Let me start off by saying I purchased this instrument about 2 years ago, so I've played it often enough to say I've gotten a good impression about it. I ordered it is part of a bundle with a budget case and a brown minotaur leather strap (case and strap are great, too, very aesthetic, no issues). The order arrived in a tight sealed box and the instrument arrived without a scratch.
About the instrument:
The build quality is really solid, it's pretty heavy on account of the type of wood it's made of. I had never played a banjo before - I am a multi-instrumentalist and I decided that I would learn - so I had no comparison, but I got used to the heaviness, besides chances are you'll mostly play it sitting down anyway and the heaviness really amounts to a feeling you've got a solid, quality instrument in your hands that won't break if you drop it, though I don't suggest you should.
In the time span of these 2 years, I've never taken off the resonator once, so I can't comment on the sound without it. I've never had the need to. At first, with brand new strings on, the banjo sounded pretty loud in comparison to a guitar, even a sharp sound, I might say, but as the strings weathered and I stopped plucking like an amateur it stopped being an issue.
I've used it to record folk, country, americana/swamp folk and indie folk music and the instrument delivers in every genre, however, this has really a lot to do with the way you play it - if you want to muffle the strings and have an atmospheric sound, or want to pick loud in-your-face rags and jigs in the style of bluegrass.
I wouldn't say it has a specific tone, in the sense that it could be used only in certain genres of music - that, again, is a matter of how you play it. I mention this because some of you might have a specific genre in mind and are wondering whether or not this instrument has the adequate tone - it doesn't. I think it could be used in any genre if done proper. The loudness, if anything, makes it a stage instrument, however, I have not had the chance to play it live apart from jams and parties or get-togethers with other musicians. I've played it being accompanied by a guitarist and I definitely produced a louder sound. This is great when I play a melody or a jig, and the guitar provides background chords - it stands out and sounds great.
It's very comfortable to play, the wood feels soft and sturdy. I have not had any issues with a screw or peg coming loose, or with the membrane. The membrane seems very durable. When I play I often scratch or hit the body as a means of added percussion and that has only resulted in it getting a bit dirty over the years, but it doesn't amount to anything more than general signs of usage.
To top the aforementioned off, it is very pleasing to the eye. It just looks like an expensive, quality instrument.
Definitely worth the price if you plan on using it for recording or playing live. If you're looking to learn the banjo, then you might want to look at something a bit less expensive, but if you can afford it - go for it. I started learning on this specific model and it was a joyful experience.
4 stars in the Sound department because it is a personal preference thing. I'd rather own a more old-timey sounding banjo and I might purchase one some day. This one sounds very modern, very new and fresh. However, having said that, the quest for a perfect tone is always subjective.