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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!

7013 reviews in the archive.

Hartel: Boucher

Submitted by Rob MacKillop on 6/27/2011

Where Purchased: From Maker

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 1250 ($US)

Sound

Deep, deep, deep. Tuned dADF#A as specified by Tom Briggs in his tutor of 1855. The sound is so beautiful - everyone who hears it comments on the beauty of the sound.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Perfect set up. No changes necessary.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Rusted hardware, beautiful veneers. Just look at his website...http://www.minstrelbanjo.com/BOUCHERindex.html Everything about it is perfect.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Totally reliable.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

First-rate service. The man is a Gentleman.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I honestly can't criticize it. The stand out thing is its togetherness, if that makes sense. It is in harmony with itself.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I really can't imagine a better minstrel banjo, and it is really making people sit up and listen when played in a clawhammer, OT style.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Overall Rating: 10

Deering: Eagle ll

Submitted by Rob MacKillop on 12/12/2010

Where Purchased: Eagle Music, England

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: £1399 (£) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I bought it for the new Deering Twenty-Ten tone ring, which has a warm bass, strong mids, and crystal-clear highs. Although a five-string, I play it mainly as a Plectrum banjo, and I view it as a Plectrum banjo which allows me to play bluegrass when the mood arises.
As a bluegrass banjo it has a modern sound - not Earl, but something new . It also lends itself to clawhammer, so I'm told, but I don't do much of that.
So, a tone ring with variety to it.
In short, a stunning warm sound.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I'm playing it exactly as set up at Eagle Music - the best place to buy Deering banjos in the UK. They ensure a great set up.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Looks beautiful. Don't tell Deering, but I think it looks more beautiful than more expensive models they have. The inlay is the best I've seen.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I would definitely use it at gigs, and I can't imagine ever needing a backup. Should 'see me out', as they say.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

VERY helpful company, and very helpful dealer.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The neck is the best I've played. Every note sings without effort. The tone ring is new - still patent-pending - and is set to become a classic.
I honeslty can't fault it.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is a banjo for the new era. A great, warm-sounding tone ring that lends itself to all styles of music from bluegrass to Bach, from clawhammer to jazz. Everything I play on it sounds just right.
I hope they will use the tone ring on Tenor and Plectrum banjos in the near future.

Overall Rating: 10

Luke Mercier: LMF75

Submitted by Rob MacKillop on 5/13/2010

Where Purchased: From Luke Mercier

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I was looking for a banjo to cover the banjo publications from ca.1860 to 1885, something that had developed away from the minstrel tubs but was not yet 'industrialised'. This banjo is a mixture of a very early Fairbanks model and a Dobson - it has a Dobson tone ring.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Perfect set up. I told Luke I was a fingerstyle player, playing early classic banjo repertoire, and he cut a bridge and set the action to suit. It is my favourite banjo.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Luke is a high-quality violin maker and restorer with a passion for banjos. It's just a major-quality instrument, but subtle. Just simple wooden inlay on the headstock. It's hard to describe without it sounding too simple, but it is perfect in very subtle ways. Every angle, joint, surface, weight, tension, etc is just right.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I've had it for 18 months or so without incident. Works perfectly every time. The pegs are violin style, which can be a problem with some luthiers, but Luke's experience with high-end violins means that this is another area of perfection. The pegs turn like butter (that doesn't quite make sense, but you hopefully see what I mean).

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I live in Scotland. Luke phoned me a few times at his expense, plus many emails. I couldn't have asked for more attention.

Customer Service: 10

Components

All top-quality parts and craftsmanship.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

The best banjo I own. You can see and hear it at http://www.ClassicBanjoRM.com

Overall Rating: 10

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