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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!

7124 reviews in the archive.

Pisgah: Rambler w/Dobson and spikes

Submitted by greadore on 8/7/2016

Where Purchased: Banjo Studio - Online

Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: 1,175.00 ($US)

Sound

The banjo suits my style perfectly. It sounds good on a wide range of music which is what I like to play. The scooped neck allows you to get a different less bright sound in comparison to playing over the head. This is the first Dobson tonering banjo I've had, and have to say it is more on the less-bright side. It has a great tone and nice sustain.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was excellent when I got it. It's very easy to play; like butter. The only thing I did was change out the bridge to a Moon bridge.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It's a very nice looking banjo without a whole lot of "bling" which is fine by me. I like the ebony fingerboard over the plain wooden one I've seen you can get on some models.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

I've only had the banjo for a little over a month, but it seems very well made and should last a long time.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Banjo Studio was great to work with. Highly recommend them.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything looks like a wellmade quality banjo.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I was looking at a used Deering and a couple of other banjos, but am exteremly happy that I chose the Pisgah Rambler Dobson. It is highly recommended.  I had been playing a Gold Tone A-scale banjo with a Whyte Lady tone ring which is a good banjo, but the Pisgah is easier to play and the sound fuller with more sustain.
 

Overall Rating: 10

Wildwood: Minstrel

Submitted by greadore on 8/10/2010

Where Purchased: E-Bay

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: $825 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Always liked the sound of a tubaphone banjo, and happened across a Wildwood Minstrel on E-Bay one day. I really like the sound. I have a Gold Tone with the Whyte Lady tone ring, but like the tubaphone sound better. Not quite as harsh to my hear. A little mellower. Tried several bridges until I kept the one that sounded best for now. May try other bridges because they do affect the sound.

I tried a regular frosted head, but it was too bright for my liking. The fiberskyn head works well, and is what the Wildwoods are sold with. The banjo also had medium/heavy? gauge strings on it which muted the sound a lot in my opinion. I put some light/med strings on it and it definitely rang more and sounds nice.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The head was loose when I got it, and had to tighten the tuner nuts. Basically had to set it up myself, but wasn't hard. The action is fine and it is easy to play.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

I think it 's a nice looking banjo, but will not wow you.

Appearance Rating: 6

Reliability

Definitely. The hardware seems well made and will last a long time. The banjo is very solidly built.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Sent a couple of general questions to the company by E-mail, and got prompt responses. Seems like a very responsive company. Not sure about the warranty since I bought it used and am not the original owner. Don't forsee any problems given the fact it's built solidly.

Customer Service: 9

Components

Really like the tailpiece on the banjo. Is solidly built and seems to work well. The tuners are nice and hold tune. The pot is solidly built and should last years.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I really like this banjo, especially the tubaphone tone ring. Since I got it about $600 below what a new model sells for I'm a happy camper. Even a new model is reasonable if you're in the market for a tubaphone banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Morgan Monroe: Cascade MFB-5DX

Submitted by greadore on 1/9/2007

Where Purchased: E-bay

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 575 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This banjo sounds really good! It has bark and a sharp sound. Definitely brighter and sharper than the Gold Tone Cripple Creek I had. It is loud and has a full sound.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Setup was excellent when I got it. Have not had to adjust anything.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Very nice looking banjo with the headstock and fret board inlay. Quality and appearance is excellent.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware seems good. The tuners are a little touchy, but that seems to be only a minor weakness with the banjo. Seems like it wil last a long time. The banjo is very heavy. Would use it on a gig without a backup.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Haven't dealt with them. Bought it used, so I believe the warranty is not transferrable. However banjo seems like it will last a long time.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Banjo is heavy and the pot assembly seems to be of good quality. The bridge and tailpiece seem good as well. The tuners are probably the weakest part of the banjo. They are not bad, but a little touchy in tuning, but once tuned the banjo stays in tune well.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I would definitely recommend this banjo without hesitation. I got a good deal on the banjo plus a lot of other freebies on E-bay, but even at the normal price I think it's great. It is a very good sounding banjo that should last years. I don't see any need to upgrade to a more expensive banjo for a long time. Favorite features are the sound and feel of the banjo; it is very easy to play.

Overall Rating: 9

Penco: Mastertone Clone

Submitted by greadore on 1/9/2007

Where Purchased: Used from an individual

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 250 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Sound is quite good. At the time I had a Gold Tone Cripple Creek, and it sounded quite a bit better than the Cripple Creek. Had a brighter and fuller sound I believe due to the tone ring. In comparing it to a Morgan Monroe Cascade that I recently got, the sound is not as sharp and bright as the Cascade. It has a more mellow sound.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Action was too low when I got the banjo. It also was dirty and needed a new head. Once I took it apart, cleaned it and put on a new head and bridge the action is very nice. The banjo is very easy to play and has a nice feel to it.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

It is a Gibson Clone made sometime in the 70's. Some of the pictures of Gibsons from that vintage that I saw on E-bay looked exactly liked the Penco (bowtie inlay, pot assy). Mine has Penco on the headstock, and has a picture on the truss rod cover.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Was told the banjo had been played quite a bit when I got, and once cleaned up the parts look good. For a 30+ year old banjo it looks really good.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

None. Pennsylvania Music Company no longer exists.

Customer Service: 2

Components

The metal pot assy looks to be very well made. The neck, inlay and finish are very well done. The tuners are HUGH and unusual, but work well.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I would definitely recommend this banjo if you can get it in the $200 - $400 range. It is a good player, sounds and looks nice.

Overall Rating: 7

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