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Feb 12, 2019 - 11:19:47 AM
2 posts since 8/27/2018

Greetings all,

I have a problem which will no doubt be totally foreign to most of you... I have too many banjos.

After learning how to make the round parts round and the straight parts straight a few years ago, life got a little busy and I got a little distracted and the building and the playing of them went by the wayside. That was then

Life today has been improved on a number of fronts and I've gone back to three old time rims and necks which never actually "got together". They're now back on the bench along with a fourth which has been brought up to the same stage of building/completion as the three.

My question here today is how do you thin out the herd? I put enough of myself into these (like some of you) that it's difficult to part with any. However, I only have so much wall space to display these, and I need to make another parts run before too long. None of them are museum-worthy works of art, but I'm not ashamed of any of them either.

All that said, how do you go about pricing a handmade, open back almost-Civil War-era minstrel banjo with, in this first case, violin tuning pegs? And then, short of going to a Civil War re-enactors group function in period attire and a lean-to tent (which I have considered and probably will sometime for fun), how do you go about offering your children, er, instruments for sale? I'm not an e-bay fan and my local music store consignment policies are, well... no.


Thank you in advance for the help.


Feb 12, 2019 - 12:49 PM
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1388 posts since 6/2/2010


For some reason I have never had any problem parting with any of the half dozen or so banjos that I have made and/or converted from 4 to 5 strings. I figure I can always make another if I miss them too much.


Feb 12, 2019 - 1:05:09 PM
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51045 posts since 12/14/2005

Ophelia Payne

(Pictured here waiting for someone to come by and purchase her banjo)

Oh, wait!

I meant  "I feel your pain!"

It is very much like losing a family member.

Look at similar banjo prices on eBay and especially on Banjo HangOut.

Search around for Civil War re-enactor groups near you, and find out if you can post an ad in their newsletter.

Also search around for an OLD-Time music jam and/or an acoustic music jam.

And, of course, you can post an ad right here ON the HangOut.

As a Last Resort, Craig's list.

Feb 12, 2019 - 2:54:59 PM
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16 posts since 4/4/2015

You know, very recently a friend of mine told me that I suffer from Banjo Acquisition Syndrome-I told him that I didn’t suffer from it, I actually rather enjoyed it!

Feb 12, 2019 - 3:11:41 PM

2502 posts since 2/18/2009

When I wanted to start making banjos I also wanted to start selling them, because I couldn't afford to buy the materials to build another banjo until I sold the first one. At some point I began to buy materials for two at a time, and so on. I also decided I didn't want to have a banjo museum and I couldn't keep making more and getting better at it unless I kept them turning over. I had started out by making dulcimers which only cost $20-30 for materials, so the jump to $300 or more for banjo hardware was a bit of a shock.

Feb 12, 2019 - 4:45:49 PM

2538 posts since 5/29/2011

BBS (banjo building syndrome) can be more infectious than BAS (banjo acquisition syndrome) as I think you have already learned.
If you are married then you will probably find out when it is time to thin the herd. You will receive some not-so-subtle hints from the other half.

Feb 12, 2019 - 6:43:16 PM
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11769 posts since 10/30/2008

I understand.

I moved, and the new home doesn't have the big basement finished music room I was accustomed too. Had guitars and banjos stashed in every bedroom and office. And I sold two guitars BEFORE I moved!

ONE WAY to get rid of a bunch, is to "upgrade" in your stock. I traded 4 somewhat recent (since 1963) Martin guitars to a shop for a good deal on one pre-war Martin guitar that was making my mouth water. I am now down 3 guitars! I love the pre-war, and don't miss the other 4 at all (well, not much).

This kind of sensible thinking has not yet slopped over into my banjos. I have two or three that I would sell to highly motivated buyers (I can't find any). But I still lust for at least two more old Gibsons if the price is right. So I see little future net reduction in banjo inventory.

Feb 12, 2019 - 7:36:27 PM
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235 posts since 9/12/2006

DO NOT care what anyone says. there is absolutely no way, no how, any such thing as TOO MANY BANJOS. just sayin'....

Feb 12, 2019 - 7:39:01 PM

1388 posts since 6/2/2010

I like Dick's method of trading multiples as an upgrade strategy.

Feb 13, 2019 - 6:48:18 AM
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13779 posts since 3/27/2004
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How you thin the herd is somewhat dependent upon where you live and what the local market is.  If you have a local contradance or old time jam group in your area then get to know them.

When you're at the head end of making instruments its easy to assign too much value, both personal and monetary, to them.  I started by making an acoustic guitar 40 years ago and after I gave that one away it eased the separation anxiety you might feel from subsequent partings.  I found a lot of joy in providing quality instruments at affordable prices to those who otherwise couldn't afford them.

When you first start making instruments you're best to learn to appreciate benevolence.

Check all the ads in Banjo Hangout, Elderly, etc. and figure that you'll get about half of what you think your work is worth.  It's the price of learning, and you can consider it tuition.  If you live in an area that's fairly populous you can sell locally via Craigslist, etc. and avoid shipping, which is a huge cost for a new builder.

Feb 13, 2019 - 6:53:34 AM
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13779 posts since 3/27/2004
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Originally posted by GStump

DO NOT care what anyone says. there is absolutely no way, no how, any such thing as TOO MANY BANJOS. just sayin'....

That certainly isn't my wife's viewpoint.  cheeky

Feb 13, 2019 - 12:14:47 PM

1886 posts since 4/5/2006
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Too many banjo's. Oxymoron if there ever was one.

Feb 13, 2019 - 4:28:02 PM
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1153 posts since 2/3/2012

My wife has never said anything about too many banjos.  The other day, she asked how many banjos "we" own.  I told her five.  A Reiter A flat, a  Sagmoen Dobson, an custom build "Electric" tone ring banjo made by a local builder, a Prust tack head and a Noah Cline mountain banjo.  She was surprised but, not upset at all.

The total cost of all of these banjo's was a third the cost of just some of the instruments and radios in the panel of the last airplane I finished building in 1995,  which had a total cost of around $30,000.   To build the same airplane today would cost just shy of $100,000 (if you scrounged just a bit.)  So, to say that she is deliriously happy with my new banjo hobby would be an understatement.   You know what?  So am I.   She loves old time music and the banjo and so do I.

As I could no longer get a medical for flying, I'm pretty tickled, too.  I thought I'd move to Wyoming, set up a shop like I had in Nebraska and build airplanes for the rest of my life.  I had no idea that I would ever be playing old time music with others on a banjo.

But, life changes.  That I fell into old time music and the banjo "well" was a great event in my life and, I (we) couldn't be happier.

I'd bet I could  buy another two or three banjo's and she wouldn't "raise an eybrow".  (But, at this time in my life, I probably won't give it a trysmiley)

Mar 12, 2019 - 5:25:08 PM

2 posts since 8/27/2018

Good evening everyone, sorry for the delay in responding to your excellent answers. I've been a little busy with a problem contractor, water in the basement, travelling to see the in-laws, etc.

That said, I didn't expect the load of banjo "philosophy" I got from all of you. Thank you much! After looking at the for sale section here and doing a little more research, I have the strong impression that, for someone with my skill level, banjo selling might net enough to pay for some of the parts for the next build. In other words, this will continue to be a hobby and nothing close to a business.


Fortunately, I like clawhammer playing and maybe someday I'll be good enough to play in front of someone besides my dog, and my wife, who loves me anyway. I also like wood and making sawdust, I learned how to steam, roll, and glue up rims and I like doing that. And I personally think that banjos hanging on the wall has more claim to the word "art" than a lot of stuff I've seen in frames.


I also like what us Baptists call "fellowship" which includes hanging out at this, er, hangout, talking about um, banjos. That said, I've been taking some photos of one of my projects currently underway, one I've been thinking about for quite a while - an open-back fretless made entirely out of plywood. I'm wondering if there'd be any interest in posting the photos here when it's finished, yes?


I posted two of my "extra" instruments on the Omaha Craig's list this evening...


Hope it's okay to do it this way. Comments on the ads - workmanship, price, whatever are sincerely appreciated. I'm also all ears to stories about how some of your round-headed children came to leave home and how you dealt with their loss (sniff).

I can post more photos if anyone is curious. Thanks for your replies, blessings on your evening!



Mar 13, 2019 - 7:55:54 AM

816 posts since 12/8/2006

You have the prices reversed. My opinion only. Paul

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