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!
6950 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: banjo.com
Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 589 ($US)
The 13 inch pot sounds really different than any other banjos I've owned. Although, the banjo could really benefit from a better bridge, a better head (renaissance preferred), and some kind of a tone ring, maybe a Whyte Layde tone ring would help.
Sound Rating: 6
I had this banjo custom built. The guys at Gold Tone made a fretless version of the Hoab for me. I also had them to add a frailing scoop, which I later learned was pretty much unnecessary, because the way the banjo is designed, the head is already far enough away from the strings to avoid any unwanted "drumming". They filed the frets away, so I could learn to play fretless styles, and still be able to play close to pitch because I can see where the frets were.
Setup Rating: 8
It's not the prettiest banjo in the world. Nice enough I guess. Pretty run of the mill, plain-Jane. No bindings or fancy inlays (but who needs em?) I do not like the tension hoop, which is about the cheapest looking thing I've ever seen on a banjo. It looks like some sort of weird, black, thin, molded sheet metal trim from an automobile. And there's a big, ugly joint where they didn't even bother to solder it together.
Appearance Rating: 3
The neck joint looks like a gaping wound. Obviously not much time was spent in piecing this one together. I think it'll hold up well enough though.
Reliability Rating: 4
They were super nice, and built the banjo really fast for me.
Customer Service: 9
As I said before, the tension hoop is a hunk of junk. And the tension brackets are super cheapo too. But the wood seems nice enough. The head is a cheap, glossy thing. I wish I could find a 13inch Renaissance Head for this thing.
Components Rating: 3
If you're just starting to learn banjo, and you want to get that old time clawhammer sound, this banjo might be a good starter for you.
Overall Rating: 5
Where Purchased: Mayberry Music Jonesboro IL
Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 600 ($US)
This is the best open back banjo I've ever owned thus far. I used to own a Wildwood Troubador, but it failed me too many times. I also owned a Bart Reiter Bacophone, and it too failed me. This banjo comes with a renaissance head straight from the factory. It has a great sounding Whyte Layde tone ring. It sounds great!
Sound Rating: 9
The setup was pretty darn good. Although, I had to tighten the head a little (normal). I also added some 5th string spikes. This thing plays like a dream.
Setup Rating: 9
This is a very purty banjar. I really like the simple, yet classy inlays. The rich tones of the wooden pot looks great.
Appearance Rating: 9
It hasn't failed me yet.
Reliability Rating: 9
The guys were great, and they special ordered this banjo for me. It arrived in only a couple of days. And they gave me a good discount, well below list.
Customer Service: 10
The tuners work good. The tension hoop is great. The tone ring is great. The hoop tensioners work smoothly. The tailpiece is quiet.
Components Rating: 9
I would recommend this banjo to anyone who likes the sound of a Whyte Layde. Probably not the best banjo for Scruggs Style, but perfect for my tastes. It outperforms many of the other banjos I've owned which cost twice as much (or more).
Overall Rating: 9
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