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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!

7124 reviews in the archive.

Stone Banjo Company: Open Back 5-String Banjo

Submitted by banjered on 3/6/2022

Where Purchased: Stone Banjo Co.

Year Purchased: 2021
Price Paid: $1100 plus shipping ($US)

Sound

The wood, no-metal-tone-ring, sounds perfect for backing up my singing of folk songs with Minstrel Nylguts tuned down to open D from standard G tuning. It has a warm, mellow sound that can be loud or soft depending upon your right hand technique. It came with metal strings and I did not care for the sound that much – it was too bright, loud, with too many overtones even with stuffing and various bridges. Perhaps with a skin head or other modifications all that could change, just personal preferences at play here.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

It was set up wonderfully, the custom armrest along with everything else was superb!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This banjo is amazing in its flawless workmanship! Every minute detail is so perfectly done. I was amazed that a newer builder could do such flawless work. The detail of his craftsmanship is way beyond other builders that have been in the business for decades. The banjo has beautiful natural wood, mostly walnut, and very simple/basic features which I appreciate. The dot inlay fret markers could have been a little more fancier/better materials, but Stone Banjo will build you a custom banjo as you prefer.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Brass Gotoh tuners and brass hardware throughout make for a beautiful, dependable, wonderful banjo!

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Stone Banjo was very congenial and responsive on the phone. The banjo should last a 100 plus years so I have no concerns about warranty plus I believe Stone Banjo would follow up on any request I might have. Because this banjo is so perfect I expect I will have zero need for any "corrections."

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything about this banjo is outstanding in quality and appearance, there is no need to "upgrade" anything, it is all there!

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Stone Banjos are perhaps the best bargain out there for quality and price. Since Steve Gerritsen is a new builder, I'd say his banjos are under-priced by several hundred dollars compared to the competition.  Buy now before he ups his prices! Look at his banjos being offered here at BHO under "other" banjos in the classifieds, all incredible!  My Stone Banjo has a 1&3/8" wide nut, an extremely comfortable just-right-size neck profile, and all the wood is just gorgeous! You can get a customized banjo from Steve but my banjo had 99% of what I was looking for just off the shelf so I went for it. Check his banjos out at https://www.stonebanjo.com/

Overall Rating: 10

J. Mogi: Mogi #40

Submitted by banjered on 5/14/2015

Where Purchased: from a BHO member

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 800 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This banjo has a wonderful, satisfying, full sound. When I played it at our local weekly jam, I didn't say anything to see if anyone would notice. Well the response was immediate after the first tune, "Is that a new banjo? Sounds great!" With a Ren head, this banjo is quite loud but with a full round, mellow 4th string and clear, distinct, ringing notes anywhere on the neck, no muddiness here! It has a sound I have looked for, for many years.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I had a severnth fret spike installed, put a brass Fielding tailpiece on, a Ren head, Thinline arm rest and a Moon 5/8" bridge - all easy. The strings were properly spaced, the neck wide enough at the fifth fret which many open backs too often are not - very well crafted!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This banjo is wonderfully plain and simple in appearance - abalone dots on the fretboard and side. It has a volute opposite the nut which I really like but few open back builders make, as well as a thumb roll near the fifth peg. The peghead is is thinner than most banjos while the ebony fretboard is a bit thicker. It has a brass tension hoop with only 16 hooks that are very accurately "hooked" into the hoop. The pot is 1/4" thick and painted black. Lightly stained maple neck with a great shape! Very comfortable!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Everything about this banjo is first rate. I would prefer a stained pot as compared to a black pot but hey, that is minor compared to excellent everything else. I expect to be playing this banjo a hundred years from now (uh huh!).

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I've e-mailed J. Mogi several times and he has always been very responsive. I am sure he'd fix anything that ever needed fixing but I am not expecting anything like that ever. I'd bet he listens carefully and will build what you want the way you want.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I really like the volute, the scoop, the medium sized evo fret wires for easy fretting and the brass tension hoop sets the appearance off nicely! It has Gotoh tuners which work perfectly, set in an elegant, slender, paddle peghead.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is a great sounding, great playing banjo! For me, it is a perfect jam banjo that I am planning on keeping for the duration. Any limitations on my playing will be from me, not this banjo! With its brass tone ring, I think of it as halfway between a Tradesman and a Ramsey - you have the ring of a Ramsey but the light weight of a Tradesman. Plus outstanding craftsmanship! I may want another banjo someday, but I'll never NEED another banjo.  I believe J. Mogi tries to put out a banjo a month. If you get a chance to get one of his banjos - don't pass it up! Last I heard he is not yet too back-ordered so put in your request. Highly recommended! There is a photo on my home page.

Overall Rating: 10

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