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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!

6772 reviews in the archive.

Digital Tuners: Snark Clip-On Tuners, SN1 & SN2

Submitted by bgdc11 on 10/6/2011

Where Purchased:

Overall Comments

I bought the SN-2 (red) Snark a few months ago and it's been great. It's small enough that I can leave it on the headstock all the time, even when I put my banjo back in its case. The display is bright and the LED needle-style indicator makes it really easy to tell when you're out of tune and by how much. Unlike other tuners that I've had, this one doesn't get fooled too often. The clip isn't very deep, but it's well-designed and I haven't had any trouble with it falling off the headstock yet. And the option to switch between the internal mic and vibration sensor is really useful when things are loud. I don't find the built-in metronome very useful and haven't really used the calibration or transpose/capo feature.

I may buy another one of these and put it on my dobro. It's a great little tuner. One note - the lithium battery that came with it only lasted two months or so. I'm not sure if this is normal or whether the battery that came with the Snark was already close to expiring. Either way, if you're going to rely on your Snark as your sole tuner option, you might want to keep a spare lithium battery in your case.

Overall Rating: 10

Bridges: Sullivan Old Growth Bridge 5/8"

Submitted by bgdc11 on 10/3/2011

Where Purchased: FQMS

Overall Comments

This is the second bridge that I've purchased to try to upgrade my Gumby-era Goodtime. I tried the Snuffy Smith III and that was definitely an improvement over the Goodtime stock bridge. But the Sullivan Old Growth is an improvement over the Snuffy. More volume and more bark and pop. Some folks might find the tone a little too bright (particularly the 1st string). Note that this is a thin bridge so be careful when installing it. It also will move if you bump it. But overall, this was a good investment and I'd recommend it to Goodtime owners who want an inexpensive upgrade.

Overall Rating: 9

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by bgdc11 on 9/6/2011

Where Purchased: Mike's Banjo Mute web site

Overall Comments

I've had Mike's mute for about a week now and have had some time to compare it to the Goldtone Iucci mute that I had being using before.

PROS:
1. Mike's mute is well-designed and solid and will probalby last for years. The fuzzy material glued to the inside of the Iucci mute is already starting to separate from the metal.

2. Mike's mute mutes all five strings equally. The Iucci mute always leaves one string (either the 1st or 5th, depending on which way you place the mute) less muted than the others.

3. Mike's mute will work on any width of bridge. I have my doubts that the Iucci would work well on a really thin bridge.

4. It's a close call, but Mike's mute does a better job at overall muting than the Iucci.

5. Great service.

CONS:

1. The Iucci preserves more tone than Mike's mute. However, that additional tone comes at a cost - namely, amount of muting.

2. Mike's mute extends above the top of the bridge by about 1/2" or so. It could just be the way I play, but the top of the mute sometimes tickles the palm of my hand. It doesn't really interfere with right hand placement, though.

3. Cost - $35 is a hefty price. But considering I'd probably have to replace the Iucci in a year or so, Mike's mute is a good deal.

Overall, if you need a mute that's going to... well, mute... Mike's is the way to go.

Overall Rating: 8

Banjo Teacher.Com

Submitted by bgdc11 on 8/26/2011

Overall Comments

I've purchased a number of books and DVDs from Ross. Not only is the quality of his products outstanding, but customer service is top notch. Emails are returned within a few hours, if not sooner - sometimes by Ross himself. I've never bought a banjo from him but I would imagine that the experience would be equally good.

Overall Rating: 10

Armrests: Nechville Comfort Bevel Armrest

Submitted by bgdc11 on 6/24/2011

Where Purchased: Elderly

Overall Comments

I wanted an armrest for my Goodtime (circa 1990s). I tried several and decided upon the Nechville. It has a slow bevel and doesn't cut into my wrist. Attachment/Detachment is easy. The dark wood (walnut?) isn't a great match for the maple of my Goodtime, but the added comfort is worth it. I'm told that Nechville varies the woods that it uses so if you mail order, you may not know exactly what you'll be getting. Some people may not like the size fo the armrest - it is bulky and certainly not subtle to the eye - but if you're using it for comfort rather than for looks, you'll find this a good investment.

Overall Rating: 9

Bridges: Snuffy Smith Style III

Submitted by bgdc11 on 6/24/2011

Where Purchased: Elderly

Overall Comments

I bought the Snuffy III to replace the original factory bridge on my Goodtime. The $25 it cost was well worth the investment. I can't say that the difference is "night and day," but certainly the Snuffy added extra punch and snappiness. I did need to experiment with bridge placement and needed to place the Snuffy about 1/16" from where the original Goodtime bridge sat.

Overall Rating: 9

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute - Radius

Submitted by bgdc11 on 6/24/2011

Where Purchased: Don't recall

Overall Comments

Granted, this is the only banjo mute that I've used, but I really like it. I don't need to return when I put it on and it doesn't move the bridge. Don't expect anything close to the unmuted tone of your banjo - I can't describe the muted tone - it almost sounds like chimes. And it does tend to cover up errors such as flatting or sharping notes. But it allows me to play at night without waking the family so it was well worth the $20 or so.

Overall Rating: 9

Capos: Reagan 5th String Capo

Submitted by bgdc11 on 6/24/2011

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

Overall Comments

It's small, it's simple, and it works. There's felt on the bottom to protect the fretboard. Only downside is that it's so small that I'll probably lose it. No need to retune the 5th string when you place it on. A bargain for $10 and certainly preferable to permanently attaching a Shubb if you don't capo often.

Overall Rating: 10

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