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!
6979 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Musician's Friend
Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 129 ($US)
Decent sound. Sounds better than another openback that I paid much more for.
Sound Rating: 7
I had to set it up. The bridge was in a plastic bag. The strings were already on the banjo and tightened slightly for shipping.
Setup Rating: 3
The wood was surprisingly nice. The 2-tone, dark stain was evenly applied to the neck but isn't particularly attractive.
The inlays look to be a synthetic and are a copy of a Gibson Hearts and Flowers. They are applied well, with little filler.
Appearance Rating: 6
The hardware is adequate. The tuners stick out to the sides and are enclosed. They seem to work well. I can't yet report on dependability and durability.
Reliability Rating: 5
Customer Service: not rated
The tailpiece is good for the price. The supplied bridge was well built. It was easy to tune up.
Components Rating: 5
The list price on the Rustler is $399 at this time and several internet sites sell it for that price. There are some sites that offer it just under $300. For $129, it is nothing short of amazing.
The fit and finish is quite good.
This banjo is destined to be kept in my office at work so I can practice at lunch. To do so, I stuff a towel in the pot, so the sound really doesn't matter to me. However, the sound is just fine.
The neck is thicker than a typical Gibson neck, but I really like the feel of it.
My other openback was destined for my office and I planned to take it when I travel internationally for long periods of time. The Rustler is so substantially built that it is heavier than my current openback so I might keep the earlier one for travel. The plan is to remove the neck from the pot and put it all in my travel luggage. With the weight limitations as they are, the 4 pound weight of my other banjo serves me better than the Rustler that is well over a pound more.
Overall Rating: 6
Where Purchased: Earl5 Ron Coleman
All I had to do was send a photo of my resonator and Ron matched the stain color for a magnificent piece of bird's eye maple. This little piece of wood is now on my banjo and it is beautiful. And, I don't have to put a sock on my forearm to keep from tarnishing the nickel on the armrest.
Ron Coleman was great to deal with. I will be coming back again to get another armrest for a different banjo.
Good stuff! Thanks, Ron!
Overall Rating: 10
'Lace Collar' 30 min
'Jaws2 Fret Press' 2 hrs
'KAY MUSIC NOTE GUITAR' 2 hrs
'Eastman Whyte Laydie' 5 hrs