The Lemon L3-00 is our version of a commonly looked-over vintage banjo: the prewar style-00.
The L3-00 is built with a simple straight-grain maple neck and resonator finished in a modest sunburst. The rosewood fretboard is inlaid with dots at 5, 7, 10, and 12, and the style-00 headstock is inlaid only with the Lemon logo.
This banjo also features a Torrefied Hard Maple Lemon Block Rim cut to be 5/8" thick rather than the full 3/4", just like the original style-00s.
The L3-00 is assembled with the following components:
- Prucha Hardware
- Gotoh 4:1 Tuners (upgradeable to Rickard 10:1)
- Remo Weatherking Head
- Wide Nickel-Silver Frets (0.106"x0.039")
- Sullivan Roasted Maple 5/8" Bridge
All Lemon Banjos include a quality hard-shell case with purchase.
Please Note: The photos shown are meant to represent the L3-00. The banjo you order may slightly differ from the photos.
Review originally posted on Banjo Hangout
I was specifically looking for an RB-00 or RB-100 as some of my favourite players (Walter Raleigh Babson, Ola Belle Reed, e.g.) used these. I play a mixed style of bare finger up-picking and frailing and I wanted a banjo that had a distinct sound.
This banjo has a crisp snap when picked near the bridge. Closer to the neck, the tone darkens to a degree which my other banjos do not. In this way, it has a wide range of sound. It is loud, but not piercing. I'm still trying to find the sweet spot when frailing. Right now, I am favouring over the head, about and inch back from where the neck joins the pot. There, it sounds a lot like my tubaphones, but just a little brighter.
This banjo has a thinner rim (5/8") and I feel like this contributes a good deal to its unique sound. It lives somewhere between our expectations for a modern old time banjo and a bluegrass banjo.
Sound Rating: 10
Hunter had set the banjo up well. I made some minor tweaks to it after playing it a bit, and to account for the banjo's settling as it is brand new. There was a minor nut issue with one string's spacing, but it was easily resolved and probably not noticeable to many people, but I'm particular.
Setup Rating: 8
This banjo's foundation is the Gibson RB-00. It is custom and departs from that foundation in the inlay pattern (diamonds& squares and not just dots) and the volute for additional strength in the neck. The sunburst finish looks great and is a match for some of the 1930/40's examples of RB & TB-00's that I have seen in the wild. The diamond & square inlay makes it stand out a little, but without being garish.
Appearance Rating: 10
The finish is great and it arrived well set-up. I did some minor tweaking because set-up is a personal thing. This will be my main performance banjo moving forward. Everything is snug and I do not see any issues that would impact the banjo's reliability or sturdiness.
Reliability Rating: 10
This was a custom order. It began with an internet form which led to a couple emails and a phone call. From the initial phone call, Hunter estimated a six month period for the banjo to be completed. The banjo was ready within that time period, and may have even been a bit earlier yet were it not for some supply shipping issues. Hunter kept me abreast throughout the entire process and would contact me if there was ever a question. He also emailed pictures of the progress.
Customer Service: 10
Hunter strives to make his banjos the best, and he favours the best parts. I specifically requested a grooved stretcher band and he obliged. At one point, he contact me to ask if I would prefer the high tuning ratio Rickard tuners, but I declined because of my frequent tuning changes.
Components Rating: 10
This banjo is still new to me, and it is only Lemon Banjo's fourth build. Hunter will certainly get better with experience and I am happy to have been on the ground floor with one of these early builds. His attention to detail is 20/20 and I appreciate his reevaluating some older make which have been overlooked by others in large part because they lack a heavy tone ring. I see the banjo world as entering a sea-change in the widely held tone ring beliefs, akin to the electric guitar world and the felt need that everyone needed a 4x12" cabinet. I am considering purchasing a Lemon Almost Flathead rim in the near future.
I am extremely happy with the banjo's look, feel, and sound. I wish for Lemon Banjo's continued development and success.
Overall Rating: 10