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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!

6990 reviews in the archive.

Recording King: RK-OT25

Submitted by rickhayes on 12/7/2013

Where Purchased: Sounds Cheap Music (Ebay)

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 314 ($US)


Has a nice OT sound to my ear. I put a washcloth between the coordinator rods which tones it down just a bit, but it sounds OK without it too.

Sound Rating: 8


The setup was fine and so was the action. I haven't made any changes as I am happy with the way it arrrived.

Setup Rating: 10


This is a maple rim and neck banjo with simple dot inlays. It has a satin finish that is comfortable to play. The seller advertised it as a "B Stock" open box with minor blemishes, which were fully documented in pictures on their website, and that matched my inspection on arrival. Because of this there was no factory warranty but I took a flier since the seller has a full return poilcy.

Appearance Rating: 8


Looks solidly made. I've been playing it daily for a month now and have no reason to believe it will have any problems.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Before purchase I sent a couple of questions. They responded quickly with fully satisfactory answers. They ship quickly. I ordered the banjo on a Sunday evening and was playing it Thursday afternoon.

Customer Service: 10


This is an inexpensive openback banjo but nothing is cheap looking or feeling. I am completely satsified with it.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I don't think you could go wrong with this banjo as a starter open back, especially if you can get a blemished one like I did for a significant discount below the going price (which was around $500-550 when I was looking).  I even think it would be a good intermediate choice. If you would like to hear it, you can take a look at a video I just submitted for the December 2013 Auld Lang Syne Challenge.   I'll try to post a link below but you shouldn't have any problem searching for it in the video library.


Overall Rating: 9

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by rickhayes on 3/7/2012

Where Purchased: A small online store to remain nameless

Overall Comments

The mute works as advertised. It installs easily and is a solid piece. It does a good job decreasing the volume and making it easier on the ears. Of course your instrument is going to sound less “banjoey” and more like a banjola perhaps. It does result in greater sustain and less decay. None of these points has any negative effect on practicing, however. In fact, I kind of like the different sound and it prompted me to compose a tune that I will upload to the Hangout to give you a flavor of its tone.

When I first started using it months ago I was having a problem in that I often bumped or brushed into it and knocked it off the bridge. I think another reviewer also mentioned this. It became annoying and I thought it would cause me to downgrade my rating somewhat. However, that problem seems to have almost disappeared as I have gotten used to having it there, so I have no reservations about recommending it.

Overall Rating: 10

Other: BanjoMate Tone Enhancer

Submitted by rickhayes on 2/11/2011

Where Purchased: Little Mountain Music, Inc

Overall Comments

This was one of the Tone Enhancers that Doug Campbell provided to the BHO members gratis for evaluation. Rather than provide a written review, yesterday I submitted a video comparison so the members could listen and decide whether they like the Enhancer, don't like it, or don't hear a difference. The video can be reached through the following link:

In my comments under the video I mentioned that I wasn't immediately disclosing which versions had the Enhancer and which didn't. I'm adding that disclosure below. If you want to make up your mind without that knowledge beforehand go ahead and see the video, then read below.

The second version of Fireball Mail and the first version of Home Sweet Home are the ones where the Enhancer was installed. To my ear I didn't detect that much of a difference. For that reason I would give it a rating of 5, figuring that for me it was neutral but others might hear it differently.

Overall Rating: 5

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