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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!

6986 reviews in the archive.

Gold Tone: BG-150F

Submitted by Bigger Al on 3/10/2017

Where Purchased: Musicians Friend

Year Purchased: 2017
Price Paid: 640.00 ($US)

Sound

Great sound, full mellow tone, but not quite the crack of an all maple rm and resonator. I plolay for myself in my home so I con't need the huge volume of a bell tone ring. Rolled brass is fine.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Banjo was well set up by Gold Tone. Just had to tune the strings and that was it.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I like the blingt on the banjo. Hearts and flowers inlays on the neck and a fancy new inlaid tuning peghead that is exclusive to the BGT150F

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

I have no idea what the reliability will be, but seems to be high quality parts. I would use it anywhere.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

H and durableaven''t contacted them for anything but has a lifetime warranty.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Comes standard with a 14" mahogany resonator, a rolled brass tone ring, planetary tuners, and a maple bridge topped with ebony. Parts seem to be of top quality and durable. Head is a Remo top frosted weather king. Armrest is the standard Gold Tone engraved rest.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

So far I am pleased with this banjo.  I had my doubts about purchasing from Musicians Friend because they don't set up their instruments but took the risk that Gold Tone set it up properly and they did.  Sound is to my liking for bluegrass even though it doesn't have the crack or a maple resonator.  Softer sound and more mellow.  Nice action on the neck and tuners seem to hold,

Overall Rating: 9

Deering: Artisan Goodtime Openback

Submitted by Bigger Al on 3/10/2017

Where Purchased: small dealer

Year Purchased: 2017
Price Paid: 560.00 ($US)

Sound

It's fine for clawhammer. Excellent sound. Loud enough with picks if you want to play bluegrass, but obviously not the volume of a resonator banjo. It is a well rounded sound for different types of music.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Deering claims they set up all their banjos before they ship. The one I got was not set up at all. Action was than 1/16 inch and it buzzed like crazy. The neck was rotated counter clockwise on its mounting bolts, high side above the rim, low side below it. Head was not tuned. I did a complete setup myself, changed the cheap bridge out for a factory floor roasted maple bridge and now it's fine. I would have expected this on a cheap Asian import, but not from Deering.

Setup Rating: 1

Appearance

The best thing about the Artisan is the bling on the neck and the engraved peghead. It is a good looking banjo without question. The wood is dyed a darker color and so is the neck. Inlays are nicely done.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

It seems like it will be a reliable banjo. Parts are mostly of high quality, although I can't understand why Deering can't use a maple/ebony bridge and a bone nut. Guess every nickel helps savfing costs.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

I've dealt with Deering and the folks there seem very nice. I'm dissappointed in the warranty period, which is only six years. Doubt I'll ever have to use the warranty though.

Customer Service: 7

Components

I really think that for the money Deering gets for the Artisan, which is nothing more than a fancied up Goodtime openback, they can at least give you quality parts to produce sound. Nut is not bone it is tusq and the bridge has an artificial top instead of ebony. The rest of the banjo seems to be of good quallity. It does come witn spikes already added for the fifth string. No tone ring.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

It sounds okay, but it doesn't really impress me a great deal overall.  It is playable, but the neck is not a standout as far as comfort goes for me.  Sounds as good as any, but has no tone ring.  In this price range, most others give you at least a rolled brass ring.  So while I like it, I don't get crazy for it.

Overall Rating: 7

First Quality Music Supply

Submitted by Bigger Al on 2/24/2017

Overall Comments

Well, I almost feel guilty writing this review after looking at all the others here, but, I purchased a roasted maple bridge from them on 2/16.  After not hearing from them in a couple of days after placing the order I sent an email requesting to know when they expected to ship.  No response for two days so sent another.  No response again.  Called, and whoever answered the phone got nasty after I said that no one responds to emails and said "I've got them right here, you only sent two, I'm busy."  I would expect that woman to respond after the first email, not collect them and not reply to them.  That was on 2/22.  After being told it would ship that day (which at this point was only because I was interrupting her busy work schedule), I hung up after thanking her and telling her "that's all I wanted to know in the first place."  Well, it's now 2/24 and the item has finally found its' way to the PO in Louisville.  Well, I guess next time around, I'll just have to be too "busy" to waste my time with FQMS.

Overall Rating: 3

Davison/Jameson: 5-String Banjo 24 Bracket with Closed Solid Back

Submitted by Bigger Al on 2/2/2017

Where Purchased: Amazon

Year Purchased: 2017
Price Paid: 154.95 ($US)

Sound

Haven't played for quite a while. Purchased this mainly because it is cheap. Pleasantly surprised at the quality of the sound. Reasonably loud but sweet and mellow. Not brash.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

This was my biggest surprise. The action, neck angle, truss settings AND the head itself were all right on. If I tap the head I get a sympathetic G sound. Even the bridge was placed correctly! I tried my damndest to find fault with the setup but couldn't The factory did a great job of setting it up!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The banjo is just a basic resonator banjo, no tone ring, no fancy inlays on the fretboard. However, the rim and resonator have nice looking inlaid bindings.
also comes with a planetary 5th string tuner. It's got a well done mahogany finish with no pock marks whatsoever in it. Hardware is ok, nothing great but it'll do.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

I don't have a clue how durable this banjo will be. Actually seems well made considering what it costs. If I played a gig they would throw empty beer bottles at me, but it wouldn't be the banjos fault. LOL

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

This little no-name company has a website with customer support on it, a bunch of beginner and setup material and really is trying to make folks happy. That's a lot more than I've seen from a lot of the big boys on the street.

Customer Service: 10

Components

All the parts are inexpensive. Tuners are okay, Rim is layered wood with mahogany finish. Resonator is also mahogany. Like the idea of wood rim with no tone ring. Is easy to use as an open back. If I upgraded it would be the whole banjo. For the price I paid it doesn't make sense to upgrade it. Everything put together on this banjo works as it should.

Components Rating: 5

Overall Comments

I like this instrument.  It was cheap, is made well, sounds good for the money I paid and better than some that are much more expensive.  Any banjo will sound right if the setup is good, but of course won't have the tonal qualities that are added with tone rings, real wood, etc.  I would purchase it again without question if my financial resources were the same as they are now (retired, social security, etc.).

Overall Rating: 8

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