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Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

wooster - Posted - 03/23/2020:  11:23:50


I'm really interested in an Ome banjo. I have heard many online but none in the flesh. I am trying to buy one remotely as I live nowhere near a dealer and I'm wondering if there's a huge difference in tone and response between the Jubilee and Wizard 12" models,

I like clawhammer and some OT finger styles mainly.

Depending on which video I listen to one sounds brighter and the other less so but they swap places, presumable due to the microphone and ambience.

I'd love to try both side by side but it's impossible for me so I'd really appreciate some help

Thank you


Texaspaul - Posted - 03/23/2020:  12:01:07

There’s so many variables in the Howard Banjos sounds on a video, The set up the type of strings the head but more importantly the skill of the person playing it and the quality of the equipment used to record it. Even individual banjos of the same make and model will sound different so you just have to use your best judgment and what is a generalized qualities you look for in the banjo.
IMO is The individual player delivers as much difference in tone and volume as the equipment they use for the instrument they play on. I have a friend who made a banjo out of an old tambourine and a broom handle and he can make it sound better than I my $3000 banjo??.
This post is probably not very helpful to you but it gives you something to think about.

kmwaters - Posted - 03/23/2020:  12:05:44

Call Ome and you will get Chuck Ogsbury's daughter. He founded it. She is great. And the banjos are still great.

dpgetman - Posted - 03/23/2020:  12:22:52

Ome banjos, like Deering, have a resale value that is much lower than the showroom price compared to other banjos, so I would definitely go used. I've picked up and passed along two Omes: an 11" Northstar and a 12" Jubilee. I absolutely loved the Northstar, even though I tend to like 12" banjos better. The necks on both were thinner and perhaps a bit wider than average, which is not for everyone. Note also that Ome has a sub-brand called Ute, which is a no frills level instrument.

Nickcd - Posted - 03/23/2020:  12:39:44

The ute banjos sound quite nice but don't seem to be available in UK - Eagle Music who are Ome dealers don't list them but maybe they would order one in.

Probably not of interest but I was toying with idea of an Ome (atlas) but as part of this research listened to the Ballard Banjo sound files - may have been the playing or quality of the recording but.....

Put me off the premium price of an Ome.

Edited by - Nickcd on 03/23/2020 12:40:34

rfink1913 - Posted - 03/23/2020:  12:49:38

I have to say that I was blown away by the Ome Wizard that I got to play live at Bernunzio's Uptown Music about two years ago. In person, it really felt great to play and I loved the sound. It sticks in my memory as something I'd buy in a minute if I had the spare $$$. It was that model, BTW - I tried some others and they didn't hit the same spot (for me). I like clawhammer and old-time sounds, but if I want super-duper plunky I have a nylgut strung 12" Enoch Dobson. The Ome seemed like it could become your one-for-everything banjo.

Bubbysaar - Posted - 03/23/2020:  13:22:19

i have an Baldwin OME SR2 archtop one of the best banjos i own.

Omeboy - Posted - 03/23/2020:  14:11:24

I've owned four Omes and still have two of them. All four were absolutely wonderful banjos. (I miss the two I sold.)

R Buck - Posted - 03/23/2020:  16:11:28

I am familiar with the Jubilee and it is my favorite Ome model. It can do everything you need. Get a 12"

They come with a mahogany neck but you can get maple, walnut and probably cherry if you want it.  I found one for a student and he loves it theya re the best!

Bill Rogers - Posted - 03/23/2020:  16:18:19

Tom Collins’s take on Ome:

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 03/23/2020 16:19:47

wooster - Posted - 03/24/2020:  16:51:06

Thank you for your comments and help. Neither of the two are in stock and it looks like it will be a while before the dealer can get them.

I'm considering an additional couple of options now ( thought not giving up on the Ome idea ) including a custom banjo. I'm a bit nervous of this as I'd be buying unseen and with no return possible so ....

Also I can't really travel at the moment to try due to the virus lockdown. Plenty of patience required although obviously more important things going on in the world right now

jack_beuthin - Posted - 03/25/2020:  06:44:34

I live near the Ome shop and am fairly familiar with the banjos and have played many of the models.

Back to the Wizard vs. Jubilee comparison. If both have the maple Ome Tone Rim, the Jubilee should still be brighter than the Wizard. But of equal importance are differences in the specs. Scale length (longer on the Jubilee), nut width (wider on the Wizard, and rim-neck connecting hardware (metal coordinator rods vs wood rim rod) are all different on these banjos.

Ome tonal quality tends to be quite consistent as well as the construction quality.

But, as mentioned above, get in touch with the Ome shop, even if you are just pondering Ome as a possibility. Tanya handles most of the communication, but they will all help you identify what Ome model(s) best suit you as much as they can. You can expect honest assessment and no hard sell.

ceemonster - Posted - 04/01/2020:  10:02:16

In a belated attempt to address what the OP actually asked:

The Ome Wizard and the Ome Jubilee are both "woodies"--openback clawhammer banjos whose tone comes from the wood rim, no tone ring or rolled hoop. But they have different specs, different ergonomic feel, and different sounds.

The Jubilee has a standard 26 1/4 scale length and a pot spec'd more like the classic Vega pots--not sure what the depth is, but not as deep as some currently trendy openbacks. Bart Reiter's banjos also have standard scale and Vega-ish pot depth. (He doesn't offer a "woody" model) The Jubilee's sibling with a rolled-brass ring was/is called the Juniper.

The Wizard is a different configueration spec-wise. For many years, Ome's openbacks were standard 26 1/4" scale with pots like that of the Jubilee. 10 or so years ago Ome got on board with the current trend in the clawhammer world toward banjos with deeper pots and shorter scales that place the bridge more in the center of the head. The shorter scale, deeper pot, and centered bridge produce a deeper more "plunky" sound speaking very generally. This trend to a large degree owes to a perception (an incorrect misperception) that "real authentic oldtime banjos" had deeper pots, thinner rims, and shorter 25.5" scales. (Actually, their specs were all over the map, SEE photo files of banjos by the legendary Kyle Creed).

So when Ome decided to get into the more "old-style" specs, they produced banjos such as the Wizard and Tupelo woodies, the Flora brass hoop banjo, the North Star, the Mira, the Eclipse, and others.  These have 25.5" scales and deeper pots.

BUT, you can still get the standard-scale, shallower-pot Ome openbacks like the Jubilee. You can order anything you like, and the standard-scale models like the Jubilee occasionally come in stock at the major acoustic dealers, though in recent years the Wizards and Tupelos are much more plentiful, as that is what much of the openback market wants. At least, currently.

The two different spec styles give different tones and they also feel different to play--some find the shorter scale more comfortable and like the deep-pot sound, others like the snappier, slightly louder tone of standard scale with a bit shallower pot.

Don't forget to take into account neck/rim wood and heads, as that also changes tone. There are tons of sound files and youtubes out there of the different Ome woodys. Abigail Washburn is a renowned Jubilee player, and there's plenty of youtube of her playing. But there are also demo clips of Jubilees, as well as of Wizards and Tupelos.   If you listen to enough of them you should be able to get a feel for the tonal difference and which floats your boat.

I personally like both configs. I have deep-pot shorter-scale openbacks by other makers, but have always wanted an Ome Jubilee.

Edited by - ceemonster on 04/01/2020 10:06:02

gratefulbiker - Posted - 04/01/2020:  17:03:01

And to tag on to #ceemonster's reply, the shorter scale necks in Ome's Old Time line are a little wider at the nut than their standard scale necks.

wooster - Posted - 04/01/2020:  17:35:32

Thank you ceemonster for your very detailed reply. I have a fairly snappy sounding 11” banjo with a 26.25” scale which is not as classy as I assume an Ome to be but which I like. I feel the need for a woodier deeper sound have my interest in the 12” models particularly the Wizard or Tupelo.

Unfortunately I'm being told it would be several months and likely a year before the only dealer in the UK can get me on e or other of these so I could get my hands on it to try.

I have decided to go with a reputable British maker who will build one to my specs and for less £. Once the isolation has finished, and assuming I survive it, I can travel to good workshop, try a few instruments and finalise my order.

I’m leaning towards a 12” 25.4” banjo in walnut with an ebony tone ring at the moment as I feel that is likely to meet my needs quite well and give me a worthwhile difference in tone and playing experience from my current banjo.

I’m most grateful for the help everyone  has given on this thread


Edited by - wooster on 04/01/2020 17:36:13

ceemonster - Posted - 04/02/2020:  09:51:09

It sounds like you have spec'd yourself out a lovely banjo, don't forget to share pix/audio when it all comes together!

wooster - Posted - 04/02/2020:  14:00:41

Thanks. I'm quite excited and impatient. If all goes well I will share in about 6 moths.

Then I need to learn to play it, of course ! ;-)

Edited by - wooster on 04/02/2020 14:01:09

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