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!
6991 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments
Year Purchased: 2017
Price Paid: 900 ($US) (bought USED)
My first banjo, and I did a lot of research going into it. Initially I was looking at a lot of banjos from individual makers like Rickard, Enoch, and Reiter. Ultimately this Vega popped up used on consignment at Elderly instruments for a good price and I always think it's reasonable to choose a quality instrument that's easily replaced. Deering makes a lot of banjos, so replacing it wouldn't be a problem if anything ever happened to it.
For the price, this is a serious banjo. Fit and finish are all excellent. Hardware is better than expected and the tone is great to my ears. Woody and bright. I haven't gone into the realm of dialing the tone in yet but it's currently sitting in a spot where it could be pushed or pulled a few directions. I really wanted a banjo with no tone ring to start and this is a really great offering with that in mind.
Sound Rating: 9
Elderly did a superb job setting it up. I asked them to set it up well, which is kind of vague, but being new to banjo I couldn't be more specific. I mainly intended that to mean action and intonation, which are both excellent. Looks like they either dressed the fretboard or the previous owner never played it. Either way, it's very well set up.
Setup Rating: 10
I like simple and well machined things whether it's tools or instruments. This is a very well considered model from Deering. Hardware is understated but quality and the neck and pot are very well finished in satin.
Appearance Rating: 10
I would describe this as a professional level instrument in all ways with no excessive features. The price of these reflects the crafstmanship, and there are no extra decorative features.
Reliability Rating: 10
Customer Service: not rated
I like really good tuners like Gotoh on other instrumets because they are simply wonderful. Deering uses propietary tuners on this model and they seem quality, but they're not top shelf tuners. That said, they are completely functional.
Components Rating: 9
Was a bit skeptical about ordering it sight unseen but it is a great professional instrument that exceeded my expectations. I will be learning on it, and it's beautiful and functional enough to keep me going on it probably well beyond beginner. It's very well made, and a very simple design. Also a plus that it's not rare to find. I couldn't ask for anything more personally. I really like what Deering is doing with their Vega line. It's definitely more than marketing. Similar idea to the National Resophonic Guitar name resurrection.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Mike's Mute website
I live in a nyc apartment with paper walls, not what one thinks of for a clawhammer banjo setting. Nevertheless, an essential piece of kit is a mute, and I have a couple. A goldtone mute I could have made myself and works okay, and a Mike's Mute. The Mike's Mute is a wise investment and cuts down the volume considerably more than the other one. Very well made mute, and I love it. A machinist's work of art with a purpose.
Overall Rating: 10
'Blue Moon In Kentucky' 16 min
'A tale of two hygrometers' 19 min
'Old Piss (TOTW)' 31 min
'Ooops... mistake...' 59 min
'Hangman's Reel' 1 hr
'Need some help' 2 hrs