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!
6905 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Musician's Friend
The Beatlab is the ideal metronome for someone learning banjo. It is really aimed at drummers as it has a training mode for Flams, ruffs and rolls however it's programmability makes it soooo useful for learning stuff from scratch.
One can set up 24 individual programs with different tempos, time sigs and emphahsis. These can be chained together if you want (I don't use this chaining for anything other than practising especially complicated phrases - see rating comment below).
What I have done is set up a range of programs from 55-160bpm, differing by 5bpm. This means that with one press of a key I can move the tempo up/down by 5bpm which for me is ideal when speeding up a song. (the typical 1bpm is too small). I typically learn new songs at a very slow pace say 55bpm and when I can play it ok I bump the key and have 60bpm. If that's too fast for now, another bump puts it back for more practice. You get the picture.
You can set up emphasis on quarter, eight and sixteenth notes and can also get it to play triplets. Individual beats can have their own volume level and an accent for beat 1 of the measure really cuts and gives good emphasis when needed. (I leave this programmed off but again with a tweak I can temporarily put it on when needed - handy when you are running through whole songs).
I paid $99 for it and have in the past used normal manual tick-tock Wittners and regular digital metronomes and drum machines. No more!
It has ample volume for practicing alone and an output if you want to use it for band practice. Its very compact considering the amount of function and is extremely easy to use. If I dropped it I'd buy another immediately - it's my constant companion when practicing banjo.
Don't bother with a power supply - it's still on it's original batteries. Doesn't seem to use much power at all in standby as I'm always leaving it switched on. It has optional auto-off for the excellent backlight.
I've given it 9 out of 10. To get 10 from me Korg would have to make the chains longer than a max of 16 measures - I'd ideally like to be able to have at least 99 then this function could be used to set up *automatically* increasing practice sessions of a decent length. Maybe that's asking too much from a metronome. Nah, I don't thnk so these days! Maybe the Beatlab 2 will have it. Just so long as they don't change the interface which is extremely user-friendly.
It's fits nicely in my banjo case. I like it.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Tom Henderson (BG Parlor Tampa)
Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 3K+ ($US)
Sound Rating: 10
Setup Rating: 10
Appearance Rating: 10
Reliability Rating: 10
Customer Service: 10
I might have the nickel arm rest chrome plated but I'm nit-picking now.
Revision of my 10 aftyer a few weeks:
I know its only a little thing but I wish they'd chrome plate the armrests. I polish after every playing (EVERY TIME i PUT IT DOWN!) but can see it will still develop that wear in the plating where your arm rests. :-(
Components Rating: 8
Absolutely. I'd buy another if it were stolen. I love the sound, playability and general oozing of quality. I tried Gibsons, GoldStars and other Deerings (a Golden Era). I was extremely lucky to have Kelly Emerson (Bill's son ) play the GE and the Calico, giving them both a good back-to-back workout. I video'd the whole thing and uploaded the last 5mins to YouTube.
You can view it here:
Overall Rating: 10
'Long Neck' 2 hrs
'late 1930s TB11' 2 hrs
'2 Purcell bridges 5/8' 3 hrs
'Gibson Prewar TB-00' 3 hrs