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!
6990 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: From Bart
(adapted to a review I posted on Bart's Facebook page)
I recently ordered a Bart bridge for a humble GoldTone Cripple Creek Irish Tenor banjo. I can't afford to upgrade to a better banjo, and truthfully can't see spending that much money even if I could. However, I felt that the banjo's tone and volume could use a bit of a tweak, so after many recommendations I opted for Bart's bridge. I corresponded with Bart ahead of time, gave him the full specs of the banjo and went with his recommendation. He asked for full information on my banjo including string gauges, bridge height, string spacing, and customized the bridge accordingly.
Frankly, I was skeptical as to how much a mere bridge could affect the performance of this inexpensive but boy, was I wrong! It's like a whole new banjo. One thing I was looking for was a brighter tone, especially on the lower strings, and the bridge delivered. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I'm exceedingly happy and would recommend this bridge to any tenor banjo player. For 25 bucks you can't go wrong!
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Musician's Friend
Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 179 ($US)
I'm a newbie, but it sounds fine to me. I'm starting out with clawhammer, and this banjo seems good for this type of music. As it is right now, it sounds pretty bright. I haven't done any setup at all.
Sound Rating: 8
I was very disappointed at how out of tune the banjo was when it arrived... ;-)
Seriously, for this beginner it seems OK right out of the box. Down the road I may put a slightly lower bridge on it but for now I think the bridge is good for learning.
Setup Rating: 9
The banjo was listed as "natural" in color, but it's actually stained a reddish mahogany color. Doesn't matter much to me. I think it is a pretty good looking instrument. Nothing flashy, naturally, at this price but nice looking in it's simplicity. It has guitar type tuners, so if you don't like tuners sticking out the side of the head, you might be turned off. Again, I don't mind.
Fit and finish is surprisingly good for an entry level instrument. Looking critically, I can find one or two minor staining imperfections on the back rim of the pot. They really are minor, and back where nobody sees them except me. Again, no problem as far as I'm concerned.
Appearance Rating: 9
The hardware seems perfect adequate for it's purpose. I'm a LONG way from thinking of gigging on banjo!!
Reliability Rating: 8
n/a - I've had no problems with the instrument so far.
Customer Service: not rated
No standouts, good or bad
Components Rating: not rated
I did a lot of looking before I settled on the MB-100 as my beginner banjo and I'm very happy with it. I can't imagine I'll "need" anything better for a long time, if ever. It looks, sounds, and plays like a banjo which is all I really ask of it. I don't rate an instrument as being "best" using the criteria that it has to be the best in the world. "Best" to me means doing what it's supposed to do very well, so for me I give this one a 10.
Need any more recommendation? My wife actually enjoys hearing me play my new banjo! Am I a lucky guy or what?
Overall Rating: 10