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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!

6936 reviews in the archive.

Vega: Little Wonder 5-String Conversion

Submitted by Banjolution on 11/25/2009

Where Purchased: Gary Schattl

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 700.00 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

I think vintage Little Wonder pots are very underrated.This banjo is quite loud,and crisp,and has great sustain. You can feel each note you play vibrating through the neck. I replaced the generic bridge with a Buckeye Banjos bridge. This made a massive improvement! Greg's bridge really balanced the treble,and bass,and improved the overall tone.She has a lovley tone. I think with a looser Renaisance head it will be even sweeter. Set up with Fiberskyn at present.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I filed the nut slots a little deeper to lower the action at the first several frets.This neck was made by BHO member Gary Schattl,and is a very pretty piece of work indeed.Some minor cosmetic issues with the neck,but it is well built,and should last for years to come.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

The 1923 pot is the natural maple finish. Garys neck is a 3 piece maple neck, with a walnut stringer.Walnut peghead veneer,and heel cap. Simple Vega style inlays.Overall it is very beautiful.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hardware is good,original shoes,replacement brackets/nuts.Original Grover tailpiece. I replaced the original friction pegs with Pre-War Planet brand pegs. Gary's hand rubbed Laquer finish seems A-OK to me.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Gary is a great guy,and is very easy to deal with. Very accomodating,and a fast shipper.Totally satisfied with this deal.

Customer Service: 10

Components

As I said,I replaced the bridge,and tuners,out of personal preference.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I love this banjo,actually its the first banjo I've owned out of 6 that I truly love! There is definatley something to be said for these old Vega pots. I was really surprised how strong the Little Wonder tone rings sound is. A different tone/sound than a White Laydie,or Tubby,but I think its just as wonderful. Surprising to me that these banjos arent as sought after as the 2 afformentioned banjos.

Overall Rating: 9

Bridges: Buckeye Banjos Solid Foot Bridge

Submitted by Banjolution on 8/18/2009

Where Purchased: Buckeye Banjos

Overall Comments

This bridge has worked wonders for me,and my Banjo! Not only did it balance the tone,enhancing the bottom end note's,it also cured some fret buzz problems i was having,and I have the best intonation up and down the board ever! Best $18.00 I ever spent! My banjo sounds awesome!!
Thanks so much Gregg!!

Overall Rating: 10

Gold Tone: White Ladye WL-250

Submitted by Banjolution on 3/27/2009

Where Purchased: New Hope Guitar Traders

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 625.00 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Very fine sound for my clawhammer style playing.It has a Fiberskyn head,and is brighter than I imagined. Im curious to play one with a Renaisance head(what they come with stock) to hear how that sounds. I love this banjos low end sound,really growls! The tone overall is very clear,and loud. The different notes are very distinct,not at all a "muddy" sounding banjo

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Welp... I actually had to loosen ALL the brackets,and tighten the shoes which where pulling away from the rim. Not a good thing.I know that the person I got this instrument from changed the head,so maybe they loosened up some then? So I dont want to point the finger directly at Gold Tone ;-) Besides this all was well.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

This is a very beautiful banjo.The flamed Maple peghead veneer is real purty. It does have some flaws due to poor craftsmanship.Slight flaw in a small part of finish on bottom edge of rim. Minor tool chatter marks in neck scoop(ebony,and binding). Chatter marks on "scooped" out part of tension hoop. All pretty minor to me,and I guess to be expected in an Asian factory banjo. Still a shame when you dish out what these cost new! So from a distance its a 9,right up on it,a 6 or 7. So 8 I guess...

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

The shoes that hold the bracket hooks actually look worse than the ones on my Epiphone MB-100 starter banjo! The chrome is bubbly,and looks like they will end up peeling and lookin pretty bad in the future. Overall the finish on the rim,and neck is good,besides the small flaw I mentioned earlier on bottom of the rim. I would say that structurally this banjo is well fitted,and solid.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Limited Lifetime warranty. Have not dealt with GT before.

Customer Service: 10

Components

For cosmetic reasons you may want to upgrade the shoes. Ive heard alot of negative reviews of the planetary tuners on some GT banjos. I also heard at some point they remedied the problems/started using different tuners. I have had no problems with mine,and have been cranking them all over the place for the last several days here. They are smooth,and hold well/no slipping.All other components are fine. Interesting bridge on mine. Is it stock? Looks like Sosbee shape but without the logo? Its really thick,and has a kind of countersink on the face of the third string slot,making the distance of that string from nut to bridge slightley longer than the other strings(intonation correction?). I really like the look and feel of the Fiberskyn3 head.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Seeing as I got a great deal and got the banjo,a HSC,and an extra Ren head for $625.00 I cant complain.If I had to pay $800.00 or so for it new I may just get a US handcrafted banjo without a tone ring instead.
For me personally and where Im at financially,and level of playing experience(15 mos.) this is an awesome banjo,I love it!! If someone stole it...well I would have to let it go I suppose,and maybe put my nose to the grindstone to get the Rickard Tubaphone of my dreams!! ;-)

Overall Rating: 9

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