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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!

7179 reviews in the archive.

Recording King: Madison RK-R30 Bluegrass Machine

Submitted by Dave 13 on 9/5/2016

Where Purchased: Musicians Freind

Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: 850 ($US)


Bright, Lotta Punch. Head tension os 91 on the drum dial, With a Tim Purcell Submerged Birch Bridge at 2.0 grams

Sound Rating: 10


Musicians Freind does not set up anything. They will Not open the box to inspect the instrument. Knowing that up front is a must. It arrived in good shape. I installed new strings, New Bridge, Adjusted the action, It was too high. Polished the frets, And tightened the head. Several J bolts were Loose. Coordinator Rods were loose, Tailpiece rattled. None of this was a problem for me. For a Totally New player it would be an issue.

Setup Rating: 3


Maybe I was lucky here. The finish has no flaws, The resonator fits well, The hardware is Good. The Matte finish is redish. Not the Prettiest girl at the dance, but looks OK. The Binding all looks uniform, No complaints

Appearance Rating: 9


Hardware is as good as you would expect, I'd like to replace the tailpiece at some point.
It should hold up well.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Havent dealt with RK directly. MF has a great return policy

Customer Service: 9


Planetary Tuners are smooth, All of the tube & flange hardware are plated well. Rim is well built. The Tone ring Is Awesome, and fits well

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This is actually my 2nd RK 30. The first one I returned to MF. It seemed to have Extra Narrow Nut & string spacing. The 2nd unit arrived same as the first, Serial ## was 1 more than the first one. The Nut width is a tad bit narrower than My RK 25 and RK 36. The string spacing at the first few frets is much more narrower.

I did experiment with a new nut and wider gaps but its a trade off with the strings being too close to the side of the neck. So basicly I've been working on my technique to handle the minor issue.

Another Big hit in my opinion is the Tone Ring. They advertise it as a 20 hole. Both of these have NO hole rings which I really like. I tried to ask RK about this arrangement with No answer given. 

I think its a Good Banjo, perhaps underrated. With the right bridge this thing growls. The tube & plate build is slightly different but its awesome. The Inlays are good, The matte reddish color is OK, 

You hear alot of Complaints about MF's lack of setup. You just got to be aware of this and be able to do your own setup or find some locally

Overall Rating: 9

JT's Pix Snark Adapter: JT's Pix Snark Adapter

Submitted by Dave 13 on 1/6/2016

Where Purchased: JDAM

Overall Comments

I was hopefull it would be perfect. This is on an RK30 BGM, The hook spacing is perfect, but with the snark snapped on to the ball it creates a very tight almost wedged fit in the space around the resonator & flange. It will not swivel much if any,

Overall not impressed. $5 wasted on a cheap molded plastic.  



Overall Rating: 2

Tailpieces: Fults 1934 Tailpiece

Submitted by Dave 13 on 3/22/2013

Where Purchased:

Overall Comments

I am still a beginner, but I really did not care for the factory tailpiece on my
RK-36. It buzzed,It moved easily, and was constantantly needing retuning. I did lots of reading and decided to spend the $$ and get something
good. The Fults series are the Real Deal. I installed the pc easily with a new set of light strings, The results are amazing. Can you say LOUD?
The tone is awesome, the Sustain is forever. And it is rock solid. Height adjustments are also easy to play with. Do your self a big favor and get a quality tailpiece from Fults.

Overall Rating: 10

Recorders: Tascam DR-05

Submitted by Dave 13 on 2/28/2013

Where Purchased: Guitar Center

Overall Comments

Was looking for a simple recorder, This Tascam is very cool.
It was priced at $99. I had a $20 off coupon. It is mostly plastic, ( what isnt)
The programming is easy to learn and navigate, Very quick to start & pause.
Mounted on a $10 tripod, set on a desk about 3 feet away, using the Default
settings and the recordings sound Awesome. This unit has Many advanced options you can setup if needed, But not necessary to start using right away. It takes 2 AA batteries, Comes with a 2gb micro mem card, USB cable and a manual. I did not want to spend alot of money, Was not trying
to build a home recording studio. This is the Perfect Recorder for anyone
who just wants to Record, Plain & Simple. A valuable tool for someone learning banjo. Very important to be able to record your practice sessions
and hear for yourself.

Overall Rating: 10

Drum Dials: Drum Dial

Submitted by Dave 13 on 12/7/2012

Where Purchased: online

Overall Comments

This dial indicator works very well for tuning a banjo head.
Easy to operate and easy to get proper tension
Must have for any serious Banjoist

Overall Rating: 10

Straps: Lakota Banjo strap

Submitted by Dave 13 on 12/1/2012

Where Purchased:

Overall Comments

Ordered this On Thursday and it arrived in the mail on Saturday,
Very nice strap, Soft, easy to install. This is on a Heavy RK36,
and it holds it in place very well, No slipping. This is the cradle style
paid $50 free shipping. Very happy with it.

Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by Dave 13 on 11/24/2012

Where Purchased:

Overall Comments

This Mute is just what I hoped for, Bought it just for my New RK-36
It is Very effective. There are other mutes on the Market that are cheaper,
But dont work as well. Mikes is Great. Do yourself a favor and spend the
$35 . And most important:

Remember the Golden Rule, "If Wife is happy, everyone is happy"

Overall Rating: 10

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