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!
6988 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Ederly Music
Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 350 ($US)
I expected a little more brighter tone with the simple brass tone ring . Really borders on a old time plunk sound . Action is very low as a result not very loud . Will raise the action with a 11/16 bridge to increase the volume . Intonation at 12 th fret is decent .
Sound Rating: 8
Bridge was flat for shipping . The action was very low , even with the standard 5/8 " bridge . All the shoes and screws were tight , however all hex nuts were fairly loose . Coordinator rod was also a little loose .
Setup Rating: 7
Neck is advertised as dark stained , however there appears to be a sprayed on flat black paint to the head stock which ran over to the neck . The neck almost has a green hue to a very light almost blond/brown color . Wood rim finish is consistent . Also there are marks and scraps and indents from where the guitar style tuners were removed so planet tuners good be installed .
Appearance Rating: 7
Planetary tuners are functional at best . Hex nuts and shoes are ok quality . The brackets hooks are just junk . The Vega style armrest was bent in two places , I removed it and pounded it flat with a plastic mallet . Armrest is junk also . No -Knot tail piece is also junk . Will the banjo as a whole hold up ? Time will tell .
Reliability Rating: 8
Yes, spoke with someone who is involved in all aspects of the company about my concerns . Very good people with great service . They are currently in the process of updating their photos to match what is in the catalogs .
Customer Service: 10
Neck , fretboard and neck binding all very good and well matted together . Remo head is good also . Frets are also well dressed . Will upgrade the following , banjo bracket hooks ,armrest , No-Knot tailpiece, plastic nut to be replaced with a bone nut . Replace bridge with a 11/16 " Moon bridge .
Components Rating: 7
Bob Smakula of Smakula Fretted Instruments in WV is selling the Gold Tone CC-OT for 340.00$ and putting Gototh planets on. I think Ederly is just using Gold Tones basic planet . At this
price point of 350.00 $ buy it without a doubt . The CC-OT
is 3-4 steps above the Saga's and the Fenders . I also own a Deering Good Time , sorry the Gold Tone beats it hands down . I would just upgrade the following . Bone nut , armrest , No-Knot tailpiece Moon bridge for better intonation and bracket hooks . I was really impressed with the quality of the neck and the action was to low for my style . Not a single fret buzz anywhere on the entire fretboard .Almost as good as my Enoch Tradesman neck . I also just realized that the headstock in Ederly's photo has a brown stained back ,mine came with the black finish on the back of the headstock as well as the front . Also the neck heel on mine is also stained black ,not like the photo with the brown stained heel . I also just realized that the hex nuts are very close to the top edge of the rim and they seem to cut into your leg . They will also need to be change out for shorter ones . I also like Wayne Roger's business model , owner of GoldTone . Yes all the parts are made in China , however he also has a shop in Florida where he then builds the instruments and sets them -up . Most of the companys selling imports just simply drop ship the instrument to your door . I would give a rating of 8 out of 10 . To upgade the above componets by the factory would just destroy their great price point . Buy the CC-OT and upgrade yourself or not .
Overall Rating: 8
Where Purchased: Smakula Fretted Instruments
Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 925.00 ($US)
Used for clawhammer playing . Old time plunk sound . Lower end base strings sound very soft , must strike very hard to achieve sound . The D- string almost sounded muted before I made some changes . However to be fair I'am used to the sound of a banjo with a tone ring .
Sound Rating: 9
The action comes high but easily fixed with a lower bridge . The string slots in the bone nut were not spaced evenly.
The first string was way to close to the fretboards edge , so much that when doing pull-offs the string would slide off the edge of the fretboard . The fourth /D -string was to far in on the fretboard . I had to pop off the bone nut ,sand the left edge and then move the entire nut closer to the fifth string side to make the string spacing centered and correct to the fretboard . The intonation was way off , and the bridge was a poor quality generic brand . The string slots were one size fits all, each slot needs to be cut to fit each individual string diameter . I purchased a light weight Moon bridge which helped with the muted base string and improved the intonation .
Setup Rating: 8
Very good wood and finish , all hardware is top notch . Tuners are the best, I think Gotoh tuners are a couple of steps above the Five Stars from Stew Mac that some builders are using . Did not see one blemish or flaw in any of the wood parts . Finish is light and thin , Not a heavy gooped finish like the banjos made in China use to hide their poor quality woods and workmanship . I drove down to Bob Smakula's Fretted Instruments in W.V from PA , a very nice ride . Bob had carved out an appointment time for me . I was on the fence between the Cherry and Walnut I choose the Walnut . Bob brought out nunerous banjos for me to try , I was very impressed with him and his shop .
Appearance Rating: 10
Very sturdy and well made . I believe the hardware is either
pure nickle or a very high quality steel with a nickle finish applied . No pot metal hooks or brackets like the banjos made in China use .
Reliability Rating: 10
I have talked to the owner of this company ( Kevin Enoch )several times and he is a great guy who makes a great banjo . I could of sent the banjo back to have a new bone nut cut , however it was very easy for me to make right so why bother . However the off centered string spacing should not of been allowed to leave the shop like that .
Customer Service: 10
Average quality bridge , Tuners are top quality . All metal hardware is top quality also . Hand cut bone nut is a nice touch, however watch the string spacing . Scooped neck is a nice add on to have also . The Gotoh tuners are great also . Mine
has a 12 " pot , Kevin is now making the same banjo with a standard 11 " pot , you choose . Kevin uses a carbon square rod in the neck instead of a truss rod , really cuts down on the weight . I know from using carbon fiber arrows in my archery hobby , carbon fiber is lighter and stronger than steel .
Components Rating: 10
Other than the string spacing issue , I'am very pleased . Remember these banjos are hand made one at a time .
All cuts and angles are not going to be perfect cuts like mass produced banjos built by CNC computer machines, this is why I like this all Amercan made banjo . Do not let my problem with the bone nut sway you from buying this fine hand made clawhammer banjo , it is a very minor thing ! I like the fact that the banjo is made right here in Maryland by an American builder . Just remember all hand made .
Also this banjo is not going to have a bright sound like a banjo with a brass tone ring , you will have that oldtime plunk sound .
Overall Rating: 9
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