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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!

7134 reviews in the archive.

Blaylock: Custom

Submitted by carteru93 on 10/5/2008

Where Purchased: Bill Blaylock

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter


This banjo is suited very well for bluegrass. It has a deep tone with a lot of punch as I would put it. it is very very sweet up the neck and has pop on strings 1 and 2, and 3 and 4 are deep and hollow sounding with great definition, deep but not muddy at all. Very Crowe-ish.

Sound Rating: 9


Set this banjo up myself. AMB Cryo JD Crowe strings, Presto tailpiece (slightly above the hoop, not touching), USA Remo Wagonweel head set between G#-A.

Setup Rating: 9


Looks like a banjo, nickel plating, maple neck and resonator.

Appearance Rating: 9


haven't had it for long. Looks like it will stand the test of time.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service


Customer Service: 9


Parts banjo

Blaylock neck (maple)
Gold Star GF-200 resonator (maple)
Prucha hardware (armrest, tailpiece and coordinator rods are Gold Star parts)
Unplated no hole Blaylock Bear Tracks tone ring (JD Crowe endorsement)
Remo USA Wagonwheel head
Cox Rim
AMB JD Crowe cryo strings
Gold Star Tuners (sub par)
Snufy Smith bridge
RK Flange

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I got the ring, Cox rim, and RK flange all fitted by Bill Blaylock. I currently have a loaner neck from him also. Fitted Prucha hardware other than my coordinator rods, armrest, Presto tailpiece, and resonator from my GF-200. This banjo is one of the best I've ever heard, and definitely the best one I have played and owned. I love the sound and playability, it sounds real good, I won't say prewar because that's a careless term, but very very very good to my ears. If you're looking into a new banjo, definitely talk to Bill Blaylock about his tone rings.

Overall Rating: 9

Gold Star: GF-200

Submitted by carteru93 on 11/4/2007

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: $1300 ($US)


I play bluegrass on this banjo. The tone is pretty bright but still bassy. There is a real difference while picking by the bridge and up by the fingerboard. It sounds very clean and has quite a bit of sustain. It pops rings like a bell. It sounds very good for my tastes. Check out my music for sound clips of this banjo.

Sound Rating: 8


When I got this banjo, the setup was pretty poor which surprised me from Janet Davis. The head was real loose, the coordinator rod nuts were stressing the rim a lot, and the rods weren't even snug and caused for a lot of neck flex.

I have the banjo set up now with the head somewhere around a G#-A. Snuffy Smith bridge, JD Crowe GHS strings, and Presto tailpiece just under 1/4".

I would highly recommend taking it to an expert to get the ring and rim fitted properly.

Setup Rating: 4


H&F inlay, shiny nickel playing, great finish. Typical Masterclone looking banjo. Only thing different from a Gibson is the name on the peghead.

Appearance Rating: 8


This banjo is built solid definitely. I have played it REALLY hard since I got it and the armrest is showing practically no wear at all.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Never dealt with Saga, but Janet Davis was really helpful with any questions or requests I had.

Customer Service: 8


3 ply rim, 20 hole tone ring, maple neck and resonator, Presto tailpiece.

I replaced the bridge with a Snuffy Smith and will replace the tailpiece soon with something lighter like a Prucha Presto or a Clamshell.

Other than that all stock.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

This banjo is definitely a god buy. Sounds really great. If it were stolen I might try an RK, but would probably end up selling that on eBay and getting another Gold Star :D. It completely blows my $600 Samick away.

Although I did need to shave down the rim to make the tone ring a bit looser. It would be best to take it to a pro and get it set up properly.

Overall Rating: 8

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