I'm in the market for a banjo and I stumbled across this gorgeous-sound vintage OME tenor banjo at the local guitar shop last night (they do not sell new banjos in person, but I didn't know that until I got there). I'm familiar with string instruments generally (I'm an experienced violin/fiddle player, and have played around some with electric bass and guitar) and I didn't see anything too wrong with it, but I'm pretty stumped by the pricetag.
Looking online, similar OME vintage tenor banjos* seem to go for double or triple the local asking price. I did notice a U or V-shaped crack on the back between the head and the neck, but it seems to have been repaired. No buzzing and the frets look like they've been replaced. Besides this, there are no external obvious flaws with the body of the instrument aside from a little green patina on the tailpiece, likely from the strings. The sound is phenomenal, but the pricetag gave me hesitation after looking it up online, where it seems to sell for 2-3 times the store's asking price. The store is not selling it online, also unusual.
In another era I would've thought I found a "deal"...but in the age of the internet, a quick google search from finding the value, it seems suspect to me. Does anyone have suggestions on what I should check for before I commit? The employees have little to no information about it last night, but said someone who was in today would be able to tell me more if I go back. (Sorry, I can't attach a photo right now because I'm too new.)
My guess would be the seller realizes that the broken neck is a large drawback to the value of the instrument. When a banjo neck breaks it always seems to be at the volute. If it is a clean break it can often be repaired quite successfully. Definitely has an impact on the instrument’s value however.
Funny question! Hilary said in her post that she is familiar to string instrument, plays violin guitar bass and so on... she is asking advices about a tenor banjo she wants to buy.... I guess she knows exactly what a tenor banjo is, you do not?
She didn't say what she was looking. she may not be aware that that would make a great 5-string, especially if the price is right. If she is looking specifically for a tenor and is afraid of this because of previous damage, she may not want it. If I knew it was cheap, I wouldn't wonder why, I'd buy it and make a five from it.