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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!

7178 reviews in the archive.

Aria: Mach I

Submitted by Lenwardg on 6/24/2003

Where Purchased: ebay

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 281.00 ($US) (bought USED)


I play mostly Scruggs and Reno styles. It isn't to good for Reno style due to a lack of brightness but for Scruggs or melodic playing it is a very tough customer. Notes are clear and sharp with a nice bell quality. Very good bottom end and well balanced tone.

Sound Rating: 8


I had to completely disassemble and start from scratch on the setup. It went together very well. Tone ring and neck are true and the action is soft without fret buzz. Scale is good, was able to tune all neck positions to standard. Easy to work on.

Setup Rating: 9


Nice looking banjo. Bowtie inlays a bit bulky but were standard for the era. Nice inlay work on the head stock and back of resonator. Wood colors do not match (neck and resonator) but that's fine for this insrument. Exellent bindings on the neck and resonator, nice antique ivory appearance.

Appearance Rating: 8


It's a solid instrument. The tail piece is bent but I will be replacing it along with the head (fatigued) and bridge. The tuners are a bit bulky but hold the pitch just fine even with a lot of chokes. Finish is like new. I would play it without a backup even though I didn't buy it for a primary instrument.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I have never dealt with Aria.

Customer Service: not rated


Chrome is excellent. Only real drawback is it only has one connector rod. Overall, it is a well built axe that should last for years to come.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

For the money, it's A-1. I bought it to use as a knock around (camping, adverse conditions, etc.) but after setting it up and playing it for awhile, I don't think that is going to happen.

Overall Rating: 8

Cox: Fairchild

Submitted by Lenwardg on 6/19/2003

Where Purchased: From Raymond Fairchild

Year Purchased: 1998
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter


I play mainly Scruggs and Reno styles with some melodic touches. When it comes to bluegrass, it is unbeatable. You can get practically any sound you want from this instrument. The bass notes will literally vibrate your torso but the most amazing aspect is the CLARITY of each note.

Sound Rating: 10


The only change that has been made is a very slight truss rod adjustment to go with a slightly heavier string gauge (med-hvy). Otherwise, I would recommend no changes.

Setup Rating: 10


Beautiful maple wood with nickel hardware, a nice dogwood blossom on the headstock simple but appealing neck inlays. Not quite as good looking as some Gibsons but doggone close.

Appearance Rating: 9


This instrument will last several lifetimes. I never take a backup for this axe.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Jimmy Cox of course is legendary as is Raymond Fairchild. Both are willing to help any player with a repair problem.

Customer Service: 10


All components are A-1.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would recommend this banjo to anyone. If something happened to this one, I would have to find another Cox be it a Fairchild or Carolina. It is THE finest banjo I have ever played, even over all of the pre war Gibsons (RB-18, RB-3, RB-1 and Granada). It's one of those instruments that you know is the one as soon as you touch it.

Overall Rating: 10

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