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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: How Many Banjos ??

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thomass - Posted - 12/07/2009:  07:41:07

All my local Music stores seem to have Guitars hanging from every square inch of space....seems like hundreds. They have all things Guitar cramed into the selling area. Ask For anything Banjo and they look at you like you just landed from outer space. They might have 1 set of strings and some picks.
I read that over 4 million Guitars will be sold in the US this year. Does anyone know about how many Banjos are sold in a year ? Just interested in how big the difference between the two actually happens to be.

Edited by - gottasmilealot on 12/07/2009 11:45:41

pegleg - Posted - 12/07/2009:  07:52:15

I have bought four this year, hope that is all but who knows !

Trewq36 - Posted - 12/07/2009:  08:26:20

Hmmm .........4 million Guitars vs 4 Banjos...
I had heard it was a tight market, But that is worst then I thought.

MikeR - Posted - 12/07/2009:  08:35:25

Just goes to show ya. Good Banjo's sell right away, guitars sit and rot on the
shelf.. Our local stores probably don't have more than 1 Banjo each, most of them
cheapo stuff, and they wonder why we order them online...


R Buck - Posted - 12/07/2009:  09:19:32

I teach banjo in a store that has two banjo teachers, one is very well known in banjo circles. The store where we teach sells 6 to 12 banjos a year. Banjos are not a priority of the owner who has two big name guitar lines and only cheaper banjo lines.

pcfive - Posted - 12/07/2009:  09:22:33

Yes the guitar is much more popular than the banjo. I never would have thought of learning to play banjo except someone loaned me one. Then I felt obligated to learn it, never imagining it would take years and would take over my life. Before that, I played guitar like everyone else, having no idea what a wonderful instrument the banjo is.

I seldom bother going into the local music stores any more. They just look at you like you're a character from Deliverance. However, I did find my Goodtime 2 at a very large music store that has hundreds of guitars. It was the only banjo.

KANINJACK - Posted - 12/07/2009:  10:02:27

I guess I should count myself lucky! FQMS is just down the road a piece.

kingfisher78 - Posted - 12/07/2009:  11:04:35

Well my local music shop (Traralgon) has/had one really beat up looking el cheapo banjo (not set up) and one metal finger pick. My wife went there to buy me a cradle strap for one of my banjos and they told her there was no such thing. She went in there at another time asking about guitar teachers for one of the kids (their walls are covered in guitars) and they didn't know any, but offered to have a look in the phone book for her.
Finger picks... another music shop, 4th in distance (Bairnsdale, 1 1/2 hours drive) from here, didn't have any banjos, but have another finger pick. Lucky me, I now owned a pair of metal finger picks. 3rd from me (Warragul, 1 hour drive) had a cheapo banjo hanging on the wall (bridge not in place). The second closest (Newborough) has a couple of banjos and every other type of stringed instrument you'd ever hope for (even a banjo uke). I bought my last banjo and cradle strap there. My Wife tried to buy me a cradle strap in Melbourne (the acoustic centre), but the banjo bloke wasn't in and the rest of them didn't know what one looked like.

So, Yanks, think yourselves lucky.

f5loar - Posted - 12/07/2009:  11:55:33

Getting a banjo count like that would be near impossible since most bought banjos are returned by their wives the next week. And then you have the BAS pickers who buy them without telling their wives and keep them hidden in underground storage in the home. Those would be hard to account for as you can't say you bought it.
An easier question would be how many banjos are stolen each year? Answer: None because the ones that are were returned by the theif once they found out what they stole.

John Van Brocklin - Posted - 12/07/2009:  12:09:49

Well I was in a big music store in Portland Oregon and they had about five banjos. A deering and a RB-250, which where all close to being in tune. Also a Goodtime and two cheeper ones. While I was there I was taking one out for a test drive and they sold one of the cheeper ones. The salesman ask me to check it for tuning and bridge placement, so I did. Funny to me that he did not do it himself. But they did have five banjos! One time I took a trip to Nashville, and while I was there I went to the Gibson Showcase store by the Grand Ol Opry. I walked in and saw a whole wall of mastertones on the wall, about 40 of them, I had my picks so...........When I took one down to try it was not in tune, bridge was way off, head was loose and not at all set up to play. I kept pulling them off the wall and only found two playable banjos. They also had a used Granada for about 4500.00, I saw on my way out. So I thought I would try it. I started to pick it and knew something was wrong, I looked down and noticed it had a wound string for the middle "G" , so two "D" strings and no "G" string. It was a sad day. So anyway just because a store has banjos it doesn't mean they know what there doing. I don't think Gibson cares about banjos anymore, there just riding on the coat tails of Earl Scruggs and JD Crowe. I mean why build them if your not going to do the last step, making them playable...............ok I'll get off my soap box. Sorry got away from the question....I bought two in the past year, I now have four. I guess this leaves more banjos for us!

Edited by - John Van Brocklin on 12/07/2009 12:22:50

Boog - Posted - 12/07/2009:  12:31:37

We have a really fine store in Edmonton ... "Myhres Music". Byron Myhre is a fine BG fiddler. Lots of banjos, guitars, fiddles ... and all set-up and in tune. I bought my first banjo from Alfie Myhres over 40 years ago. Really nice family business.

Gold Star GF-85 - Posted - 12/07/2009:  14:56:30

Heck you can't find any store around here in south east Michigan that sells any Quality High End Banjo's except for Elderly's in Lansing, the other stores are mostly focus around electric guitars, amps and sound systems and a few flat tops here and there, but they do stock Banjo strings. I guess to stock Banjo's cost more or there isn't enough demand according to what I have been told by the store sales people.

Big John

banjoplayer96 - Posted - 12/07/2009:  19:58:55

Where I take lessons they only have three banjos.

mike gregory - Posted - 12/07/2009:  20:11:14

When I ran my own music store, we tried to sell banjos .
More people want guitars.
No easy way to switch them to wanting banjo instead.
It's a sad fact that we who love this most beautiful and delightful of instruments, are but a tiny fraction of a portion of a percentage of the population of this planet.

Music store operators buy stuff wholesale, and their money is gone, gone, gone, until somebody buys it retail.
A high end banjo hung in my store from the day I ordered it, until shortly before my going out of business sale.
At that time, I knew I'd never be able to afford anything that nice, again, so I sold it to myself at a price that most people could only dream of.
Point is: They stock what they think they can sell, so thay can keep paying their employees and their rent, lights, phone, adverts, insurance, and all the other bills.

Spangas - Posted - 12/07/2009:  21:20:12

Hey Shane, you should try living in Adelaide. I ended up buying my banjo from J's Music City in Bendigo because most of the music stores I went to here couldn't spell bandgoe let alone know what a good instrument was.

Bob Robert - Posted - 12/07/2009:  23:53:50

There are a couple of music stores in Holland, MI that have banjos. One is Firehouse, which is mostly a guitar shop. If I remember correctly, they had a couple of Goodtimes the last time I was in there. They might've had a couple more, can't remember for sure. The other music store, whose name escapes me, had some used banjos that were pretty good. I think they also have one or two banjo teachers, bridges, strings, picks, pretty much the whole deal, I think.

Another place I've been, The Bluegrass Shop in Columbus, OH, has a lot of banjos. Which makes sense, given the name of the place.

fynger - Posted - 12/08/2009:  03:08:24

Here in the U.K. we can buy banjo strings from any music shop...Banjos and picks e.t.c. thats another story..

John Allison - Posted - 12/08/2009:  05:59:16

Here, in the greater Detroit area, banjos are, by far, outnumbered by guitars in all the local music stores. However, a 1.5 hour drive to the west on all interstate highways brings me to Lansing, MI and Elderly Instruments. Here, I can spend all day playing their banjos of which there are many (both open and resonator backed). Not sure where Naperville is but, if in the NE part of the state, might be well worh the drive.

kingfisher78 - Posted - 12/08/2009:  07:10:47

Originally posted by Spangas

Hey Shane, you should try living in Adelaide. I ended up buying my banjo from J's Music City in Bendigo because most of the music stores I went to here couldn't spell bandgoe let alone know what a good instrument was.

Sounds like the shop I walked into about 5 years ago when I'd starting going with my now partner who lived near there. Had at least 2 and I came close to buying one.
That was the most banjos I'd seen in one place up until then.

As for the thread topic. I have 2 real (5 string) banjos, a 6 string and 4 banjo mandolins (3 being restored). Only 3 guitars in the house.


mybote - Posted - 12/08/2009:  08:50:20

I don't know the ratio between guitar and banjo sales, but it's the same ole story with the Guitar Centers and Sam Ash music stores here around Phoenix. A plethera of guitars and a few unkept midrange banjos.
Thank God, I am a 30 minute drive to Acoustic Vibes Music. A virtual land of OZ for banjos.

kingfisher78 - Posted - 12/08/2009:  12:01:57

Originally posted by mybote

I don't know the ratio between guitar and banjo sales, but it's the same ole story with the Guitar Centers and Sam Ash music stores here around Phoenix. A plethera of guitars and a few unkept midrange banjos.
Thank God, I am a 30 minute drive to Acoustic Vibes Music. A virtual land of OZ for banjos.

Well the ratio of drum head instruments to non drum head instrument in our house (forgot to mention a guitar player here also has a keyboard) is 7 to 4, so music shops should have the same ratio... makes sense to me.
Can't wait to go and look at all the banjos in my local shop.


steve davis - Posted - 12/08/2009:  12:41:21

I do my shopping at Jimmy Cox's "store"...hardly a guitar in sight.

Banjo John C - Posted - 12/08/2009:  13:35:04

Banjos = 5

Guitars = 1

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