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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!

6989 reviews in the archive.

Deering: Golden Wreath

Submitted by Vapor on 2/22/2012

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I have tried both Eras and Wreaths. I liked them both. I went to try this one and it had a full sound, very well balanced. It plays the same anywhere on the neck, holding tone and volume. It lives up to everything Deering advertises and more. It has that vintage sound that has been so elusive. It has the response and sound like maple with the sweet touch of mohogany. Nice balance indeed.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo needed a little setup before I played it, but that was to be expected. I do my own, and the store worked with me and it was perfect. I have only changed the strings to what I like. The banjo is so perfect, I will not change a thing other than add some spikes.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This banjo had a neck which really has gorgeous wood. It has a little movemement in the grain, similar to curl in maple. Just an impressive piece. The resonator is just as pretty. The Mother of Pearl catches everyones eye. The guys I jam with, my teacher along with others cannot get over the pearl. And the copper flashed tone ring is such a touch to the look of the instrument. If I did not know better, I would believe this was a custom build by Deering.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware had some mild tarnish on it, but cleaned up easily. New with tags and was hanging for a while waiting for me to find her. I cannot imagine that I could not fully depend on this banjo.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The people at Deering were very helpful with questions prior to my purchase. They freely gave me information and suggestions on what to look for. I cannot say enough about them. Great Company to work with. Lifetime warranty (See Deering site for warranty terms).

Customer Service: 10

Components

The entire instrument is standout. The nickel is like a mirror, the finish is smooth. The ebony fretboard and Mother of Pearl is 1st rate. The ebony topped headstock is double cut and beautiful. I love looking at it almost as much as I love playing it. I like the neck profile. I have smaller hands, but the shape allows me to reach over with my thumb to the 5th string much easier than I could with my other banjos.

This has the violin grade maple rim, with the uncoated tone ring, and mohogany neck and resonator. I think this combo really brings that sound out. You have to hear and play it to understand.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

The feel is natural to me and the sound is what I have been searching for. My other instruments are very good, and very dependable and playable (just not quite like this one). This banjo just has it all. Looks, feel, sound, she is a winner for sure.

I spent a year looking and trying. It has been well worth the effort, and I highly recomend trying before buying to anyone. If you are looking at upper line instruments, get out and play them, make sure they are the one you have been searching for..

I did not list a price as I believe this is a private matter between myself and the store.

Overall Rating: 10

Epiphone: MB-250

Submitted by Vapor on 2/14/2011

Where Purchased: Music Center, Kenosha, WI

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I purchased this banjo, after trying it out in the store and both my wife and I finding the sound was incredible. It has a full rich sound without being deafening loud. It has a nice warmth, while maintaining a pleasant ring. We both loved it as soon as I started to play it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was basically set up. I did fine tune the nut and tailpiece so it had an action and sound I liked better. Overall, well setup to play.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It has a nice heart and flowers inlay. The finish was flawless. The inlay on the fretboard is not as nice as a top of the line instrument, but then I did not pay for that either. It is a very pleasing layout, and I like the look.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

This banjo is solid. I will take it with me on travels. It is my idea of a perfect travel companion. Unless I decide to use it to pound fence posts, I cannot imagine that it will not outlive me.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The bridge did have a chip on at the first string. I called Epiphone and one was sent to me in a couple of days. Very responsive.

The Guitar Center was also great to deal with. They gave me a great price, which was too good to turn down. They are great to work with, and this was my first time in their store, but not my last.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The only thing I found to be a problem was the strings in the tailpiece were installed wrong. I always replace them anyway, so no big deal. The tuners are very nice, and the rest of the banjo is first rate. The money was invested in the banjo hardware as I see. I like the Waverly tailpiece, and find nothing I need to replace. The tone ring has a very nice tone, every bit prewar sound as you can get in my opinion. I can say this as I rang the ring when I had it off the rim. It has the best tone I have heard from a tone ring.

I replaced the factory bridge with a Sampson Bridge from Rick Sampson. See my review of it, Awesome and worth every penny.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I do disassemble my banjos and make sure everything has the best possible fit. The fit of the neck to the pot was impeccable. There was a small finish run on the rim under the tone ring, which I scraped smooth. The banjo plays well, has full tone from a nice bass to great highs. I can play solid harmonics all the way to the 5th fret, which to me is a real test of a banjo. I absolutely love this thing. I get all of the sound and tone spectrum of a big name banjo, and I did not have to spend thousands to get it. This one is a keeper for sure.

Overall Rating: 10

Straps: Lakota Banjo strap

Submitted by Vapor on 7/7/2010

Where Purchased: Lakota Leathers

Overall Comments

I purchased the black strap with the sterling silver emblem. The strap is very comfortable and has plenty of adjustment. The main body of the strap distributes the weight well on my shoulder and the tail wraps nicely around the banjo pot back to the main strap, where it fastens nicely with two chicago screws. The emblem is a nice accent piece as well. Very well made.

Overall Rating: 10

Morgan Monroe: Cascade MFB-5DX

Submitted by Vapor on 4/14/2010

Where Purchased: Indiana Strings

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I was looking for a banjo that gave me great sound, looked good, and would give me years of service. This one was on my list. I found it to have an excellent tone range, crisp and loud with a nice ring. It is perfect for the bluegrass style I like. The quality and sound were my primary concern, with money being second, only if it met my expectations.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo came well set up from the factory. I took it to my Luthier and he worked on the nut a little and now it plays great the length of the neck.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It is maple with mother of pearl inlays. The fretboard is rosewood with a stain and looks like ebony until you look very closely, and you know the difference. The maple is a walnut color stain and again, very well executed. The chrome works well with the woods and is very impressive. Well done, high gloss and no marks. The whole instrument flows in looks and everyone who has seen it loves it. A classic look.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware is very nice and sturdy. I have not seen anything I am concerned with, and my Luthier was impressed with the quality of the build and the very well done setup from the factory. He also felt it had incredible sound quality. I would not be afraid to play it anywhere even without a backup.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I had one screw on the armrest that had a flaw, and the company responded quickly.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The headstock inlay is beautiful. It really moves with the light. The neck inlays are intricate and well done, no sloppiness anywhere. I have not found any problem areas or parts so far, and do not anticipate any. Otherwise this is as perfect as I could possibly have asked for.

It also came with the deluxe hard case, It is well padded with the top of the line interior and accessory compartment. It has Morgan Monroe stenciled on the front in gold.

I have since changed the bridge, added a Kirshner tailpiece and had the nut and 5th string pip replaced with Bone.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I am pleased with this banjo. Other players that have played it are amazed at the sound and build of this banjo. I took my time setting it up, and then had a Luthier take a look as well. It also comes with a Deluxe hard case, which is a bonus to the buyer. So if you spend a little time up front, as far as I am concerned, you cannot get a better instrument, especially for the money. I did not list my purchase price as this is something I feel is personal and each person must weigh out what they are willing to pay, but I will add that everyone who has seen it and/or played it has felt that I received a lot more banjo than I paid for. In other words, this is a great value for the money.

I made a few changes and this has become amazing. Bridge, Tailpiece and Bone nut and pip have really brought this banjo into its own. For thousands less that a big name, I have my true dream banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

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