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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.

Nails: Stick on nails

Submitted by CJWalton on 2/10/2014

Where Purchased:

Overall Comments

I play banjo and acoustic guitar, the latter with very heavy strings.  As a consequence, my natural nails get shredded quickly.  I have been seriously considering getting permanent false nails but four things put me off: the look - not good for my job; my other hobbies; the cost - fake nails are not cheap; and the health warning - bacterial infection can cause your natural nail to become unseated and you can lose your nails for life.

I was therefore delighted to discover Rico Guitar Nails.  I was slightly sceptical at first, but I have been seriously road testing them in sustained sessions and they are great.  I use them on my index, middle and ring finger of the right hand.  For clawhammer I use my natural thumb skin, but on the guitar I use a thumb pick.  They allow me to get a great sound out of the banjo - precise and bright.  And best of all they pull right off once the session is finished.  Further, I can grow my natural nails for less intensive practice sessions.

For those looking for a convenient and inexpensive solution to the nail problem I am really happy to recommend Rico Guitar Nails.

Overall Rating: 10

Mark 'Clawgrass' Johnson

Submitted by CJWalton on 1/12/2014

Overall Comments

I'm a novice banjo player based in Yorkshire, England.  I'm learning clawgrass with Mark Johnson and wanted to tell you all about it.

Lessons are done over Skype but Mark is also able to review what I record and send him via email in the interim.  The Skype system works well, with good sound and visibility despite the difference between Yorkshire and Florida.  Mark was really accommodating with the time difference too.  At US$60/£37 per hour I think the price is extremely good.  Making payment via his site/PayPal was effortless.

Mark is a fantastic teacher and I am delighted to be learning from him.  There is an excellent lesson structure in place blending technique, theory and fine detail (which Mark really focuses on).  Mark provides thoroughly practical advice on getting your banjo set up to sound its best.  The lessons are packed with information and Mark gives plenty of interesting exercises and challenges to occupy you in between.

Mark is hugely personable, knowledgeable and an amazing player.  I highly recommend his services as a teacher, wherever in the world you may be.

Visit to book in.



Overall Rating: 10

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by CJWalton on 7/7/2013

Where Purchased: Online from

Overall Comments

I think this is a truly excellent device. Like many others I was convinced by the comments on Banjo Hangout and the YouTube clips. Even so, the noise reduction was still a BIG surprise! I had been using a beer towel folded tightly under the bridge which I always thought was undesirable as it was probably exerting pressure on the head. Now I still have the towel folded loosely behind the head for a subtler sound when not using the mute and I don't bother removing it when I add the mute.

I live in a typical English 1990s home with plasterboard internal walls and virtually no soundproofing so this is absolutely essential as I only get to practice late at night. Having the mute means that I can practise properly without having to worry about my family and neighbours being disturbed.

The service from Mike was excellent. He shipped the item the day after I paid and his communication was excellent. The device itself is discreet and easy to fit on and it doesn't go anywhere once attached.

Overall Rating: 10

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