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!
7100 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Zepp
Year Purchased: June 2010
Price Paid: 895 ($US)
The sound of this banjo took me by surprise...i had heard a few online recordings and it stood out. But DANG...in person, the 12" Tradesman is a serious thunderbucket. (Zepp accidentally sent me the 11" on the first try, so i was lucky enough to sample both size pots...the 11" is great if that is what you are accustomed to, but for those who don't fear the extra inch, the 12" is THE way to go for old-time sound quality). The resonance of the bass is amazing...easily out-growls the Bob Carlin series known for their bass response. The Tradesman can range from pure plunk if playing toward the top of the frail scoop to almost a bluegrass tone if playing close to the bridge. I've never played a banjo with so much dexterity. Simply awestruck. The comments people make about overtones (I believe) are a tad over exaggerated...yes, a bit of padding calms it down a bit, but if playing in a jam, I would frail this puppy au-naturale. VERY curious what it sounds like with a calf or even goatskin head...
Sound Rating: 10
When i recieved it, it had to make it the 3,000 miles from Wendell, NC...Zepp HQ, so naturally there was minimal setup. HOWEVER, the banjo nearly set itself up...i tightened the head to personal preference, tinkered with bridge position for an afternoon, and BAM...done. What people say about the naturally high action is simply Kevin Enoch's choice of stock bridge...must have been a BIG number, because as soon as i switched to 1/2", the Tradesman plays smooth as butter and many intonation issues solved themselves.
Setup Rating: 8
The Tradesman is as blank of a slate as they come, which is exactly what i was looking for. The design embodies a true old-time look, and it's simplicity gives it a"classy as hell" appearance. I can't stop playing with the idea of adding a personal touch, like a personal or perhaps a coin inlay in the peghead if I dare take the risk. I suppose Keven has stopped branding the back of the heads with the Tradesman insignia. Mine is lacking it...I wouldn't complain if it was there by any means, but i like it blank.
Appearance Rating: 9
Surprisingly light. I wasn't expecting much weight to an all-wood maple and cherry open-back, but DAMN, you could play catch with this instrument. However,If one were to treat her like a lady, it simultaneously feels like it could last a lifetime, and made with real professional craftsmanship. Any natural wear from playing the shit out of it (which you will) can only add to the natural beauty and appearance of this banjo. Once set up to personal preference, the Tradesman could tackle any gig, any time. Without reinforcements.
Reliability Rating: 10
Came with a lifetime warranty. Haven't dealt with Kevin personally, but bought it through Zepp. They sent the wrong pot size, and almost instantly switched it out. They were very understanding and apologetic...thanks guys. I hear Keven himself is great to deal with too.
Customer Service: 10
I could be content with the Tradesman to keep it with stock parts forever. Gotoh tuners may be a bit sensitive to the touch for my preference, but do the job and hold tuning excellently. I did switch the bridge to a 1/2" height, but just because i'm a low action man. When folks say this banjo is notorious for high action, they mean HIGH. The neck is more of a grip around than expected, but feels GREAT in the hand. The renaissance head sounds fantastic, and would be more than content keeping it, but i can't help but think the Tradesman has so much more potential with a skin head...
Components Rating: 9
The Enoch Tradesman is awesome. Hands down, and two thumbs up. A skin head and Moon bridge is all i would consider upgrading/changing to, and that is simply my unyielding inclination to experiment. As it is, this is the last banjo i will ever need to buy. I'll admit, i do have the "more banjos is better" bug now...but this is the last one I'll NEED to buy. If it were ever stolen, i'd hunt them down and play "shady grove" until their ears bled - ...just sayin'.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Fiddler's Green - Austin, TX
Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 600 ($US)
The sound has the plunky goodness of authentic old-time banjos, but is also full and crisp. I switched the head from fiberskyn to a renaissance head, and now it really sings rich and loud.
Sound Rating: 8
mine was NOT set up at all. i had to make quite a few adjustments. I lowered the action lots. The stock fiberskyn head needed serious tightening, but got it sounding good. it came with light gauge strings that caused lots of fretbuzz, but through experience i find medium to work alot better, and sound richer. brought it to life though.
Setup Rating: 3
i purchased it on a whim because it was so damn beautiful. I have found most of the CB 100s to be maple, but mine is strangely made from a more walnut colored wood that i have yet to place. i love the simple star and dot inlays, and the shooting star @ 5th fret is quite classy. The finish brings out the grain of the wood nicely.
Appearance Rating: 10
The hardware isn't bad...not as good as my Tradesman, but gets the job done. This is a banjo made for learning and smaller jams/gigs or a decent backup banjo. PERFECT for the campfire circle.
Reliability Rating: 7
haven't needed any customer service, only had it for a year. BUT i hear Gold Tone is great about helping people with their warranty/repair issues.
Customer Service: 10
the tuning pegs are on the sensitive side, but hold like the great wall of china. The hardshell case that came with it though is fantastic. i could hurl it off a building and it wouldn't get a scratch. again, i didn't like the sound of the stock fiberskyn head...not just on this banjo, but any banjo...just sound muddy to me. put on a renaissance head and it came alive.
Components Rating: 8
aside from the poor setup (i seem to have found the only one that wasn't ready to go right out of the factory), the GT cb-100 makes a great student or backup banjo. It feels smooth as butter under the fingers, and sounds like a dream once you get a feel for her.
Overall Rating: 8
'Knife Question' 4 hrs
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