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!
6820 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: mikesbanjomute.com / Bernunzio's Downtown Music
A month ago I never heard of a banjo mute. Now, I thankfully own 2...
The first mute I bought, after reading many positive reviews, was "Mike's Banjo Mute”. The second was Gold Tone’s Ultimate banjo mute. They are both technically different, and both do what they are supposed to do. However, if you are going for a “let’s not wake the kids”, practice any time I want, solution. Then, there is no contest, Mike’s mute wins hands down.
Focusing just on the sound cutting quality of the mutes and not the technical aspect of them, as was already accurately done in the other reviews, I’m going to explain them both like this… Picture in your mind, taking the volume of your normal banjo and cutting it in half… That’s about what you would get out of using Gold Tone’s Ultimate mute. Now, picture the sound of your banjo at half of normal, and then cut it in half again. That’s about the volume you’ll get from Mike’s mute. (As a side note, I am using these mutes on open back banjos, but I assume the dynamics would be the same on a banjo with a resonator.)
Or, if you want to look at it based strictly on a cost perspective, Gold Tone’s mute is about $14 and as I said, basically cut’s the volume in half. Mike’s is more expensive at $35, but it’s also twice as quiet. It is kind of a “get what you pay for” type of thing. Which also holds true for the quality of the mutes themselves, Mike’s is by far a higher quality accessory and will far outlast Gold Tone’s mute.
Also the only technical thing I will add, because I don't recall if I saw it in any other reviews… As a test I tuned my banjo with my electronic tuner and then used the tuner with both mutes individually, and neither mute altered the tuning.
The only real negative is the fact that they are “mutes”, and I immediately take them off any chance I get. But, the benefit of practicing at any time far outweighs any negative for either mute. In my situation, if it wasn’t for being able to use mutes, (especially Mike’s) I wouldn’t be able to practice remotely as often as I can now.
Lastly, I want to give Mike props for his great customer service and quick shipping time. I ordered through his website on a Tuesday and received it on Thursday. The Gold Tone I purchased locally.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Banjo.com
Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 300.00 ($US)
I'm fairly new to playing the banjo, so this review certainly isn't coming from a seasoned veteran. However, in my opinion this is an excellent beginner/camping/practice/take anywhere banjo. It has a good "old-time" sound which is also fairly bright.
I also own a Gold Tone White Layde which is obvioulsly a better quality and better sounding banjo, so in comparaison I was a little disappointed at first, but what can you expect. However, after playing it I have to admit, I pick up the CC-100 more often than the White Layde for praticing because the CC-100 weighs significanly less. But don't get me wrong, if I HAD to choose between them, I'de take the White Layde everytime. Also I should note, I tested the Deering Goodtime at a local music store, and as much as I would have liked to buy a strictly American made instrument, I'm glad I went with the Gold Tone, I was not impressed at all by the Deering Goodtime. The CC-100 just looks, feels and plays like a better banjo.
Sound Rating: 8
I ordered this with the optional planetary tuners, which I personally like the look of more than the standard guitar style tuners. (another reason I don't like the Goodtime). The set-up was done well by the guys at Banjo.com. It has a nice low action and light strings which make playing as a beginner much easier.
The only problem was in shipping, the truss rod somehow became dislodged and was pushing up on the truss rod cover. Not Banjo.com's fault though. Other than having planetary tuners installed and putting the truss rod back in place (after calling Banjo.com about it) I haven't changed a thing.
Setup Rating: 9
I like dark woods personally, but there is certainly nothing wrong with the appearence of this banjo. The maple neck and rim are of good quality and I have no complaints at all.
Appearance Rating: 9
The hardware seems well suited for a $300.00 banjo. The hooks seem to look a tad fragile, but so far I haven't experienced any problems.
I love the finish on this banjo, I don't know what they use, but the neck is quick and is as smooth as a baby's bottom. I've never played at a gig before so I can't comment on that, but if I was ever at a jam session, I wouldn't be embarrassed or worried about using it with or without a backup.
Reliability Rating: 9
The guys (and girl) at Banjo.com are EXCELLENT to deal with. Very helpful, very friendly and a pleasure to do business with. They would take the time to answer any questions you have. I've bought both my banjo's there and would do it again in a heartbeat. John and Barry are first class.
Customer Service: 10
As I stated above the only thing that "looks" fragile are the hooks. Other than that it seems like a well built instrument that would stand the test of time. I originally bought this as a camping banjo, but I like it so much I wouldn't want to risk anything bad happening to it, so I bought a kit banjo and use that for camping instead.
Components Rating: 9
I would recommend this banjo all day long for anyone wishing to buy a low cost beginner banjo. In my opinion it's the best banjo out there in this price range. It doesn't compare to my White Layde, but it's still a decent sounding banjo for the price.
If this banjo was stolen I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Banjo.com
Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 650.00 ($US)
This was the first banjo I ever purchased and I really didn't know anything about banjos at the time, except for the reviews I read. Now I own 3 banjos and I absolutely love this banjo. It is by far my favorite to play, my favorite to look at and the best sounding. If you want to play clawhammer, old-time, frailing, this banjo will make you smile in delight. I've had more than one banjo teacher be surprised at what a wonderful sound this banjo has.
Sound Rating: 10
This was set up wonderfully by Barry and John at Banjo.com. I haven't made any changes at all to this banjo and I really don't think it needs any. However just for curiosity sake, I might try a new head on it one of these days.
Setup Rating: 10
Cosmetically this is an absolutely beautiful banjo !!! I'm a huge fan of dark wood to begin with and the high gloss mohogany finish on the maple body and neck gives it a real nice classy look. The cloud inlay on the figerboard was done nicely and looks good as well. The white binding around the rim and up the sides of the fret board also gives a really nice touch. I never grow tired of looking at this banjo, much less playing it.
Appearance Rating: 10
All the hardware on this banjo seems to be good quality hardware. So far I've had no issues at all with anything on this banjo.
If I played in gigs, this would be my first choice and I would wear it strapped around my neck proudly. I have no doubt that it would sound and perform like a banjo of more than twice the price in a gig environment.
Reliability Rating: 10
The people at Banjo.com are great. I've bought 2 banjos from there so far and both times it's been a pleasure to do business with them. They are very helpful and very knowledgable. I would wouldn't hesitate to give them my business for any banjo need.
Customer Service: 10
As stated above, there is nothing this banjo lacks, except someone to play it.
Components Rating: 10
I would recommend this wholeheartedly, especially for the price.
If this banjo was stolen I would have hunt down the SOB and open up serious can of whoop-a_ _ . Without a doubt !!! However, if they couldn't be hunted down I would buy another one in a heartbeat without question.
I spent hours looking for and reading reviews on banjos when I was first in the market to purchase one, and I guarentee you will not find a bad review on this banjo anywhere. Not only will you not find a bad review it's rare when you find someone willing to sell a used one. There is a reason for that...
Overall Rating: 10
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