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: Received a copy for review
Right out of the box this is an impressive and well thought out tool. The thickly laminated front and back covers are sure to stand up to the rigors of pass-it-around jam sessions and the interior pages are printed on a nice card stock so they aren't going be easily bent or dog-eared. This tool is built to use and it's built to last.
The 1-1/2" jumbo spiral comb binding is a really cool idea, it allows any of the nearly 300 pages to stay put and lay nice n' flat. This is neat: because of it's unique comb binding you can also set it up like a mini easel, so it can also be viewed standing upright not just laying down – now that is very handy.
The large print chord diagrams are easily to read from 6+ feet away, this allows several players to use the tune diagrams at the same time – no problem with sharing.
I like this: when you want to find a tune, you don't need to refer to an index and then waste a bunch of time looking up a page number – all the tune chord charts are arranged alphabetically by song title, so you can find the tune you want fast. Of course there is a handy tune index, but you don't need it to find the tune your looking for.
In addition to the well over 200+ tune chord diagrams contained in this hefty 1-1/4 inch thick volume, there are numerous other helpful features, like: a key/chord transposition chart, a how to use it guide, web links for other music resources, a glossary of tune style definitions and even plenty of blank chord charts to pencil in your own favorite tunes.
As a new player who needs all the help I can get, I've found this chord book to be well-designed, easy-to-read and understand and a genuine pleasure to use. It's a resource that musicians at every skill level will find very useful.
On my "I wish" list the only other thing that would be useful to a beginner like me, would be some chord diagram pages showing the actual chord fingerings for several instruments in various keys, guitar, 5-string and tenor banjo and mandolin. That wish may be beyond the scope of this book and anyway, I have those chord references handy when I need them. So it's no a big deal.
Sarah is a Banjo Hangout Member, she goes by the name of: anniemcu. You can contact her via the Banjo Hangout.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Banjo Hangout Classifieds
Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 800 ($US) (bought USED)
Rich tone, bright and full. A great open back clawhammer, old-time style instrument. Easy fingering right on up the neck and great tone in the higher registers too.
Sound Rating: 10
This banjo was purchased with the option of adding a Renaissance head and a No-knot tail piece. So it's not the stock, off-the-shelf Bart Reiter set-up. I opted for this because I heard that for clawhammer, old-time music that would be a good way to go. I'm glad I did. BConk did a great job setting it up!!
Setup Rating: 10
Beautiful maple neck and pot. The overall appearance is not "flashy"... but, very handsome in a classic manner. Very professional looking and feeling. No flaws, no problems. The amber color of the Renaissance head looks fantastic with the natural maple color of the wood components. The classic shape of the headstock and the finish details are a pleasure to behold. When I'm not playing it -- I love looking at it.
Appearance Rating: 10
This is a professional instrument. It's solid as a rock. Well made by one of the finest luthiers in the business. There should be no problems in a lifetime of playing.
Reliability Rating: 10
Bart Reiter's reputation for customer service is legendary. I'm sure there would be no problems with service if that should ever become necessary.
Customer Service: 10
Nothing looks or is "cheap". Very professional and solid components. It has a rolled brass tone ring that sounds great.
Components Rating: 10
I got this beauty for $800 which included a TKL hardshell case and shipping -- that's an awesome deal. I love the Bart Reiter Special. I'm proud to own it and would be really bummed if it were stolen. I'd replace it with another Bart Reiter banjo without a doubt.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: eBay - Federal estates
Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 149.00 ($US)
The banjo sounds bright and full. I'm using Bob Carlin's DVDs and this one sounds alot like his in the instruction demos.
Sound Rating: 10
The strings were attached. The bridge needed to be placed and adjusted. Which was no real big deal to get the distance from the 12 fret to match the distance from the nut to the 12th fret. I think the action is a little high -- I'd like to get it lower, but I worry about messing with the single truss rod. I've read with a single truss rod, it's not easy to do without experience. I wish the banjo had two truss rods as found in higher-end instruments.
Setup Rating: 7
The neck is solid mahogany with a rose wood finger board. The finger board inlays are nice and well done. The hardware is bright and shiny. Overall appearance is quite nice. The tone ring is a wood laminate -- I noticed two cracks that appear inside of the ring (not visible from the outside) They don't appear to me serious flaws. I only wish they weren't there.
Appearance Rating: 7
For a banjo in this price range, I'd say you're getting alot for the money. As to long-term reliability, I'm too new of a player to really answer the question.
Reliability Rating: 7
They say there's a 2 year warranty. I called about the "cracks" and sent them pictures, they said they are surface finish cracks -- they apologized and said they'd fix them or replace the banjo, if I paid shipping. Fair enough, I believe.
Customer Service: 7
Two truss rods would be better than one. I wish it didn't have guitar tuners... but, for the price, I guess that's OK. The fifth string tuner is geared -- and that's a good thing.
Components Rating: 7
I would certainly recommend this banjo for the price of $149. (included shipping!). If it were stolen -- I wouldn't cry. I like the banjo, but I don't love it. Overall, it's a good beginner banjo with a lot of bang for the buck. It sounds great and looks good too. I expect that when I learn to play better than I can right now -- I'd be upgrading to a better instrument. Also, when I read reviews about it, they said it was made in Korea. Mine came with a Made in China tag on it -- which kind of bummed me out. The seller on ebay is a Tyler Mountain Rep and was very helpful an responsive.
Overall Rating: 7
'Singing...' 3 hrs
'Good Friday Morning' 4 hrs
'Freda' 4 hrs
'Prucha Old Tyme' 7 hrs