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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!

7107 reviews in the archive.

Buckeye: #129 and #130

Submitted by grumpsie on 4/10/2013

Where Purchased: from builder

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter


I contacted Greg with the idea of purchasing two "for life" openback banjos, one fretted and one fretless. I had the idea I wanted them to have very different tonal characteristics. After discussing the options with Greg on the phone, we agreed on a fretted 11* maple Whyte Laydie fyberskin (to have lots of pop and volume so it can hold it's own in a band setting) and a fretless 12" walnut with Greg's own brass tone ring and a skin head (to be used for playing alone and with a fiddler, and generally to explore darker tones and moods). Greg deliver exactly what I asked for, and more. Both instruments ring out loud and clear, and sound great all over the neck. I am finding that I can use them interchangeably for both duties I originally envisioned as well, as they both offer outstanding volume range and control, each with it's own unique character and tone.

Sound Rating: 10


I haven't changed a thing. They played immaculately out of the box after travelling the world in sub-zero temperatures. Greg also provides a neat sheet of care instructions, which has helped me keep them sounding their best.

I don't foresee any problems adjusting them if you felt the need or desire to. I will change the head on #129 for the summer and will update this review then.

Setup Rating: 10


I cannot begin to express how beautiful my instruments are to me. All I can do is direct you to the buckeye website (, where they are displayed in his gallery. The pictures do not do the instruments proper justice. They are made with love and it shows.

Appearance Rating: 10


These things are solid.

The necks can be left tuned up to double D, even A modal, and simply left there. They both hold tuning incredibly well, and tune easily.

Everything's done up tight. I've had to tighten one tuning machine screw so far, and that's it.

Greg includes higher bridges in case the action changes as the wood sets for the first few years.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Greg offers a limited lifetime warranty. He's also the kind of guy who really wants to have a happy customer. He'll definitely follow up to make sure you feel you got what you asked for.

He showed extreme patience in putting up with my many questions and changes of heart along the way, and kept my curiosity fed with pictures throughout the process. Excellent service all the way.

Customer Service: 10


The components are all great. I particularly love the necks, both in terms of materials and working, and how light and bright they are to play.

The skin head on #130 is rich and lush to the touch, if that makes sense, and looks and sounds gorgeous. #130 has a fielding tailpiece, and I think I will pick up another for use with a skin head on #129 (I recently bought one but haven't tried it yet, it's only really an option summertime where I live for a gigging banjo).

The woods used are beautiful, and all the hardware looks really good. I might try another bridge one day but haven't felt the urge yet. I like the Buckeye Bridges anyway, and find that the intonation is very good on the fretted, but I expect these banjos would sound really good with most of the nice bridges out there.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I cannot recommend these banjos enough to anybody with the money and the patience to wait in line.

I've tried a few other nice banjos, and while I am certainly being subjective here, I like mine the best by far.

Overall Rating: 10

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