Bluegrass, new grass, alt country, hayseed hipster – whatever label you put on it, there has been a huge resurgence in traditional country and bluegrass instruments over the last few years. Whilst there was always a massive market in the US of A, Australia hasn’t always been as into country music and its various offshoots. Nowadays banjo, man- dolin and fiddle seem to be everywhere (not to mention the ukulele) with players of all ages and demographics giving them a crack.
Solid and with a clean and neat finish, the BJM 500 certainly looks the part. Listed as an ‘Antique’ look, the Troubadour 5 features a Maple neck, Burl resonator, Rosewood fingerboard and Maple rim. The Burl on the back of the resonator looks very rootsy with some nice grain showing through and a tasteful cream binding. From there the hardware, lugs and tone ring definitely have that antiquated look with a brassy finish and some inlaid detailing and markings for an older look and feel (as opposed to super shiny chrome).
My first impressions were of a slightly warm tone with a bassy sound. There’s some honkiness in there (good honk!) and nice attack that would blend nicely with other instruments and it produces quite a bit of volume. It’s not overly snappy like some other models, but still has a throaty goodness to it that would be good for relaxed chordal playing or quick rolls. You can also pick a little closer to the bridge if you want to add some extra twang.
WORKING 9 TO 5
Keeping in mind the Trouba- dour’s price, tone and sound, I could see it as a solid instru- ment for beginners wanting a step up from the entry level models, intermediate players and even more advanced types who like a nice playing Banjo with a comfy neck. For those doubtful about getting into banjo, they really can open up your eyes (and ears) to new sounds for players coming from the guitar world whilst complete novices might be surprised how easy it is to get a few notes out fairly quickly and get in the swing of things. Bring on Barnes & Mullins’ Troubadour, roll up your skinny jeans and get into some Banjo action!
Hits and Misses
Excellent finish, looks and price
Warm fundamental tone
Not as bright and snappy as some other models