Until recently, and by recently I mean this week, I had not had the opportunity to get my hands on an OME banjo, but had always been interested in what they might be like. Unfortunately for us here in Australia, we do not have access to the greater variety of banjo brands that are readily available in the United States, so it is nice to see that this product is now being imported into this great country. And, if the Wizard open-back model is anything to go by, watch out because we have a real contender
Upon opening the wellappointed hard case, I was pleasantly surprised at a glance with what was on offer with the Wizard Open Back. This instrument looks stunning and feels just as good. The frets and neck felt amazing. With a slightly wider neck than most banjos I come across and a really nice, smooth finish, this made transitioning between chords feel comfortable right away. If comfort in the left hand is important to you as a player, you will also love what you get with
the right hand with your forearm resting on a beautifully handcarved wooden armrest. This was really nice. Unlike the sometimes harsh edges that you can get on steel armrests, this was a delight to lean my forearm up against. It really helps with the strum-hand action too.
Looks and Sound
A quick strum of the strings proved the banjo was out of tune when I first took it out of the case, yet it still sounded really rich and vibrant which was a sign of things to come when tuned. The big maple pot on this instrument really sings with chords and individual notes. There are plenty of resonator banjos out there that do not offer as much projection or a richness of tone that the Wizard presents. So, it sounds great and it looks the part too. An “S” shaped frailing scoop in the ebony fret-board is a really nice touch that compliments the beautiful craftsmanship of this banjo. Its design is a combination of simplicity and showboating, if that makes any sense. All the hardware has a tarnished look to it that offsets the cleanliness of the ebony fret-board and headstock. A real winner. A professional’s dream or a family heirloom.
Hits and Misses
Fifth string raised nut and railway spikes for cap
Great look and feel
Huge, bold sound for an open back banjo
Classic pre-ages look that will continue to improve
Slightly sharp edges
Width at nut: 3.4cm
Rim: Flame Maple
Neck: Flame Maple