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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!

6772 reviews in the archive.

Straps: Lakota Banjo strap

Submitted by paulac7 on 6/30/2012

Where Purchased: Phone order

Overall Comments

Ordered Thursday, and here on Saturday--Very fast shipping!!

It's really soft and comfortable--it's the 'non-cradle' strap. I would definitely recommend, as when I initially called, I got the answering machine, so I figured I'd try back later, and Kenny called me back almost immediately.

I was looking for just a good, plain, strap, and this fits the bill quite nicely--looks good on the Hartford!!

Overall Rating: 10

Deering: John Hartford #1

Submitted by paulac7 on 7/21/2011

Where Purchased: online

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The sound of this banjo is incredible! It has a nice, deep tone to it, and the 4th string has a surprising 'growl' to it, especially as this is a woodie. Can't wait to see what it sounds like in a year or three when it 'plays in', as it definitely holds its own in jams, even ones with electric guitars!

I noticed there is a wide range of sounds that can be produced, depending on where your right hand is--down by the bridge, it will just about knock your eyeballs out of their sockets, and up by the neck, it is much more mellow--amazing how an inch or two can change the character of the sound.

Oh, I play 3 finger, no amps, as none are really needed.

I fell in love with the Hartford tone about a year ago, as nothing sounds quite like it. Also the fact that it weighs about 10 pounds is a major plus, as I have shoulder issues, and can't sling a full-bore 14 pound banjo around.....

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was the basic factory Deering setup--not too bad, but need to tweak the bridge just a bit. Action was perfect--little bit of a buzz on the fourth string, but will address that when I finally put it down long enough to mess with it.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

This is a beautiful banjo--the best way to describe it is 'understated elegance'. I love the Deering neck with the satin finish--it doesn't stick to my hands, and plays like a dream.

I've gotten a LOT of compliments on this banjo from non-banjo people.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Everything about this banjo is top quality--I think this is my 'forever' banjo.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Never had to deal with the company--I've only had it for 3 weeks, so time will tell on that one

Customer Service: 10

Components

I've been all over this thing with my x-ray vision, and cannot find a flaw in the finish anywhere--the inlays are simply amazing.

Nothing cheap or weak about this one.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This was my dream banjo, and I still find it hard to believe that I own one--I was pig-lucky to get it. Deering builds a quality instrument, and I would recommend the Hartford to anyone. If someone stole it, I would have hunt them down!

Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by paulac7 on 12/18/2010

Where Purchased: mike's website

Overall Comments

Ordered Wednesday afternoon, and had it in my hands on Saturday. I purchased the mute because I didn't want to inflict FMB and Cripple Creek for 2-3 hours a day on my long-suffering husband.

Product is very well made, and will probably last longer than me. It effectively mutes my MasterCraft down to an acceptable spousal level . Interestingly enough, it makes my 'jo sound like a guitar which is kind of neat.

I would recommend this product to anyone, and it works LOTS better than sticking clothespins on the bridge. Also, Mike was a pleasure to deal with (e-mail).

Paula >^.^<

Overall Rating: 10

Other: BanjoMate Thinline Armrest

Submitted by paulac7 on 10/14/2010

Where Purchased: Little Mountain Music

Overall Comments

I already reviewed this armrest once (see earlier review). This review is about the company, and Doug. I recently upgraded my banjo, and I was going to put the Thinline on my new banjo. Unfortunately, I managed to bounce it off the floor, and it broke.

I contacted Doug, and inquired as to how much 'just' the armrest would be, as I still had all the hardware. He promptly got back to me and sent me a complete replacement--no charge. When I heard that, I almost fell out of my chair, as I was *not* expecting that.

Shipping was fast, and I cannot say enough good things about Doug and his company--Little Mountain Music. I would recommend them highly, as their customer service can't be beat--I couldn't be happier!!

Overall Rating: 10

Mastercraft: Classic

Submitted by paulac7 on 10/10/2010

Where Purchased: Banjohut.com

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 450 ($US)

Sound

This actually *sounds* like a bluegrass banjo, even though it doesn't have a tone ring--just the dreaded 'tone hoop'. Nevertheless, when I go to informal jams, I have no problem being heard. Maybe because I got the Maple version, which has a little brighter tone?? But on the plus side--that cuts the weight down a little, which is an issue for me, as I have shoulder problems to begin with, and don't really need to add more......

Seems to stay reasonably in tune, even up the neck using a junk capo.

Oh, almost forgot to add--I upgraded to the Cannon bridge and strings that were suggested on the site, so I can't tell you what a 'stock' Mastercraft sounds like

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

One of the reasons I bought from banjohut (need to do separate review on them) is that their banjo's come already set up. I also did my homework by reading MANY reviews here on the BHO before I decided what and where to purchase.

Banjo has been played hard for the past few months, and I think I might need to tighten the head a bit, but other than that, haven't had to 'dinker' with it at all.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Everywhere I take this banjo I get compliments on it. I like it because it is 'classic' looking. (guess that's why they call it the Classic Maple, no?). I made my own strap using an old braided leather belt, and it just looks 'right' on this banjo.

No appearance flaws that I can detect--just a nice, simple-looking banjo

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Only had it a few months, but I get the impression it's like a Timex--will take a licking and keep on ticking........

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The people at the banjohut were super to deal with--very friendly and helpful. The banjo has a limited lifetime warranty, I believe.

No repair issues as of yet.

Customer Service: 10

Components

My only complaint is the 'knife blade' armrest. Other than that the pieces parts seem to be of decent quality--a major plus for a banjo in this price range is the geared 5th--*so* much less irritating than the friction 5th on my last 'jo. Also only 1 truss (coordinator?) rod, but I can live with that.

For the price, I don't think you could do much better than this banjo--especially as it came with hard case, picks, tuner (which I upgraded for a nominal charge), and book.

The action is nice and low, which is nice for a beginner like me.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I can see me having this banjo for a really long time, as it serves the purpose of what I need it for.

My only regret is that I didn't wait a little longer, as there is now a Classic version that is basically an upgrade of this one, but I'm still quite happy with this one.

I just wish I would have bought this banjo first, instead of wasting $$$ on the other one I had, but if it wouldn't have been for my last 'jo I probably would have set it back in the closet for another 4 years. So it served it's purpose to get me back playing--now I go to 2 jams a week and loving every minute of it!!

I would recommend this banjo as a first banjo, or even an intermediate banjo--it's a very good value for the money

Overall Rating: 10

banjohut.com

Submitted by paulac7 on 10/10/2010

Overall Comments

The guys at the 'hut were super to work with. I mailed out my Money Order on a Thursday, and had the banjo at my house on Tuesday.

It was ready to play right out of the box. No 'tweaking' necessary.

I definitely would purchase from them again--you can't beat the price and the service

Oh, almost forgot to add--I bought a Mastercraft Classic Maple, and I did a separate review on it, in case you care to read it.

Overall Rating: 10

Other: BanjoMate Thinline Armrest

Submitted by paulac7 on 4/15/2010

Where Purchased: Little Mountain Music

Overall Comments

I was looking for an armrest to replace the 'knife blade' that came with my $300 Greg Bennett banjo, as it gouged the living daylights out of my forearm.

Doug contacted me via the Hangout, and said he had some blemished ones, and would send me one. The next day it was in my mailbox, and I just finished installing it.

Was more aggravating to do than it should have been, due to my banjo being one of the Asian cheapies--resonator being held on by stupid little screws, and tension hooks being wider at the top, and some other minor issues (but not due to the product), but I was creative, and got it installed. So your claim that they wil fit *any* banjo is definitely true--if I could install it on mine, it will fit any make or model.

The armrest is top-quality construction, and *very* comfortable on my forearm--and it looks nice on the banjo, also.

Customer service was top-notch, and Doug was a pleasure to deal with--Instruction page was a very nicely printed page with clear photos--not a badly photocopied illegible 3x5 card.

I would definitely do business with the Little Mountain Music people again.

Overall Rating: 10

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