Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

984
Banjo Lovers Online


Banjo Reviews

Review Categories

Most Recent

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!

7100 reviews in the archive.

Gibson: 1934 Gibson TB-1 Conversion

Submitted by Tom Rutledge on 11/5/2005

Where Purchased: From previous owner

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 3700.00 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This banjo is a very clean '34 TB-1. I had Robin Smith build a mahogany neck in hearts & flowers and match the stain. He did an expert job fitting the neck to the pot. It had a TN 20 tonering in it from it's previous owner, though the label is uncut.
The mahogany neck with the TN-20 ring is a cool combination. It has a very powerful 4th string but has a sweeter, less strident quality than the same ring in a maple banjo. The response from the 5th fret to the 17th fret is great. It has plenty of power in the open position as well.
These old rims really have something special in them. This is my first pre-war Gibson and I can start to see the attraction. I have played quite a few in the past, but this is the first one I have "lived" with. I suspect almost any tonering would sound good in this old rim with a good set-up.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Robin set the banjo up just as I asked him to....with a medium action. The head was at about a G#. I pulled it up to an "almost A" to see how it would sound and as I have noticed in the past, it brought out the power of the 4th string with this kind of ring. The fret work is great as is the neck profile. I had Robin match the profile of one of my favorite necks.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Robin did a fine job matching the neck to the reso color and the inlays and finish quality is fine. He matched the yellowed binding as well.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Well the hardware on this old banjo is all original (except it has a 30's Presto tailpeice)...so it has lasted since 1934. I expect it to last another 70 years. ;-)

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Not applicable

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I would definately upgrade the tailpeice from the original. If you can find an old presto and have it punched it works great. The original tuning machines on these TB-1's were of poor quality, so I got a modern replica set that is more relieable. The previous owner had a TN-20 in it...it sounds great.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I would highly recommend that you consider getting one of these older conversions. They are affordable and they produce a wonderful banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Tennesee Crafters: Signature

Submitted by Tom Rutledge on 8/28/2005

Where Purchased: TN General Store

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: Trade ($US)

Sound

I am primarily a Scruggs style player. The banjo is VERY well suited to that style. It plays like butter. It is a maple banjo and has the somewhat brighter tone you get with that neck wood. It seems to like the G#-A head tension. It was shipped to me at a lower head tension(F). After reading some reports from Crafter's owners and luthiers that build with the TN-20 tonering, I tried the higher tension. It worked...it really brought out the strong 4th string. The response between the 5th fret and 10th fret is incredible....and of course it has volume for days. It is definately in the style of pre-war sound. Check the sound files here:
http://www.tomrutledge.com/Gear_Photos_26.html

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was set up great when I recieved it. It had a Scorpian old wood bridge and action was perfect for my playing style. If you need something different, just tell them and they can do whatever you want in terms of a setup.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It is truly one of the most beautiful banjos I have ever seen. It has great figure in the neck and reso. Wonderful sunburst on the back and a Brazillian rosewood fingerboard. See pics here:
http://www.tomrutledge.com/Gear_Photos_26.html

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware and wood are first rate. A great banjo.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I anticipate no problems and Ron Satterfield and Mark Taylor back up their products 100%.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The components are all top drawer...Gill reso, pancake tuners, Brazillian rosewood fingerboard, Cox rim, TN-20 tonering

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

The Signature model is their top of the line banjo and this example shows that in it's appearance. I love this banjo and the more I play it, the more I like it. I am thinking that I may have to have a mahogany Signature TN banjo next.
I have a '34 TB-1 that I am converting and putting a TN-20 in, just because I like it so well in this banjo. :-)

Overall Rating: 10

Gibson: RB-3 Wreath

Submitted by Tom Rutledge on 11/2/2004

Where Purchased: Curtis McPeake

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 2200.00 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This is a banjo from Gibson's Greg Rich era. It was built in 1989. It sounds really good. I don't think it was played much, so I am waiting to see how it will be when played in....but I really like the sound. After I bought it, I compared it to a late-30's flathead RB-75 and I was surprised how well it sounded. The owner of the pre-war said he thought that it gave his banjo a run for it's money...well I don't know about that :-) It sounds pretty fine, though.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Set-up was great...I believe Curtis did a little tweaking to it.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Banjo looks great...near mint

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This banjo is 15 years old...and it is doing great...I expect it to hold up very well over the next 20 years.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I bought this from Curtis McPeake...I trust his service after the sale. :-)

Customer Service: 10

Components

I love the neck profile...slightly different than current Gibsons.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Yes, I would recommend any of the Gibsons from this era ('88-'94)

Overall Rating: 10

Gibson: Granada (Flying Eagle)

Submitted by Tom Rutledge on 7/5/2003

Where Purchased: Gibson Factory

Year Purchased: 1991
Price Paid: 00.00 ($US)

Sound

This is a fine sounding banjo. It was made in the period right after Gibson re-tooled their banjo production. People like Greg Rich and Curtiss McPeake were instrumental in getting the quality of the Gibson banjos improved in this period. (1987-1994)

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It had a perfect set up from the factory...that hardly ever happens....at least back then it didn't. Small shop banjos have come a long long way since then and are usually set up very well.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Banjo looks great...it is now 13 years old and it is really getting an attractive patina.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware and all wood parts have held up GREAT.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have not had the opportunity to deal with Gibson on any warranty issues.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I love the neck feel...it is subtly different than the Gibsons currently in production. The tonering is also slightly different. ( Gibson-Kulesh).

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I recently played a 1989 Gibson Granada just like mine at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville It had the same quality of sound that mine has. Gibson was really making some fine banjos in this period (1987-1994) If you ever get the chance to check one out...they are worth the search.

Overall Rating: 10

ODE : Model D

Submitted by Tom Rutledge on 7/5/2003

Where Purchased: Sho-Bud Guitars, Nashville,TN

Year Purchased: 1978
Price Paid: 1400? ($US)

Sound

I purchased this banjo new in 1978. It was a replacement for a Model C I had recently quit playing. At the time I purchased it, almost everyone working in the studios, here in Nashville, were using Baldwin/Odes. I had really liked my Model C and decided to upgrade to a Model D.
Bobby Thompson, Vic Jordan, Larry Mcneely, Jack Hicks, John Hartford were playing Model D's in the 60's & 70's. In 1990 I started using a Gibson Granada and put it away for 13 years. It had developed a crack at the neck heel and I just lost interest in it. I recently brought it back out and had Sim Daly (www.simdaly.com) repair the neck and generally tweak the set up. Wow...I now remember what I liked about these banjos. It does not sound like a pre-war Gibson...that is not what it is trying to be, but it IS a good bluegrass banjo...just not a Gibson. It is balanced and a real pleasure to play. It does not have the power of some Mastertone type banjos, but it is no weak sister either. Baldwin/Odes had narrower necks than Gibsons, so that takes some getting used to, if you are a Gibson player. If you get a chance to play one of these old Baldwin/Odes give it a try. They are a nice subtly alternative banjo.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I do not remember the setup when I purchased it (1978). I do remember doing just normal head and bridge adjustments. It was basically ready to go. One caveat: The original tailpiece is not the best design in the world. It can be a real pain in the a$$ to do a string change.

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

These banjos have walnut resonaters and necks. It is a fancy banjo with gold hardware and engraved armrest and tailpiece. The resonater is a little less deep than a traditional Gibson style resonater. The fingerboard is ebony. The inlays are very cool.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This banjo has held up well over the last 24 years. It has had a lot of playing and

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Never had any dealings with them back then.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Some people have replaced the tailpieces...if you can't deal with it's unsual design.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

I love having this old banjo. It saw me through many miles on the road and hours in the studio...now it is a banjo curiousity...you never see them anymore...everything now is PRE-WAR GIBSON SOUND... I love the pre-war Gibson sound...and I have a Granada ( Earl was my hero)...but it is not the only sound. Check one of these out sometime if you don't mind being a little different. A lot of top players in the 60's and 70's played 'em.

Overall Rating: 10

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.078125