Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

419
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!

6942 reviews in the archive.

Capos: Sidewinder 5th String Capo

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 12/18/2015

Where Purchased: http://sidewindercapo.com/

Overall Comments

Awesome 5th string capo for the price.  Works as it should. I'm ordering another. Recommended.

Overall Rating: 10

Capos: Paige clik capo

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 10/23/2013

Where Purchased: Private Sale

Overall Comments

A gimmick with more cons than pros.  I prefer the original Paige Capo, as apparently did the person selling it to me. The click-to-adjust feature does not work well, and the capo must be constantly adjusted so it doesn't fall off.  Sometimes a basically good design is better left alone.  I don't recommend it.  You can do better.

Overall Rating: 6

Eastman: EBJ-WL

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 4/20/2013

Where Purchased: www.bernunzio.com

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Sounds good, but limited in volume by low 1/2" bridge.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

I advised them that I would set it up, but the dowel stick arrangement is not setup friendly.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Very nicely done banjo with excellent inlays and overall quality.
The finish had not hardened adequately at time of delivery, so finish was marked by electronic tuner. They should have held off on delivery while the finished cured more. I get many positive comments about the banjo.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Once the finish hardened more, it's been great. Nice chrome metal finish.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Friendly enough, and John even offered to buff out the finish, but it justs costs too much to ship the banjo back and forth for the no cost repair to be worthwhile. I'll do it myself.

Customer Service: 8

Components

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

No side dots on neck. Low action with 1/2" bridge limits volume. No scoop. Neck inlay different than most at 10th fret. Remember though, it's a reproduction of an old banjo used more so for a classical style of playing rather than clawhammer or frailing. I've switched out the stock head for a goatskin head and like it a lot.

Overall Rating: 8

Vega: Style F

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 4/20/2013

Where Purchased: Gary Schattl

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

If it the clawhammer/frailing style perfectly.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The setup was excellent. The newer neck had the heel cut made for a higher bridge so the volume and tone is just right. No action adjustments were needed, I just switched out the bridge to suit my taste for tone. I might go to a skin head someday, but it sounds great as is. No need to mess with success.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

A nicely made conversion neck (the original models were tenor banjos). The neck finish matches the pot perfectly. The neck profile is just right, in my opinion.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Seems dependable with no issues of concern.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

No need for repair, but no written warranty.

Customer Service: 9

Components

The sound is very nice. No cheap parts, just true to it's original design. A very nice, good quality conversion neck.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I'm very happy with this purchase. Happier than I've been with some banjos costing much more. It's my go-to clawhammer banjo. These banjos were manufactured with basic round tone rings, but the sound better than the tub-a-phones or white ladye rings. Sometimes less is more. The only thing I would really like that this doesn't have is a scooped neck, but I may have that done. No case came with the banjo, but I knew that at the time of purchase.

Overall Rating: 9

Armrests: Raw Brass Wire Banjo Armrest

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 4/20/2013

Where Purchased: eBayer: wolfpackjamboree

Overall Comments

Very nice adjustable armrest for open back banjos. I've purchased two so far. A nice product at a fair price. AVailable nickel plated or raw brass.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/wolfpackjamboree/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=25&_trksid=p3686

Overall Rating: 9

Mockingbird Banjo by Glenn Nelson: Fanned Fret

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 11/10/2010

Where Purchased: Private Sale

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

A very versatile banjo capable of many sounds. I play bluegrass and whatever else moves me at the moment, and this banjo does it all well.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I'm the second owner of this banjo, so it was set up well by the previous owner for his style of playing. I did make some changes for my playing style. This banjo is very versatile.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

A nice looking banjo with a unique headstock design. Tasteful inlays. Not absolutely traditional, but a very nice banjo.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

As dependable and durable as any banjo, with a nice finish and nice cocobolo hardwood appointments.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I contacted the shop for some string gauge information and Glenn was very nice to deal with. I have not had to contact the shop for anything problem related.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The obvious stand out is the fanned fret design, but the other components are quality as well. As a custom builder, you can vary the components to suit your desires.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

What a fine banjo. Easy to play, can be set up for a great voice range to accommodate different playing styles. The fanned fret design evens out the string tension, increasing the easy playability factor with good intonation. Quality parts and great workmanship. The Nelsons are a shop builder who may not be well known, but who produces a banjo that's as good as any at a fair price. http://www.mockingbirdmusic.com/

Updated November 2014:  After 4 years with this banjo, I haven't found a banjo that can touch it in terms of tonal range.  I'm very pleased with it.  It's a keeper.

Updated January 2016:  My go-to banjo. 

Overall Rating: 10

Picks: Ernie Ball Thumb Picks

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 4/11/2009

Where Purchased: Musician's Friend

Overall Comments

What a waste of plastic. I bought a pack of six, and they're so thin, there're worthless. I even tried doubling them, and they're still worthless. Very disappointing. Save your money

Overall Rating: 1

Stealth: Standard

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 4/11/2009

Where Purchased: Private Sale

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This banjo has the most range of sound that I've ever experienced.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Well set up and very easy to play.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Contemporary.

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

Very reliable.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Haven't needed any service.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Excellent design and quality. The geometry of the Stealth gives it more potential for different setups for varying playing styles.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I like the playability and sound. I wish I would have found it earlier in the hunt, but I might not have appreciated it as much.

Updated January 2016: I have since sold this banjo because it had a different timbre than other banjos when playing at jams with others banjos, although the sound playing as the only banjo was super. 

Overall Rating: 8

Armrests: Thinline

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 3/7/2009

Where Purchased: www.LittleMountainMusic.com

Overall Comments

The BanjoMate Thinline Armrest is a very nice product. Well finished with an ingenious mounting system that allows it to fit on banjos with various hook spacings. It mounts easily by removing and reinstalling two hooks after sliding them through the armrest mounting hardware. It adjusts easily both up and down, and it slides side to side without having to use tools, so if you're standing in a field somewhere and choose to adjust it, it can be done between songs, it's that easy. It mounts on the hooks, so there's no adverse effect on the banjo (i.e. drilled holes, etc), and it can be switched to another banjo easily, so if you sell your banjo, you can keep the armrest. It really the best I've seen. It doesn't look heavy on the banjo like some armrests, yet it protects the arm from touching the hooks, adding comfort to playing. I like the fact that it's not cold metal. The one I have is ebony colored which matches the black rim of my Huss & Dalton Singletree Banjo nicely. Instructions are adequate, shipping was fast. Highly recommended.

Overall Rating: 10

Suwannee Banjo Camp

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 2/2/2009

Overall Comments

One of the most reasonably price camps that's truly a camp. Located at the scenic O'Leno State Park just outside of High Springs, Florida. Nice shade, and lots of wildlife. The facilities are basic, and there's a public campground right there to accomodate RV's and tenters if you choose to not stay in the cabins provided in the group area. Right outside of town for conveniences. Just don't swim with the alligators! Top shelf instructors. Food is good. Jamming during off hours if desired. Cabins have electric for recharging cell phones, which is convenient. Instruction for both clawhammer and bluegrass styles by top rate instructors. Worth the trip. http://www.suwanneebanjocamp.com/
Located at: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=&daddr=29.915206,-82.582158&hl=en&geocode=&mra=mi&mrsp=0&sz=17&sll=29.91423,-82.580076&sspn=0.005728,0.007285&ie=UTF8&ll=29.913728,-82.578918&spn=13.745906,19.6875&z=6

2013: Just made my third trip there. A nice bunch of folks. Will return again. I go about every 2nd or 3rd year, and always pick up something useful.

Overall Rating: 9

Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 1/19/2009

Overall Comments

Located just outside historic Gettysburg, PA, this twice a year (May and August) festival has been a showcase for top name talent for many years. The venue is a campground with amenities like swimming pool, full RV hook-ups, and modern restroms not found at some festivals. Both shaded and open field overflow camping. It's a show event with workshops more so than a pickers event, and is pricier than many festivals. Be sure to see the Gettysburg Battlefield and Museum while you're there. Certainly worth a trip.

Overall Rating: 9

Northeast Pennsylvania Bluegrass Festival (NEPA)

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 1/19/2009

Overall Comments

This was a startup festival in 2008 at one of the nicest festival settings located just outside of Tunkhannock, PA. The park offers plenty of shade and a babbling creek, with a nearby town for shopping convenience. A small, reasonably priced, good picking festival. Electric available in some areas, but no full RV hookups. This is a festival run by bluegrassers for bluegrassers that will grow as it draws bigger name talent. It's one of the top on my list. I hope it can keep it's small festival charm over time.

Overall Rating: 10

Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 1/19/2009

Overall Comments

Located at the Salem County Fairgrounds near Woodstown, NJ, at a convenient location for travel from northeast locations. This festival draws top talent, and is also a great pickers festival. Some RV basic hookups, but mostly open field rough camping. BRING SHADE. Held annually over Labor Day weekend.

Overall Rating: 7

Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 1/19/2009

Overall Comments

As big as they come, with top performer talent, and the most vendors of any event I've been to. A great picker's event. Very crowded open field camping without hookups. BRING SHADE! The new site in 2008 provides level "urban" camping at it's best. A well run festival that must be experienced.

Overall Rating: 9

MarchMedia: "Stanley Style Banjo" by Steve Sparkman

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 6/16/2008

Where Purchased: http://www.stanleystylebanjo.com/

Overall Comments

This is the best instructional aid I've seen for the playing style of Ralph Stanley. Better than Ralph's video of years ago, in my opinion. The material is presented by Steve Sparkman, the banjo picker for Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys, with the help of guitarist James Allen Shelton. The audio and image quality is better than average. The presentation style of the two talking about Ralph's style with explanations and examples of his nuances and licks comes off well in an easy to digest format that's not boring. Well edited split screen shots allow both the picking and fretting hands to be seen as passages are played so learning is easier. While some songs are played, it's not particularly a video of how to play each song, but rather one of showing the components of Ralph's style with some particulars that relate to various songs to give the viewer the tools needed to go forth and learn more of Ralph's material. Steve's machine gun right hand picking is sure to rekindle interest in this picking style for many who are learning. This is a well produced project that's a must-have for those interested in the playing style of Ralph Stanley.

Overall Rating: 10

Crafters of TN: Maple Classic

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 3/16/2008

Where Purchased: Private Sale

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Sounds great, good volume.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Set up very nicely by previous owner.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Very nicely done inlays. I like the deviation from the classic Gibson style inlay patterns.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Good quality components.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Haven't needed any.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I particularly like the necks that Crafters of Tennessee makes. The TN-20 tone ring is a major player in the prewar tone ring sound competition.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I purchased the banjo based on the sound and look of similar banjos played by others, which speaks well of the manufacturer's consistency.

Overall Rating: 10

Huss and Dalton: Singletree

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 2/8/2008

Where Purchased: Private Sale

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 850. ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Great clawhammer sound. Exceptional room filling presence.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Well setup.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Flawless dark satin finish and inlay. The neck has a great feel.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Quality components

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Private sale N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Nothing needs upgrading.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I recommend it highly.

Overall Rating: 10

Liberty Banjo Co.: Prototype Archtop

Submitted by gottasmilealot on 2/7/2007

Where Purchased: Bernunzio

Year Purchased:
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Very versatile. I've had the banjo set up as an archtop, flathead (with a Sullivan conversion ring), and as an open back frailer.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

It was set up well.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Very attractive with colored abalone and pearl inlays on fretboard, headstock, backstrap and neck heel. Checkerboard binding on neck and resonator.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Quality components have lasted many years.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

None. Company is no longer in business. But, none needed. I was able to track doen information through one of the original owners of Liberty Banjo Co., Jim DeCava, who was very forthcoming with information.

Customer Service: 5

Components

Best quality components available were used in construction.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Great banjo that appreciates in price due to high quality and limited availability. Not too many become available on the used market. This is a 1976 banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.0625