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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!

7108 reviews in the archive.

Rickard: 12" Brass Spunover Dobson

Submitted by Random Scandinavian on 4/19/2017

Where Purchased: Rickard website

Year Purchased: 2017
Price Paid: 3550 ($US)


It's certainly louder than my other banjos. The sound is quite nice and warm. That is to say I changed the bridge to a slightly lower one made from different wood. The banjo was a bit clangy before this if that explanation makes any sense. It's probably mostly a question of a new sound compared to what I was used to. To begin with I didn't think it sounded nearly as good as the wooden body Maple Ridge Rickard banjo I bought earlier at almost half the price but now after a couple of months of use the old one suddenly sounds a bit feeble by comparison and not as rich. I do still think however that the all wood bodied Maple Ridge has a crispy pleasentness to it that the brass bodied banjo lacks. Hard not to give it a good rating though. It really is a great sounding banjo. Still I have ended up playing it mostly with a mute lately, which gives it a kind of banjola or wood top sound. Somehow the mute and this banjo is a great combination. If I can find a way to mike it well I may continue to play it muted. I think that the traditionalists would disagree with me there.

Sound Rating: 8


Well, the Rickard banjos I have were both set up with what to me seems like very high action. I've only ever tried one other banjo which had a lot lower action and coming from a guitar background (guitar with high action) I have needed to lower the action of these banjos. I cannot figure out how to find the two way truss rod in these Rickard banjos (apparently you need to dismantle them competely in order to find the truss rod) so a lower bridge it is. I feel that it may be unfair to give a rating on this as it is probably set up by experts compared to me. Still... I think they should consider including an info sheet on where to find the truss rod, on what kind of strings it is set up for etc.

Setup Rating: 7


To point to the negative first: the frets are not well filed and they scratch my hands just enough for it to irritate me. My theory is that this banjo has been in stock for quite some time in the Canadian dry winter climate and the wood thas contracted. To be fair the same thing would happen here eventually as well. But I think that paying over $3000 for an instrument should not leave you with unfinished fret ends. Sloppy quality control there.

As for the instrument itself it is probably one of the most beautiful things I have seen. The workmanship is incredible and you could just sit and admire it for its looks alone. Stunning wood and brass looks.

Appearance Rating: 5


Oh yes, this thing seems extremely reliable and well put together in every way. Top build quality!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The customer service has been great. The instrument was extremely well packaged and shipped off by friendly and helpful people. A great shopping experience!

Customer Service: 10


Beautiful wood and real spunover raw brass looks amazing!

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Price is what I paid in total for the banjo shipped to me here with the cheapest shipping option. This includes import taxes. The actual banjo cost is $1000 less than what you end up paying as a foreign customer. when you buy a banjo like this you don't get any tax or VAT deducted in the export and you need to pay another import VAT on top of the original one. If you shop in a store abroad you can get a tax refund but not when buying online. Life is unfair.

All in all my greatest dislike with this banjo is not the banjo's fault really: it is extremely heavy and the way I hold it there is a constant pull to the right of me. It is logical that this kind of sturdy instrument with lots of heavy brass and a thick neck will end up weighing quite a bit so there is nothing really wrong with it. But to me it makes me wish for something lighter to play. Just my personal taste. I don't like Gibson Les Pauls either. But who knows how I will feel in a year's time... I will either adjust to this banjo or get something different.

Although I would be hard pressed to find anything else this beautiful!

Overall Rating: 8

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