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!
6905 reviews in the archive.
Carl made me a conversion neck for a 1928 TB-3. His craftsmanship and attention to detail is impressive and the neck he built is a pleasure to play. Carl worked on it over the course of a month, giving me updates and sending me photos every week. He is very easy to communicate with and he responded to my emails quickly whenever I had questions. I highly recommend him.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Online
I got this in the mail a few weeks ago and put it in my 5-String Goya. It's not a great banjo and could definitely use some enhancing. I experimented with placing the Tone Enhancer in various parts of the resonator using tape, but after about 10 minutes I just looked up the reviews by other people and put it where they said it worked (just less than two inches from the wall of the resonator pointing to the heel). I found that indeed it does enhance the sound and that the product is appropriately named. Although my Goya still sounds like a low end banjo the sound is definitely improved - warmer and richer. If I had to give the extent of improvement a number, I'd say that the sound has been enhanced by 10-15%. I'm pleased with the product and will keep it in the banjo. For the price it's well worth it. I personally wouldn't put it in a higher end banjo but definitely for anything low to mid range.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Twelfth Fret (Toronto)
Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 3000 ($US)
Maple neck and resonator with a wooden tone ring. The sound is amazing - clear, clean and rich. It's exactly what I was looking for. A beautiful tone without the high end shrill that I hear in other high end maple banjos.
Sound Rating: 10
The set up when I bought it was just right. Since then I've had to tighten the head a few times and adjust the neck angle once to lower the action. I switched to a Nechville compensated bridge.
Setup Rating: 10
The banjo looks amazing except for the binding, which because of the flat finish, looks too much like white plastic (which I believe it is). Probably a glossy finish would have masked that plastic look. The flat finish on the wood is lovely otherwise. The only other complaint I have is that the lovely MOP inlays on the neck is a bit confusing for me when I play. I'm used to seeing markings at the 7th and 10th frets but the Hartford has the inlay at the 8th and 9th frets. I'm getting used to it now.
Appearance Rating: 9
The hardware is perfect except for the tuners which have given me problems, especially in hot weather. If I were to upgrade anything on the Hartford it would be the tuners.
Reliability Rating: 8
I've been in touch with Deering by email about the tuners and they are in the process of sending me a couple of new ones. They have replied to my emails promptly and seemed interested in helping me out.
Customer Service: 8
I love the narrow neck. I love the wooden tone ring and don't at all miss the shrill jangle of most maple banjos with tone rings. Don't much care for the tuners.
Components Rating: 8
I've only been playing a few years and have already owned four banjos. The Hartford is a keeper for sure. I couldn't ask for a banjo with a nicer sound - warm, strong and clear. I'm still on the lookout for a bluegrass banjo with a brass tone ring, but right now I'm loving the sound of the Hartford. It's fine for bluegrass but also great for other styes. No doubt it will not be my last banjo but most certainly it will be my main banjo for years to come. I don't think there is an equivalent to it on the market today and if it was stolen I would definitely buy another one.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Mail - online
I just got Mike's mute in the mail. Right away I felt good about it when I put it on the banjo. It gave the banjo a sweet tone, reduce the sound by about 50% and didn't change the intonation. I had recently tried the GoldTone mute and after about half an hour I was ready to throw it away. But Mike's mute was fine in all the ways that the Gold Tone mute was bad. I'm happy with my purchase. I never tried the Fielding mute so I can't compare Mike's mute to that product.
Overall Rating: 9
'2004 Gibson ESS' 2 hrs
'Cold and Frosty Morn' 3 hrs