. Neck is fast, not quite as thin as the Stelling's...but very comfortable.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Hillbilly Gypsies (see all reviews from this person) on 11/27/2008

Where Purchased: From Tom Nechville personally

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This 'open architechture' cocobolo wood tonering banjo sounds AMAZING! It is perfectly suited for my heavy handed playing style and has yet to go out of tune during a llive performance.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

This Banjo was set up perfectly from the start. Nechville banjos are extremely easy to set up and make quick changes due to the wonderful Heli-mount design.
With the addition of the Midnight phantom style neck with tunneled fifth string and radiused fingerboard makes it play even that much sweeter. And the special Nechville contoured arm rest is very attractive and comfortable too!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Very eye catching and unique design! I get questions and this banjo strikes up conversations every time I pull it out of the case!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I don't see any way to go wrong with the Heli-Mount frame. This design totally eliminates like 70 some hardware parts that are on a conventional banjo making it extremely reliable. This banjo stays in tune better than any banjo that I have ever played. It has yet to really go out of tune on stage during a live performance.. It is has a very beautiful and durable finish. I use this banjo on every gig without a back up with no worries.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I can honestly say from personal experience that Tom Nechville, Al Price and the rest of the Nechville staff are a GREAT bunch of folks! They have been more than helpful and willing to go the extra mile! Nechville stands by ALL of their products.. No worries there.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The Heli-Mount Openback Frame (Black), The new 'Open Architechture' Cocobolo wood tone ring, Tunneled fifth string, Radiused ebony fingerboard, High quality electric guitar style tuners, Nechville bridge. I guess that everything about a Nechville banjo stands out compared to the rest of the 'traditional' designed banjos.. haha..

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Best Banjo I've ever played/owned!!! I would HIGHLY recommend these Nechville banjos to anyone who is serious about their instruments. Clearly among the best and most innovative of the banjo designs out there!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Bastertone (see all reviews from this person) on 11/15/2008

Where Purchased: ebay

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The system allows for easy adjustment and a range of possible tone form bluegrass, melodic ,clawhammer. It is a very loud banjo with a clear crisp tone when set up for bluegrass.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo is totally adjustable by the owner with a couple of wrenches(supplied). Fun to tinker with setup

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

tiger maple, beautiful finish, great looking banjo

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

solid

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

AMazing, Tom dropped by the house on a trip through my town and he showed me how to set it up for the tone I was looking for.

Customer Service: 10

Components

all good

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Tom did a great job designing this banjo and in a world of gibson copies these are true advances on previous designs. A real professional banjo with great adjustability and durability.

An update. I've been playing this banjo for years now. It's a great banjo and just gets better every year. Frets are all still good, all is still good. This banjo holds up and plays great.

 

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by budbennett (see all reviews from this person) on 8/27/2008

Where Purchased: Turtle Hill

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: $3500- $4,000 ($US)

Sound

I was looking for a banjo that sounded different from my others and listened to a lot of them. When I heard the Phantom, I decided that one was the one for me. The tone is different, hard to describe- crisp, rich, woody, organic? I don't know a good word to use but it's wonderful. I play mostly classical and new age like music on this banjo and the tone for that is wonderful.

I have found that by cranking down the head I can quickly and easily change the tone to more of a bluegrass sound and i have done that and the banjo really cracks and carries.

I really like that the banjo is so easily adjustable and versatile.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

I had a non-standard head put on mine and the thing about that is that i needed to not be afraid to crank the head really tight on it. i was kind of concerned or afraid that by tightening the head tighter than i thought it should be would choke off tone but i was totally wrong. one time that i knew tom was going to be coming near me i contacted him to have him set up the banjo for me and after listening to me play a bit, he immediately cranked the head WAY tighter than i had it and BAM the sound changed about a zillion times for the better. suddenly my banjo that sounded great to me before he touched it now sounded GREAT to me.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

It's gorgeous. Beautiful walnut burl, first rate finish, not a single thing to complain about. I love the look and everyone else does too.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The only reason I would bring another banjo with me to a job is if I were going to be playing both traditional and classical music. The Phantom is reliable, consistant and I don't foresee any trouble with it.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I bought the banjo from Turtle HIll and contacted Dave via phone and internet. Dave is a first rate standup guy and I recommend him to everyone. Dave was approachable by email, answered in a timely manner, was factual and honest, and he even gave me a free capo and hand delivered my banjo to me due to a convenient situation. I spent an hour or so with him and enjoyed it very much and I look forward to buying from him again.

one time i wanted a new head and a higher bridge I contacted Tom Nechville and Al Price and they were very helpful and informative. Tom made me a custom height bridge and Al had a new head sent to me. Both did this without asking for money first and trusted my honesty and integrity and THAT is not something you see every day. I completely trust them and applaud them for it. I truly cannot imagine better customer service than what I got from both Turtle Hill and Nechville. Fantastic people and fantastic service!

Customer Service: 10

Components

The look of this banjo is fantastic. The tone is fantastic. The neck plays fantastic. I wouldn't change a thing.

Something different for me is that i also have a tenor banjo neck that i put on the phantom pot. at first i only used the banjo as a 5 string, then i was using it 50/50 5 string and tenor, now i find i use it mostly for tenor. if i had the money i'd buy another pot so i could have one tenor and one 5 string but i don't, so i just swap back and forth when the mood strikes me. takes 7-10 minutes to go from playing a song on the 5 string to playing a song on the tenor. because of the short amount of time it takes to switch, i just havn't justified it to myself that i should buy a second pot. i REALLY want a second pot though, just can't justify it.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

If this banjo was stolen I would call Dave at Turtle Hill and have him order me another just like it. I love the tone and playability.

I suggest if anyone is considering a Phantom to try and hear one in person, they are a little different sounding from other banjos. I for one count that as a big plus too. In my opinion, variety is the spice of life in terms of tone.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by vfont (see all reviews from this person) on 2/20/2008

Where Purchased: Buffalo Brothers Guitars

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: $3,000 ($US)

Sound

I enjoy playing a variety of music styles from bluegrass to classical with gospel and melodic thrown in. This banjo has a full/rich sound. It rings clear as a bell up the neck. It is loud and has the power to cut through the crowd. It also has a little more sustain than might be pleasing to the ear of a bluegrass purist.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I set the banjo up to match my tastes. I'll probably still tweak things a little over the next couple of weeks. When the banjo arrived, the head needed tightening and I lowered the tailpiece a bit. The Helimount construction makes head tweaking a snap. It literally takes seconds to loosen or tighten the head. The Helimount is a wonderful invention.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

This banjo is very easy on the eyes. The mahogany is gorgeous. The fit and finish is perfect. The comfort bevel arm rest eliminates tarnish and the need for polishing. I am very impressed with the attention to detail and high quality construction.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This hardware is solid. The tailpiece is stainless steel. That won't tarnish or wear off. The hardware is all cast metal with a black finish. I suspect that this will remain looking as new for as long as I own this banjo.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

During the decision making process, I had opportunity to exchange emails with Al Price. He was extremely helpful in understanding my desires and directing me to the right banjo as well as to the dealers who had that particular model in stock. I am very pleased with Nechville's customer service.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The Helimount hardware is outstanding. I'll be surprised if this or a simlar product doesn't become the ubiquitous hardware configuration of the future.

The radiused neck is differnt from what I am used to on a banjo. Nechville uses fat frets that look like the frets on my guitar. It is a very easy to play neck. It's a little thicker front to back than my Stelling and the thickness takes a little to grow accustomed to. However, I am able to play certain pieces more easily on the Nechville neck than on my Stelling. After playing this radiused neck, I am tempted to have Geoff install a radiused neck on my Master's Cross.

I'm not too wild about the tuners. They are a little stiff and the B string tuner was a little "grabby." It needed some adjustment before it felt like it was turning smoothly. I'll probably replace these tuners with Keith tuners sometime in the future.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I would not recommend this banjo to the bluegrass purist. I would recommend without hesitation to someone with more of an eclectic range in music. That would be someone who wants a sweet sounding tone with more sustain than bluegrass demands. Personally, I really like this banjo. I am blessed to be able to own this as well as a Stelling. It's not possible to compare the two. They both sound uniquely different., but right now, the Stelling sound offers a slight advantage to my ear and taste than does the Nechville.

Since I insure my instruments under my homeowners policy, if this banjo were stolen, I have no doubt that I would replace it with another Nechville, maybe a Vintage or Nuvo the next time around.

This is one fine instrument. If you want cutting edge technology, a sweet sound, and solid construction, Nechville is definitely the way to go.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by pinenut (see all reviews from this person) on 1/2/2008

Where Purchased: Janet Davis Music

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

so so for a small banjo. two and a half months later after sitting unplayed in the closet the head sank. (this head is not adjustable) sounds out of tune when it's in tune. higher tunings help but do not remedy situation.

Sound Rating: 1

Setup

setup is ok

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

dipped, ok for the price

Appearance Rating: 4

Reliability

tuners ok, wood neck ok, pot is paper, head not adjustable

Reliability Rating: 2

Customer Service

ordered from a dealer.

Customer Service: 10

Components

cannot upgrade without puchasing a different banjo

Components Rating: 4

Overall Comments

I would not recommend this banjo

Overall Rating: 1

Submitted by Banjo Island (see all reviews from this person) on 6/26/2007

Where Purchased: Tenncorn Music, Cornwall

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The banjo lacks that brash "in-your-face" tone common in bluegrass, in favour of a subtler unique tone I've not heard on another banjo. Difficult to describe, other that to say that it gets noticed (in a good way)

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I bought it 2 months ago, and haven't felt the need to change anything. The unique design of the Nechville, however fills me with the confidence that I could easily change things around and experient if I felt like it

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This banjo sold itself to me almost entirely on looks. I wasn't after a new banjo, but bought it anyway. It's a simple modern design with the non-inlaid fretboard, tunnelled 5th string, contemporary headstock design, and the contrast of the wood combined with the black metalwork make this banjo a work of art as much as an instrument. Truly gorgeous to behold!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Feels like it'll last forever.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Met Tom Nechville at a festival and he was an absolutely top bloke. Very friendly and helpful, and gave my banjo the onceover, tweaked a few things, and decided it was perfectly set up to begin with.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The frets seem rather soft and already show some wear, but this banjo has been played an awful lot in its short life.
I miss having Keith Tuners on the 2nd and 3rd, but wouldn't want to put some of this banjo as that would look too weird.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This banjo is stunning. It seems to commands a lot of attention from other banjo players, which may suit some more that others. I was initially worried that the plain neck, displaced 5th string tuner, and radius may take some getting used to in terms of playing the thing, but haven't found that to be the case. The neck is sligtly wider that on other banjos I've played, which gives my big hands quite a stretch for thumbing the 5th string, and that could be a consideration for others.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by RODMISER (see all reviews from this person) on 6/23/2007

Where Purchased: Nechville Musical Products

Year Purchased: 2007 06/09
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Full\ Rich

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Yes , Tom Nichville set it, that Satarday. Yes Nichville's are easy to change about 5-10 min.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Looks new. Its the best.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Life

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

They won't forget you.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Nichville's the BEST.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Yes I recommend Nichville's. Buy a new Moonshine if stolen. Love it, the one and only, Moonshine. Sound, sound, sound. Nichville's is the only banjo, that I drive 550 miles for.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by djangonut (see all reviews from this person) on 5/30/2007

Where Purchased: Direct from Nechville

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: £ 2000 (Sterling) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

My Nechville is a tenor banjo tuned CGDA, and I play in Dixieland bands, I have had the banjo for a week and I am pleased with its performance on gigs. Its sound is clean and clear, and the tuning is true throughout its range, with no buzzes or rattles. My colleague musicians comment that it is a gentler sound than my OME Mogul. However Nechville have fitted a pick-up and if I need more volume I can play it through my excellent AER acoustic amplifier. Nechville banjos are easy to adjust. I shall experiment with the tightness of the head using the supplied tools for the revolutionary Helimount construction. The set of Allen keys also make setting neck and tailpiece angles easy. It may be possible for the Nechville to have the volume of the Ome after some experimentation. I like the gentler sound though that I am getting from the Nechville. Why have two banjos that sound the same?

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The banjo was well set up on receipt. The action is low, and other banjo players have commented on the ease of playing that this action, combined with the slightly radiussed fingerboard, gives.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

I asked Nechville for a black banjo to match my black Gretsch guitar. Consequently all hardwear is a matt black - metal rim, tailpiece, tuners, fingerboard, head - all black! The engineering is excellent and everything is flush and neat. There are simple mother of pearl fleur-de-lys placemarkers on the fingerboard.

There is a beautifully grained dark brown wood on the neck and resonator, with a fantastic highly polished finish.

It is a very simple instrument. I like it a lot, and it is a complete contrast to my gold engraved Ome which one bandleader dscribes as "tarty"!

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I am sure that this banjo is made to last, and I don't envisage buying another banjo in my lifetime.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Nechville are guaranteed to the original owner for life. I have been very pleased with the contacts at Nechville. Tom Nechville telephoned to suggest improvements and amendments, during the banjo's construction, and the banjo was built to my specification, even down to the last millimetre of the scale length. Nechville's agent in the UK, Richard Webster has been excellent and helpful.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Obviously the Heli-Mount construction is the stand-out feature. The elimination of all the bolts and brackets and their shoes makes for a lighter instrument, and eliminates a source of rattles. I think that this has to be the future of banjo construction for the 21st century.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I think that this Nechville banjo, at a third of the purchase price of my Ome, is incredible value for an instrument of such high quality. I would not hesitate to recommend it.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by R Fox (see all reviews from this person) on 5/10/2007

Where Purchased: Banjo.com

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: Fair ($US)

Sound

This banjo has an incredibly beautiful rich tone from down the neck to up the neck. I'm only a 1 year player, but I have had two great players play it, and both have said that the tone is rich and sweet. Its also has consistant tone and volumn the length of the neck. Everytime I pick it up and play it I just admire it's sound. The volume is very good, and it would hold it's own in any setting, as far as I can tell.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was set up when I got it, and for the life of me, I just can't get over how low the strings are. I have a Fender Telecaster guitar, and they are almost as low as they are on my Tele. To be honest, I didn't know that strings could go that low and not buzz. The banjo came with 10, 12, 14, 22, 10 and I have since changed them to 10, 11, 13, 20, 10. I like the lighter gauge better. Since I have only been playing a year, I wanted the easiest to play setup, and I am very happy with it. After I have more experience, I may go back to the heavier strings as my ability increases.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The Nechville banjos are of course different looking than other banjos. I think that it is very pretty. Of course it doesn't have as many parts and so it looks simple, as compared to other banjos, so I guess that the description I would use would be that it looks simple, but with elegance. This banjo arrived with zero flaws - nuf said. I looked it over very, very carefully and it appears to be as perfectly constructed as can be humanly, or machinely possible. Everything seems to have almost zero tolerance, and so fit and finish is really good. Obviously I don't know if they all turn out like this, but since Nechville has been around for a number of years, I suppose that they must have a consistant track record.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware and finish of the wood appears to be high grade. The finish - polyeurathane????, or whatever it is appears to be thick on all of the wood parts

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have never dealt with the company, but I did speak twice with Al Price and he seemed to be most intested in answering my questions completely. I have heard from the forum that Nechville has top quality follow ups to their products.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Well, I am not that knowledable about banjo parts and to be honest, many of the brands of parts that I see in magazines or read about on the forum, I have no experience with them. However, it looks to me like the tuners and hardware and all are first class.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would definitely recommend this banjo. Also, for those that are newbies to banjo. If you have the money and are sure that you are going to stay with learning the banjo, then you will find Nechvilles to be very easy to play. Mine has the radius neck and it is very easy to play. Also this banjo just seem to have a very ergonomic feel to it, making it easy to hold and position your picking hand. If it was stolen, based on what I know right now, I would place an order for a new one tomorrow. And also, because of the Helimount type of system, I wouldn't hesitate to disassemble or experiment with it. Since the head tightness just tightens like a jar lid, and theres no coordinator rods to fool with, then I think that working with the resonator would be easy. And adjusting the neck is just loosening the allen screw and moving it up or down. Now keep in mind that I havn't done any of this yet, but it reads in the manual like it would be easy enough. And in all fairness to the other brands out there, keep in mind that I have only been playing a year and that I havn't played, or for that matter even seen all of the other popular brands out there. I know that they are great instruments also in every way. And to put a plug in for Banjo.com. I don't think that I could have went to a more friendly and well stocked store. They are in Marietta, GA John just said go in and play our banjos and see what you think. A very friendly place to do business with, and I was certainly impressed with their stock on hand of instruments and accessories. I hate to give every catagory a 10, but I would feel like I had misrepresented a catagory if I gave it any less than a 10. Just my 2 cents worth on all.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by paipoboarder (see all reviews from this person) on 12/16/2006

Where Purchased: Mass Street Music

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

My first impression was that the banjo lacked "punch." An Emerson Power Bridge was installed for an "apples-to-apples" comparison to my two other maple instruments with ebony fingerboards and Power Bridges. The result was a marked improvement. I heeded the advice of Hangout members who have stated that a bridge needs time to settle. The sound blossomed after two months and the banjo has the clarity of a Baldwin Ode Style D I once owned. The Style D still has a slight edge with its "silvery" quality but the Eclipse is nevertheless a superb-sounding banjo. The tone is crisp (without being "tinny" or "brittle") up and down the fingerboard, and minimal effort needed to extract sound with the picking hand.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The Eclipse was shipped directly to Nechville Musical Products (NMP) and Tom installed: one of his tailpieces to replace the Presto, a wood armrest (the Eclipse did not come with one) and railroad spikes. The labor charge was minimal. Photos on the Mass Street Music website indicated that the nickel-plated tone ring was tarnished but it was polished to a gleam by NMP. The set-up was excellent and resulted in the easiest playability of any banjo I have owned.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This banjo has black binding on the neck and black binding with a white accent stripe on the resonator. The wood is dark-stained maple and the hardware is nickel-plated except for the black matte frame. This banjo has a plain but elegant look.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The nickel plating on the tone ring is excellent with no pitting. The black frame eliminates concerns about tarnish. The banjo is solidly-made and I anticipate it to be very reliable.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Jim, Gayland and Grant of Mass Street Music were very cordial when I inquired about the banjo. Their description of the banjo's condition (very good with no dings and little or minimum fret wear) was accurate. The rapport established with Tom plus this instrument's tone and playability led to the eventual purchase of a custom Phantom. Tom impressed me with his business philosophy of taking care of Nechville customers.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The standard Nechville tone ring is the crown jewel of this banjo. This metal tone ring (flathead) plus the ply rim equals a winning combination.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I had been fascinated by both the construction and the light weight of Nechville banjos. For years, I believed that heavier banjos were supposed to sound better than lighter ones but the Eclipse has changed my line of thinking. This purchase was a great buy.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by paipoboarder (see all reviews from this person) on 12/12/2006

Where Purchased: Nechville Musical Products

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I was awed by this new instrument's tone right out of the case(received October 18, 2006). The bass string is powerful and a robust sound is evident, particularly from the first to tenth fret. Since acquiring the banjo and playing it every day for at least 25 minutes, the sound appears to be more "focused" or "distinct" with no loss on the bottom end. There is a nice tone when executing the 10th fret choke on the second string and a warm resonance when using the thumbpick to brush across all five open strings.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The action could be lowered to my preferred 5/8" height but for now, the higher .656" is definitely playable. There is good intonation at the higher frets with the compensated bridge. I will tinkerwith the tightening of the head and the possible installation of lighter gauge strings before experimenting with another bridge.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This custom instrument is stunning. The fit and finish are comparable to a Stelling that was sold in order to make the Phantom affordable. The blonde maple has a beautiful mirror-like surface and the resonator is accented with cocobolo binding instead of maple that is generally associated with the Phantom. The two edges of the cocobolo fingerboard represent the binding. The lack of binding initially worried me because of my belief that binding, similar to cove base, exists to hide imperfections. However, there was little cause for concern because the workmanship is impeccable. Both "edges" of the fingerboard have flowing patterns that are beautiful to behold. The fingerboard has no inlay and a conservative grain pattern while the cocobolo peghead has a more dramatic look--both complement each other. The Renaissance head coordinates with the blonde maple finish and I like the look of the 40-hole tone ring lurking right below the surface of the translucent head. The black hardware is a nice contrast to the blonde maple and the cocobolo. I opted for planetary tuners instead of the guitar-type machines so this gives a different look to the geometric peghead. An upgrade was a higher quality of maple and it was well worth the cost. The resonator has a mesmerizing hologram effect when tilting the instrument back and forth in the light.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The instrument has quality written all over it and expect it to be very reliable. The black frame, tailpiece and tuners eliminate concerns about tarnishing and polishing.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Tom spent a great deal of time with me on this banjo project. I initially contacted him about a replacement neck (with a trade-in of the existing) for my Eclipse because of my interest in a tunneled fifth. Tom became aware of my reservations about a new neck because I had commented about the great sound of my Eclipse and how a new neck may not capture its sonic magic. He offered a new Phantom at a very good price and we tweaked the specifications until I was satisfied. A custom color was originally specified but late in the process, Tom let me delete this for performance parts (ball-bearing upgrade and a 40-hole tone ring). When inquiring about a used older rim that might be somewhere in his shop, Tom apprised me of an available Tony Pass rim that was already cut for the ball-bearing feature and a color that would coordinate with the blonde maple. These two factors plus a nominal fee for this block rim made it a deal I could not resist. I find this level of personalized service and accommodation rare in today's business world. Also, Al Price was helpful during the past several months. My banjo was on the last legs of completion a few months ago when Tom informed me that he was not satisfied with the neck and would build another one. I have been having a blast playing the Eclipse so the additional wait was not a problem. I admire Tom's professional standards about the quality of his banjos whereby he would craft another neck so that the customer would be happy with the end result.

Customer Service: 10

Components

High-grade parts are evident and they include a 40-hole flathead tone ring, cyclonic ball-bearing feature and a Tony Pass rim. The neck has moderately-figured maple with subtle but attrtactive "flaming" while the resonator has a striking Deering Calico-type grain/pattern. Tom called me about two weeks before shipment and mentioned the availability of a semi-gloss black frame (in lieu of a matte finish). My choice was semi-gloss and this finish adds a luxurious touch.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

The proprietary and patented frame supplants the conventional flange, tension hoop, hooks and nuts. The lightness of this instrument is a big plus for me (herniated disc). Considering the customized features, fit and finish, and a Tony Pass rim, the Phantom represents tremendous value for the price I paid. To Tom and Al, thank you very much. For those looking for a banjo with excellent workmanship, innovative features and backed by superlative customer service, I highly recommend Nechville Musical Products.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Ottawa (see all reviews from this person) on 9/19/2006

Where Purchased: Nechville Musical Products

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I use the banjo more for 2-finger picking than clawhammer lately. It is bright and incredibly crisp in clarity- probably moreso than any of my other banjos (openbacks)- especially up the neck. Wow.

Sound Rating: not rated

Setup

After playing with many modifications (i.e.skin head, Nylgut strings, etc.) I have returned the setup to its former glory with a Renaissance head and medium strings. Enterprise bridge is suitable and the tailpiece is eased, completely reducing downward pressure on the strings.

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

The banjo looks very slick. I got the option of the geomeric pegheag, diamond wing inlay, black binding and dark walnut stain with the Corona frame. The wood is highly figured and the fingerboard is radiused.

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

I purchased the banjo due to Tom Nechville's innovations with the banjo and am satisfied with how it has held up so far. Looks as if everything is solid and that this banjo will have endurance! The professed ease of adjustability of the components is a reality which makes it a fun banjo to tinker with.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Both Tom and Al were excellent in my dealings with them, making sure I received everything that I ordered. The banjo has a lifetime warranty in material and craftmanship if owned by the original purchaser.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The radiused fingerboard is the first I had and I must say that it does in fact play smoother and quicker in my hands as compared to my other openbacks. The comfort bevel armrest is a nice little touch as well and compliments the neck nicely. The guitar tuners are a God-send and precise/reliable tuning is very easy to achieve. The Helimount seems durable and sturdy and it comes with an incorporated wood tone ring.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

This is a very lightweight banjo with a modernized look (my choice for the custom). I use it more for picking styles due to its amazing clarity and responsiveness up the neck- but can be used for clawhammer. It definitely brings a different feel of play and sound to my group of banjos.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by bohomus (see all reviews from this person) on 8/17/2005

Where Purchased: Nechville Musical Products

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 2500 ($US)

Sound

I got the turbo electric unit to make my banjo electric. It is a wonderful mellow sound. It sounds the most like an acoustic banjo I've heard.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Tom & the boys do a great job . Good comunication. The banjo came out of the box just with the setup Tom & I discussed. Everything perfect!!!!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Wow!!!!! Beatiful finish. Great look overall. I got the black hardware and the walnut upgrade. I almost hate to touch it it looks so good.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hard to say about how long the finish will last. I play & practice alot. I think the finish & hardware will last as long as any other I've seen. I do use the banjo without a backup.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Tom Nechville & his company have been absolutely terriffic. I'm sure he will be great in the future.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything about this banjo could not be better. I can't think of anything I would like to be different on it. Tom made it just like I wanted it. The turbo unit is genius. Tom Nechville designs are spectular. The idea of going from an electric banjo to an acoustic banjo very quickly is ingenious. All parts are very high quality.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I very much recommend this banjo or any other Nechville banjo. Working with Tom was a great banjo buying experence. I highly recommend that you call Tom & talk to him before you buy any other banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 7/22/2005

Where Purchased: from tom nechville

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

the banjo sounds great. I play many different styles of music and it can do it all. Nechvilles seem to have a very deep fat sound, compaired to a gibson that is very punchy and up front. The coolest thing is that you can pull so many kinds of tone out of it, from a fairly bluegrassy tone, to a big dark one. The only complaint I have is about playing really hard driving bluegrass with it. I usually end up using my gibson.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Nechvilles are really easy to set up, which is one of there best features. Out of the box it sounded pretty good. I have ended up tightening the head much more than I ever would have expected, but it still maintains that great dark quality. I would talk to tom personally about setup questions because hes really helpful.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

At first when I got the banjo I wasnt to sure about the appearance, but once I got over it not looking like a gibson I really liked it. Tom used a african hardwood for the fretboard and headstock and the grain is amazing, and the black pot essembly is really cool. The banjo is basically perfect in appearance.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This thing seemes like it will last me my lifetime. Ive only had it for about 6 months but as far as I know there are no problems.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Tom is amazing. He sat on the phone with me while I have made changes to the banjo. He is always willing to help be it at a festival or on phone. Ive never had better customer service with anything.

Customer Service: 10

Components

everything seems to be in order and ok except: The hidden fifth string hole on the fret board is not quite sanded correctly so its hard to tune at times. Its a little touchy and frustrating. Im sure tom will fix it next time I see him.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

This is a really great instrument. They are pricey but well worth it. Its not an old gibson but theres some really good things going on in there. If you are a die-hard gibson person you might hate it, but if you are looking for a different more approachable sound then these are for you.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by jbanjoist (see all reviews from this person) on 3/27/2005

Where Purchased: private sale

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Great full big sound.
Wide variety of sounds from mellow near the neck to biting near the bridge.
Fit my style well as I play both bluegrass and original contemporary pieces.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I always setup anything I get.
Tightened the head, lowered action, lowered the tailpiece to 3/16 above head.
Best neck I have ever played. A bit wider than most.
Plays so well you are inspired to try more challenging picking, and pull it off!
Setup ease is the Nechville's specialty. So easy to do anything to it you might need to and it responds very well to different setups. It doesn't lose tonal quality like most.
Tried a few other bridges but went back to the original Nechville bridge.
Might get one for my Gold Star J.D.

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

Beautiful maple wood neck and resonator, highly figured.
Very nice ebony fingerboard with perfect wreath inlay pattern.
Unique attractive Nechville peghead.
Nicely gold plated.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

No issues and none expected.
Already used it in a gig.
Played great!

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Warrantied to original owner for lifetime.
Unfortunately I am a 2nd owner but I don't foresee any problems.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

All the components are perfect for this banjo.
NO need to tinker with new tuners, tailpieces, heads, bridges, etc.
Too bad more banjos aren't like that.
Or maybe it's banjo players?
Just play the darn thing and enjoy it!

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Recommended highly for the money I paid and more.
Whole banjo is great. Tom Nechville did a fantastic job inventing this innovative design.
I'd have to get another if it were stolen.
I'M HOOKED!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 11/18/2004

Where Purchased: direct from Nechville

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 3500.00+ ($US)

Sound

I heard Dennis Caplinger and Al Price playing the same make and model and decided it was the one for me. I love it more eveytime I pick it up!
No other banjo I have ever heard has such a clear tone. I think it compares very favoribly with the very high priced pre- war banjos I have heard some performers use , and I have sat within 10 feet of the intruments being played by top players.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Tom Nechville personally sets up every banjo he makes. the set up was superb. If you see him at a festival he will check it out again free too! They are very easy to adjust head tension and set the action on due to their unique design. I had an excellent quality banjo, but was frustrated by having to have an expert adjust it regularly.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I thought it looked terrific when i got it. I was even more impressed when I got new glasses after having it about a year! IT is just beautiful. It has the wood comfort armrest. That exptends my playing time and comfort.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It has less parts than most banjos, so it is more reliable just due to that. I think it is superior, reliablity wise, to any other banjo by it's design, let alone very high standards in it's prduction. I have had things break on other top end banjos. Nothing has ever let me down on this one!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The warrenty is for as long as the orginal owner has the banjo! This is not a banjo anyone would ever want to part with, so I take that to be a lifetime warranty!
I have talked to the owner -developer of the line, Tom Neckville in person several times and I can not imagine a better customer realations service than they have at Neckville. You can talk to the man who designed, built and set up each banjo!

Customer Service: 10

Components

I think the components are top quality

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I highly recommend this banjo, even if a person had to pay full list! Mine was discounted some due to it being used as a demo at a festival. It was in "as new" condition upon arrival as Mr. Nechville had described it. Had he not told me it was used as a demo I would not have been able to tell.
If this banjo was stolen I would cry! I would order another one the same day.
I love it, the clear beautiful tones and ease of adjustment are my main attractions.. it sounds better everyday!
I find that it is superior in sound to any Gibson, Stelling, or Deering banjo I have owned or played. They are all fine insturments, but this one is just a notch above them. Try one you will love it!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Bryan (see all reviews from this person) on 8/30/2004

Where Purchased: Janet Davis Music

Year Purchased: 2002
Price Paid: many ($US)

Sound

This instrument is a very good attempt to create a powerful, reasonably natural sounding banjo, and is suitable for probably any picking style( I dont know about frailing or clawhammer). I bought it to use with a fully plugged in band where competing against plugged in instruments and even Fender Stratocasters on an accoustic banjo is a one way losing battle with either microphone or aftermarket pickups. I play pretty straight ahead bluegrass style and I wanted an electric banjo that looked something like what you would imagine an electric banjo would, rather than like an electric guitar. It has 2 pickups one magnetic which is an EMG equivalent to the neck Telecaster pickup, surface mounted in a similar location to a neck pickup on an electric guitar, plus a piezo pickup mounted under the 6 inch head. Both pickups are active and are linked to the same 9 v battery easily reachable through a small cover plate on the back .
The rest of the inside of the semi hollow body is also accessible from the rear through a separate larger round cover plate.
I play either straight into our band's Behringer mixer which in turn is routed through the main amp, or if the band playing in a "live " envirement ie a gig I first go through a Boss volume pedal and then a DOD accoustic guitar processor/ preamp . The processor allows me to select, through the foot switches, a "natural" setting or any of others I have programmed in that might have a little chorus or delay to create different sounds. I try not to overdo this. There are separate onboard volume controls for both pickups ,plus a separate tone control. For the most natural banjo sound both pickups on full seem to sound best , but at very high volumes the piezzo pickup is best backed off a bit as, like virtually all piezzo pickups I have ever heard, it gets a bit "brittle" on maximum. Having said this, this instrument is more than capable than holding its own with any electric instrument or keyboard. There is an even "gruntier" EMG pickup, the EMG 81 which is available as an optional alternative to the standard FT which would be worth considering considering for even greater ear splitting potential, but I am more than satisfied as it is. The overall sound is very banjo but slightly woodier and warmer than a metal tone ringed Bluegrass banjo, with tons of sustain. The sustain can of course be emphasised even more with the use of ,chorus,delay, reverb etc. This banjo sounds good full bore 160 bpm as well as slow "folky" fingerpicking.

I played at a friend's house once where the only amp available was a very cheap little bass guitar amp, and plugged straight into that ( no processor or efects) and it souned really good so I dont think you would have to spend a fortune on an amp.
The unplugged sound is also very pleasant , though of course, fairly quiet- great for practising.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was excellent from new. It has the tunnelled 5th string set up plus the radiused fingerboard. The overall neck dimensions are perhaps slightly greater than the standard Masterclone but feels fast and easy to play. The 6 " head can be tightened from the top( it is in effect, a Top Tension), but I think the use of the controls and the type of sound equipment will have more bearing on the overall sound.

One of the biggest bonuses with the Meteor is the comfort of playing. It is like holding a small lightweight electric guitar and is a dream to play, with the combination of the great neck, the light weight, slim body, and extremely comfortable picking position with the edge of the body forming a very comfortable alternative to the armrest on a resonator banjo.
The banjo came with spikes for the 5th string capoing which have a better visual impact than the sliding capos I have always had on my accoustic banjos., I find them (the spikes) make the 5th string go sharper than the slider but I have gotten used to tugging upwards mid length to find a pretty close quick fix between songs with the band.
The Meteors come standard with guitar style tuners which are nice and accurate. String height was good, if almost high, and other than by the truss rod, I dont know how you could adjust this as the neck is essentially is a bolt on, just like an electric guitar. The Nechville compensated bridge is standard and certainly does the job.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is the nicest looking instrument I have ever owned. It has a black walnut neck, ebony fingerboard, and the fairly plain but easily navigated hexagonal inlays. It has a Cocobolo rosewood top on the body, and maple back.All the hardware including the metal band round the body is black plating of some kind and is definately not going to tarnish like nickel. The finish on the wood parts is gloss and is a nice spray job but despite a stunning overall appearance does contain some small flaws in and under the finish which would virtually be my only criticism of the whole package, taking into account the megabucks these banjos cost. However , the overall appearance, with the stylish but unmistakable banjo design of the body, plus the uncluttered neck with the tunnelled 5th string this is one fabulous looking instrument. My fellow band members were sceptical about it before it arrived but were quickly won over with the pleasing tone and increased adaptability it offers.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

All componentry and materials are tops. I never take another banjo with me to gigs, in fact I dont really enjoy playing accoustic banjos now due to the weight and protruding body, (not to mention that 5th string peg which sticks out and does its best to dislocate your thumb)
However this banjo would probably not suit a player in a very traditional Bluegrass band as it looks a bit alternative, but for crossover country/bluegrass/rocknroll or Jazz it offers power ,versatility and very very enjoyable playing.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I bought this banjo from Janet Davis who was very helpful and patient. We chose the combination of necks and bodys from the items Tom Nechville had in stock or was in the process of completing. The combination of woods may sound a bit strange but I trusted the suggestions that Janet and Tom made. Since I live in New Zealand the whole thing was a bit nerve wracking but the despatch and airfreighting to New Zealand went off without a hitch. It has a full warranty but other than an accident I dont think too much is going to go wrong

Customer Service: 10

Components

Tom Nechville has come up with a great design for an electric banjo, and the best materials are used. The guitar style tuning pegs are nice, the black hardware stays immaculate with minimum cleaning and the body polishes up well. One very faint criticism might be the specially designed tailpiece which , although is of an open design to facilitate string changing could do with the openings (where the strings go under and then up to the bridge) being rounded over as the wound 4th string jams a bit on the hard edge.

The Meteor also comes with a very protective but light, specially made trapesoid shaped case. I love that too.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would reccomend this banjo as a very good solution to the eternal banjo pickers problem of getting good sound quality at high volume when competing with plugged in or electric instruments, especially if you want an instrument that makes a statement in itself and is not just another Masterclone. Not, however, as I said before for a fully traditional looking and sounding Bluegrass Band. Yes , I would buy another though I think they are a little expensive. I havent played any other brands of electric banjos, but I have been told it sounds more banjo natural than the standard Deering Crossfire. It is definately nicer easier and nicer to play than any accoustic banjo I have ever laid hands on, including Gibson , Stelling, Deering. Sound and tonal qualities are, of course, always subjective and whilst the Meteor does not sound like any of the above it has a very pleasing warm tone that is still very" banjo" in essence. Personally I love it.
If I was buying another one I would probably investigate some of the other pickup options,since, if you look on the Nechville website you can also have synthesiser options etc etc.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by CFR (see all reviews from this person) on 5/3/2004

Where Purchased: Nechville Musical Products

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: $$$$ ($US)

Sound

This banjo has a pure sound. It punches through a jam session without any ringing overtones. It works well for both clawhammer and 3 finger style.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Banjo was set up the way I like it. I tightened the head a little bit which takes 2 minutes with the Nechville design. It came with d-tuners on 2nd and 4th strings which work perfectly for changing tunings (from open G to double D).

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is a great looking banjo. It has curly mahogany neck and resonator, black chrome plating and black and white purfling.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I do not expect any trouble out of this banjo. The finish shines and it seems like it will last. The Helimount system is simpler and will have fewer problems than a typical banjo.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Tom was very easy to talk to and he listened a took notes of our discussions.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The radiused neck is easier to play. The

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This banjo is everything I wanted. I used to play a Goldstar G12HF Archtop. The Nechville is superior in tone and playability. I would replace this banjo with the same.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 1/10/2004

Where Purchased: Janet Davis Music

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 89 ($US)

Sound

Bright, but not tinny. Not loud, but didn't expect it to be.
I pick it Scruggs style mainly, but throw in a little clawhammer
occasionally. Works fine for both.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

I assembled from a kit, so I set it up to suit me. High action, wide spacing
of the strings. Very easy to make changes.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Walnut neck could have been a better grade, but it did finish nicely.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Overall, the hardware is adequate for the purpose it was intended for.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I like the fact that the head does not need adjustment, but wish they had
some rudimentary tailpiece instead of wrapping strings around the dowell.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

Banjovie is a fun little instrument. Just right for grabbing during TV commercial
and hitting a few licks, or when

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by Unknown on 10/13/2003

Where Purchased: Nechville Musical Products

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: $$$ ($US)

Sound

This is the most powerful and most musical banjo I have ever played (even among Nechvilles). And I've played many. It has a deep growl on the lower tones and about pierces your eardrums on the high notes. In other words it's very balanced all the way up and down the neck. Perhaps just a bit more sustain than I would like.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

It was out of tune when I received it and had lost (e.g. fell out) a resonator screw and a screw out of the tailpiece in transit, which means UPS must have really rattled it good. But it didn't take much to remedy any of this and the setup as delivered is superb. The low action, radiused fingerboard and lack of a 5th string peg on the neck makes it the ultimate banjo for playability.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

For hardcore traditionalists, this would be a very strange banjo to look at not only because of the Nechville pot and headstock, but because of the lack of inlay (none at all) and the 5th string peg, which is up on the headstock. I'm not into flash, so to me it's clean, simple and the most beautiful, elegant looking banjo (instrument, perhaps) that I have ever laid eyes on.

If you would like to take a gander at her, go to www.trumpetsetc.com and click on "Custom Nechville" on the left.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This is a handcrafted banjo so I would trust it even more than a Gibson not to come apart. And since what would be the tension hoop, hooks, nuts and flange are all cast into one peice on these particular banjos - eliminating over 70 moveable parts of traditional banjos - they very well could be the most reliable banjos in the world.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Tom Nechville is one of the most personable guys I have ever had the opportunity to talk banjo with. I wasn't really ready to buy on my first phone call, but because of his sheer and total interest in what I wanted on my banjo and because of his lack of opinion of what he thought would fit me best, only offering suggestions when I asked for them, he won me over and I ended up ordering my dream banjo on the spot. I'd give Tom an 11 rating here, if I could.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Nothing weak or cheap here. Looks like a very solid banjo to me.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would recommend this banjo over any other out there! My favorite feature is the ease of maintenance and setup. That is, you can change the head in minutes with 2 gear wrenches and adjust the action in seconds with a simple allen wrench. I see Nechville as being the wave of the future and as a complete revolution in the way banjos are built!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 10/6/2003

Where Purchased: Banjo L

Year Purchased: '03
Price Paid: 1200 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Bought used Phantom and sent to Nechville to convert to open back Moonshine. Tom used the radius, tunned 5th neck and built an open back, non-metal tone ring pot(Helimount). Sound is very good for old time and very adjustable. Has Renaissance head, Nechville bridge and tailpiece.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

This is one of the beauties of a Nechville--ease of setup is unlike any of the other conventional banjos. You have to try one to appreciate it. The 14-1 tuners are easy and reliable. The bridge(Nechville Enterprise)and tailpiece(also Nechville)are impressive.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Pot was not acceptable--rough edges where modifications were made. Tom Nechville accepted resposibility and made corrections without complaint(or charge). You can buy from Nechville with complete assurance.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Judging the quality of the materials used, I'd be very surprised if any fail prematurely. The wood selection and finish are at least as good as any high-end custom instruments.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Tom is available by phone or email and acts genuinely interested in his business(not something I've experienced with all banjo makers). Pleasure doing business with Nechville.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Certainly no cheap parts on this instrument. The neck is beautifully finished walnut and pot is prototype Helimount open-back. Excellent 14-1 tuners with Nechville bridge, tail piece and ebony armrest.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I received money back from Nechville(trading resonator/pot/tone ring)by converting to an open back. It was a very satisfying transaction and one I'd certainly do again. If there is an easier builder to deal with, I've yet to meet him. This is difinitely a different style of banjo(light weight, fast neck and easily adjustable)and one of my favorites. It's not made to sound like a Whyte Laydie or a Tubaphone and there are times when that would be its only drawback.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 9/4/2002

Where Purchased: Straight from the source

Year Purchased: 2002
Price Paid: ??? ($US)

Sound


This is EXACTLY the sound I was looking for in a banjo. I like playing all styles of music - from bluegrass to 'new'grass to jazz to pop... and this fits in perfectly in all styles. My Phantom has the new ball bearing tone ring which makes it sing loud enough to be heard, but never so loud the sound distorts. Also, for recording purposes and solo music I don't think you could get an instrument that sounds great over such a wide range of volumes. With the sound this thing makes you can really express yourself through the banjo (unlike the bluegrass 'cannons' that just play loud and all sound the same). If you want color and emotion in your sound get a Nechville!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup


Tom had just brought this banjo to the NAMM show and spent a lot of time setting it up as his 'showcase' instrument. It came shipped in tune, perfectly set up. The action was set a little on the high side which makes single string much faster and more precise... and the wider fretboard with compound radius makes playing extremely comfortable. I haven't had a chance to play around with the Helimount head tension yet... but soon I want to see what kind of sounds you can get adjusting it.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

I bought this banjo after seeing only a few pictures through email that didn't do it justice. I was floored when I opened the case for the first time. The burled walnut is one of the best examples I've seen, and along with the maple bindings on the resonator and fretboard and the black finish pot, it has a very distinct look. All the wood (including a cocobolo armrest), with the abalone dot inlays, makes it look very rustic and organic, while the tunnelled 5th string and black pot still lend a sort of cutting-edge look to it. Very cool...

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Can't say yet...

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Tom was great to deal with - very friendly and eager to talk banjos.

Customer Service: 9

Components

Tunnelled fifth string - I don't know why you'd want anything else, it really frees up your playing...
Heli-Mount - It's really such a great idea I don't know why other companies haven't tried to get rights to the patent.
Guitar Tuners - These are the best for home studio work, you can really get it perfectly in tune. I may be changing two of them out for Keith tuners, but we'll see...
Cocobolo wood armrest - much more comfortable in hot weather than the usual chrome or nickel, and it looks great

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

If you're in the market for a banjo with a unique appearance and great, great sound, I would definately shop at Nechville. They have great inlays, wood, parts, and sound. I know many banjo players are looking for that perfect, old Gibson sound from the past... if you're looking for where the sounds will be going then Tom's banjos are for you. But, that doesn't mean you loose that old Bluegrass flavor, you just gain a lot in other sound areas.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by clydem (see all reviews from this person) on 5/29/2002

Where Purchased: eBay

Year Purchased: 1999
Price Paid: 1200 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This banjo is quite loud and clear with picks on. It has a very consistent tone up and down the neck.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Very easy to change the setup, an Allen wrench to adjust the neck angle. The action was too high for me when I bought it.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Beautiful instrument, has the Diamond Blossom inlays.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The finish was perfect, I have put a couple of dings in it since I play it a lot. Very dependable, does not change tone easily.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The standout is of course the weight. It's very light compared to my Stelling. Since I am lazy I would rather tote around a lighter instrument. It's also much easier to take apart and clean due to the lack of the standard drum head hardware.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Definitely recommended, I was lucky enough to get it on eBay for a bargain at $1200.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Jim Pankey (see all reviews from this person) on 3/18/2002

Where Purchased: Tom Nechville

Year Purchased: 1996
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This particular banjo is very bassy. There is great separation of notes and it has just enough fuzzy overtones to keep me coming back!

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The banjo was ready to play when I got it. It was even in tune! The 14:1 tuners along with the helimount made that possible. I later raised the action a bit.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

The black finish is great. Easy to maintain. The banjo originally came as a Nuvo Graphite. I later traded for a more "traditional" neck.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Well, truthfully that there isn't that much hardware to worry with. All seems just great! I've used it many times as my only banjo on many jobs.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Tom has been very easy to deal with.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Of course the most outstanding feature of this or any Nechville banjo is the pot assembly. No brackets, no nuts, no coordinator rods.

This banjo is a tinkerers dream. I can change the head on this banjo in less than 10 minutes without taking the strings off!

It also has a Kulesh 10 hole ring.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

One of the qualities that keeps this banjo in my arsenal is the fact that it is 30% lighter than a "regular" banjo.

See pictures here:

http://webpages.charter.net/jhpankey/nextar.htm

Overall Rating: 9

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