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!
7087 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments
Year Purchased: 1979
Price Paid: 850 ($US)
I love how this banjo rings. It is very bright and brassy. It has been my main man now for 30 years and is still going strong. Works great for clawhammer and fingerpicking.
Sound Rating: 10
had one little defect when I bought it...off kilter nut...I changed the bridge and shimmed the neck/body joint a bit. Solid setup. Have replaced the tailpiece twice over the years...added a Bacon and Day armrest about 10 years ago and I like how that cuts down on my arm muting the bright tone
Setup Rating: 10
fairly plain...but nicely done...neck is laminated and it is done well...woodwork on the internal resonator is well done
Appearance Rating: 10
in 30 years I've worn out tuners, frets, tailpiece...had to have the neck rods worked on once...still has original head! Finish has taken a LOT of abuse but is still hanging in there...very reliable
Reliability Rating: 10
only dealt with long since defunct company once when they replaced the skewed nut...I was disappointed that the company disbanded as the banjo had a lifetime warrenty
Customer Service: 9
laminated neck, internal resonator, large archtop like tone ring that does NOT contact the head...very solid
Components Rating: 10
though I have tried Bart Reiter's similar banjo, I've found nothing like this Smith...no regrets and I would buy one again with no doubts...stolen?...I'd be major bummed as they don't make them anymore...I would strongly recommend that you buy one of these if you are lucky enough to find a used one
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Clifftop
Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1700 ($US)
I bought this banjo because it spoke to me. Maybe I'm just caving to a perceived trend, but I love the response in the bass range, even though a banjo doesn't have much of a bass range. I haven't played a single note on my old banjo since I bought my "woody" from Lo. The only reason I don't give this banjo a 10 at this time is because I'm still learning the sweet spots on it...i.e. the jury is still out.
Sound Rating: 9
Although I like the frailing scoop, the rim is in the way. Why have a frailing scoop if the rim/brackets protudes up into that space? I know this can be avoided becasue I've seen it on other banjos. Action is a little high for me, but I like lower action than most OT players, I think.
Setup Rating: 8
Very plain Jane...but that is OK by me. The wood, esp. the solid rosewood rim, is beautiful...it evens smells good. As another reviewer noted, there is a total lack of inlay on the neck. This is a bit of a challange when I go up the neck, but I'm adjusting. I guess I would have been willing to pay another 100-200 dollars for simple dot inlays.
Appearance Rating: 9
So far, so good. Stays in tune fairly well, though I do have to tune after capoing...or removing the capo.
Reliability Rating: 9
Other than meeting Lo at Clifftop and letting him give me his sales rap, I've had no further dealings with the maker.
Customer Service: 5
The rosewood pot is absolutely wonderful...sounds great, great pop, great bass response, smells good, neck feels good
Components Rating: 10
yep, I'd recommend this banjo to anyone wanting a good OT banjo. It was $500 less than my 2nd choices (Ramsey and Lee)...and I like the tone better than my 2nd choices. If it was stolen, I'd get rather upset and go out and get me another one just like it...most likely. Wish I had asked Lo to lower the rim so's it wouldn't be in the way of the frailing scoop...I'm so ignorant that I didn't even know enough to ask at the time.
Overall Rating: 10
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