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!
6976 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Directly from Bart Veerman
These are two legged bridges made from "mystery wood", one with an ebony top and one with a bloodwood top. They are both very bright sounding, the bridge with the bloodwood top is a little muddy on the 3rd and 4th strings, and seems to lose a little punch above the 17th fret. The ebony topped one is very uniform in volume and tone across all strings. The ones I tested were about 1.5 gm each, but I was surprised by the good bass presence. The tone is very bright and note separation is very good. I have not tried them in a jam setting, and have only tried them on 2 of my banjos, both flatheads, but the one has a 14 piece tonering made similiar to the old Epiphone Recording banjos. They are a little too piercing to my ear, but I wear hearing aids and have substantial hearing loss in the left ear, so am unsure how to describe these since what I hear is altered by the hearing aid programming. The bridges are nicely made, and if you like a bright sound, I think you might like them.
Overall Rating: 8
Where Purchased: ordered online
My latest banjo - see my homepage for pictures and a sound clip - had a lot of overtones and sustain. I thought the BanjoMate Tone Enhancer
might help. A friend and I installed it yesterday, and it cleaned up the overtones and sustain nicely. This is not a low or medium grade banjo - all top notch parts - but I added two extra frets at the high end of the neck, which moved the bridge closer to the center of the head, and seems to have created more overtones and sustain. I like the change, although I haven't played with the positioning yet. For the price I think it's hard to beat. When I initially saw them advertised I passed it off as a gimmick, but it's not. Amazing what bluegrass musicians come up with!
Overall Rating: 8
Where Purchased: Personally from Mitch Meadors
I recently purchased a Mitchels Tone Ring Mate and and a Mitchels Tone Arch Top Tone Ring. I have an archtop banjo comprised of a First Quality pot with one piece flange. The neck was an unfinished mahogany neck which I got from Wyatt Fawley. Originally I had a 4 hole Gibson tone ring, which always seemed to have a rather thin sound, no matter what we did to it. A friend offered a trade for a name brand archtop to flathead conversion ring, which improved the sound, but still lacked the fullness of tone I was looking for. When I replaced that with the Mitchels Tone Ring and Tone Ring Mate the banjo came alive. The notes coming from it seem large and full, the bass is fantastic, and it has power the whole way up the neck! This was what I was looking for in the first place. I think it's great! I have played about a half dozen banjos with the Mitchels ring and they all sounded great. They ranged from several old Gibsons to several of Mitchels Mitch banjos. All were nice and crisp with full notes and good bass. I highly recommend the combination!
Overall Rating: 10
'Vintage Armrest' 1 hr
'10 7/8' 2 hrs
'Snowdrop' 2 hrs
'Storing skin head' 5 hrs