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!
6950 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Jason Mogi
Sound Rating: 10
Setup Rating: 10
Appearance Rating: 10
Reliability Rating: 10
Customer Service: 10
Components Rating: 10
Jason Mogi really outdid himself on this banjo! He worked with me intensively beforehand to decide on features and preferences and was always responsive, prompt, and honest in his communications. He REALLY listened to me and it shows in the final product. He was flexile and willing to go the extra mile for me, even when it meant doing something new to him. I had originally wanted to sale my neglected Ome in order to buy a second Romero, but after watching craig evan's banjo builders vol. 2 video i fell in love with the look and sound of jason mogi's instruments and immediately contacted him about building an a-scale half fretless. I do not regret that decision! This banjo is of the outmost quality in every regard; fit, finish, looks, tone, and playability are all superb. His pricing is extremely reasonable and the quality of this banjo far outstrips the cost. It is a true heirloom quality instrument but is still made to be played! The only negative i can think of is that i didn't care for the bridge, but i have never kept the original bridge on any banjo i have bought, apparently i Am picky about bridges. exceptional quality, exceptional experience, exceptional price, i would highly recommend Jason Mogi to anyone looking for a custom or semi-custom banjo. I don't generally give many 10 ratings, but Mogi #42 is a 10 without doubt!
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Virgil lawson
This bridge (5/8th, 2.2 grams) sounds and looks great. It is pretty loud with excellent tone and responce. It really improved my highs and mids, while the bass and intonation is about the same as the moon heavy that was on previuosly. Overall i'd characterize the bridge as balanced and warm. Virgil was fast and responsive and the the bridge was very well packed.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: From the Maker
Mike made me a custom size brass capo to fit a wider necked old time banjo for $10 over his regular price. What a deal! Not only does it FIT, but it LOOKS GREAT, and what a surprise the increase in TONE quality was! The Paige i had pulled so much life out of the strings while the kat eyz capo makes the banjo sound just as good capoed as if i tune up! i demonstrated this at band practice and they were amazed. my fiddle player had told me to "just get a kaiser." now he wants a kat eyz for his old vega haha. I highly recommend Mike and his capos.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Amazon
This strap is amazingly comfortable, secure, and convenient. For $20 you can't beat it for ergonomics; they are not kidding when they say it makes your banjo feel 50% lighter! It is pretty ugly though IMHO.
Overall Rating: 8
Where Purchased: 2011
After reading some positive comments in a BHO forum I called Tanya at Ome and ordered their (relatively) new Sweetone tailpiece in Nickel finish. It was about $40 with shipping. It replaced the no-knot that my Ome Juniper 12" came with originally. The overall effect on tone was an increase in clarity and intonation (which comp bridges hadn't completely resolved). The banjo is a wood rim so i was looking to gain a touch of brightness as well but it really didn't move it too much in that direction. You can listen to a comparison sound file on my member page and decide for yourself but i would definitely recommend the part. It is handsome and well made. One down side is that it is somewhat more difficult to string than the no-knot.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Jason Romero
I purchased this bridge for an Ome Juniper 12" with wooden "tone rim." the banjo came equipped with a Grover compensated that sounded just okay. It was definitely on the tubby side with somewhat dull high and mid range. The Grover was very plunky but pretty boring. I tried a Moon Light i had laying around but it sounded very thin and overall worse than the Grover.
My initial thought being to order a Moon Heavy, I noticed on Jason's website (i peruse often as i'm on his coveted waiting list) that he sold bridges separately for $30 plus $3 shipping. Based on his reputation and the fact that he makes many of his banjos with wooden rims I figured his bridge would be a safe bet. I was right.
I specified bridge height when checking out via paypal and he had the bridge made and sent within a few days. It took about a week to make it to Georgia. The bridge seems about medium weight and of maple construction with a possibly rosewood cap. It features 3 shallow feet and a hole beneath each string. The arc seems to be the same as the Moon, so it is slightly less compensated than the Grover. The top is flat, not arched like the Moon. The width and spacing were perfect as were the slots. I'm sure he could send it unslotted if the buyer preferred.
The bridge drastically altered the sound of the banjo to the point that my non-musician wife commented that it sounded different and better without prompting. It made the high end not only clearer and more pleasing but louder as well. The mid range tones sound fuller and overall i'd describe the tone as crisper and more bell like. Clucks also come out more pronounced. Overall response also increased, the strings seem more sensitive. This may mainly be a function of increased volume.
The one downside is that the banjo did lose some of its low end growl. I guess its hard to have it all. Luckily, since its a 12" banjo there was some low end growl to spare anyway, and the improvement in the high and mid range far out paces the slight loss of bass. Still, this is the only thing that keeps the bridge from getting a 10 rating. For an 11" banjo I would not be sure the bass would be there with this bridge. Then again i do like the bass.
At about the same price as Moon or comparable products, I would recommend Jason's bridges with confidence. He is such a great guy he'd probably take the sucker back if someone received it and didn't care for the tone. I intend to make some sound comparison MP3s once i get my main computer back up, so check those out on the Hangout.
Overall Rating: 9