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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!

6855 reviews in the archive.

Deering: Calico Custom

Submitted by DIV on 9/3/2008

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: ($US)

Sound

This is a custom Calico. I ordered it with Brazilian Rosewood instead of maple and Tenbrooks pot instead of Deering 06. The tone is incredible. It has that richness and depth that I have come to appreciate in my Gibsons, but the Kruger tone ring adds an amazing purity that is VERY pleasing. This banjo is suited to all types of music depending on how you play it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Now I'm Obsessive compulsive about my set-up, but I didn't have do ANYTHING AT ALL. The set-up was perfeted by Janet Davis herself at Janet Davis Music. Nice and low action hieght, no buzzing or noises, perfectly even head tension. The only change I made was swapping out the SS bridge JDM placed (to replace the stock Deering bridge) with one another "Mystery" bridge that I had and it was the perfect touch.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The super-rare Brazilian Rosewood they used is old growth lumber, not stump wood that is often used. The finish and polish is flawless. I choose to upgrade to Abalone inlays and I'm so glad I did so: very colorful. The inlays are completely flush with the ebony fingerboard which is extremely smooth and flawless. The binding, the fret finishing--all absolutely flawless.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware is nickel plated and I hope it develops a bit of tarnish, but right now it's all very brilliant. The finish is of the highest quality.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I've dealt with Deering on and off for over 10 years. They've always been there for me, even while I wasn't a Deering owner. My first resonator banjo was a used Deering Deluxe Custom and I was given lot's of support when I owned it. However, it did not need any service at all.
My new Deering Calico has a lifetime warranty that only applies to the original owner which will always be me while I'm alive!

Customer Service: 10

Components

The tuners are the smoothest around (I believe their customized Gotoh tuners). The tailpiece is the factory Deering model which is their improvement over the presto. The flange is the lighter-weight Tenbrooks version and the unplated Kruger tone ring is the culmination of the tone ring evolution as far as I'm concerned. It's cast in Switzerland by the Ruetschi foundry who's been casting and repairing bells and sculptures for over 600 years.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I highly recommend Deering for you next banjo whether it's used, new or custom. Mine was a very personal combination of preferences and is thus my custom Calico is very unique. If it were stolen, I'd really be at a loss, both financially and emotionally. I am insuring it, but if were lost, I'd order another one, just like it. the wood species may have to be different however due to scarcity.
Deering has vastly improved on their design and tone and this is largely due to by the development of their Tenbrooks tone system.

Overall Rating: 10

Hatfield: Custom

Submitted by DIV on 12/4/2004

Where Purchased: via email

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 2600 ($US)

Sound

Excellent, full tone with terrific highs and lows. Very well suited to all types of playing. Like any banjo, set up can give you a wide range of tones, but this instrument can do it all! At the heart is Arthur's new tone ring which can stand up to any of them out there and definitely has great clarity up the neck which is what Arthur developed it for. This banjo delivers!!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The action is perfectly set. I lowered the tailpiece and have been fine tuning head tension to suit my taste. I'm also experimenting with string gauges. The GHS gauges Arthur uses are perfect, but are not avialable as a standard GHS set.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Appearance is important to me and I'm very satisfied. A flawless, mirror polish. I was able to choose the stain color Arthur used for the maple. The neck is beautiful. I love the the ebony fingerboard: I wanted my banjo to have the florentine special inlay pattern. I had my name inlaid in the peghead!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Top quality hardware. Finish is solid and experly done (well of course, Arthur Hatfield!) Very dependable.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Arthur was there throughout the entire process. I was an honor and a pleasure to work with him. Very professional but completely down-to-earth. He is always available via telephone and email. I know that if there are any problems or concerns, he will stand by his product. He is only happy after the customer is happy.

Customer Service: 10

Components

First of all, Arthurs tone ring is one of the best on the market at a very reasonable cost and I feel privileged to have his ring in my banjo. For the rest of the banjo, he chooses the best materials that work the best together: Cox rim and resonator. Fingerboard by Custom inlay. GHS strings, Presto tailpiece, 4 Keith d-tuners, beautiful maple neck that Arthur is famous for, special heavily frosted remo head...all wrapped up in a plush TKL case.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I feel very lucky that I found Arthur's website because this is by far the best deal in quality banjos today. Period. The only reason it's so affordable is that Arthur is a one man operation and it's relatively new venture for him. He prefers to stay away from the big factory mentality, which very fortunate for people like me. I love this banjo and will never part with it. It's sounds, looks and feels wonderful. I look forward to growing old with it. THANK YOU, ARTHUR!!!

Overall Rating: 10

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