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This article was originally published in issue #33
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The Rocky Mountain 2 carries all the basic essentials of a quality banjo. A walnut neck carries a fiddle-shaped headstock faced with what appears to be some kind of rosewood. In a nice touch, the truss-rod cover in the same wood is set in flush with the facing. The rosewood fingerboard carries a traditional “hearts and flowers” inlay, giving the Rocky Mountain 2 a classy appearance. The tuners - planetary geared on the headstock - all work as smoothly as you’d expect them to.
The pot is made of walnut and is fitted with a 24 bracket notched tension hoop, a rolled brass tone ring and a coated Remo Weatherking head. An engraved armrest, a tailpiece that can be adjusted to make the banjo’s tone harder or softer, and a stamped flange complete the hardware roster. Four thumbscrews through the flange hold its burr walnut resonator firmly in position.
The initial set-up was adequate, but the basic quality of this banjo warrants a more informed set-up and, unless you have the necessary skills, you ought to make sure that your retailer does the work required before you part with your money - and you will want to budget for a case or a high-quality banjo gig-bag to shield it from the vicissitudes of life.
Sound-wise this is a very flexible banjo. With the tailpiece adjusted to give maximum downward string pressure over the bridge the Rocky Mountain 2 delivers the powerful cut required of modern Bluegrass, while relaxing the pressure moves the tone back in time to the softer sounds characteristic of John Hartford and Wade Ward.