american made banjo
Deering Vega® SENATOR Banjo
We return to our series on the American-made instrument inventory of Acoustic Vibes Music. Today, a look at a dandy bit of craftsmanship from Deering. This is The Banjo I would choose if buying one for all uses, be it stage, studio, and where a banjo gets most of it’s use, outdoor bluegrass circles during the summer. Priced under two thousand dollars (2015 list $2188), the Senator does not break the wallet considering the quantity of quality oozing from every aspect.
While the Senator has a spun brass tone ring, with the open back, the overall weight is reasonable. Comfortable, even. Six pounds makes it just a little heavier than my 1996 Guild D-4. ◊◊◊
What do I like about this Deering?
No resonator to take off (or resonator flange digging into your leg if you do remove the resonator). A banjo is usually overpoweringly loud; you’d do fine against a couple guitars, fiddle, upright bass, and mandolin without the resonator. Volume is never compensation for quality of tone, dexterity, or originality. Buy a good banjo and practice. Be confident in your playing and the authentic sound of the Deering.
Tone. This banjo sounds fantastic even to some “players” with their $4,000-$6,000 banjos. It all starts with great material, and Deering hit it right with the spun brass tone ring and violin grade 3-ply maple rim (see Deering’s Anatomy of a Banjo link if we’re talking gibberish).
Feel. The neck feels right. Slim and sexy. Real ebony fingerboard. Nickel silver frets. Deering Planetary Tuners. This banjo is screaming QUALITY QUALITY QUALITY!
Looks. Deep warm brown stained maple neck with the slim Vega shape. Nickel plated hardware. Satin Finish. Something about the metal, stained maple, and ebony fingerboard. Works great together! Heck, it triggered a strong BUYING impulse in me, before I even played a note!
Feel. Yes, we already wrote about feel. But until you sit down with the Senator, run your hands along the neck, and have a listen, these are only words. Words such as, “Wow, this feels really nice. Sounds like a banjo should, and look, Deering took the time to do a really nice finish job on the instrument”. This is one of three instruments I want when I’m ready to spend eight thousand. The other two? The Weber Bitterroot and a Bourgeois Country Boy, naturally.
◊◊◊ please, don’t forget to stretch and warm up before marathon picking engagements!