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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!

6773 reviews in the archive.

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by PaulKirby on 11/18/2010

Where Purchased: www.mikesbanjomute.com

Overall Comments

Fantastic. Cuts the sound by a prodigious amount. Mike was great to deal with. I recommend this to any picker. I demonstrated it for my wife and she said 'wow, all these years you've been playing the banjo and you just discover this now?'

Overall Rating: 10

Recording King: #037

Submitted by PaulKirby on 8/4/2009

Where Purchased: BHO Classifieds

Year Purchased: 09
Price Paid: 1200 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Great sound. It's been set up by Charlie Cushman and has a Kateyz bridge. It's a typical maple: bright and ringing, great mid-range, nice growly 4th string. I did some studio work with this banjo right after I got it, and was really surprised at the variety of sound I could find. This banjo really talks as well as sings. I was at Charlie Cushman's house playing a couple of his pre-war flatheads and he left the room to answer the door. When he was gone I picked up my Scout and kept playing. When he got back in the room he said 'Hell, I thought you were playing one of mine!'

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Charlie Cushman picked number 26 as one of two to be shown at IBMA 08. It was already a good banjo, but with Charlie's set up it is really excellent. Easy playing, sounds true everywhere on the neck.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Beautiful banjo, figured maple neck and resonator with a reddish sunburst. The fit and finish are excellent. I swapped out the truss rod cover because that was the only part of the banjo I wasn't wild about. The RK banjos have a polyurethene finish, which is very durable and looks great, but is not necessarily to everyone's taste.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Good hardware. I put on Keith tuners when I got it, and the holes were not quite big enough, but that was easy enough to fix. This banjo plays in tune well, and gives me no worries.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I haven't dealt with the company, other than to deal with RKs set up man for this model, Charlie Cushman, and he has been excellent.

Customer Service: 9

Components

It's really all good. I didn't like the truss rod cover, but that's a question of taste.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I love this banjo. It sounds great: good projection, interesting sound at every volume level, it's a joy to play, feels great, looks great. I have played a Gibson RB-250 for over a year now, and this banjo just has it beat. I don't use 10s in a review, so 9 is my highest rating, and this banjo gets my highest rating.

THIS SHOULD SAY OSBORNE SCOUT NUMBER 26!

Overall Rating: 9

Gibson: RB-250

Submitted by PaulKirby on 1/17/2009

Where Purchased: BHO classifieds

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1700? ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Great mahagony sound, very versatile. I have it set up pretty heavy now with medium strings, and it's a very clear bell-like sound. Loud banjo.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

I bought it used from Frailin on the BHO, and the set-up was fine. I've changed it some, and the set up keeps evolving as I get to know the banjo better, but the set up it came with was very good.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

I love the 250 inlay, and while not very flashy, it fits my taste perfectly. There was very light normal wear.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I've had the banjo for about 9 months now, and I've played it pretty hard, and it's a real workhorse. No worries.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

n/a

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Components are good. No complaints.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

When I bought this banjo, I didn't really understand the difference between the different kinds of woods that banjos are made with, and I went through a short period of having wished I'd bought a maple banjo instead, but now I'm totally sold on mahagony. I really love this banjo: the sound is suitably throaty, it's versatile, loud; the look suits me, I love the fingerboard inlay. I haven't played many other higher end banjos, but I always feel happy to pick mine up again.

Overall Rating: 9

Prust: tackhead with round head

Submitted by PaulKirby on 1/17/2009

Where Purchased: BHO classifieds

Year Purchased: 07
Price Paid: 225 ($US)

Sound

Great! Beautiful deep sound.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Eric sent it set up with nylgut minstrel strings, and sent along 3 different bridges to manage humidity swings. It's a great playing banjo.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Beautiful maple neck, great finish. Eric makes a bracket model, too, but he actually recommended the tackhead. It's beautiful.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I'm still breaking it in, but it's really well built. No worries.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Eric and Donna are great people to deal with: efficient and friendly. I had a great experience dealing with them. I love this banjo, so that part of it is easy, but dealing with Eric and Donna as people just made me happy.

Customer Service: 9

Components

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I play mostly bluegrass banjo, but I wanted a fretless, and because the price was so easy, I treated myself to a banjo that I play just for me. This banjo is really super. Great sound, great feel. I love it. I don't know minstrel banjos very well, and I'm sure there are more expensive banjos that may have this one beat, although not when taking the price into consideration. I don't use 10s, so under qualification this banjo gets my highest rating.

Overall Rating: 9

Recorders: Zoom H2

Submitted by PaulKirby on 1/11/2008

Where Purchased: Oslo

Overall Comments

I don't know very much about recording equipment, but the H-2 was the least expensive model, and it works really great for what I use it for, which is to record band rehearsals and voice lessons. Easy to use, good sound, manageable variety of options, and easy transfer to computer.

Overall Rating: 8

Tuners: Cheat-a-keys

Submitted by PaulKirby on 12/27/2007

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

Overall Comments

Love the Cheat-a-keys! It went on in 5 minutes, was super easy to tune, and it works like it's supposed to. Love it.

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Kateyz

Submitted by PaulKirby on 9/20/2007

Where Purchased: Direct from Mike Smith in Dawson, Illinois

Overall Comments

Fantastic roundness of sound combined with great 'crack'. Mike's customer service is outstanding. He is someone who has a great ear and is willing to take the time to bring out the optimal clarity and balance in any banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Dean: Backwoods 5

Submitted by PaulKirby on 9/12/2007

Where Purchased: Music 123

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 400 ($US)

Sound

Bright loud sound. Good for bluegrass. It's of course a little sweeter near the neck. Doesn't have the depth of character that a more expensive banjo has, but overall a bright, well-balanced sound.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

I had to set the bridge on it and tune it, but that was it. The action was pretty comfortable. The banjo was ready to go in 5 minutes. It was a good basic set up for this level banjo. Some whine in the 5th string. I've adjusted the nut height, and it's fine. A well-known component maker with lots of experience was impressed that the tension rods were pretty much as they should be. The head needed a little tensioning, but not much. It sounded great practically right out of the box.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Attractive looking banjo: nice traditional-looking fingerboard inlay. Excellent finish: virtually no flaws.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

The tuners were a little loose, but I tightened them slightly and now they are fine. It seems like a dependable instrument.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

No experience yet. I ordered the banjo online and it got here in a few days.

Customer Service: 7

Components

I've put on a Kateyz Prowler bridge, and will probably put on a bone nut. While tensioning the head, I noticed that some of the bracket nuts don't exactly fit the wrench. Tuners are nothing fancy but they are solid and work well.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

I would definitely recommend this banjo for it's quality/price. It's an excellent value. With the kateyz bridge this thing absolutely howls. I bought it without doing too much research, and I feel like I was super lucky. It's an excellent entry-level bluegrass banjo. Beautiful, heavy and loud. At the luthier's I got to play a pre-war Gibson Granada, and the Dean obviously doesn't have the soul of the Gibson, but it's pretty astounding considering its price.

Overall Rating: 8

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