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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!

6918 reviews in the archive.

Deering: John Hartford #1

Submitted by snapjackson on 7/17/2016

Where Purchased: Deering Banjo Co.

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I am absolutely amazed that Deering has found a way to pack so much volume and tone into this light weight banjo! The note separation is incredible, the volume is neck and neck with my Deering Calico, and the satin finish feels great to the touch. Many sound engineers have commented on how beautifully the banjo comes across on a microphone and after listening to our live recordings, I couldn't agree more. The tone variation between the x and y positions (close to the bridge/away from the bridge) on this model is remarkable! I can dig in and play straight ahead powerful bluegrass, or by moving my right hand closer to the neck, I can evoke a beautiful fat warm tone, all without sacrificing any volume.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Zero complaints.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Now, this review would not be complete without mentioning how absolutely gorgeous this instrument is! Perfect fit and finish, wonderfully understated inlays, silky satin finish, and a handsome dark chocolate wood stain. Easily one of the prettiest banjos I have ever seen.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I look forward to seeing how this banjo will evolve over time and I'm excited to create many great memories with it in the years to come!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Top notch!

Customer Service: 10

Components

Solid construction all the way around.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

See above :)

Overall Rating: 10

Deering: Calico

Submitted by snapjackson on 7/23/2012

Where Purchased: Deering Endorsement

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: ($US)

Sound

My Calico has such a beautiful tone up and down the neck. This banjo definitely has some punch to it if that's what you're looking for. When playing straight ahead bluegrass it cuts like a knife and the note separation is tremendous, but what I really love about this banjo is as I move my right hand closer to the neck I can evoke such a lovely, warm, and milky sound that I just can't get enough of. It is by far the most versatile banjo that I have ever owned.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Deering set up the banjo. The action was perfect. I changed the angle of the tailpiece and raised it up a bit, switched out the Deering bridge for a Nechville Enterprise Bridge (sounds great!), and put on a heavier set of custom AMB strings (11 23 13 12 11).

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

BEAUTIFUL. I have the tobacco stained model. It is georgous.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I have had it for coming up on 3 years (2011-2014) and it seems solid.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The folks at Deering have been a pleasure to work with.

Customer Service: 10

Components

No complaints.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This banjo is my road dog and I love it very much. The tone is punchy, precise, and pretty all at once. I play both clawhammer and 3 finger style and like I said above, it is the most versatile banjo I have ever had the pleasure of owning. I am very proud to endorse Deering Banjos.

Next on my list...the John Hartford (wooden tone ring) banjo!

Overall Rating: 9

Bridges: Scorpion 5/8"

Submitted by snapjackson on 8/14/2011

Where Purchased: Silvio Ferretti

Overall Comments

I was very fortunate to have Silvio send me a bridge in the mail. He made no promises or sales pitches, just a simple "try it out and see what you think". Wow...what a fantastic bridge! Bite, bark, volume, note seperation...it has it all! It sounds fantastic on my Deering Calico and it helped bring my Goldstar GF85 to life! A great product from a great guy. I highly recommended it!

Overall Rating: 10

Gold Tone: Bob Carlin BC-350

Submitted by snapjackson on 7/4/2010

Where Purchased: Artichoke Music (Portland Or.)

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: $750 ($US)

Sound

I LOVE this banjo! It has a beautiful clucky tone and surprisingly great volume for an openback. I play it mostly in the clawhammer style, but on many occasions I have played it Scruggs style, and in both styles there is great volume and note separation.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

I use a Gary Sosebee bridge and Dean Markley medium gauge strings. I have a spike installed at the 7th fret.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

It is a gorgeous banjo. Simple and pretty. Nice color with a dark deep brown ebony fret board. I really like the scoop.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Zero problems and zero complaints.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Very helpful.

Customer Service: 9

Components

No complaints here.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Great sound. Great look. Great price. I don't see me ever getting rid of this one.

Overall Rating: 8

Gold Star: GF-85

Submitted by snapjackson on 2/13/2009

Where Purchased: Janet Davis Music

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: $950 + tax historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

A rich full sound up and down the neck. It has a nice warm mahogany tone on the low end and rings like a bell up the neck. I play in a four piece americana/bluegrass band and the volume is where it needs to be. I have been lucky enough to play on some higher end banjos and this one definately holds it's own.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Tom at Janet Davis Music took care of me. I had the action lowered and I bought a 5/8 Scorpion bridge which I REALLY like (see review). I recently took my banjo to Larry Cohea. He is a fantastic luthier and a saught after set up guy in the Bay Area. He suggested tightening my head slightly and trying a lighter string set (9.5 10 13 20 9.5). It seems to cut through a little better now.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Simple and clean...It's purdy :) Looks like a Gibson RB250.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

I have had zero problems thus far. Knock on wood!

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I highly recomend dealing with the nice folks at Janet Davis Music. Reliable, kind and helpful. Ask for Tom.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The only thing I would like to change are the tuners. They are not as responsive as I'd like but they are still pretty decent.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

A great solid banjo at a more than fair price.

Overall Rating: 8

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