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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!

7170 reviews in the archive.


Submitted by gmo on 5/18/2010

Where Purchased: bought it thru the Hangout

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter


This is Sullivan's maple Bluegrass Jam resonator banjo with a brass hoop ring on a Cooperman 3-ply rim with a one piece flange and presto tailpiece . The sound is certainly not what you would call "prewar" with the hoop, but it is not at all bad , clear and somewhat bright, running out of steam up the neck, but that is to be expected from this type of setup. I bought this banjo with the plan to have a good tone ring installed and will do so when I can afford it, hopefully soon . I fully expect it then to be as good as it's big brother, the Festival which is no slouch !! Bluegrass is my preference, and this should fit the bill !!
(edited) Well, after fooling with this banjo for several days now, playing it ,getting the intonation dialed in better, and just getting used to it, I am blown away with the volume and tone you can get with this 'jo with just the brass hoop in it. I don't know whether I will be able to stand It when I get the tone ring in it !! I can't wait ( but I have to) !! It's going to be really good, I know .

Sound Rating: 9


This particular banjo had one main setup issue when I got it . I bought it second hand but it is as it came from First Quality since the prior owner sold it shortly after recieving it himself and he never had even played it . The action was, in my estimation, too high at more than 1/4 " at the 22nd fret (with a 5/8" bridge) . It would appear the heel is not cut at enough slope to acheive a good action without resorting to the co-rods which is a no-no in my opinion . I currently have a thin brass shim in place which brings the action down to about 5/32" at 22 which is about right ( for me anyway). I will be getting this taken care of properly when I get the tone ring installed . This is rather minor and easily fixed, but I think a closer inspection could have alleviated the problem when the banjo was built .

Setup Rating: 7


The neck and the resonator are maple with really good graining ( is that a word?) lots of tiger striping on the neck and strong horizontal grain on the resonator . I think these components are the same as the Festival without the gloss finish and inlays . It has large pearl dots on the fretboard which is a nice ebony, unbound, and the Sullivan name in pearl on the headstock . The finish is a satin red-brown cherry .I think it could have been smoothed up more before the finish was applied, but it is not bad overall . There are no flaws evident in any of the metal components, and the nickle plating is heavy and well applied . It is not fancy, but is an attractive banjo in a simple way . I'm very pleased with the appeareance .

Appearance Rating: 8


I can't honestly say, having only had it for a day, but the finish is not overly applied so only time will tell . As far as the hardware goes , I see no reason to worry about it lasting as it is basically the same hardware Sullivan uses on all it's banjos .

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I haven't dealt with 1st Quality on this banjo, but I feel sure they would do right by it if asked . I don't expect to have to, however, and will probably take care of most problems myself . This banjo is as good as most professional banjos (minus the tone ring, inlays, and finish) and I don't really foresee any major problems . I probably won't worry about the warranty .

Customer Service: 10


All the metal components are ,I believe, what you would find on any of Sullivan's banjos, which is to say, top grade . The tuners are 5 Star which are not as good as they use on their higher up banjos but still good tuners . Tailpiece is presto and seems as good as any presto . Co-rods, tension hoop, hooks and nuts all good parts . The bridge is a generic , but ok .

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This is meant to be an entry / intermediate level banjo, and I would have to say it beats most any banjo in this category out there ( and it is American made) . It is quite a bit higher priced than most entry 'jos, but this instrument is built with professional level components and is designed to be upgraded with a professional tone ring whenever someone feels they need a better banjo, allowing them to step up in sound and playing quality without having to go to a lot of expense (and did I mention it is American made!!) . It's not the fanciest banjo, but it is a good one and it will satisfy me for a long time . It's a keeper .
( see edited comment regarding sound) This banjo goes a long ways past a beginner banjo . With it's stock setup, a beginner would be able to learn on something with excellent tone and playability, continue on through intermediate range with it like it is and go on to advanced with the addition of a good tone ring .Shoot, this banjo could be a lifetime instrument ( it will be for me ) . I'll even go out on a limb and say that you could play this banjo in public ( with the hoop) and not be embarrased . I think it is that good .
( I don't work for Sullivan, and this is the first Sullivan Banjo I have had in my hands ) I am impressed ( or can't you tell!!).

Overall Rating: 9

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