I need an amp for gigs. My banjo has fishman pickups in it already. I found a seemingly good deal on the 180w Loudbox. I don't know much about amps, so I just wanted to check with you guys if this was a good choice for me.
It sells for $780 and I'll pick it up used for under $450 from a reputable store. I wanted the 120w version, but for $75 more I can get this one.
I play banjo and sing, but I figured the extra power would be good if I start playing backup banjo in a rock band, which is on the horizon. Lastly, my banjo is about 75% as loud as an acoustic electric guitar through the same amp. (the input is a little jerry rigged and lost some volume, plus I play clawhammer style)
I have a Fishman Loudbox Mini which is considerably smaller. While I do not use with my banjos, I do use it with acoustic guitar and mountain dulcimer. It works well in small venues where I play. I like it. It is well made and sounds great with my instruments. No reason why the larger amp shouldn't be as well. As long as you don't mind the weight of the amp, I think you are getting a good deal.
I recently checked out the Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge @60W and it sounded pretty good. I like the battery option, that can come in really handy at times. It also has bluetooth connectivity and a phase switch for $499 @Amazon
I also have the Artist, and I love it. One more thing about Fishman. When I purchased the Artist it had a problem. After playing for about 30 minutes it developed a very annoying buzz. The dealer I purchased it from said it was his last one and I should try calling Fishman as it might be faster. I called and they were very helpful on the phone and asked how I felt about doing repairs myself. Thought one was they would send me a new amp head and I would swap it out. In further discussion on the phone I realized they were only about 50 miles from me, and rather than wait for shipping could I just drive out and do the swap, at which point the tech said he would meet me half way and swap out the whole unit. We met at a Dunkin Donuts at a mid point and made the swap. That is customer service, and Fishman has a customer for life.
I have performed with all three Fishman amps (Mini, Artist, and Performer). I don't own one, but borrow them from friends all the time so I've gotten to check out different ones. My favorite on banjo was the Artist, because it was so punchy in the midrange. The Performer is really nice as well. I liked both those models significantly better than the Mini. If I was going to have one amp to cover different instruments AND vocals, Performer for sure. It just has so much range and a big rich sound. But for JUST banjo, probably the Artist, it's plenty loud enough even for a rock band, has a great punchy sound, and is easier to carry around. But if I was in your situation, I would probably spend the extra $75 for the versatility.