Mandy Tyner's Review of the Banjo Bolster

Mandy Tyner (Banjo Lemonade)

Mandy Tyner (Banjo Lemonade)
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“I’ve owned and played at least 8 different banjos over the years, and I’ve reviewed banjo’s in my local music shop (so I’ve tested out more banjos that I didn’t own). In my experience, it’s funny I actually went with a wood tone ring to try and diminish some of the overtones that seem to happen with an open back banjo.

For me overtones are bad because they are uncomfortable for my ears and make them ring and pulse. With years of military, law enforcement, and just basic life I have some minimal damage to my ears.

So once I got into clawhammer I would stuff my banjo with dishrags and sponges in order to not have ringing ears. It wouldn’t matter if the banjo sounded absolutely amazing, I would still get these uncomfortable tones ringing in my ears to the point of pulses in my ears. So for years the solution was that deadened sound you get from rags and sponges touching the banjo head and squeezed in between the rod/dowel. And I’ve gotten very used to that deadened sound.

Enter the Banjo Bolster! It’s very unassuming when you receive it and you literally think - what makes this any different than anything else I use? Well a lot actually!! I got it and pulled out the heavy sponge I have been using for several years (I had changed from rags to sponges because the sponge would stay in place better behind the dowel). I had watched a video on the website of how to put it in. So I put it in the bottom (below the dowel if you are in playing position) and positioned it so it wasn’t touching the banjo head at all. I just snaked it in around the wood rim touching each side of the dowel. I braced myself for the ear pulsing (since I wasn’t stuffing it against the head).

I do not lightly say this - the banjo now sounds ALIVE, and NO ringing or pulsing in my ears. So now I have a much better sound, but no ear issues!! That is huge for me.

I played my banjo for a whole session and it was like I was playing a new banjo (the sound is so pleasant). I know that sounds crazy, and I’m not a technical person so it’s hard to describe other than it just sounds ALIVE now. Instead of sorta dead.

So when Ric originally contacted me asking if he could send me one I was definitely skeptical. It isn’t often when you find something seemingly so simple yet so great at the same time. I thought - ok you just fancied up a sponge or pillow stuffing or something. WELL - whatever he did - I love it is all I can say.

It’s such a subtle difference if you are the listener standing on the other side of the player. I had my husband stand and listen to me playing with nothing (ouch my ears) then with the bolster installed. He could hear a difference and described it as more pleasant. BUT - for me sitting behind the banjo - THE PLAYER - which we all are first, the difference is unreal. I also had him listen to me playing normally with the sponge, then the bolster. Again he said it’s a pleasant difference.

All of this for me to tell you - buy it and experience the difference for yourself. We all love trying new things, and when there’s even a chance that a player's experience can be improved I am all for that. We are the ones behind the banjo, doing the work after all, right?

 - Mandy Tyner (Banjo Lemonade) Renowned banjo player and educator.
Banjo Lemonade (YouTube) (Clawhammer and 2 Finger Banjo Lessons) (About, Calendar, Bookings) (Endorsed Artist for Folkcraft Instruments)