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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!

6873 reviews in the archive.

Flinthill: FHB-260

Submitted by Jim Pankey on 10/29/2010

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I have no complaints about the sound of the banjo. It's crisp, and bright.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The banjo required the frets to be dressed. It was unplayable when it arrived. The tailpiece is a very flimsy presto copy and I replaced it as well.

Setup Rating: 3

Appearance

It's a pretty banjo, however the pattern on the back has an issue. The "flower" in the center is great, but the circle appears to have been stenciled with a marker. There is also evident of some marker where the resonator meets the flange as if it was scuffed in shipment.

Appearance Rating: 6

Reliability

Other than the tailpiece everything else looks decent. I would have no problems using it at a gig.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

These are distributed by Saga, and there's probably a half dozen different stories about how these banjos came to be. Warranty? No clue... I didn't see it as an issue considering the price.

Customer Service: 6

Components

Tailpiece, tuners and armrest could stand a slight upgrade. Pot assembly is great.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

...yeah, I know, there's a crowd of you that will think I'm a bad person. I think I can handle that.

What I bought was the one that looked like the RK-60 - or Deco King.

It's not without it's issues I guess, but the price was considerably cheaper so I figured, "What the heck!"

Now, most of the RKs I've encountered in shops were ready to play right out of the box. This one was not. It required setup... and not just minor tweaking. First and foremost the frets had to be dressed. They had never been touched beyond getting put into the fingerboard. The ends were sharp, and they were by no means level. Now, I'm not extremely picky, but the frets were bad enough that it was unplayable.

I have no idea what sort of tailpiece comes on the RK-60 but the Flinthill came with a flimsy Presto knockoff. It's functional, and had I not had a real Presto handy I'd have left it alone, but I did replace it.

How's it sound? Well, it sounds quite good. It sounds like a banjo, and compared to other banjos I have it sounds a lot like another banjo.

The only really troubling visual thing about it is the design on the back. The "flower" is fine, but the circle... it looks like an afterthought put on with a marker.

Worth what I gave? Very much so, even including the tailpiece and the fret dressing.

Do I feel guilty? Nah, not really. However, after buying this one I feel like I can heartily recommend the RK banjos. Not sure if that's enough to keep me from being cast out as an unbeliever, but that's okay too.

Overall Rating: 6

Ramsey: Boucher

Submitted by Jim Pankey on 4/17/2006

Where Purchased: From Maker

Year Purchased: 1998
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Very loud, very plunky as you would expect.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The banjo was well set-up when it arrive, but I did make changes.

The first change was the bridge - it came with a maple bridge - I immediately made one out of pine and replaced the maple. Later I purchased a pine bridge from George Wunderlich.

The other change I made was replacing with nylon strings with real gut strings.

Both the gut strings and the pine bridge really added to the volume this banjo could put out. Pine... whodathunkit?

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Well... it's certainly an eye catcher - especially to folks that are used to seeing modern looking banjos.

The neck is beautiful flamed maple.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

There's hardware? Well, there's a bit...

The hardware is brass and handmade - should last a couple or three lifetimes. :)

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I've never had a problem, but Mike Ramsey is a great guy and very helpful.

Customer Service: 10

Components

My only concern with the banjo is the rim; it seems a bit heavier than an "original" instrument, but I'm convinced this rim will be extremely durable and as far as "sound" goes, I'm very happy.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I've recommended this banjo on a number of occasions. Stolen? Perish the thought! Guess I'd have to shoot someone.

Pictures: http://webpages.charter.net/jhpankey/minstrel.htm

Overall Rating: 9

Nechville: Nextar

Submitted by Jim Pankey on 3/18/2002

Where Purchased: Tom Nechville

Year Purchased: 1996
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This particular banjo is very bassy. There is great separation of notes and it has just enough fuzzy overtones to keep me coming back!

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The banjo was ready to play when I got it. It was even in tune! The 14:1 tuners along with the helimount made that possible. I later raised the action a bit.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

The black finish is great. Easy to maintain. The banjo originally came as a Nuvo Graphite. I later traded for a more "traditional" neck.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Well, truthfully that there isn't that much hardware to worry with. All seems just great! I've used it many times as my only banjo on many jobs.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Tom has been very easy to deal with.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Of course the most outstanding feature of this or any Nechville banjo is the pot assembly. No brackets, no nuts, no coordinator rods.

This banjo is a tinkerers dream. I can change the head on this banjo in less than 10 minutes without taking the strings off!

It also has a Kulesh 10 hole ring.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

One of the qualities that keeps this banjo in my arsenal is the fact that it is 30% lighter than a "regular" banjo.

See pictures here:

http://webpages.charter.net/jhpankey/nextar.htm

Overall Rating: 9

Ome: Jubilee

Submitted by Jim Pankey on 3/18/2002

Where Purchased: Ome

Year Purchased: 1997
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Plunky. Loud.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

When the banjo arrived here in Georgia from Boulder, CO the neck needed to have the trussrod adjusted slightly - pretty common when changing humidy in such a drastic fashion.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

The Jubilee is rather plain with the exception of the Boucher style headstock. Inlays are dots, with moon, star and a diamond.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Ome's selection of hardware is always wonderful. Tuning keys are great and everything is superior quality.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Ome's customer service is very good.

Customer Service: 9

Components

Component-wise there is nothing that I would change on this banjo.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

This is my main clawhammer banjo. It's also my only steel-stringed old-time banjo.

To see a few pictures look here:

http://webpages.charter.net/jhpankey/jubilee.htm

Overall Rating: 9

Stelling: Gospel

Submitted by Jim Pankey on 3/18/2002

Where Purchased: Blaylock Music

Year Purchased: 1982
Price Paid: 2650 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

The archtop tonering in this banjo gives this banjo a very bright (punchy), tight(?) sound. It sounds great. I've recorded with this banjo on several occasions and it's always wonderful to work with.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The banjo was ready to play when I got it. It was Clyde Blaylock's personal banjo at the time.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

I'll try to keep this brief - not exactly sure what sort of limits may be set for the amount of text. :)

The banjo is beautiful burled walnut with a maple cross overlay on the resonator. Every edge thinkable is bound and in most instances there is purfling. A few years ago I found purfling on the shell, but under where the resonator sits (an obvious "easter egg").

The metal parts are all hand engraved and gold plated. Inlays are of abalone and mother of pearl.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I couldn't imagine ever needing to replace any hardware on this banjo. Everything is top notch! I did have to replace a lag screw in the neck (operator error). A few years ago I got around to putting 4 Keith Tuners on it. It's had several heads and has been refretted a time or two.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Geoff and Sherry have always been a great help. They have answered many questions for me over the years. I consider them my friends.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Banjo is built from the very best components available.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This banjo was made for and owned by Ralph Stanley. There were several promotional pictures made of Ralph with this particular banjo - see Masters of the 5-String Banjo

For some pictures check out the following link:

http://webpages.charter.net/jhpankey/gospel.htm

Overall Rating: 9

Price: Knight

Submitted by Jim Pankey on 3/18/2002

Where Purchased: Gary Price

Year Purchased: 1994
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

When the banjo first arrived I disappeared for 2 days solid playing and listening to the banjo. Somewhere in the middle of the second day the banjo really opened up, and it's been that way since. It was almost as if I had changed banjos in mid-tune. I'm guessing that since this banjo had been "dormant" for so long that it just needed a "kickstart".

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Read above - as far as I'm concerned the banjo was setup perfectly. Played great, and sounded good right out of the box.

The only changes I've made since it's initial purchase in 94 is one head one bridge and 4 Keith tuners.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

This Price Knight has some of the best quality inlay work I've ever seen. No filler. None.

The wood Gary selected for this banjo is California Quilted Maple. Not only for the neck and resonator, but for the pot too!

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Hardware for this banjo is top notch. I've used this banjo on many occasions with no backup.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Gary is a true gentleman. I've always been able to count on him for any of my repair and setup needs!

Customer Service: 10

Components

This banjo uses Price's Mark V tone ring and of course his straightline tailpiece.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Since I've owned this banjo I've hardly played anything else.

For some pictures check out the following link:

http://webpages.charter.net/jhpankey/knight.htm

Overall Rating: 9

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