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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!

6936 reviews in the archive.

Picks: Blue Chip Thumb Pick

Submitted by mike_cabinet on 6/12/2009

Where Purchased: The Acoustic Musician

Overall Comments

This is the first time I've put a thumb pick on and it just fit! It is very comfortable and needed no adjustment. The sound is a little different, it seems to be a little cleaner. The plastic is a little long for me but I can grind that down. Maybe I should have gotten the Crow model.
I think I'm going to like this pick a lot if for not other reason than it feels good. I did notice less pick noise but with an unfamilar and long pick I was catching the fifth string when aiming at the fourth.
This pick is by far the best looking thumb pick I've seen. The only down side may be the cost, but the comfort aspect is worth a lot. I've spent more than the cost of this pick looking for that right pick, and I understand these picks don't wear out.

Overall Rating: 10

The Acoustic Musician

Submitted by mike_cabinet on 4/4/2009

Overall Comments

The Acoustic Musician in Sandy Utah has got to be the funnest place in the valley. I've been to the other stores around and they are fine but there is a difference. Every time I enter the store Mike the owner greets me by name and makes me feel like one of his cherished personal friends. The atmosphere is friendly and casual and all are welcome to come and pick and hang out and discuss all things bluegrass or other genres if your so inclined. Everything is out and available to try out with no pressure or sales person hanging over your shoulder.
Every Thursday there is a bluegrass jam with beginners to pros showing up for a good time and sharing ideas and licks. I've never been excluded for my inexperience and I always get positive comments, even when I know they aren't deserved.
The store just moved and expanded so there is more to enjoy and the coffee is always hot and ready.
I take lessons there and I have my choice of some of the best pickers in the state to learn from. All of them are state picking champions.
If you ever find yourself in Utah and don't stop by The Acoustic Musician you'll have missed one of our great landmarks.

Overall Rating: 10

Deering: Black Diamond

Submitted by mike_cabinet on 12/10/2004

Where Purchased: Sommerhays Music

Year Purchased: 1998
Price Paid: $1,800 ($US)

Sound

The first time I saw the Black Diamond I had to touch it. The first time I played it I had to have it. I had not shopped for banjos in this price range so I had nothing to compare it to, and being a beginner I had no knowledge of what to look for. What I did know was it was the prettiest thing I had ever heard, even my wife said "I could tolerate the sound of that banjo". The mellow sound of the mahogany was captivating and haunting. The first time you hear one of these you'll know this is not like any other banjo.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

As a novice I had no idea what I would change. After a few years of picking and comparing other banjos in the same and higher price range there were some changes to be made. I set the head a little tighter, about the A range and I changed the bridge to a Gary Sosebee submerged wood compensated. This made the first string come alive and the third string stays on pitch even way up the neck. Speaking of the neck. The slim neck is very easy to play and the string height was set perfect for me. I have noticed, since there is no binding on the edge of the neck, that in Utah where it is very dry the neck seems to have shrunk in width and the frets sit a little proud and sometimes catch my finger tips. I am told these can be filed but I won't attempt that myself and I don't want to be without my banjo long enough to have it done so I guess I'll just deal with it.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

This is a beautiful banjo and the high gloss finish was flawless. There were however some flaws under the finish, one very noticeable on the back of the head and the serial number stamping on the back of the head was done very poorly. The first number is illegable and the last number is cut very deep. This banjo lacks much of the fancy pearling as seen on other banjos. That would be a nice option.
There is one thing on the appearance I have been considering changing.
I would like to change the nickle plating to a black chrome. That would improve the overall black "thing" that makes this banjo so attractive.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

The nickle finish on the armrest is looking very worn but this is to be expected I'm told. This can be prevented by wiping the plated parts down every time it's used. I'm much too lazy for that. The tuners seem to be put together very well. The hardware is heavy and seems to be fit very tight to the rim. The neck shows some gap in the fit to the pot but doesn't seem to have much affect to the negative. I have a backup banjo for campfires and traveling but that one hasn't seen the light of day for years. I take my Black Diamond everywhere.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have had no need for customer service but it comes with a lifetime warranty to original owner.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

This seems to be a very well built reliable banjo with quality parts and reasonable craftsmanship. The only thing I would suggest upgrading would be the bridge and possibly the armrest. Nothing wrong with the originals, just personal preferences.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is probably my last banjo. I don't compare my banjo to others. I compare others to my banjo. For those who want to get away from the harsh twang of maple banjos I highly recommend you look at the Black Diamond first and last.

Overall Rating: 9

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