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!
6986 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Yates Banjo's
Disclaimer: I'm not a long time picker having experience with tons of picks.
After watching Warren Yates video on his picks, I was intrigued enough to try them. I realize that $47 is a lot for finger picks. Picks came in just a few days nicely packed. My first impression was they looked fantastic. They were highly polished to a mirror finish. The finger tabs were nice and rounded. I'm not a a fan of picks that the finger tabs don't want to stay "round" and get kinks in them that you can never get completely round again. They felt solid. Not really heavy, just good and solid. Like you'll have them for a long time. The tips were nicely rounded and cupped. They felt good on the fingers. I've only played them for a few times so time will tell, but I like the sound of them. To my ears, they do not give off a "bright" tinny sound. Hard to describe exactly at my experience level. But I love them so far. Oh, and Warren sent a set of his Yates Curt Mangan strings and a National clown puke thumb pick as well. While I don't always advocate spending that much on picks, I'm glad I did with these.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: The Music Outlet (Seveirville TN)
Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 900 ($US)
I play Scruggs style. I'm an intermediate player. I would'nt call it a "prewar" sound but it's not meant to be. It is a full sound. The lows are pretty strong. The highs are bright. For a sub $1000 banjo it sounds great. I test played it alongside a Deering Maple Blossom, and a used Deering older model.
Sound Rating: 9
When I purchased it the shop put new strings on it, adjusted the neck and checked intonation. When I got it home, the 1st string was not under the lip of the tailpiece so I fixed that. I also adjusted the tailpiece height using John Bouldings set up video and it made a difference in the sound. Intonation checked at the 12th fret was good.
Setup Rating: 7
it's a stunning looking banjo. It's in the Rocky Top line and has a nice inlay of Rocky Top at the twelth fret. I've taken a magnifying glass to the inlay and it's great. I've looked over every inch of the binding and it's good. It's a flamed maple neck and resonator but it's stained with a darker mahogony stain, personally I like it. It's not typical maple looking. The only thing I saw was, when I removed the resonator, in the notch for the neck, the felt was not glued completely up the side. Superglued this. Head inlay was exceptional. The tuners were tight and appear fine. This is the "nickle" plated version of the banjo.
Appearance Rating: 9
Time will tell. I would play it out on a gig.
Reliability Rating: 8
Not used yet, the store owner says he's had good luck with the company fixing issues. I emailed Morgan Monroe to register the instrument and they emailed me back within two days. It comes with a lifetime warranty for the original owner. That counts for something.
Customer Service: 7
The only thing, for a banjo in this price range, that I might do different is put a better quality tailpiece on it. This one works but "appears" a little thin. It has a brass one piece tone ring and a three ply maple rim. The case is Asian but it is strong and seems to snugly hold the banjo.
Components Rating: 7
I've read countless threads about the Morgan Monroe line. Most are negative. Most suggest the Recording King line. I called ten different music stores within several hours of me and none had any Recording Kings in stock to put my hands on and look over. The number one rule in buying banjo's, I'm told, is to hold it and hear it. The Music Outlet had Gibsons, Deerings, Morgan Monroes and some other smaller brands available to try out. I went with what I could touch and play and afford. I've owned a 93 Gibson RB1 custom, a Deering Black Diamond and a Stelling Bellflower (early eighties). I liked them all. I like this banjo. It may not command the "respect" of some, but it hits all my buttons. When, and if I get very good, I may look for a conversion banjo or boutique banjo, but at my point right now, I love the banjo.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: From Mike
Just got this today. Man what a difference. Asked my wife in the next room (we have hollow doors in the house) if she could hear me playing and she couldn't. But that's not the best part, well it might be for the family, what I loved is that I can hear the clear separation of notes and hear them all so I could tell if I was playing something correctly. Nice mute Mike. Love it.
Overall Rating: 10
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