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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!

6991 reviews in the archive.

Gibson: Earl Scruggs Golden Deluxe

Submitted by tonybach on 4/14/2014

Where Purchased: Private Reserve Guitars

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 5999 ($US)

Sound

Did not sound that great when I purchased it new. After owning it for almost seven years I found out the tone ring was very loose. It had about an 1/8" of slop. I put a maple shim around the pot and it was a press fit now for the tone ring. That repair made the sound pop. Now, it sounds like it should. Bright, punchy beautiful sound.

Sound Rating: 5

Setup

Tone ring was loose. See above. Frets needed leveling.

Setup Rating: 3

Appearance

The neck is awesome. The tiger stripe maple is beautiful.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Seems pretty solid now after tone ring re-fit and fret leveling.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Neck is great. Tailpiece could be better. The bridge should be changed out immediately.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I love it now after repairing the loose tone-ring and leveling the frets.  I always thought my Stelling Sunflower sounded better, but, after the repairs it is right up there with the Stelling.

Overall Rating: 8

Stelling: Sunflower

Submitted by tonybach on 1/8/2013

Where Purchased: jdmc

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 3750 ($US)

Sound

Full sound. Very good bluegrass tone. Put the Emg acb in it. Sounds great amplified.

Sound Rating: not rated

Setup

The neck is the best flat neck I ever had. 3/64ths action and no buzzes. Sleek and fast.

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

Inlays are perfect and appealing.

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

Great hardware. Tailpiece is awesome. Tony Pass rim. Nice.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Jdmc made sure I had it next day.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

A straight string run to the pegs would be better. The compensated nut is great. Why is not every maker doing that.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

Could not be happier. The neck, tailpiece and nut along with the Tony pass rim make this a superb piece.

Overall Rating: 10

Deering: crossfire

Submitted by tonybach on 11/11/2012

Where Purchased: JDMC

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 2000 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Just got my used mint X-Fire. Beautiful shape. I removed the foam and felt that pushed the pickups against the head. I installed screws and springs just like on an electric guitar pickup and now the pickups are off the head and adjustable. This opened up the unplugged acoustic sound greatly. It is a lot louder unplugged now. It also gives the shim under the head a chance to vibrate and interact with the pickup in the bridge position. I believe it sounds better now too. I am going to experiment with a shim under the neck pickup next. I did that with a magnetic pickup on my Gibson and it increases the output and gives it a more banjo(y) type sound. You have to have a good acoustic amp and a descent EQ to get the best banjo sound. I am using a Crate Telluride. I don't want it to sound like an electric guitar like I hear on most videos. I want the X-Fire to sound like a banjo.

Sound Rating: not rated

Setup

Action was a little high for me. Shimmed the neck to my liking. 3/64ths at the 12th fret. The pickups were packed in with foam and felt and smashed right up against the head. They should mount them like regular adjustable guitar pickups...which is what I did (explained above).

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

Mint used. No complaints. Better than expected.

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

Seems pretty solid now after my pickup mods.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Called them to see where in the country I could purchase one and they helped me out.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Pickup mounting is weak. Components are great. Someone wanted to know how I mounted the pickups. I got long electric guitar pickup screws that fit the EMGs and the springs. I drilled two holes the size of the screw shanks in each wood block that covers the pickups. Drill completely through the wood block. The holes must match the pickup mounting ears. Then in the same spot I drilled two holes the size of the screw heads halfway through the wood block. Now insert the screws into the holes, put the springs on the backside and screw into the pickup. The pickups can now be raised and lowered off of the wood block.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

Overall, I am stoked to own this and having a blast playing and tinkering.

Overall Rating: 9

Nechville: Phantom

Submitted by tonybach on 9/23/2009

Where Purchased: Nechville

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 5015 ($US)

Sound

Sounds beautiful. Better than my Earl Scruggs Golden Deluxe.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Tom basically finished building it right in front of me. Great action and sound. Easy to adjust.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Inlays are striking. The burled walnut is amazing. You can check out my photos on my homepage. Absolutely beautiful.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Great fit and finish. 24K gold plating looks like it will last.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Perfect. Tom is the best. He will do whatever you need to make you happy.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Super. All the parts are top notch.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

The neck is the best . No 5th string tuner midway up the neck. It plays like an electric guitar. The radius is sweet. It is hard to go back and play other banjos. This banjo will step up your drive to learn and excel on the instrument. I really think this is the best banjo on the planet.

Overall Rating: 10

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