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!
6950 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Golden Ring Music
Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 500.00 ($US)
This banjo sounds like many high end open-backs that I have played. I was shocked to find out that many of the Lee, Orpheum, Reiter, and a Rickard Tubaphone banjo had similar tones to my Hohner. Until last weekend, and a trip to Zepp's, I had not played a banjo that sounded as nice as this one.
Sound Rating: 10
Setup was good. It is very playable.
Setup Rating: 10
The wood is very nice but plain. No laminations or marquetry. The finish is also very nice. There is a nice binding along the fret board. The fret board is made of rosewood, and is nicely done, but the "pearloid" inlays are a little cheesy. There are side marker dots. The frets are dressed VERY nicely. The hardware is plated well, but the hooks could be a bit shorter, as the threads sometimes catch on my clothing. The tailpiece is nice and heavy also. There is a nice abalone inlay in the headstock. The inlays in the fretboard are really the only drawback to the appearance, and that is only noticeable very close up. I would imagine someone could take the jo into a luthier and get real mother of pearl put in if it bothered that much.
Appearance Rating: 8
This banjo is nice and heavy feeling. The neck feels beefy in my hands compared to some others I have held. One of the tuning keys has cracked the other month and that was dis-heartening, but I still have not had to replace it. Yes, I don't think this banjo has any reliability problems.
Reliability Rating: 10
Fritz and Mary at Golden Ring Music in Manitowoc, WI are terrific people. I have been very satisfied with their service.
Customer Service: 10
The finish on the wood looks great. The frets are dressed very nicely. Interestingly, I cannot find any published info on this, but the banjo has a rolled brass tone ring and therefore is not easily drowned out when playing with others. It also has a very nice warm tone without sounding muffled. I only give it a 9 because the inlays look a little plastic.
Components Rating: 9
I felt like a fool seeing that one guy only paid $249 for this banjo, but after owning it for a while now, and getting to play some others, I can't believe that I stumbled onto such a great banjo. This instrument is affordable, playable, and sounds great, and for the most part, looks great. I would compare the sound of this banjo to some of the better open backs with prices up to $3000.00.
Overall Rating: 10
'tuning' 14 min
'Long Neck Banjo' 17 min
'Dorado Banjos' 2 hrs
'Bach invention 13' 2 hrs
'Bottle Gourds' 2 hrs
'crown difference' 3 hrs