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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!

7185 reviews in the archive.

Huber: VRB-G

Submitted by Ozark Mountain on 12/16/2016

Where Purchased: Steve Huber

Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

IMO pre-war tone without the 6 figure cost. I am a Scruggs nut, and have played quite a while. I want a dry heavy note decay and not a long runout. Now I know that is a handful, but put another way, I don't want ringy. I understand it is all very subjective on string guages, setup, picks used, pick bend, etc. I really like Jim Mills AcuTab video and his banjo setup. So I use his string gauges etc., but.......I wear my picks like he does, so the tone is similar. Solid bottom end, G# on the head, 89 on a drum dial at every bracket like Sonny Osborne does and it is killer.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was flawless. Action, bridge, head tension, and very easy to make changes. I did make a change to a regular frosted Remo instead of the Huber frosted Remo (+.001), just because I wanted a little more response. Wearing the picks like Jim Mills does pretty much eliminates the high's and great mid-range and bottom end. Also changed to PF140's that Jim uses, but.....bought a set of 12 of the Huber strings just in case,......lol. The 140's sound great!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

My VRBG is a maple banjo with Flying Eagle inlay and gold plated parts, with maple resonator and Truetone rim and ring. Flawless perfection on workmanship. Always is. My next one would be the same banjo with the H&F's inlay and at the 1st, and additional frets.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This is a solid banjo. The HR-30 ring and Engineered Rim are all bulletproof construction. It is my only banjo right now. I record a lot and do a lot of tone samples at home and with KM184's or a U-87 the sound is to kill for.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Forever. I just dealt with Steve and he was fast and responsive. I wanted to go down there to pick it up just to hear him play it, but I could not get away and we shipped it.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Not any weak parts on Huber banjos. I would not upgrade a thing. Banjo pickers are legendary for changing things around a bit, but I always want to hear the initial setup that the professional luthier puts into the banjo.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I have played a lot of pre-war Gibsons that don't sound as good. Then there is a string of Gibson pre-war serial numbers that are not considered that good, perhaps due to Kalamazoo Tank and Silo rings that were not a great batch, but who knows.  I digress. The caveat to all this is a lot of that can be setup, age of strings, etc.  There are a lot of independents out there now since Gibson has faded, but Steve has captured the correct decay and note runnout in the tone, IMO.  I didn't even know what all that was a few years ago, but it is all personal preference.  The big comparison for me is Earl's sound, and with his banjo's note decay, the picking was flawlessly clear and a smooth roll you could only dream of.  Nothing is identical to Earl's sound, and I'm not anywhere close to Earl's picking, but in the hands of many of the pros today, they can get very close.  

Overall Rating: 10

Hopkins: Nickel/Mahogany 3058-1

Submitted by Ozark Mountain on 11/19/2010

Where Purchased: Monroe Music-Starvy Creek Bluegrass festival

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I have refrained from doing reviews of any banjo for at least, (in this case), a year and a half. The reason is they change, I change them, and I soon find I am never satisfied with the sound and move on. This banjo has been the only departure from that for 30 years. I have not touched the bridge, head tension, tailpiece, truss rods, or anything but strings since purchase. The setup was that good.

I record a lot in my studio, write songs etc. The sound, in a studio and out at various venues and jamming is consistently superior. I have played a lot of pre-war banjos and while would die to have one, I have been impressed with the bass and midrange response on this banjo. While comparisons are eternally subjective, Paul Hopkins gets it, and this sound gets it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

See above - don't touch it.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I have owned several Stellings, a Williams, several Gibsons, Stealths, Nechvilles, Deering Saratoga Star and now Hopkins. All these luthiers are fine craftsmen and for the most part build very high quality instruments these days. The DP Hopkins was flawless. Birdseye maple on resonator was exceptional.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Instrument was purchased at the Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival at the Morgan Music "shack" from Alvin Deskins, July 4, 2009. It has been played daily since and very reliable. Took it down to Starvy Creek past July and asked Alvin if he suggested anything and he said "Don't touch it" and I agreed. No backup banjo at gigs - this is it.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Would recommend Alvin Deskins at Morgan Music without hesitation. Patient, relaxed, never in a hurry, always candid with comparisons, and very fair. Never any need for repair or warranty, but not concerned at all if it should come up.

Customer Service: 10

Components

If I constantly, (in the past), change anything it is stock bridges or heads. I have never touched this bridge or even adjusted the tension on this head. I get all kinds of opinions at festivals regarding this in general since banjo players are "born to tweak", but the components have obviously been chosen and setup with extreme care on this banjo. Paul Hopkins makes his own tone rings and I have no idea what he is doing nor have I ever had the banjo apart. Obviously with this unpaid, unsolicited and dated review, he makes a formidable tone ring.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Banjos are a constant and fun debate at festivals. My apologies for being glowing about the above, but it is what it is. The Morgan Music website cartoon on "tone rings" is a testament to this and hilarious. They sell lots of brands, by the way. ".....who would buy a $3000+ piece of metal that is a mystery why it works and causes constant arguments?" ".....because they say if you buy it you will sound like Earl."

Overall Rating: 10

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