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Banjo-Less Beginner

Posted by chicofry on Thursday, February 14, 2013

I have the itch; all I want to do is scratch it. 

For me, the banjo is a bit of Americana in which I crave to participate. The only thing that is holding me back is pulling the trigger.

I have a few hundred dollars to spend but what to spend it on, I do not know. Perhaps a starter kit - but all the reviews talk about wanting to upgrade right away. Maybe a used instrument from craigslist; hell, there's a Lotus for $120 but how do I know if it's any good, let alone worth that amount? Or there's always seeing about a used one from a store...

I seem to always get to this point with a lot of things that I'm not familiar with but this particular situation is really bugging me. 

Any advice? Anything?


3 comments on “Banjo-Less Beginner”

Texasbanjo Says:
Thursday, February 14, 2013 @3:21:11 PM

First of all, what kind of music do you want to learn? bluegrass? clawhammer? old time? jazz?

Answer that and it'll be easier to know what you should do and what type of banjo you might want to invest in.

If you want to play bluegrass, get a 5 string resonator banjo. Clawhammer? 5 string open back. Old time -- 5 string open back. Jazz -- either a 4 string or a 5 string.

As far as price, if you buy a cheap, beginner banjo, that's what you'll have: a cheap sounding banjo. Most people don't want to spend a lot on a first banjo because they aren't sure they'll keep with it. I learned on a cheap banjo. Then I bought a good one and there was all the difference in the world in the sound, tone, intonation. tuning, etc.

So, buy what you think you can afford.

You might look at the want ads here on the Hangout. Might good a pretty good deal on a used Good Time or some other entry level banjo. Be sure you check out who you are dealing with carefully, as we have had some scammers around here.

chicofry Says:
Thursday, February 14, 2013 @3:42:31 PM

Thanks, Texasbanjo!

Honestly, I have a mind to dip my feet into a little bit of it all.

I found a nice looking $179 four string open back at a local town - brand new too. I think this may be what I end up going for since they're extremely knowledgeable, they know how to set up a banjo, and they will take care of any work that might need to be done. That last bit alone makes it worth it.

Also, Gordy Ohliger (aka the banjo-ologist), does lessons at the same location. My wife is excited about that since it means I might get better at it a little faster.

You're definitely right about scammers - I've had enough experience with online sales to know that personal ads can be about as 'shady' as it gets. I prefer buying new or from someone that I know well enough.

nathans Says:
Friday, February 15, 2013 @6:38:05 AM

Make your first lesson with Gordy Ohliger a banjo-less lesson and try some banjos out. He may even let you try one of his or show you several. I wish I had an instructor help me with my first purchase. Starting out is awkward and a little weird when you jump in with both feet from out of nowhere. My beginner banjo helped me in two additional ways - to learn that I like playing banjo, and to help me understand what to look for in my next banjo - you have to start somewhere to start forming opinions. Good Luck

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