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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Washburn B8 vs Oscar Schmidt OB5

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Culchie - Posted - 12/28/2009:  09:20:54

I'm wanting to get my first entry level banjo, and I'm trying to decide from these two. I have read the reviews and saw good and bad ones. I hope someone with knowledge or playing experience with these could tell me which is the better banjo. I'm not worried about the price as they are very close in price. Thanks a bunch. Happy to join this Hang Out.

xnavyguy - Posted - 12/28/2009:  10:35:12

As best I can tell from available photos online, the Oscar Schmidt OB5 is of the style referred to as a "bottlecap banjo" because of the integral flange aluminum rim. The Washburn B8 looks like a multi-ply wooden rim banjo with bracket hooks.

I am intimately familiar with both styles and, on that basis, my choice would be the Oscar Schmidt because it comes closer to having the potential to get a decent amount of volume and sound that is necessary if you want to play bluegrass. The Washburn B8 might also be a decent banjo but the sound it might produce would be quite a bit more subdued, warmer, & sweeter than the all aluminum rim banjo.

Either of which can probably be set up and used as a student/practice banjo but they may not come that way from the dealer/vendor so you might be chasing some rabbits, getting them set up and playable. The question then becomes, how much patience do you have and are you willing to put up with the frustration and the expense of getting one of these "tweaked" to get it sounding decent and playable or would you rather shell out some extra money to buy a banjo that is ready to be played?

BANJO TONY - Posted - 12/28/2009:  10:40:02

just my view.2 cents worth stay away from both & just get a Goodtime open back with their gig bag & I think you will be very happy.the next step is to find a good dealer my #1 choice would be,than Zepp & than Janet Davis music.

Culchie - Posted - 12/28/2009:  10:54:12

Thanks for the tips. The Washburn rep said the B8 was the better of the two, but I don't know if he was being bias in any way. I usually end up dealing with Music123, but I did see where instument alley has the OS with the gig bag and set-up for $185 plus shipping. I can get the B8 package from Music123 for $200 total. I will check out the Openback. I wasn't really considering those in my recent search.

mjmckeon - Posted - 12/28/2009:  11:49:46

I have had an OB-5 and I've played the B-8 my advice would be to save your money for a while and then look at the Gold tone, Morgan Monroe & Recording King lines. As a Bodhran player I'm sure you've tried one of the cheap ones they sell in Celtic gift shops. That's what you're looking at comparatively.


Edited by - mjmckeon on 12/28/2009 11:51:28

Culchie - Posted - 12/28/2009:  12:51:24

I know there are many banjos out there that are way better than the two models I was comparing. But I don't want to put up too much money on my first banjo. Maybe later I can trade up, after I see how well I do. But for now I'd just like to get one for around $200 give or take $50. So if there's another brand out there anyone feels is a better choice at around the price of these two, feel free to express your views. Thanks to all that reply.

BANJO TONY - Posted - 12/28/2009:  12:56:54

when you buy from music 123 there is no set up done on the banjo & this is very important,that why it is better to deal with guys like & zepp,just to name 2 very good banjo shops.just my 2 cents your money & buy a Goodtime by Deering or a Goldtone banjo & you will not be sorry.

PharmBoy - Posted - 12/28/2009:  13:12:11

Buy a Goodtime 2 ....

Klondike Waldo - Posted - 12/28/2009:  16:46:03

The OscarSchmidt OB5 is almost exactly the same banjo as the Epiphone MB200. You should be able to get one new for between $200 and $250.
A lot of people like the Deering Goodtime openbacks, but they are more expensive. For your stated budget, I'd agree with Jerry-go with the Oscar Schmidt or the equivalent Epiphone MB200, which is my main banjo. With the right set-up, it will work out fine.

mjmckeon - Posted - 12/28/2009:  17:07:18

I can certainly understand not wanting to commit to a higher end banjo to start off. The OB-5 and other banjos of that type can be made to sound reasonably good with a couple of easy modifications.

  • Get good strings. I used Martin medium nickel strings on mine
  • Take the original tailpiece and put it in the recycle bin. I used a "waverly" style on mine.
  • Replace the bridge with a compensated bridge. I used a 5/8" from Arthur Hatfield and it made a huge difference
  • Buy it from or Jan Davis. These people actually play banjo and care about what they send out to their customers.


Edited by - mjmckeon on 12/28/2009 17:08:38

Culchie - Posted - 12/29/2009:  09:21:11

How about DC Music ?? They are giving me the OS OB5 for $185 + $15 shipping and a $79 bag for $29. And will do basic set up, place the bridge and intonate. What do you all think ??

Culchie - Posted - 12/29/2009:  09:58:03

So my choices are the OS OB5 $200 or the Washburn B8 package $190. I can get the Deering Goodtime for $360 + shipping. I know it would be worth it to get that one, but it's $150 more. :(

xnavyguy - Posted - 12/29/2009:  11:23:22

I still think the OS OB5 would be the better choice and allow you a lot more flexibility.

Culchie - Posted - 12/29/2009:  16:53:09

Thanks for all your input guys. I'm going to order the OS OB5 tomorrow from DC Music in Ohio.

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