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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!

6855 reviews in the archive.

Deering: John Hartford

Submitted by KyletheGreat on 11/14/2011

Where Purchased: Mass Street Music

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 2100.00 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This banjo is capable of just about any sound you want to get out of it...I've played around with it plenty...just to see what all it could do. You can make it sound really dark, or extremely pingy. I have mine set with a nice smooth and rich deep end, but it also has a nice crisp *POP* when the strings are plucked. The High end sounds like a pre-war grenada :) One thing that really surprised me on this banjo was the volume. You can get the EXACT same TONE and VOLUME from this banjo as you can from any with a metal tone ring. Why break my back for that tone when I can have a much lighter banjo that sounds just the same if not better?! I've compared it to my RB-4 and Grenada...matches VERY well!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was setup well when I got it, however it had a Fiberskyn head on it. It sounded really good, but the head was holding it back from it's full potential; so I put a frosted remo on it and changed the bridge to get the sound I prefer.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The banjo is very simple, yet elegant. There isn't much inlay up the neck, but the gothic inlay at the top, middle and bottom is very classy and nice on the eyes. The finish is matte and the wood is very dark and beautiful. The one I have is a 93 model...since it's an earlier hartford, it has "John Hartford" on the headstock instead of "Deering" like the newer models. T

This particular model is also a 24 fret model. The scale is the same as any gibson or stelling, however it has two extra frets added to the base of the neck. This moves the bridge closer to the center of the head by maybe 1/2 inch.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This banjo is very well made and I'm sure it'll last a LONG time if I take good care of it. I plan to make this my main banjo (over my OME XXX, Gibson Grenada, and Gibson RB-4)

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have not had to contact Deering, but Mass STreet Music was GREAT! They even threw in a free T-Shirt! The only thing I didn't like was that it was advertised as having the original case...but the case I received was not a Deering Case...it was an old, ugly, TKL with nasty pink interior, and rusty latches.

Customer Service: 9

Components

The coolest thing about this banjo is the Grenadillo tone ring and the zinc flange. They make the banjo SO much lighter...it weighs almost the same as a guitar. The tuners have a little play and wouldn't hurt to be replaced...but they've been on there since 1993 and probably haven't been maintained.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This banjo is AWESOME! It's very well made and it sounds and plays incredibly!

Overall Rating: 10

Gibson: RB-4

Submitted by KyletheGreat on 12/12/2007

Where Purchased: Ciderville Music

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 3600 ($US)

Sound

Took a while to get the banjo sounding like I wanted it to, but hey...that's always the case with new banjos! Now the banjo is popping and cracking! It has a great deep and rich tone like that of Sonny Osborne's old RB-4. I love it!

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The banjo needed a new head ( I used a five star), a cleaning, a new bridge, strings, and some slight setup in order to get the proper action and sound out of it. The setup changes were easy and quick. Now the setup is wonderful and just the way I like my banjos to play.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The banjo is beautiful. The burled walnut resonator is among the most beautiful I have seen. The Flying Eagle inlay pattern is also a very wonderful thing to look at. The banjo looks really great.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

The banjo should last. Gibson has a pretty high reputation, therefore, they have standards they should meet. I believe it will last a long time

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

The folks at Ciderville Music are great! I enjoyed the jamming and the free meal! This has been my favorite music store bar none located in Powell, TN.

Keep up the good work guys!

Customer Service: 10

Components

The parts are what is expected from any gibson banjo. Typical Mastertone parts are used

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I would recommend this banjo. The Gibson RB-4 has always been one of my favorites...this is the reason I had to break down and get one! I love it!

Overall Rating: 10

Gold Tone: TT-500 (Todd Taylor Model)

Submitted by KyletheGreat on 12/12/2007

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 1600 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

As an archtop banjo, it had a little more ping and pop to it it. For an archtop it does sound really good though!

I am not a huge fan of the archtop sound, but i will give it credit

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The banjo was setup great when purchased....I only needed to tighten the head a bit and change the bridge. I had a small problem with a buzz, but corrected it quickly by having the frets sanded.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

This banjo was so ornate...the inlay was all abalone and pear...it has the tree of life growing up the fretbord and all around the peghead. The back has an eagle with a banjo in its talons and the words "Todd Taylor Banjoman" inlayed into it. The hardware is gold plated. The banjo is fancy!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware is made of quality like most of Gold Tone's products. It should last

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The parts are great. The banjo is well made

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

For somebody who likes archtop banjos, I would highly recommend this one. It will make you stand out at any pickin'

Overall Rating: 9

Gold Tone: Bluegrass Special BG-250F

Submitted by KyletheGreat on 12/12/2007

Where Purchased: Crazy Al's Music Outlet

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 695 ($US)

Sound

Sounds good. It will definately hold its own against any banjo in the $1,000.00 range.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

The banjo sounded aweful when purchased. It sounds great now thanks to some head tightening and a change of bridge. Action is great!

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

The banjo has pretty plain inlay which makes it easy to read and play. The antique finish on the neck and resonator makes for a beautifully unique looking instrument.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

the banjo should last a good while

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Al's is usually a decent music store

Customer Service: 8

Components

The parts are standard mastertone copies...it is overall pretty well made and should last a good long time.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I would definately recommend this banjo for the price paid! It makes a great banjo to throw in the truck for jamming in areas and conditions that you wouldn't want to have your more expensive banjos in.

Overall Rating: 8

Ome: Ome Triple X

Submitted by KyletheGreat on 12/11/2007

Where Purchased: Ebay

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 1400 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This banjo has an incredible balance of volume and tone. I have found nothing better. The Triple X has a great punchy and bassy tone with the perfect amount of sustain. I love it!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

All I had to do was change the strings and bridge after cleaning and it was ready to go. Smooth, easy action.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Since the banjo was purchased used and from a closet, it hadn't been properly taken care of. The hardwear was tarneshed, the head was dirty, and the fretboard was filthy. I cleaned it all up once I got it.

The banjo is composed of mahogony wood with an ebony fretboard and a spun silver tone ring. It is a couple pounds lighter than most banjos. The inlay work is large and beautiful.

Appearance Rating: 6

Reliability

This banjo is built better than any other I have seen. Even when holding it it feels sturdy and tough. Ome builds the absoulte best quality banjo.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The silver spun tone ring was a new one on me...I was a little worried about it...once I played it I was very suprised as to how incredible the tone and volume were!

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I would definately reccomend this banjo. As I understand it, Ome doesn't make it anymore...mine is a 1981 model. The closest thing to this model now is the Ome Monarch. My favorite feature about this instrument would have to be EVERYTHING! It is perfect in every way.

Overall Rating: 10

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