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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!

6867 reviews in the archive.

Saga: Resonator Banjo Kit RK-2

Submitted by Bigbike4 on 4/11/2005

Where Purchased: Ebay auction

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 139.00 ($US)

Sound

Since I am new to playing (only a couple of months) I wanted to experiment with various types of banjos. This kit makes and archtop. Archtops have higher top ends and not as low bottom ends. Tone is good for a metal pot banjo.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Banjo is a kit, so no it was not set up. IT WAS however shipped with a beautifully finished neck-smooth as a babys bottom and I may not even laquer the neck because of the fast action it already has. Resonator does not fit the banjo without major modifications to it. I wrote an email to Saga about this but never heard anything from them. Strings are cheap and mine snapped when trying to tune the instrument up. Neck is prefretted and is just great.

Setup Rating: 5

Appearance

Banjo has a funky tuner head to it. It knda looks like some old style banjo heads, but then again it is also this strange greenish brown colored. I will dye mine dark black or other to get around that problem. Neck is asian mahogony and the resonator back and sides are some form of maple (very thin at that). Overall not a bad looker, just different

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Tuners are decent geared tuners and will probably last a good long while. Strings that came in my kit snapped when tuned up, so I had to put on a set I had around. Bridge is a stock maple 5/8" bridge. Pot is basically indestructable because it is metal. Resonator is very thin and will crack at the slightest jarring.

Reliability Rating: 4

Customer Service

I emailed the company about my resonator problem but they have yet to get back to me. I asked them to send me another as the one in the kit just will not fit in anyway shape or form without modification. I have been waiting more than 3 weeks for a reply, so I guess one is not going to come.

Customer Service: 2

Components

The neck is just fabulous and I can not say enough about how nice it feels even in it's unfinished condition. Tuners are grover type geared (including the 5th string) and are an easy assembly. The pot is incorrectly drilled for the neck bolts and needs extensive modification to make it work. See above for resonator comments. Head is a stock 11" high top. Clamps are a bit cheesy

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

If you want to learn how to build a banjo, or how doing something affects a banjo, or just want a decent "beater"banjo this is a good way to go. The neck alone is worth the price of admission, and the tone is good when product is assembled. The only problems you will run into are the typical ones that one has with a 1 co-ordinator rod banjo-limited neck action adjustment.

Overall Rating: 7

Slingerland: MayBell Tenor

Submitted by Bigbike4 on 4/11/2005

Where Purchased: auction

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 20.00 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Sounds great for an antique! Lows are good without distortion, and highs are crisp. Mine has a resinonator which can be removed for various styles of play

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Antique instrument and was in pieces when I bought it. Really does not apply. Everything I needed to complete the instrument (new head, tail piece, strings and tuners) is easily available thru suppliers or other online sourses.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Mine was well used and played. Because it is antique and has been sitting around, I was glad that all the original hardware was included! Mine needed some glueing work done on the resonator and a fretboard, but these things you expect when you buy an antique.

Appearance Rating: 5

Reliability

Hardware and instrument have lasted 70 years thus far. Does that count?

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The fancy paint and nice nickel hardware are some charataristics you just don't see on todays entry level instruments. These old banjo makers really knew how to dress up the cheap instruments

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

As with any antique you better know what you are getting into when you buy it to rebuild it or play it. I come from the mindset that the old wood tone ring and pot make for a great sounding instrument and certainly aging them 70 plus years helps too.

Overall Rating: 9

Morgan Monroe: Foggy Mountain Appalacian MDX4

Submitted by Bigbike4 on 3/19/2005

Where Purchased: Ebay auction

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 770.00 ($US)

Sound

sound is just fantastic. Full rich sound nice and loud.
Can play many types of music on this fine instrument.
I love the entire sound range this instrument makes.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Since I bought this on line from a store that was going under I did not expect much in the way of set up. Action was okay but could have been better-music store did not specialize in banjos. I easily remedied this myself by resetting the neck to lower the string action. the head was also a little loose, so I tightened it to the sound I like.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

This instrument is just stunning! Gold plating everywhere, MOP intricate inlays on the neck (go to www.morganmonroe.com) to see this beauty this picture does not do the inlays justice. The neck is maple as is all the wood on the instument except the fingerboard which is ebony to make the multicolored inlays stand out more. Just stunning. No flaws anywhere.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Morgan monroes carry a lifetime warranty on them that you can register your instrument on line. these are great mid level instruments (I am sure they do make entry level as well).
I can count on this banjo and would go to a gig without a backup.
Gold plating on the imports is known to wear quickly, we shall see with time, but right now she is a beauty and I would expect MM to replace any part for free that does not stay nice and plated.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The company is great to deal with or so I have been told. You can register your instrument on line and email them thru their website also with questions and concerns. I have been told that they will send replacement parts to you if you do not live near a dealer.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Where to start with this beauty? The inlaid MOP ebony neck, the not to thin but not too thick just right neck is a joy to play. The tone ring itself weighs over 10lbs on this beauty and has either 18 or 20 holes in it (I forget) but it is bell quality and is over a 3 ply maple rim. The instrument is very heavy and very sturdy. I could only wish my playing could do it justice.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would definately recommend this banjo even if the price is $1100 (I did not pay that, but it is worth every penny of $1100 if not more).
I would hunt down and destroy all the living dna related people to the scum bag who would steal my banjo!
I love the look, the play action and the sound (most important) cause what good is look if you can't stand the sound?
I have played other Morgan Monroes (rocky tops) as well as Alvarez and Harmony banjos and this is by far the niceist banjo I have ever played. You will not be disappointed in this instrument.

Overall Rating: 10

Harmony: Harmony Marquis

Submitted by Bigbike4 on 3/3/2005

Where Purchased: Best discount store

Year Purchased: 78
Price Paid: 79.00 ($US)

Sound

Nice loud bluegrass sound, I wanted to learn to play bluegrass and this was the instrument I got. I eventually sent it out to have some improvements made to it, but sound never changed, just good overall sound

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Set up-from Best? You have to be kidding. In the years I had it , I sent it out to a luthier to have the neck worked on and have the action lowered (along with getting a geared 5th string peg installed-I did the other strings pegs myself when they were changed to geared over the original friction).

Setup Rating: 1

Appearance

It had a 1976 eagle decal on the inside of the resinator as well as the back and it had a clear head on it. It was then and still was when I sold it a sharp looking banjo. It had no appearance flaws except a small chunk that was missing from the aluminum pot (from the manufactor). Hardware stayed nice looking for the 25 years I owned the instrument

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Reliability was never an issue once the tuners were changed from friction to geared. The instrument was built to be a beater and could take a beating.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

Never dealt with the company so I really don't know, but Harmony has been around as student instruments in all types of instruments for years.

Customer Service: 5

Components

Friction tuners, which are never good and were upgraded by me to geared tuners.

One rod action adjuster which needs to be a 2 rod, but then again we are talking about your basic beginners instrument here.

Aluminum pot produced a good overall sound.

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

Very nice beginers instruments and frequently available on/at auctions for very little money. Definately worth $100 or less (unless upgrades have been made and then it depends on what upgrades have been done). The instrument is fine for kids or adults that want a cheapie to see if they are really interested in learning. I would recommend having the instrument sent out and action adjusted by a pro luthier.

Overall Rating: 7

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