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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!

7136 reviews in the archive.

Ramsey: Maple Special

Submitted by Theresse on 11/4/2012

Where Purchased: From Mike Ramsey

Year Purchased: June 2011
Price Paid: 1,200 ($US) (bought USED)


I fell in love with this banjo when I met someone who had one and got to see and hear her play it. I looked high and low for another brand that sounded similar but had no luck. So happy to finally have one! Words to describe the sound are - relatively speaking: deep; full; rich; tubby and plunky. Gorgeous sound! My style is old time clawhammer. The scoop offers a whole other dimension of sound (wonderfully rich and clucky). I loosened the head a tad for even more depth.

Sound Rating: 10


It was set up nicely. Mike had done that just before sending it to me. I've always had the goal of making whatever banjo I have be as non-bright (dark?!) as possible so I *might* have inquired about which strings aid in that sound and might have had the strings replaced. The problem is I don't remember if I did. The sound was fantastic when it arrived so I just don't remember.

Setup Rating: 10


Another hobby of mine happens to be amateur astronomy so I LOVED that my favorite planet (to look at through a telescope) is on the peg head, in mother of pearl! I also love the maple seed propeller inlay decoration as well as the mini fir trees for the dots. Back of the neck and inside of the pot have gorgeous tiger stripe maple. The smooth ebony fingerboard is really nice - has a very matte look and feel which I like. The overall look of the banjo is elegant yet simple - very appropriate for an old-fashioned looking openback banjo as opposed to a crazy-ornate blugrass banjo. It also has a thin edge of a darker brown wood at the bottom of the neck and around the rim which gives a nice bit of contrast. - very subtle Nice fiddle-shaped (?) headstock, planetary tuners and nickel hardware.

Appearance Rating: 10


Oh lordy yes. I've accidentally hit it against something on a couple of occasions (nothing too hard mind you!) and I looked very close for any signs I hurt it and there's absolutely no evidence of anything. It stays in tune - even after longer periods of time when I haven't been able to play it, and no strings have broken yet, even with all my changing of tunings/keys.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I've read that Mike Ramsey's hard to get in touch with but for some lucky reason he actually returned my out-of-the-blue email with a phone call, maybe a couple of weeks after I sent it (ok so that's not exactly fast service - but I didn't really expect to hear back from him after what I'd read - haha - and I wasn't even ordering a banjo at that point). We had a great talk (incredibly kind fellow - and interesting too - and he was more generous than I'm letting on) and while my banjo didn't arrive immediately, the wait wasn't very long. Came in a very sturdy hard case that was also in excellent condition. So while there was perhaps a slight lag compared to a company that's not just a one-man show as he is, his kindness, helpfulness and personality more than made up for any of that. Hence my giving him a score of 10 for customer service.

Customer Service: 10


I wrote most of it above. Everything feels tight and sturdy and very well made and smooth. No upgrading needed other than having a couple of spikes added. I'm guessing Mike would do that for you if you were to ask him to, since he sets it up for you prior to shipping.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

If you can't tell, I love this banjo. Everyone who's heard it or played it has commented on its remarkable sound and action. Those who've been most impressed have been professional banjo players. It's a simple, unassuming, fantastic instrument. It has made me play a lot more than I played on my last banjo because it's such a joy to play.

Overall Rating: 10

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