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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!

6986 reviews in the archive.

Deering: Black Diamond

Submitted by Banjonutjob on 7/4/2010

Where Purchased: Mandolin Brothers

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 2600 ($US)


I bought it when I was drunk. That's not to say it's not a good banjo. Only it isn't exactly what a trad bluegrasser like myself is likely to buy. The reason I bought it (apart from being drunk at the time) is it's got quality workmanship overall. I compared it to two Gibson RB-250 banjos also on sale at the store and quality/workmanshipwise it won hands down. I took the resonator off the Gibson banjos and was appalled by the lack of attention to detail handicraftswise I witnessed. So, I bought the Deering partly because it was simply better bang for the buck. However, it's got maybe a little too much sustain for my taste. I like a bit more of a staccatolike sound. It works in a traditional bluegrass setting but I think it's more suited to melodic style playing.

Sound Rating: 8


The banjo wasn't at all well set up when I bought it. Of course it had that ugly black head on it which I proceeded to change at my earliest convenience. No problem there except the black head was busted on one side. No wonder it sounded like a piece of the proverbial brown stuff. I also put a Snuffy Smith bridge on it. I use the GHS "Sonny Osborne" stringset on it. Works for me. Yeah, and I put an adjustuable tailpiece on it. You know, the kind that moves up and down. It had a Presto tailpiece on it.

Setup Rating: 8


Now that I've got a white head on it, it looks OK. I sort of like it also because it looks rather plain. No fancy inlay work like on some specimens. Yet, the workmanship is beyond reproach. The banjo didn't have any flaws when I got it. It was in mint condition which is what you'd expect from a brand new instrument.

Appearance Rating: 7


This banjo's a workhorse. I can definitely depend on it. It's never let me down yet. I've had it a few years now and it still looks just about the same as when I got it. Only the plating on the armrest is a little worse for wear. I reckon I might fix that by polishing all the hardware but I sort of like a banjo that looks like it's been used. In fact that's one of my pet peeves with regard to this banjo; it doesn't seem to 'age' the way my Stelling did for instance.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I guess it comes with what they call a limited life-time warranty. (Whatever that means). Well, I never had any problems with it. I did get in touch with Deering and told them I didn't like the fact I couldn't adjust the tailpiece. They said they had a different tailpiece design available if I wanted one. I didn't because a friend of mine gave me a straight-line tailpiece for free. They're friendly people at Deering and service-oriented.

Customer Service: 10


I like a pretty high action, so the bridge the banjo came with didn't suit my needs. It was probably a good bridge but I've been using a Snuffy Smith bridge so long that I sort of naturally chose one for this banjo also. I don't like a Presto tailpiece, so I had that removed as well. I'm thinking of buying a new tailpiece for the banjo. It's got a straightline tailpiece on it now that goes up and down but I'd really like one that moves forward and backward as well (like a Stelling bridge, for example).

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

A great instrument which I bought instead of a Gibson in the same price range. It doesn't suit my traditional playing style that well but then again, I should have gone into a music store while under the influence of alcohol. So, there's a lesson for you all!

Overall Rating: 9

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