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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!

7036 reviews in the archive.

Deering: Classic Goodtime Special Openback

Submitted by DaveS on 7/1/2012

Where Purchased: private sale

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 600 (CDN) historic exchange rates / currency converter


Great banjo for clawhammer.
Really loud, which is great. On the bright side. I like a plunkier sound. I've tried it with nylgut and steel strings and it works well both ways.

Sound Rating: 9


Set up was fine when I bought it. I didn't change anything. I have a skin head that I want to try on it but haven't got the gumption to take the banjo apart yet.
I've added a no-knot tailpiece (although the one that came with the banjo is good) and a higher bridge for better frailing.
The action is really low. Normally, this is what I want, but I actually wanted to raise it a bit with the bridge.

Setup Rating: 9


Very nice.
Gorgeous dark stain. A fine looking banjo.

Appearance Rating: 10


I'm amazed how thin the neck is, but it's a solid banjo.
Has a stainless steel tone ring that seems to give it its kick.
I sometimes jam at a friend's place and have to use his banjo, and it's not near as nice as mine.
Rail spikes on four frets. Stays in tune.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Not dealing with the company because I bought it used.

Customer Service: not rated


I like the tuners on this banjo. They work well.
I've changed a few parts (bridge, tail piece) but it's not because of their quality. I've just been experimenting with different parts.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

A great banjo. I think if I wanted to go to bluegrass, I'd get the resonator. I sometimes think it's a banjo that wants to have it more ways than one. But it feels great and sounds great. For the price, it's a great deal. My next purchase upwards would probably be from an independent builder for an old timey sound (e.g Romero, Calkins, Masten, Ramsey)

Overall Rating: 9

Rover: RB-20 open back

Submitted by DaveS on 10/21/2011

Where Purchased: craigslist in Vancouver

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 150 (Cdn) historic exchange rates / currency converter


I bought this as my first banjo, to see whether I would catch the bug, which I did. I'm interested primarily in clawhammer style.
So my knowledge of sound quality was pretty bad. The Rover sounded like a banjo. A bit hollow and tinny. But it's fine to start.

Sound Rating: 5


Bought it used. Set up was fine. Needed new strings.

Setup Rating: 8


Looks fine.
It has guitar tuners; they work better than they look.
The rim is composite material.
Neck is comfortable.

Appearance Rating: 8


This banjo is not a gig player. After I got a new banjo, my first upgrade, my first idea was to replace various parts and keep it as my camping banjo.
The banjo fell off a chair and made a heck of a racket but it held together.
It's light as a feather.
I now have nylgut strings on it and a higher bridge and it sounds pretty good. Better than steel strings.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Not applicable

Customer Service: not rated


I'd like to get a new rim for it.
And maybe some new tuners; not sure if it's worth it.

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

This banjo has got a lot of people started off.
It won't last; you'll want to upgrade within a few months. But it served its purpose, so I wouldn't recommend against getting one. This is also a good beater banjo. Throw it in the back of the car; go camping with it; take it outdoors; let your kids try it out.

Overall Rating: 7

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