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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!

6936 reviews in the archive.

Saga: SS10 Pony

Submitted by foggers on 6/30/2015

Where Purchased: Ebay

Year Purchased:
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This is a very playable instrument, bought for holidays and general messin' around outside. The shorter neck makes it great for tunes, and the sound is bright and fairly full across the range. I play a lot in sessions so I like the brighter sound for cutting through the usual "wall" of guitars. There were some intonation problems and I swapped the brdge for a Stew Mac 5/8ths compensated bridge, which more or less cured that problem.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

As this banjo came in the post, the strings were loosened and the bridge was flat, so I I did the set up myself. I am not the world's best banjo tinkerer, but this was easy to set up, and the neck/ pot is all true so I have not had to consider more serious operations like fiddling with the co rod.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

It has the classic dark wood finish, simple inlays, and the Saga logo. Hardware is all durable and untarnished ( being second hand I do not know its age).

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Most of the components seem durable, built for reliability at a reasonable price.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

I cannot comment on customer service as I have never had any contact.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The tuning legs are the real Achilles heel of this generally workmanlike instruments. They seem to need regular tightening, and they are not geared well for fine tuning. When I have some spare cash I shall see about swapping them for a better quality planetary tuner.

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

Overall, this is a perfect outdoor/ holiday banjo, good enough to get out in company or folk clubs when on my travels, takes up less room owing to the shorter "A" scale neck, and is robust enough to survive in a gig back perched on top of camping gear in the back of the car. It stays out on my music rack at home, because it is also a great banjo for tunes. I would swiftly buy another if this one came to grief, as it fills an important niche in my banjo collection.

Overall Rating: 8

Saga: SS10 Pony

Submitted by foggers on 6/30/2015

Where Purchased: Ebay

Year Purchased:
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This is a very playable instrument, bought for holidays and general messin' around outside. The shorter neck makes it great for tunes, and the sound is bright and fairly full across the range. I play a lot in sessions so I like the brighter sound for cutting through the usual "wall" of guitars. There were some intonation problems and I swapped the brdge for a Stew Mac 5/8ths compensated bridge, which more or less cured that problem.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

As this banjo came in the post, the strings were loosened and the bridge was flat, so I I did the set up myself. I am not the world's best banjo tinkerer, but this was easy to set up, and the neck/ pot is all true so I have not had to consider more serious operations like fiddling with the co rod.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

It has the classic dark wood finish, simple inlays, and the Saga logo. Hardware is all durable and untarnished ( being second hand I do not know its age).

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Most of the components seem durable, built for reliability at a reasonable price.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

I cannot comment on customer service as I have never had any contact.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The tuning pegs are the real Achilles heel of this generally workmanlike instrument. They seem to need regular tightening, and they are not geared well for fine tuning. When I have some spare cash I shall see about swapping them for a better quality planetary tuner.

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

Overall, this is a perfect outdoor/ holiday banjo, good enough to get out in company or folk clubs when on my travels, takes up less room owing to the shorter "A" scale neck, and is robust enough to survive in a gig back perched on top of camping gear in the back of the car. It stays out on my music rack at home, because it is also a great banjo for tunes. I would swiftly buy another if this one came to grief, as it fills an important niche in my banjo collection.

Overall Rating: 8

Wildwood: Troubadour

Submitted by foggers on 4/10/2012

Where Purchased: 2nd hand via Ebay

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 1449 (£) (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This is a beautiful, mellow-toned Tubaphone banjo, with Maple pot and neck, ebony fingerboard and good quality plating throughout.

There are some weird sharp/rough ends on some of the fretwires which, upon closer inspection appear not to have been snipped off in a nice rounded way. The ends are too close to the fretboard to be filed without damage to the wood, so it is something I have to live with: it is not a deal breaker and within 2 days of playing I am just not noticing it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The person bought from obtained the banjo from Frailers in Cheshire, and he had not done anything in terms of maintenance, so it is difficult to give a set-up rating on that basis as I don't know what the set-up was like from new. The action was a little low and I have addressed this by tightening the head (it was a little flabby and was sounding a wee bit muddy too) and I have also swapped the bridge for a Snuffy Smith 11/16ths compensated one. These changes had been enough to give a nice attack and a warm mellow voice. It is very responsive and lively to play.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

The Maple is natural tone; there are beautiful bird inlays as fret markers and the chequered binding up the neck and on both sides of the pot makes a lovely finish.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Gotoh planetary tuners and good workmanship all round are evident. It is well built and responsive. Chrome plating is good and came up like brand new with a little buffing.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Unable to comment on Wildwood as a company or on the orginal retail source though it appears from other reviews that both have a good reputation.

Customer Service: 10

Components

All components are of a good standard.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

I have longed for a tubaphone banjo and this one was an unexpected bargain: I love it, love it, love it and rate it as my best instrument by far.

Overall Rating: 9

Gold Tone: White Ladye WL-250

Submitted by foggers on 6/2/2010

Where Purchased: Ebay private seller

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 400 (UK Sterling) (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I know it sounds risky to buy a banjo via Ebay, but the seller had good ratings and I had tried this model of banjo and wanted one, but could not afford the price for a new one. I have grasped clawhammer enough to know that this baby sounds good. It is mellow, with great response and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of sustain it gives too.

My favourite favourite feature is the frailing scoop, which now is a standard feature of this model. It has enabled a quantum leap in the versatility of my playing as I love the mellow response I get when playing up the neck.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It was originally purchased from Andy Perkins, one of THE best banjo retailers in UK whose is a Gold Tone authorised agent and is highly regarded for the set up of his banjos. The set up had not been adjusted by the previous owner and it was perfect - great action, perfect tone and no need to do any tweaking or adjusting.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The pot and neck are dark stained maple, with ebony fingerboard that has cloud shaped inlays as position markers.- These are nicely done but it is a quirky shape that may not be to everyone's taste. The dark wood enhances that sense of age, but the cloud inlays give it a modern feel.

There are no flaws other than an old sticky label mark on the head, but this came off with a little diluted detergent on a soft cloth.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The finish is excellent. The chrome work is flawless and evenly layered. The build quality is robust and feels like this axe could last longer than me!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

As I bought from a private ebay seller I can't really comment on him. However, Andy Perkins, the original source for this banjo, was superbly helpful when I contacted him to source the proper arm rest for this model. I would certainly recommend Andy's Banjos for excellent and speedy service.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Planetary tuners have good smooth action though one of the buttons appears to have a teeny hairline crack. Tone ring seems perfectly seated. There really is not anything I would change - I just added a Gold Tone armrest as there wasn't one when it came.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

If there was a house fire, this would be the one banjo I would grab of the 5 we have (as long as the people I love were safe already!) If I could only ever play one banjo for the rest of my life I would be happy with my Gold Tone WL250

Overall Rating: 10

Picks: Fred Kelly Speed Picks

Submitted by foggers on 11/4/2009

Where Purchased: Music Room, Cleakheaton, UK

Overall Comments

Bought a couple of these when also purchasing a mountain dulcimer. The mid weight (white) ones are great, with a good grip around the thumb, durability and a clean picking action that means there is little "pick noise" at all. I like them so much that I have stocked up and now use them for pickin ' on all my instruments.

Overall Rating: 10

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