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!
6975 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: From W Williams used
Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: trade ($US) (bought USED)
I owned a similar banjo that I bought from a pawn shop, and although it was good, I did not think it was great. I sent it to Will Williams in Idaho, and he gave me the opportunity to trade it for #15 with a "speed" neck. When I received it, I was ecstatic!! I have owned almost every banjo out there, including Prewars. Although it will never match my Prewar 18 for musicality and tone, as a bluegrass banjo it is SUPERB. It has instantly improved my picking 50% minimum. It is deep in the bass, has superb "cut", can be played lightly or as hard as I can, is balanced up the neck--I cannot imagine a better banjo for less than 30-50K. I am a pretty straight Scruggs-style guy.
Sound Rating: 10
Will set it up PERFECTLY. It was even almost in tune out of the box after a winter journey from Idaho to Michigan! (Will tells me that he took my first one apart, found the set-up problems, and now it is a killer like this #15! I totally believe it.) Lesson: Do not give up on a top reputation instrument until you are CERTAIN you have addressed all set-up issues!!
Setup Rating: 10
Great. I love it, although I would select a slight darkening shade for all mahogany banjos if I had my druthers--so I'm downgrading appearance to a 9--really based totally upon unfair personal preference. The natural color would NEVER stop me from buying one!!
The speed neck was custom, and suited me much better than a normal finished neck. There is no downgrade in look on a mahogany banjo to a speed neck, in my view, due to the mahogany natural color.
Appearance Rating: 9
Anyone--any pro or amateur--could gig with this with impunity. I bought it after 2 years of hard pro use by a famous touring player, and it is looking GREAT.
Reliability Rating: 10
Will Williams was so unbelievably friendly, helpful, accommodating, and cool that I would trust him with anything I own. Who else would propose a trade when he heard I wanted him or Art Hatfield to take my old one, after setting it up, and stripping the neck for a speed neck. Probably few if any!!
I would send him my #18 to work on or cash money without a receipt or anything else within reason with no hesitation.
Customer Service: 10
There were NO cheap parts used at all--OFF rim, Burlile tone ring, Gill resonator, Hatfield neck, Keith pegs--and Williams taste, touch, and set-up
Components Rating: 10
Wow--what a shocker. The difference between my un-set-up Williams versus the set-up version just blew me away. I will never buy another banjo without a speed neck. It really makes a huge difference in feel and, well--SPEED! What a great experience!
Overall Rating: 10
'Custom fingerpicks video. ' 19 min
'Bloom Osprey' 3 hrs