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!
7055 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Melody Music Shop on Reverb based in Indiana
Year Purchased: 2020
Price Paid: 459.95 ($US)
AFTER PROPER SET UP, I was amazed at how nice it sounded! I am not even going to qualify it by saying “for a cheaper banjo “, it sounded as nice as the last couple Gibson RB250’s I had which sold for $2k each area! Good sustain, very Scruggs sound.
Sound Rating: 9
NO SET UP. Cheap strings. When I called them, they told me that they do not bother setting up “beginner banjos” as they were so in expensive and as they felt most beginners could not tell the difference anyway. As delivered, Drum pressure was under 80#, all tuners were loose and 5th tuner was not seated properly. Took her apart, tightened the head to 90#, tightened coordinator bars, replaced strings with D’Addario strings, tightened tuners up, adjusted tailpiece higher and retuned. Adjusted the action, replacing the bridge with a Snuffy Smith 5/8. Tightened, retuned and reassembled.! Only issue is the 5th string tuner, which I will need to replace as it was not installed properly and weak tuners which do not hold tight.
Setup Rating: 1
Out of the box it looked very nice, acrylic inlays were beautifully done & level. If I did not know otherwise, would have thought they were abalone. Frets set correctly and neck straight/ set against pot well.
Appearance Rating: 10
Cheap tuners, plastic nut, well done and solid finishing. Metal well chromed which should last long.
Reliability Rating: 9
Messaged them about the damaged 5th tuner and they responded “if it works as intended it does not matter that it is broken”. I then called them and was told I had to only deal with them through messengering on Reverb.com . I then questioned them about lack of setup. (NO SET UP) When I called them, they told me that they often do not bother setting up “beginner banjos” as they were so inexpensive and as they felt most beginners could not tell the difference anyway. I was surprised by this response... all I can assume is that it was a novice salesperson speaking out of turn. Melody Music's resolution on the 5th string tuner was to refund the 25$ I suggested 25$ to cover a new one. response received today.
Customer Service: 1
Stand out is the resonator abalone inlays, etched arm rest, neck acrylic inlay and the Chrome 2-piece flange. Weakness is the tuners, they seem not to hold tight, even after adjustment. Just ordered a full set of Gotoh Geared tuners ($112 from banjo.com) to replace them. Also, the head stock looks good, but be aware the detail is painted, not inlays.
Components Rating: 7
All in all, full investment, with my upgraded tuners. is about $570...At that price you have a surprisingly nice, light weight, good sounding banjo. Comparable to a mid-70's or late 90's Gibson Workhorse /RB250... at this price definitely a banjo you would not die if it got damaged while playing in a Jam or by the campfire. While my Huber's and Stelling will still be my instrument of Choice, this is VERY ACCEPTABLE!
Overall Rating: 9
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