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!
7121 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: musicbrokers.com (ebay)
Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 145 ($US)
I am new to banjo music so my thoughts regarding the sound of the completed kit should likely not be taken too seriously or indicative of the quality of the instrument. However, I really like the sound of the instrument. It is far better (to my novice ears) than the two other low end Korean starter banjos I have.
Sound Rating: 7
This was a kit so the set-up was all my doing. With no experience and only some internet advice to go on, I cranked the head down until the bridge did not dimple down into the head, then I cranked a wee bit more trying to keep all bolts at about the same tension. I followed the advice of internet sites regarding setting up the action and I am pleased with what I was able to achieve.
Setup Rating: not rated
The finished banjo has a pleasing (to me) appearance. It is certainly no high end Gibson etc. , but for this very beginner, I am happy with the looks.
Appearance Rating: 7
I do not think it is the greatest hardware. The nickel plating was not done all that well. The armrest was useless and detracted from the overall look of the instrument due to poor plating. The solid metal pot was so nicked up, I placed it in the lathe and sanded it to a satin sheen to improve its appearance.
Reliability Rating: 6
The kit had one tension hook missing and one of the tuners was bad (no threads on the nut). SAGA said they do not deal with the end customer, and Musicbrokers did not answer my email. I replaced the tuner, and bought a new tension hook.
Customer Service: 2
Well, one of the tuners was useless, the arm rest was also useless, the inserts which hold the hardware on the resonator were too long and if used would have come through the side of the resonator (I modified these). The solid metal pot was nicked up and the casting needed some edges eased and all holes needed deburring. The main problem , however, was the neck. When attached, it was out of alignment by a full inch. This required some major woodworking experience to fix. I have rather extensive woodworking experience and it was no problem, but I think a builder without this experience or a friend who has it would be in some trouble with a neck like the one in my kit. The strings which came with the kit seemed quite useless and I replaced them. The nut was installed by the factory and it was tilted and not flush with the fretboard. I removed it did some woodworking on the neck, and reinstalled it.
Components Rating: 6
Now, having said all of the above, I am not unhappy with the instrument which resulted from my efforts. The problem is my efforts were great to overcome the problems with the kit. I chose a kit because I wanted to get some experience building before I tackle a banjo from scratch. This kit gave me more than I bargained for in that regard. I really do enjoy learning to play on the the instrument which resulted from my efforts.
Overall Rating: 6
'Tunes or Theory first' 6 hrs