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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!

6661 reviews in the archive.

Chris Coole

Submitted by manomusic on 8/7/2014

Overall Comments

I contacted Chris after seeing his take on Wild Bill Jones on youtube. He has a great driving style to his playing and some fantastic back up licks that work well accompanying singing. In the one lesson I learnt the song and received a tab of the lesson content. Very satisfied and will be going back for more. Highly recommended.

 

Overall Rating: 10

Adam Hurt

Submitted by manomusic on 3/7/2014

Overall Comments

Adam is an accomplished player who is able to convey that ability extremely well in his teaching. So far this has comprised of the clawhammer styles of Tommy Jarrel and Kyle Creed. Adam makes recordings of the lesson content and then sends this in an email mp3 which is very easy to follow. If you are interested in learning clawhammer or improving your playing I can highly recommend Adam as a fine teacher who has obviously grown up around musicians who know the old time music and live it in their daily lives.

Overall Rating: 10

Hardware: aged brass

Submitted by manomusic on 2/8/2014

Where Purchased: Bill Rickard

Overall Comments

I purchased all the brass hardware including dobson tone ring and gotoh tuners from Bill for my first build and on his suggestion had it all aged. Bill also made a template to work with the fretting jig I purchased from Stewmac. Everything is top notch quality and looks incredible. 

Overall Rating: 10

Rims: Bill Rickard

Submitted by manomusic on 2/8/2014

Where Purchased: Bill Rickard

Overall Comments

Bill sent me a walnut rim for my open back and pre fitted it to the Dobson ring I purchased from Him. Superb quality and sound.

Overall Rating: 10

Appaloosas: Appaloosas

Submitted by manomusic on 1/28/2013

Where Purchased: Bandcamp digital download

Overall Comments

Great Clawhammer banjo by BHO member Peter Acty, aka Unstrung Hero. A fabulous collection of classic old time songs by this wonderful British Group. Easy to download from bandcamp.

Overall Rating: 10

John Boulding

Submitted by manomusic on 11/17/2011

Overall Comments

I've been playing the banjo for 5 years to date. I've tried books, dvd's, cd's, downloads, you name it I've given it a go and persisted because I love the sound of the banjo. I was at a stage where I could play a few tunes at our fortnightly jam and some very basic rolling back-up to other tunes. Realizing I was in need of help I contacted John. Suddenly, after just 2 lessons a whole new world of banjo has been opened up to me. I,m away from the tab and flying, as John puts it, adding color to my playing and learning to be a real musician. John is very patient, has a brilliant way of explaining things to musical neanderthals such as myself and makes every second of the lesson count. What really impressed me are John's explanations of where and how to use licks in a tune. Highly recommended.

Overall Rating: 10

Gibson: Retro 4

Submitted by manomusic on 12/15/2010

Where Purchased: purchased second hand

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This banjo was a huge improvement on my Goldtone but is five times the price so should be. It is loud but not too bright. I'm using it for scruggs style and melodic. It is hard for me to rate as I have not played many high end instruments but compared to the Goldstars and Deerings I have had the opportunity to try it does have a superior sound all the way up the neck. After adjusting the tone ring to rim fit and adding a different bridge I'm giving this banjo a 10

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

When I first received this banjo I must admit it did not jump out at me but now I have set it up for the sound I was after I am very happy. I bought second hand and had to adjust the coordinator rods. I have added a scorpion bridge as recommended by another retro 4 owner, wow what a difference! I have given an average rating as I believe it could have been set-up far better from the outset which I believe is a common problem with Gibsons.
OK It's 01/07/2011 I took the banjo apart this week and tried to take the tone ring off. It was on solid. I heated it up with a hairdryer as per Steve Huber and gently pried it off and scraped the rim back with a razor for a better fit. NOW it rings like a bell.

Setup Rating: 5

Appearance

Love it, beautiful timber, the blue chrome finish is superb. Screams quality.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

So far seems very reliable and sturdy. Faultless finish.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Have not had to deal with Gibson so far

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I would give it a 10 but for the bridge. For the price paid new for Gibsons they really should look at quality bridges like the scorpions.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This banjo is my baby and will satisfy my needs for a long time to come. I will probably continue to tweak her here and there but everything I play on her sounds great to my ear!

Overall Rating: 10

Bart Reiter: Whyte Laydie

Submitted by manomusic on 12/15/2010

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 1200 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Used mainly for clawhammer but the white lady tone ring is also great for bluegrass. Everything I play in the way of frailing sounds the way it should. This banjo can be bright or full sounding depending on set-up and the way you attack. Overall a very versatile instrument. I have used it with a schatten pick-up which worked really well.
Now jamming with this banjo and it really holds its own with the mandolin.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Was set-up superbly. The only thing I have changed are strings and moon bridge but to be honest not overly impressed with moon bridge! May well change back to original bridge.
OK the moon bridge has grown on me now it's settled in.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

No finish flaws. Took apart and polished with artisan metal polish on all the chrome and came up like new. Love the griffin inlay and overall finish superb. Reiter is obviously a real craftsman.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Should outlast me and will have the opportunity as I will never sell this banjo! Stays in tune and is solid as.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Never dealt with the maker but heard only good things.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Tuners superb. Everything about this instrument is fantastic for the money paid.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Yes, as you can probably tell I love this banjo and really really enjoy playing her.

Overall Rating: 10

Gold Tone: EBM

Submitted by manomusic on 12/15/2010

Where Purchased: ebay store

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

sounds good enough but really would only play through my amp as it does sound a bit tinny unplugged. No distortion through the amp and after playing around with it is quite versatile. I bought this as an aside to my main players for when I get serious and form a band hopefully next year and play with other electric instruments.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Set up well. Will change to GHS strings when necessary and will add a scorpion bridge.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

There are a couple of finish flaws on the paintjob and the gold is already tarnishing but for the money paid I am happy with the quality overall. Design wise it does have a striking appearance hence for the money paid it's a 9

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Tuners will probably not last forever but I will upgrade them when the time comes. So far no issues.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

I have dealt with Goldtone before when I owned a BGF-250.
They were superb to deal with , prompt and polite and sorted my issue immediately to my satisfaction. Would give 12 if possible. Hey I just did!
26/01/12 The nut fell off the jack back in October last year and my son was using this instrument in the school concert for Christmass in which he had a solo part. I could not find a nut locally so contacted Wayne Rogers at Gold Tone explaining the situation and offering to pay for a replacement. Concert is long gone, my son played my Reiter with a pickup which was too quiet and still no answer to my email.

12

Customer Service: 1

Components

Charge a little more Goldtone and upgrade the tuners. Other than that happy.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

This is a nice banjo and If it were my first I would probably be giving it a 10 but I do own a couple of more upmarket instruments hence am spoilt. For the price Goldtone have provided a lot of bang for buck. My son is joining his schooll band next year and I have no issue him playing impressively with this banjo and will get a fair bit of attention as it is a real head turner. It is an electric banjo and as such is a lot of fun to play. For price paid is a 9.

Overall Rating: 9

Bridges: Scorpion 5/8"

Submitted by manomusic on 12/15/2010

Where Purchased: Elderly instruments

Overall Comments

I was a bit skeptical as to wether another bridge would actually make much difference but what a difference it did make!
Brilliant.

Overall Rating: 10

Gold Tone: BG250F-LE

Submitted by manomusic on 2/25/2009

Where Purchased: Folk Of The Wood

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 900 ($US)

Sound

Great beginner/intermediate instrument for Bluegrass. Nice and bright for Scruggs style. I've since played a few banjos in this price range and rated this one accordingly. Played using a pick-up and sounded sweet through my acoustic amp.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Folk of the wood set this instrument up well. Only played around with strings and bridges. Grover bridge with inserts really brightened it up and prefered GHS Light strings.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Overall appearance was A1. Great tiger stripe maple on neck. Tree of Life inlay up the neck flawless. Only slight flaw was finish on arm rest where chrome was a little thin.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Hardware overall very good for money paid. Stayed in tune very well. Only fault was a couple of the tuner buttons cracked with use.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Sent email regarding tuner buttons. A complete set were posted off to me at no charge to myself. Thankyou Goldtone.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Apart from the buttons I was happy with all components. Tailpiece was easily adjusted .

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

For the price I paid as a beginner I would buy this banjo again.and would have been devastated had it been stolen. Compared to my Gibson which was over 4 x the price I'd play the Gibson every time and for clawhammer I'd definitely choose my Reiter but I,ve had an enormous ammount of fun with the Goldtone over the last 2 years and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking in this price range.

Overall Rating: 9

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