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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!

7075 reviews in the archive.

Romero: Slothead 12" Maple

Submitted by FretlessFury on 3/6/2007

Where Purchased: Music Emporium

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 2400 ($US)

Sound

Probably the finest sounding banjo I've ever played. Purchased it immediately, though I was not in the market for a new banjo. I just couldn't pass this one up!

The sound has tubaphone punch, and wood tone ring warmth. It is clear all the way up to the highest fret (15th). Very loud. It has an integral Honduran Rosewood tone ring, but you'd never guess it!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup was perfect. I recently put slightly lighter strings on it, but think that the mediums that Jason had originally put on it were better.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This banjo is gorgeous. Romero's joinery is top-notch: all underlay matches up perfectly. The hard-oil finish feels fast and looks great. The inlay is subtle and well done.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I've only had it for a few days, so I'm going to leave this one blank. It's a rugged looking banjo, and I imagine it will be a reliable player once the skin head has had time to settle in.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Lifetime warranty.

I also own Romero's Torch banjo, which has had warranty work done on it twice. In both cases, Jason was a delight to work with. He was accomodating, fast and friendly. One of the reasons I'm such a fan of Romero banjos is because I've had direct experience with his warranty work. He even upgraded the Torch with a wooden dowel with no extra charge.

Kudos to Jason for standing by his instruments so well. I'd give this an 11 if I could!

Customer Service: 10

Components

Jason's new tension hoop is a perfect design for the clawhammerer. Instead of notches or grooves, the hoop has holes in it for the bracket hooks. The leaves the top of the hoop smooth, which makes it very comfortable. The hoop also has a slightly wider cutaway for the neck, which makes frailing over the neck joint easy.

The Gotoh tuners, Kershner tailpiece and other components are top notch.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This banjo wasn't cheap at 2400 USD, but I'll tell you the sound of this instrument is priceless. I wouldn't hesitate to buy it again, and honestly think that Jason's work is still underpriced. In my opinion he is one of the top 2 or 3 openback builders in the world today, and this banjo is representative of his skill.

I would say that it is probably the best sounding banjo I've ever played. The neck profile is comfortable and fast, and the overall design is understated and subtle. Pair that with Jason's excellent customer service and you have banjo perfection!

Overall Rating: not rated

Romero: Torch

Submitted by FretlessFury on 4/8/2004

Where Purchased: Turtle Hill Banjos

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The Torch has the 15 degree beveled granadillo tone ring that Jason Romero makes. It gives the banjo a warm, mello tone with plenty of sustain. The banjo sounds sweet right up the neck. The sound is rich and full without being harsh. The handmade compensated bridge, beautiful in its own right, contributes to this honey-warm tone. When frailed over the scoop, a bubbly round tone can be achieved.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I had some trouble with the setup as the action was too low for my tastes. I was also getting some strange tones on the second string. I sent it back to Jason who perfected the setup. It's ideal now: medium-low action, new graphite nut, handmade Romero bridge. Since Jason graciously offered to tweak the setup and it's now ideal, I'll give this category a high mark.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. The flamed rock maple is figured in an unusual way: not tight fiddle-back curls but widely spaced ripples with lateral grain running throughout. The peghead veneer, fingerboard, heel cap and pot cap is bubinga with wide flamed figure. This is inlayed in an abalone torch motif which accents and compliments the grain in a tasteful way without overdoing it. Jason has a wonderful appreciation of the natural beauty of the wood.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I wouldn't hestiate to use it for a gig without a backup. It's solid. The pot itself is incredibly thick and sturdy. The finish is of a very high quality and I expect it will wear extremely well. Time will tell, of course, and I'll update this review accordingly.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Jason is the easiest banjo maker I've ever dealt with. He responed to my concerns rapidly via email. I've had real trouble with several other makers. Most are very difficult to get a hold of. As mentioned above, I had some initial trouble with the general setup. Jason took the banjo back with no questions asked and dialed it to perfection. He also added his new lathed wooden dowel stick to it free of charge. I'm extremely happy with his service.

All of his banos come with a lifetime warranty. Most one-person builders do not offer this kind of generous service. It just goes to show how dedicated Jason is to his product and how confident he is in his service. This feature alone should cause folks to pay serious attention to this new builder.

Customer Service: 10

Components

There are no weaknesses that I can see with the components of this banjo. The metal parts are all top shelf quality.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I've owned over 8 banjos in the last few years alone. This is easily among the top two I've owned (the other being an Ome Colubine, a $4000 banjo). I can't sing Jason's praises enough. He's got an innovative, beautiful, carefully thought out product backed by incredible service. Currently his prices are extremely low as he's trying to get his name out there. If you are in the market for a banjo, Jason deserves your attention. I predict that his waiting list will get longer and longer as time goes buy. I consider myself very lucky to own a Romero and heartily recommend them.

Overall Rating: 10

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