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4.0 out of 5 stars A decent cheaper intermediate resonator banjo, 29 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Ashbury AB-65 5 String Banjo (Electronics)
This banjo is at the cheaper end of intermediate banjos and I did get it at a ridiculous price to match or beat those really cheap and fairly nasty thin rimmed or aluminum pot resonator banjos.

At the full rrp (£299-349) there's some competition around. As I write it's £179 which is an absolute bargain and I paid much less. £250-£280 would be a fair price but there might be some others worth checking out. The pros are considerable. A 7/16ths inch rim, a decent tailpiece which seems to be some crossover between presto and straightline tailpieces, quite nice geared guitar style tuners, a flange and unusually, instead of the usual 5th string nut, a railroad spike and another spike at the seventh fret. It also has a basic tone ring. The strings are 0.10 gauge mediums and so I thought this might be the first time I wouldn't have to replace the lights usually supplied on banjos. However I wasn't convinced by their quality and replacing them with some D'Addarios was a distinct improvement.

It also looks nice and fairly well made. If there is a con at this price then the rim is made of 8 thin plys. My other cheap intermediate banjos have 3 ply or solid rims. It also has a single, but sturdy, co-ordinating rod plus a secondary neck connection rather than dual co-ordinating rods.

I tend to go for mellow openback banjos. Without the flange and resonator this is very similar to the Ashbury AB25 (and the Ozark 2109G, Countryman California and the slightly better specced Pilgrim VPB002 all coming out of the same factory) although I think the rim might be the 3 ply or solid version. These are probably the best cheaper openbacks and this could be easily converted. Without the resonator it sounds good as an openback. However I fancied having a resonator especially at the price I paid. Resonators are usually for Scruggs style bluegrass. Although this is not what I'm using it for it's probably OK as a starter for this style and way better than the cheaper stuff. It's bright but not harsh (especially after replacing the strings) and while it lacks the zing of better bluegrass banjos with their better rims and heavier tone rings it's not at all disappointing.

It came without any setup problems, besides the usual need to tighten a few of the tension hooks, and a good action. The bridge needs to put on as well which is not unusual unless your buying from a proper banjo shop. I did use a wider bridge which I had lying around rather than the standard supplied bridge for a slightly mellower tone.

Overall very happy especially at the price paid.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loving myself sick with this banjo!, 12 Dec 2014
This review is from: Ashbury AB-65 5 String Banjo (Electronics)
I spent ages researching which banjo I'd be hitting up my hubby to buy me for Christmas, and I am soooo happy with this one. I'm a beginner but a reasonable guitarist, so not a total novice to stringed instruments. The banjo arrived in one piece all the way to Orstralia and has a fine tone. It's also eminently playable - and no doubt will be even more so when I've improved. Action doesn't even appear to be a question - I don't know if that's the case with all banjos, but the fingers just glide across the fretboard. I went for this one over similar-priced models because of the brass tone ring.

It's a spunky lookin' babe and I feel I can hold my head up in the banjo world with this one.

Just love it.
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