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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!

6855 reviews in the archive.

Bean Blossom Reviews

Submitted by chadr (see all reviews from this person) on 1/2/2010

Where Purchased: banjohut.com

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: about $250 ($US)

Sound

Has the kind of plunky sound I was looking for in playing old time music. Not quite as crisp as the more expensive models I have tried at music stores like the open back good times but for the price I have been very pleased. Banjo Hut has a short video clip of the hobo being played for anyone interested in hearing it, you can compare that with the sound of the good time which costs about two hundred more.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

Other than retuning, it was set up to play right out of the box. I would like to get a slightly lower bridge at some point but thats just to try it out. This banjo has taken all the beginner style beatings for just under a year and I have had no problems at all. The planetary tuners hold very well and are easy to tune when its required.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Simply put, it is a sharp looking banjo. The dark cherry tones contrasted with the tans of the nemo head really fit my image of an old time banjo. It may seem silly but I really did not want a sterile hospital white head and generic looking wood so again for the price I think this best looking banjo in the under $300 range.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Have been very pleased with the reliability thus far. I've had no hardware problems and other than a few nicks and bruises from me bumping into door frames etc. the finish has been very strong.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Banjo hut was great, the banjo arrived in a very timely fashion (important for someone waiting on pins and needles for the arrival of an instrument). I got it as part of beginner package including a tuner, strap, book, and gig bag. They accidently sent a scruggs style beginner book instead of Wayne Erbsen's Clawhammer for the complete ignoramus. I informed them via email and they promptly shipped the clawhammer book to correct it. I would definitely order through them again.

Customer Service: 9

Components

After doing a significant amount of internet research, I concluded that the bean blossom hobo had the best components of any banjo in the under $300 range. A good nemo head, brass tone ring and planetary tuners seem to make this one of the best deals in beginner banjos. The head brackets are pretty lightweight composite metal and the banjo overall is relatively light, of course this impacts its sound but given the price it still strikes me as the best deal out there.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

I have no complaints and not a single regret about purchasing this as my first banjo. It looks good and gets compliments everywhere I take it. Plus I have the satisfaction of knowing I searched around and feel good about having what I consider to be the best banjo in the price range. I love the sound, the feel, the components, everything. Of course I would love to make the jump up to something in the $500-700 range but until I hit the lottery or something I am more than happy and content bangin away on this little gem. If someone can find anything better under $300 I would love to know about it. There is simply no other banjo I would suggest for a beginner on a budget.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by fredgold52 (see all reviews from this person) on 5/9/2009

Where Purchased: Ebay private owner

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 175 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

I like the sound of the banjo. It seems to ring/sustain well. I am in the process of putting a new head on it which will change the sound, I'm sure. Hope it doesn't change too much.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

The banjo had been worked on by someone who had no idea what they were doing as evidenced by the stripped truss rod adjuster. There is no relief in the neck at all but it still plays OK. The rest of it was alright. I did go completely through it and tighten all the fittings.

Setup Rating: 4

Appearance

It's just a bare bones cheap banjo. So it's not specially pretty.

Appearance Rating: 6

Reliability

It seem solid enough. The fittings are all of decent construction and assembly. It wouldn't scare me to use this on a gig, but I really should learn to play it first.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

No idea. It's used, what can I say?

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I've just had it completely apart so I know what the components are like. They all seem to be good enough. This is an inexpensive banjo, I wouldn't be spending a bunch of money on upgraded parts.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

Good banjo for the price. Plays decent and should be fine for learning. It seems to sound pretty good too so I wouldn't be reluctant to take it out to play. Instruments are typically "you get what you pay for" kinds of things. This one is worth the money, but you won't confuse it with a much more expensive unit.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by Skip2007 (see all reviews from this person) on 9/29/2008

Where Purchased: Axe 'n Gear

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 499 ($US)

Sound

The Morgan Monroe/Bean Blossom BB-250 is an affordable bluegrass 5 string banjo with a cast brass tone ring, and this sucker is heavy. The effect of the cast tone ring is readily apparent, and with heavy strings will pound out a tune. With light strings, its tamer, but there is good range and clarity. In skilled hands and good attention to setup this will perform. String choice appears to be important in the sound character.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

To be fair to the dealer, who was just getting into banjos, he really didn't know what to do with setup and frankly I'm glad he didn't try. However, that is the good news. The bad news is, out of the case, this instrument was a disaster. It came with quite heavy strings, set very high. As it turned out, it was almost impossible to setup, which I'll discuss in components. If the rest of the inventory is like this one, a shop tuner can expect to spend hours getting this set up. The 5th string pip was not set to the correct height - took me quite a while to work out a bad howl off the 5th string 5th fret.

Setup Rating: 3

Appearance

The BB-250 has an attractive minimalist look about it which will appeal to those who are put off by the gaudy tackiness of many of the over-inlaid instruments out there. The simple offset fret dots, low luster dark walnut finish suggests more a working instrument than a showpiece. On the one hand its plain, on another, its simply understated. I did some cosmetic upgrades which personalized it - added gold tuners, brackets, resonator clamps and a gold clamshell tailpiece. The additions added a bit of pizzazz and it looks good. Gold-filled the stock engraved armrest. The metal parts appear to be nickel plated, not chrome. Tarnishing might be an issue. Finish of the wood parts was acceptable. I'm not sure how I feel about the low luster finish, but it seems durable enough.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

This banjo uses many stock parts common to Asian made banjos, so reliability will be the same as is the case for most of the banjos in the general marketplace. Many of these parts are easily replaced if needed, so on a price per performance basis, it should be fine. Stock aftermarket parts seem to be interchangeable. The least well made part of the banjo is the pot. The resonator attachment lugs screw directly into the resonator shell without benefit of a threaded liner. This is an unnecessarily cheap shortcut which will cause trouble over time likely. Rated due to neck/pot issues described below.

Reliability Rating: 4

Customer Service

Within a couple of days of getting it, the 5th string pip split. Since I have no local supplier for these, I contacted Morgan Monroe, who promptly sent out replacements. Below I talk about a problem, that, if I lived in the US, would have resulted in my asking for a replacement instrument. To be fair to Morgan Monroe, I haven't brought this particular issue up with them, due the high cost of shipping, and my ability to make the repair myself. The instrument doesn't come with an owner's manual. It should, especially in regard to basic setup. Most of the info on the web about coordinator rod setup appears to be just plain wrong. Not everybody has a capable shop at hand for banjos.

Customer Service: 9

Components

This instrument is an early release in the BB-250 production line, and by now I would hope some things would have changed. This instrument was assembled by hand by someone with no skill with hand tools. Period. The finish work on the fretboard was amateurish and careless - sanding scratches that took some work to clean up. When I replaced the 5th string pip, I noticed that the pip had had its notch cut in the instrument - you could see a saw cut in the fret ahead of it. Not serious, but careless.
The reason I could not set this banjo up was because the coordinator holes and neck screws were so poorly and inaccurately placed, the upper coordinator rod succeeded in pulling the neck screw out of the neck. The factory (or somebody) repaired this by puttying in the neck screw and shimming the neck. When I tried to lower the action, the screw kept pulling loose. It took substantial repair to the neck to get the neck screw secured. When I reassembled the banjo, I needed a shim to correctly center the neck (neck screw holes drilled crooked, neck screws installed crooked), but didn't need the shim for action height.
Now that its back together it seems to be holding fine, the coordinator rods will now work as they're supposed to to set the action. The tone ring is not a particularly good fit to the pot, but is adequate (and may be no worse than most mass-produced banjos with cast rings). While the pot and neck are supposed to be maple, its not a particularly hard specie.

Components Rating: 3

Overall Comments

Its taken a lot of work to get this banjo to be what its capable of. The quality issues are unusual given the superb quality of Morgan Monroe's guitars. ( I have an MM M-10, which is just superb). A bit more care in assembly would have prevented all of this. If the assembly issues can be eliminated, then I think this banjo is an exceptional value. Hopefully this instrument is not representative of the line, because I think there is a good market for it. For a buyer, check that the action is acceptable and the neck is tight to the pot. If the neck wiggles just a bit, try another - it must be tight. Examine the fretboard and fretwork. If it passes muster, then you have a bargain. If Morgan Monroe now has these issues in hand then I would rate this a 9, not a 5.

Overall Rating: 5

Submitted by jaberwocky (see all reviews from this person) on 9/19/2007

Where Purchased: music44.com

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 171 ($US)

Sound

I am new so I might not make it sound right, but it sounds like and open back because it is, it does have sustain now after i adjusted EVERYTHING and put no knot on with new strings. I did not expect sustain at all. I get string buzz once in a while, might be me

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Added bridge and tuned to standard, strings ok but maybe dead
Had to tighten slightly every head hook, both neck nuts and even the tuners were loose
But it did come with a Fyberskin head
I have changed to a No Knot tail piece, new strings(OME light chenilled)
I will probably need to check the fret wires
Over all alot of work for a begginer if it weren't for the WWW

Setup Rating: 4

Appearance

looks like a frailing banjo with fiddle shaped head stock and planetaries
dark stained hoop and neck, looks good
no scoop

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Made in china so it probably won't last , we will see

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Haven't used customer service

Customer Service: 9

Components

Remo Fyberskin

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

For a cheap begining banjo with planetaries and geared 5th it is good.
Not the best componets or build, but it works. A very good banjo to use as a first banjo for learning care and maintenence and to get the basic frail down.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by banjojoo (see all reviews from this person) on 3/13/2007

Where Purchased: banjohut.com

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 259 ($US)

Sound

I wanted a bluegrass banjo and this is fine for that. This is my first banjo, so I don't have anything to compare it to, but I don't have any complaints. There is a quality that a lot of the banjos I hear in recordings have which this does not possess, so I figure that as I progress I will want to upgrade, or maybe I just need heavier strings.

Sound Rating: 5

Setup

Based on problems I have heard other people have with new banjos, this one was set up well. I haven't had any problems with it as far as setup. The only thing I've done to it is tune it and tighten the screws on the tuners.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

This is a basic basic banjo as far as inlay. I don't really care if a banjo is flashy or not. I like the deep mahogany finish. It doesn't have any extras as far as appearance, but what it has is well done.

Appearance Rating: 5

Reliability

One of the brackets had a scratch on it when I got the banjo, and I probably should have sent it back, but it wasn't bad enough for me to bother with it. That scratch leads me to believe it is probably easy to scratch. The hardware isn't what you'd find on a more expensive banjo, but I'm not at all worried about this one falling apart or anything.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

I ordered the banjo and received it promptly. That's all the dealings I've had with banjohut.com. For me, an order that doesn't require any additional calling or emailing is great service.

Customer Service: 9

Components

Nothing to write home about, but nothing to complain about either. This is a starter banjo for someone who doesn't want to spend a lot. I've had this banjo for a few months, and I haven't had any components fail. I play at least an hour a day.

Components Rating: 5

Overall Comments

This instrument has done all I have asked of it. If it were stolen, I'd probably buy something nicer and more expensive, but that's only because I've played long enough to know that this is something I'm going to do for the rest of my life. I wouldn't say I love it, but I really really like it. It's been reliable and been my introduction to playing the banjo, and you always remember your first. This is a beginner banjo, and I'm rating it in terms of its standing amongst beginner banjos. I'm rating it a 7 because to me that's better than good but less than the best.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by carbon_elf (see all reviews from this person) on 7/21/2006

Where Purchased: Folk of the Wood

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 219 ($US)

Sound

I'm a relatively new banjo player, playing the scruggs 3-finger style. The BB-100 has a nice but thin sound for a cheap banjo. I'm not sure how the sound would develop over time from this banjo as I had some major problems with it and had to return it.

Sound Rating: 5

Setup

The banjo was perfectly in tune when I got it. Folk of the Wood did a good job in checking and tuning it before sending it. Though it seemed to loose tune pretty quickly (after about 2 hrs of play).

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

Ok, its a cheap banjo (in both senses of the word). Very little inlay work, but for about $200 what would you expect. The major problems mentioned above though were the fault of the banjo and not the seller. After about 4 days of having it I began to notice a shear fracture on neck below the nut, then two days later I noticed one on the other side of the neck same location! Then the 5th string tuner cracked in half! So I sent it back and got a Gold Tone CC-100 RP (I'm extremely happy with it)!!!!

Appearance Rating: 2

Reliability

Every thing on this banjo seemed really light weight and not too good. Again the $200 banjo thing.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Folk of the Wood was great.
Never dealt with Morgan Monroe/Bean Blossom, and probably won't ever.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

No stand out components. Pleanty of weak components.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

Ok so I only ended up writing this review for others. When I was looking for my first banjo I looked into this one and thought ok $200 how bad could it be? Well after seeing the other review (Bean Blossom Delux) I know how bad it could be. I ended up getting a Gold Tone CC-100 RP and so far have been loving it. Also after register it I got a personal thanks email from Roger the Founder/President of Gold Tone. A really nice touch.

Overall Rating: 3

Submitted by Unknown on 2/11/2006

Where Purchased: Shuffs Music

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 230 ($US)

Sound

The sound out of this insturment is decent considering it is a starter banjo. Its volume is very low with light grade stings so i moved up to medium and it helped a little.

Sound Rating: 5

Setup

I was not impressed with the set up. This is fault of the banjo not the store i believe. The tailpiece is CHEAP and the bridge always slips and slides the strings down to where the lowest string is almost off the fretboard. I cant seem to get through a song without having to tune it.

Setup Rating: 2

Appearance

It looks decent, not bad not good. Sortove cheap looking but then again it is.

Appearance Rating: 5

Reliability

Well the "hook ons" where the strap go are already falling off after a couple months, and this is sad cuase this banjo is lightweight. After a month the middle string was buzzing. Constantly goes out of tune. Feels cheap.

Reliability Rating: 1

Customer Service

Never dealt with Bean Blossom.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

cheap cheap cheap.

Components Rating: 1

Overall Comments

This instrument has been a nightmare. I gave this banjo a chance and i was disopointed. I shouldve gotten a Gold Tone Cripple Creek. NEVER buy this instrument or and from the brand. I do not know if it was just my banjo but i cant believe this many things can go wrong just by chance. This thing is cheap. BUYERS BEWARE. I know i sound harsh but i wore marks into the fretboard within a month and i didnt play enough to do that. The only thing i can say good about it is it has a decent sound.

Overall Rating: 1

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