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(rant) why are banjos so dang expensive!

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Oct 11, 2018 - 7:00:36 PM
47 posts since 9/10/2018

i am just looking around for a simple clawhammer banjo. i don't need tone rings, golden pieces, varnesh, decorations etc. just a simple banjo.

banjos have a humble origin of being brought over from african slaves who made banjos out of local materials.

when you think of it ALL a banjo is is a drum with a fretboard and strings resembling many instruments present in africa today.

then when europeans adopted the banjo they would ride out west and take their banjos with them or even make their own too.

i also heard in the olden days banjos and fiddles were real cheap that even the poorest mountaineers/pioneers could afford them.

now why is a simple scrappy instrument costing more than my car?

why is the cheapest open back banjo only $200? that's insane! i can get a good bike for that!

-discuss

Oct 11, 2018 - 7:09 PM
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bluenote23

Canada

995 posts since 12/4/2012

Sell the car...

Oct 11, 2018 - 7:11:24 PM
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5314 posts since 8/31/2006

Probably a crappy bike for 200

Oct 11, 2018 - 7:39:22 PM
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1895 posts since 2/16/2017

So get a drum, a fretboard, and some strings, and make a banjo.

You were asking about a 60 dollar Kay the other day. Were you holding out for a better deal?

Oct 11, 2018 - 7:48:29 PM
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100 posts since 8/14/2018

For one thing, the whole banjo market is relatively small, so no one is getting much economy of scale in production. Cheap bikes are extruded in highly automated factories, then assembled in the back of a Walmart by a clerk making ten bucks an hour. It will be misaligned and not last very long. But check the price of a top racing bike, it will make banjos look cheap.

Sure, you could make a cheap ‘mountain banjo’ with a simple wooden pot and fret less neck, peg tuners, and so on. But modern banjos require some good materials and shop skills, and those things aren’t cheap.

Oct 11, 2018 - 7:51 PM

108 posts since 3/21/2016

quote:
Originally posted by banjoben10

i am just looking around for a simple clawhammer banjo. i don't need tone rings, golden pieces, varnesh, decorations etc. just a simple banjo.

banjos have a humble origin of being brought over from african slaves who made banjos out of local materials.

when you think of it ALL a banjo is is a drum with a fretboard and strings resembling many instruments present in africa today.

then when europeans adopted the banjo they would ride out west and take their banjos with them or even make their own too.

i also heard in the olden days banjos and fiddles were real cheap that even the poorest mountaineers/pioneers could afford them.

now why is a simple scrappy instrument costing more than my car?

why is the cheapest open back banjo only $200? that's insane! i can get a good bike for that!

-discuss


this may help, let's look at cheapest Chinese parts:

 - a banjo head costs $20

- hook nut and shoe, set of 16 that's another $20

- tension hoop is $10

- $50 for a neck

- $5 for a trust rod

- tuners $20

- laminated 11"D × 1/2"W 4" H pot $20

- strings $5

- tail piece $10

- labor to put together $25

- bridge $5

- profit $10

 

20+20+10+50+5+20+20+5+10+25+5+10 = $200

cheapest openback banjo, rogue at musicians friends = $119. It is a steal from the economy of scale!

https://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/rogue-travel--starter-banjo

banjos are expensive man.

Teddy

Edited by - teddy ruxpin on 10/11/2018 19:56:58

Oct 11, 2018 - 7:56:48 PM

47 posts since 9/10/2018

quote:
Originally posted by FlyinEagle

So get a drum, a fretboard, and some strings, and make a banjo.

You were asking about a 60 dollar Kay the other day. Were you holding out for a better deal?


i asked the seller about it and they IMMEDIATELY took it down. kinda fishy.

Oct 11, 2018 - 7:58:29 PM

1895 posts since 2/16/2017

quote:
Originally posted by banjoben10
quote:
Originally posted by FlyinEagle

So get a drum, a fretboard, and some strings, and make a banjo.

You were asking about a 60 dollar Kay the other day. Were you holding out for a better deal?


i asked the seller about it and they IMMEDIATELY took it down. kinda fishy.


MEh, Craigslist. 

It's not even a banjo thing.  All musical instruments are expensive.

Oct 11, 2018 - 7:59:59 PM

47 posts since 9/10/2018

quote:
Originally posted by teddy ruxpin
quote:
Originally posted by banjoben10

i am just looking around for a simple clawhammer banjo. i don't need tone rings, golden pieces, varnesh, decorations etc. just a simple banjo.

banjos have a humble origin of being brought over from african slaves who made banjos out of local materials.

when you think of it ALL a banjo is is a drum with a fretboard and strings resembling many instruments present in africa today.

then when europeans adopted the banjo they would ride out west and take their banjos with them or even make their own too.

i also heard in the olden days banjos and fiddles were real cheap that even the poorest mountaineers/pioneers could afford them.

now why is a simple scrappy instrument costing more than my car?

why is the cheapest open back banjo only $200? that's insane! i can get a good bike for that!

-discuss


this may help, let's look at cheapest Chinese parts:

 - a banjo head costs $20

- hook nut and shoe, set of 16 that's another $20

- tension hoop is $10

- $50 for a neck

- $5 for a trust rod

- tuners $20

- laminated 11"D × 1/2"W 4" H pot $20

- strings $5

- tail piece $10

- labor to put together $25

- bridge $5

- profit $10

 

20+20+10+50+5+20+20+5+10+25+5+10 = $200

cheapest openback banjo, rogue at musicians friends = $119. It is a steal from the economy of scale!

https://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/rogue-travel--starter-banjo

banjos are expensive man.

Teddy


ok but do you think pioneers heading out west would spend $200 on a banjo? most of those people could not afford shoes and a pot to piss in and were illiterate.  (pardon my french but pioneers were TOUGH people).

i just wonder why basic banjos without all that fancy jazz are not built anymore. though i heard banjos were more popular back then though.

Oct 11, 2018 - 8:11:39 PM
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108 posts since 3/21/2016

Where are you getting your information? Instruments cost a lot more than the adjusted $200 in the 1800's. $200 is very cheap for any instrument.

mugwumps.com/sss_date.html

from the article above, "S.S. Stewart, never one to miss a promotional oportunity, offered his 20th Century model beginning circa 1896. At $30 it was only $10 less than his Thoroughbred, but was considerably plainer, if still well made"

This may not be your hobby.

Teddy

Oct 11, 2018 - 8:16:24 PM
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891 posts since 7/12/2004

Using an inflation calculator, I find that something that costs $200 today would have been $6.19 in 1850, when the pioneers were setting out across the country. So, yes, some of them might have spent that for an instrument.

Oct 11, 2018 - 8:23:03 PM

47 posts since 9/10/2018

no that would not be financially prudent.

Oct 11, 2018 - 8:40:14 PM
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beegee

USA

20961 posts since 7/6/2005

Ya know I have a friend who has a very limited income, so I gave him a parts banjo I built. Perhaps if you would post your location etc, you may run across someone who has a spare banjo or may know someone who has one for very little money.

Oct 11, 2018 - 8:49:18 PM

47 posts since 9/10/2018

cool what did you make it out of?

Oct 12, 2018 - 3:50:24 AM
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53 posts since 5/22/2016

This thread seems stupid but the economic and social affect on product pricing is an interesting reallity.

Craftsmanship created items have increased in price and technology items are dropping.

Instruments typically fall in the craftsmanship category.

Do you "rant" because a 72 inch TV costs LESS today than it's 19 inch pioneer day counterpart.

With craftsmanship, you get what you pay for.

Oct 12, 2018 - 4:39:52 AM
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Craig_B

USA

1138 posts since 11/22/2009

OK, no one else has bitten yet, so I will, since it will certainly be interesting:

To the OP: what do you think a reasonable price should be for a good-quality open-back today?

Oct 12, 2018 - 5:00:04 AM
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49804 posts since 12/14/2005

So, why NOT make your own?

OR, mail me a copy of your paycheck stub, and I'll make one FOR you, charging only my cost plus 10% for the parts, and whatever you make per hour for MY time, and I'll ship it by whatever method you prefer.


Oct 12, 2018 - 5:01:47 AM

1338 posts since 6/2/2010

I agree with BeeGee. Post your location. Lots of cheap banjos around but shipping probably cost more than the banjo.

Oct 12, 2018 - 6:18:31 AM
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Players Union Member

Neil Allen

France

512 posts since 6/15/2014

There is a paradox here. Time is money. The time-rich have no money and the money-rich have no time. So the money-rich can buy expensive banjos but they never have time to learn to play them. And the time-rich have to make do with cheap junk but they have plenty of time to practice.

So the solution is very simple: the money-rich can buy banjos for the time-rich, who can learn to play them on their behalf.

Problem solved. Next!
wink

Oct 12, 2018 - 6:44:03 AM

262 posts since 10/22/2006

If you want one bad enough you'll find a way. Get away from the computer, take a part time job, save the money and get a decent banjo. Problem solved.

Edited by - SaxManiac on 10/12/2018 06:44:42

Oct 12, 2018 - 7:20:20 AM
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780 posts since 12/8/2006

How many old $100 banjos do you want? Come and get 'em. Paul


 

Oct 12, 2018 - 7:22:51 AM
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43 posts since 4/1/2016

My two cents (so take it for what it’s worth!) - sounds like you’re looking for a cheap one just to knock around with to see if you want to continue. Why consider new or quality hand-built when you can find any number of cheap five-strings (around or less than $100) on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace? Search within a reasonable driving distance from your location. Cheap enough so that if you decide to upgrade or maybe not even pursue banjo, you could always resell for only a small loss.

Oct 12, 2018 - 7:33:51 AM
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beegee

USA

20961 posts since 7/6/2005

quote:
Originally posted by banjoben10

cool what did you make it out of?


Banjo parts. I bought a Gold Tone neck and a a Chinese-made 2-piece flange pot on ebay. The whole thing cost around $225. I made it to take with me in the truck when I was still driving truck for a living. It sounds pretty good, plays well. I decided my friend would enjoy it more than I would. So I gave it to him. 

If you want it badly enough, you'll figure out a way.


 

Oct 12, 2018 - 8:06:50 AM

KCJones

USA

367 posts since 8/30/2012

When you figure dollars per hour of use, banjos (and all musical instruments) are about the cheapest thing you can buy.

Oct 12, 2018 - 8:20:36 AM

70 posts since 8/7/2010

Quality costs money.

Get a used bottlecap banjo and deal with the "burden" of a resonator. :/

Oct 12, 2018 - 12:51:39 PM
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Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

4633 posts since 10/12/2009

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