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!
7004 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Ebay
Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 99 ($US) (bought USED)
Remarkable. This is a classic cheap 1950-1960 catalog banjo at the basic entry level. Simple, plain, functional. Sounds like it looks. You wouldn't take this to a bluegraas gig but you'd be happy to play it with maybe a guitar and a mando player and do old fashioned quiet at home bluegrass or old time. Has a great clawhammer sound. Hollow, ringy, plunky and the wear on the Remo shows this is what its done a lot of.
Sound Rating: 8
No it wasn't set up at all. I asked the seller to take the neck off to ship from USA to me here in Australia in 2 pieces. Worked out cheaper. It went back together real easy and was strung up in 30 mins. then I discovered the Silvertone adjustable neck trick and fixed the action perfect in 2 mins. I've strung it with lightish strings - otherwise its all ariginal. Tuners work good. Original "no knot" sylr tailpiece. Old Grover bridge. Original brass frets. all good.
Setup Rating: 10
Easy on the eye - are you kidding? Unless you like the look of a battered & worn down cheap old 5 that's done hundreds of hours of picking . Anyone who wants something fancy would walk right by this 5 at a garage sale or an ebay sale.
Appearance Rating: 2
Everything on this 5 has lasted well past its use by date but it still does exactly what it's supposed to. Its a Silvertone, no more no less. It holds tuning. It plays. It sounds good. Even the Grover un-geared 5th peg works good. I grew up with those pegs and like 'em. I ain't about to change this one. Works fine!
Reliability Rating: 10
Customer Service: 5
Neck - black painted hardwood. Separate hardwood fretboard with plastic dots and brass frets. Straight. Good. Plays fine. Pot - unimaginably bad. Made of kind of particle composition material pressed together. A new one milled up out of hardwood would work fine, but this original one still works, so it stays! Resonator - basic - painted black with a kind of flower sil screened on the centre of the back. No ivoroid or pearl has ever been near this 5. Rest of hardware. Cheap & minimal.
Components Rating: 2
I like it. Takes me back to my first 5 in the mid 1960's. Perfect for sitting on the porch with and plunking out a few notes. Excellent clawhammer machine. And I just played a nice melodic version of Monreoe's Old Daingerfield on it perfectly in tune all the way up the neck - so it can do anything. Must have been lots and lots of these 5's got good folks started on the road to fame and glory with 5 string playing. It isn't going to be taken out to gigs, unless to a worksho about 5's in general, but I couldn't be more pleased with it.
Overall Rating: 10
'rim of head removal' 12 min
'Head setup issues' 1 hr
'Bart Reiter 12' 1 hr