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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!

6991 reviews in the archive.

Nechville: Classic Deluxe

Submitted by vfont on 2/20/2008

Where Purchased: Buffalo Brothers Guitars

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: $3,000 ($US)

Sound

I enjoy playing a variety of music styles from bluegrass to classical with gospel and melodic thrown in. This banjo has a full/rich sound. It rings clear as a bell up the neck. It is loud and has the power to cut through the crowd. It also has a little more sustain than might be pleasing to the ear of a bluegrass purist.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I set the banjo up to match my tastes. I'll probably still tweak things a little over the next couple of weeks. When the banjo arrived, the head needed tightening and I lowered the tailpiece a bit. The Helimount construction makes head tweaking a snap. It literally takes seconds to loosen or tighten the head. The Helimount is a wonderful invention.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

This banjo is very easy on the eyes. The mahogany is gorgeous. The fit and finish is perfect. The comfort bevel arm rest eliminates tarnish and the need for polishing. I am very impressed with the attention to detail and high quality construction.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This hardware is solid. The tailpiece is stainless steel. That won't tarnish or wear off. The hardware is all cast metal with a black finish. I suspect that this will remain looking as new for as long as I own this banjo.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

During the decision making process, I had opportunity to exchange emails with Al Price. He was extremely helpful in understanding my desires and directing me to the right banjo as well as to the dealers who had that particular model in stock. I am very pleased with Nechville's customer service.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The Helimount hardware is outstanding. I'll be surprised if this or a simlar product doesn't become the ubiquitous hardware configuration of the future.

The radiused neck is differnt from what I am used to on a banjo. Nechville uses fat frets that look like the frets on my guitar. It is a very easy to play neck. It's a little thicker front to back than my Stelling and the thickness takes a little to grow accustomed to. However, I am able to play certain pieces more easily on the Nechville neck than on my Stelling. After playing this radiused neck, I am tempted to have Geoff install a radiused neck on my Master's Cross.

I'm not too wild about the tuners. They are a little stiff and the B string tuner was a little "grabby." It needed some adjustment before it felt like it was turning smoothly. I'll probably replace these tuners with Keith tuners sometime in the future.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I would not recommend this banjo to the bluegrass purist. I would recommend without hesitation to someone with more of an eclectic range in music. That would be someone who wants a sweet sounding tone with more sustain than bluegrass demands. Personally, I really like this banjo. I am blessed to be able to own this as well as a Stelling. It's not possible to compare the two. They both sound uniquely different., but right now, the Stelling sound offers a slight advantage to my ear and taste than does the Nechville.

Since I insure my instruments under my homeowners policy, if this banjo were stolen, I have no doubt that I would replace it with another Nechville, maybe a Vintage or Nuvo the next time around.

This is one fine instrument. If you want cutting edge technology, a sweet sound, and solid construction, Nechville is definitely the way to go.

Overall Rating: 9

Stelling: Master's Cross Standard

Submitted by vfont on 11/17/2005

Where Purchased: Janet Davis Music

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: $3,900 historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This Master's Cross is loud with a deep, rich, and powerful sound. It is clear as a bell all the way up the neck. The bass is deep and the treble is high and bright. What more can you ask?

I'll be playing mostly gospel, both in church and for street revivals. The sound can be controlled in the church settting, and it can really be played loud to attract attention when playing outdoors or with a large audience. I like to think of it this way...this banjo sings to me. It has its own unique voice that fits a variety of purposes.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Jim Davis set this banjo up perfectly for my taste. I like a fairly low action and he nailed it! It is a very easy banjo to play. I really like the tone as it is, but I also like to experiment. After it settled in for a few weeks, I changed the bridge. First I tried a 2.5g KatEyz submerged maple with pegged ebony top. It was a little too bright and I didn't like the sound. After a couple of other bridges, I settled on the Desert Rose Vintage Z-Elite Maple. To get the best sound out of that bridge, I retuned the head to a G# and lowered the tailpiece so the strings are at about a 17-18 degree angle coming of the bridge. I really like it and don't plan to make any furhter changes. I'll just keep adjusting the head until it stops stretching.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The workmanship is absolutely superb. Pictures on the web do not do this banjo justice, The walnut in the resonator and neck is gorgeous and it's hard to take your eyes off the quilted maple inlay on the back of the resonator. The MOP inlays on the neck and peghead are also very nice looking.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It's a Stelling!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Janet Davis Music has one of the best reputations in the industry and for good reason. They really are the best in putting the customer's needs first. Janet personally plays and approves every Stelling that leaves her shop. I appreciate the expert attention.

Customer Service: 10

Components

There are no cheap parts anywhere on it, and if I ever did get it upgraded, it would be with gold plating.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Janet Davis Music offers the Stelling at a fair price. Could you find a better price? Yes. Could you find better service? Maybe. Could you find a better overall shopping experience? Probably not.

I absolutely love how easy this banjo plays, how nice it sounds, and how beautifully it appeals to my senses. If it ever got stolen, I'd be very upset, but I would for sure use the insurance settlement to replace it with the same model.

Compared to my GoldTone OB-250, it's several pounds lighter. In terms of playabilty and sound, they can't be compared. They are in completely different classes of instrument.

Overall Rating: 10

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