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!
7121 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Fingerstyle Banjos
Calton Deluxe cases are a fibreglass shell with a padded soft lining. They are designed to fit the specific instrument and for that reason give good support all around without instrument movement during transport. An equipment pocket is built in under the neck section of the case and, although a little small, has enough space for tuner, picks and capo. The neck supports are well spaced with the addition of padding under the centre section of the neck. They provide good support for the neck and are designed to prevent lateral movement as well as movement up and down. From close inspection of the indentations in the interior lining you can see that the whole neck is supported and unable to move without being squashed or pressured at certain points. The pot is also unable to move with 360 degree lateral support. The design is very clever here as the lining indentation clearly shows that support is placed evenly on the resonator and heel stock by the body of the case with lid support around the stretcher band and on the tail piece, just touching the strings, but no pressure at all on the bridge. The fit of my banjo gives me the impression that I could, with lid open, turn the case up-side-down and the banjo would not fall out! Probably not, but the fit is that good.
Hinges and latches are top quality steel and strongly riveted to the case body with plates on the interior to prevent the rivets from pulling when under tension. The case has a number of little bumper feet both on the base and the side providing impact protection in those areas where the case will contact the ground. These feet are screwed on and could be replaced if they wear out, which I doubt as they seem to be made of a very hard plastic material. The joint of lid to case body has a rubber seal making it water resistant. The handle is leather and, like all of the fittings, strong and riveted to the case body. “D” rings are provided for shoulder strap attachment. The case lid is an arch top design further adding to it's strength and impact resistance.
The case with my Huber Lancaster inside weighs approximately 10kg. That’s heavy if you plan on carrying it around a festival site, but then these are flight cases and designed for strength and impact resistance. If you are after the best protection for your instrument while travelling I would highly recommend a Calton case.
I've now been using this Calton case for a few years, it's spent many, many hours in planes and vehicles of all kinds and has the scars to prove it, but has never once looked like failing. One caution - lock all the latches before giving the case to airport baggage handlers, as the latches tend to catch on things and are inclined to come undone if not key locked. And then of course zip tie a spare key to the case to assist customs in not destroying the locks on inspection!!
Overall Rating: 9
This banjo has what I would describe as a full and rich bluegrass sound. It has a powerful bottom end with a bright bell like quality up the neck and a real consistency of sound from the lowest to the highest notes. I believe that the Huber philosophy is one of attempting to recreate that pre-war sound and I have to say the end product is, to my ear anyway, quite authentic.
Sound Rating: 10
This banjo came to me second-hand and had some minor alteration from the original set up. The bridge had been replaced with a Kats Eye and it has GHS strings on it, although they are the same gauges as the original Huber strings 10, 11, 12.5, 20, 10. Other than that nothing has been altered from the factory spec. I’m really impressed with the action, low enough to be very playable, but no buzzing if you dig in a bit. Between first and fifth frets the neck is slightly narrower than my last banjo. This took some getting used to but I think it has increased my speed and I really like it. One annoyance was the finish on the back of the neck. Beautiful to look at and sticky as glue! I guess a speed neck is the answer, but the problem was solved by dulling the finish with 1200 glass paper.
Setup Rating: 9
The banjo has a mahogany neck and resonator, beautifully finished and stained to a warm red/brown. Inlay is very similar to a traditional early Gibson pattern (Bows and leaves I think, but don’t quote me) with a nicely finished rosewood fingerboard. Metal work is nickel and beautifully deep plated. I can’t fault the Huber guys, their construction and workmanship is flawless.
Appearance Rating: 10
Although purchased second hand, this banjo was manufactured in 2008 and so its reliability is yet to be seen. That said, the workmanship is great and it’s obvious that quality materials have been used. Two exceptions; The fifth string peg has about half a turn of slop in it, which I’ve tracked down to the gearing and appears to be as a result of the button screw being cross threaded during assembly. While replacing the strings the nut fell out, handy if you want to replace it, but easily fixed.
Reliability Rating: 8
I have not dealt with Huber directly, so I can’t comment, but those I know who have speak very highly of them.
Customer Service: 8
Timbers are beautiful, some mahogany banjos are very plain, but not so with this one. The tuning pegs appear to be two band Waverlys. The first to fourth string perform well, with the very nice addition of leather friction washers making them very smooth and accurate to use. The fifth string peg, as already mentioned, will need to be replaced. All of the parts on this banjo appear to have been chosen for authenticity, this approach has certainly helped to create the fantastic sound this instrument has.
Components Rating: 8
This instrument had hardly been played when I purchased it and in the short time I’ve had it the sound has opened up beautifully. It has amazing dynamics offering endless variation of shade a colour. I have had numerous comments about how great the banjo sounds, I’d like to say it’s my picking, but I have to give the full credit to the Huber team. I would definitely recommend this instrument to anyone chasing an authentic bluegrass sound.
Some follow up... It's now November 2011 and this Lancaster has opened up into a really great banjo. The tone is mature, very even all they way up the neck with that typical mahogany sound. After four years of daily playing everything still functions as it did when new and overall I'd recommend Huber to anyone.
Overall Rating: 10
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