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1st Banjo - Can I top this Maple Blossom for $1,300?

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Jul 6, 2019 - 11:27:30 AM
69 posts since 7/6/2019

I purchased this 2002 Deering Maple Blossom yesterday for $1,300 and can return it within 45 days no questions asked. I think it will need new frets some are worn about 50%. Can I top this for a made in U.S.A. banjo? What if I came up to $2,500-$3,500 for a used made in U.S.A.? Appreciate any input.


Jul 6, 2019 - 11:34:40 AM
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Beardog

USA

1668 posts since 8/20/2008

Probably not. Keep it and pick the snot out of it.

Jul 6, 2019 - 11:36:13 AM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

22097 posts since 6/25/2005

If you like the Deering sound (which is different), then you’re not likely to beat it for the price.

Jul 6, 2019 - 11:40:36 AM

381 posts since 9/23/2009

No.

Jul 6, 2019 - 11:51:55 AM

69 posts since 7/6/2019

Thanks guys. I checked sold prices and this seemed towards the bottom of the price range for these. What's a refret on a banjo cost on average? By someone who knows what they are doing. Scratch that, an expert?

Jul 6, 2019 - 11:55:24 AM

69 posts since 7/6/2019

Bill I binge read a bunch of posts here on the hangout talking about how Deering sounds different. I read how the Sierra being Mahogany is more mellow which makes sense to me. But not really following how a maple Deering sounds different from Gibsons, etc.

Jul 6, 2019 - 11:57:02 AM
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304 posts since 11/21/2018

I recently inquired about a guitar in the Seattle area and a refret was in the neighborhood of $350.
Did you by chance buy your Maple Blossom via Guitar Center? There was one listed there for $1500 awhile back. The 45 day trial period made me wonder.
You have an excellent lst banjo!

Jul 6, 2019 - 12:16:53 PM

69 posts since 7/6/2019

Northernbelle thanks! It could be the same one, I purchased it at the Southcenter Guitar Center just south of Seattle. We have "The 12th Fret" luthiers here in the Portland/Vancouver area but I don't know if they work on banjos. They charge $400.

I can send it to the Deering factory service center, for $480 they offer the following.

- Complete refret
- Fret dress
- New Deering Smile bridge
- Neck angle adjustment
- Full cleaning and polishing of hardware
- Head change and tension
- Coordinator rod adjustment
- Tuner tightening and adjustment
- Set tailpiece

Jul 6, 2019 - 12:37:47 PM

206 posts since 3/29/2018

definitely worth checking out--play it and see how it sounds....Deering has a ...distinct sound to it....some like it, but, depending on what you are looking for tone-wise, it might not work....still, at that price...

Jul 6, 2019 - 12:52:15 PM
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381 posts since 9/23/2009

Deering factory service is first-rate (personal experience). However, I bet you'd be fine for a looong time with just a fret dressing.

Jul 6, 2019 - 1:32:40 PM
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12009 posts since 10/30/2008

If you're a first time banjo buyer, how do you know the frets are worn 50%?

If I were buying my first banjo, I wouldn't spend $1300!! I'd spend maybe half of that and save the other half to buy something after you have developed a "feel" and an "ear" for different banjo virtues. I surely would not put hundreds more into a fret job! Presuming you want to play bluegrass buy a used Recording King 35 or 36 if you can. Or a used Gold Star 100. They're not American made, but that's what upgrading is all about, after you learn to play.

If someone MADE me buy a $1300 first banjo, I'd buy a used Fender Artist or Baldwin C, both vintage American top quality from the 1970s.

Have fun. Get picking!

Jul 6, 2019 - 1:45 PM
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gtani7

USA

907 posts since 3/22/2017

that's a good deal, assuming case and banjo in good condition. I think the Deering tone is at least in part because tight tone ring fit, where slipfit seems to be the common fit these days. I was just at Southcenter, wonder how I missed that, tho I don't need to buy any instruments.

have somebody experienced play it, look at neck angle and fretwear, check nuts on lag bots, head tension w/drum dial etc. Probalby it needs a fret level/crown or maybe 1st 5 frets replaced.

Edited by - gtani7 on 07/06/2019 13:48:13

Jul 6, 2019 - 2:05:57 PM

69 posts since 7/6/2019

The frets are pretty ugly, nearly down to the fretboard in some areas.

Jul 6, 2019 - 2:10:03 PM

69 posts since 7/6/2019

quote:
Originally posted by gtani7

that's a good deal, assuming case and banjo in good condition. I think the Deering tone is at least in part because tight tone ring fit, where slipfit seems to be the common fit these days. I was just at Southcenter, wonder how I missed that, tho I don't need to buy any instruments.

have somebody experienced play it, look at neck angle and fretwear, check nuts on lag bots, head tension w/drum dial etc. Probalby it needs a fret level/crown or maybe 1st 5 frets replaced.


I was reading a thread on that earlier, apparently the guy sanded his down for more of a slip fit and changed the tone considerably. I may step up to stainless frets during the refret.

Jul 6, 2019 - 2:21:53 PM
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69 posts since 7/6/2019

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

If you're a first time banjo buyer, how do you know the frets are worn 50%?

If I were buying my first banjo, I wouldn't spend $1300!! I'd spend maybe half of that and save the other half to buy something after you have developed a "feel" and an "ear" for different banjo virtues. I surely would not put hundreds more into a fret job! Presuming you want to play bluegrass buy a used Recording King 35 or 36 if you can. Or a used Gold Star 100. They're not American made, but that's what upgrading is all about, after you learn to play.

If someone MADE me buy a $1300 first banjo, I'd buy a used Fender Artist or Baldwin C, both vintage American top quality from the 1970s.

Have fun. Get picking!


You can't take it with you Old Timer. Below this price all I saw was junk and CHINA honestly. I noticed Deering is having a 20% off sale so I went shopping after lunch, goodies are inbound!

Jul 6, 2019 - 2:25:21 PM

gtani7

USA

907 posts since 3/22/2017

You just reminded me a few years ago i bought a used mandolin from that GC, described as "Excellent Condition" and when i got it, it really needed a refret. Whenever i go in there, it seems to be 3 sales associates and dozens of customers.

Jul 6, 2019 - 2:27:08 PM

69 posts since 7/6/2019

Here's all the photos I took.

Jul 6, 2019 - 2:38:53 PM
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868 posts since 3/14/2003

I think that you scored a great banjo at a reasonable price, and from the photo, I agree that the frets shown need at least a good dressing which is considerably less expensive than fret replacement.
Have fun and play it till your fingers swell.
clay

Jul 6, 2019 - 4:03:26 PM
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304 posts since 11/21/2018

Thanks for the pics! I actually had emailed Guitar Center asking about the year of manufacturer and condition and whether they'd ship to my local store, etc. but never got any responses whatsoever so passed because if I don't see good customer service (or any at all!) I wasn't going to make the trip down to Southcenter.. Glad to see it now though.
There are just about zero banjo repair/luthiers between Portland Or. and Seattle Wa.these days.
I think the Deering fret/service might be the best bet for you.

Be aware that shipping the banjo to them both ways could run as high as $200 (you'd have to research that) and it does carry some risk of damage en route. There are threads on this forum via a search about packing it properly. At the very least ask Deering's advice about that and insure it.

You have a professional quality instrument there so you did well. I would've passed due to the fret job and shipping hassles but I'm glad it went to a good home. This could be your "forever" banjo if you like how it sounds. It's beautiful and you won't have too much trouble reselling it down the road should you want to.

I played a Maple Blossom about a year ago at Dusty Strings in Seattle and it must've been a different one-I'm guessing? Because the frets were ok back then...

Jul 6, 2019 - 5:43:55 PM
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69 posts since 7/6/2019

quote:
Originally posted by northernbelle

Thanks for the pics! I actually had emailed Guitar Center asking about the year of manufacturer and condition and whether they'd ship to my local store, etc. but never got any responses whatsoever so passed because if I don't see good customer service (or any at all!).


GC only posted this single blurry photo and it was locked up in the back room of the acoustic guitar section with the higher dollar guitars. I don't think it got much foot traffic in the store. I'm decided to have the Deering factory service center do the work, they built it right. Shipping there is on me but the Deering factory service package includes return insured shipping via Fedex.

Since it looks like this was a pretty decent price I decided to keep it and invest some time and money into it. I ordered a new head, bridge, True-tone tailpiece, J-hooks and nuts for it today.

 

Jul 6, 2019 - 5:56:44 PM
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Banjo Lefty

Canada

1598 posts since 6/19/2014

You got a real bargoon, and your decision to send it to Deering for service is a good choice, too. When it comes back you will have a like-new pro-level banjo which will give you many years of pleasure. And you will also have a great story of how little you paid!

Jul 6, 2019 - 6:27:50 PM
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283 posts since 1/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Coolidge

Thanks guys. I checked sold prices and this seemed towards the bottom of the price range for these. What's a refret on a banjo cost on average? By someone who knows what they are doing. Scratch that, an expert?


$8-$10 a fret.

Jul 6, 2019 - 6:47:07 PM
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283 posts since 1/28/2013

You got a good deal. Even with needing frets. They usually go about $1700-$1800

Jul 6, 2019 - 6:48:11 PM
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doryman

USA

701 posts since 11/26/2012

The Old Timer aside, life is short, if you can afford to start off with a $1300 banjo that costs almost four times that new, then why the heck not! I think you did good. There are a few folks here that really love to give Deering a hard time. Anyway, I don't own a Maple Blossom but one of my bandmates does, so I've been able to play it quite a bit. I think it's a great banjo and I may get one some day.

To answer your question, if you paid $3500 for something else, used, made in the USA, you'd certainly get something...different. But really, when we are talking these kinds of banjos (and I include the Maple Blossom here), and these kinds of prices, they are all really great banjos and it's entirely a matter of personal preference as to what sounds and feels good to you. No one else can really answer that question for you.

Jul 6, 2019 - 8:11:30 PM

69 posts since 7/6/2019

quote:
Originally posted by doryman

The Old Timer aside, life is short, if you can afford to start off with a $1300 banjo that costs almost four times that new, then why the heck not! I think you did good. There are a few folks here that really love to give Deering a hard time. Anyway, I don't own a Maple Blossom but one of my bandmates does, so I've been able to play it quite a bit. I think it's a great banjo and I may get one some day.

To answer your question, if you paid $3500 for something else, used, made in the USA, you'd certainly get something...different. But really, when we are talking these kinds of banjos (and I include the Maple Blossom here), and these kinds of prices, they are all really great banjos and it's entirely a matter of personal preference as to what sounds and feels good to you. No one else can really answer that question for you.


Thanks I saw a bunch of Gibson Scruggs which sold (original asking price $2,500 - $3,500) and had my eye on those but this one was half the price. Low enough that I wouldn't entertain an Asian starter banjo. If I want to step up one day I won't get hurt too bad on this maple blossom.

Jul 6, 2019 - 10:38:24 PM
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310 posts since 2/5/2014

I am so grateful that I didn’t run into a negative post when I first started researching banjos. I must have spent hours lurking on BHO, researching about banjo brands, picks, books and strings. The best advice was to spend as much as I could afford when buying my instrument. I settled on Deering, and bought a used Sierra off the classified section here. It was like Christmas, Easter and my birthday all wrapped up in one when the Sierra arrived. It was gorgeous and the sound was so rich that, even though I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, I wanted to keep playing.
Personally I love the sound of Deering banjos. I did get a couple other brands over the years but returned to Deering.
Good luck, when you get yours set up by the Deering techs, it will knock your socks off.

Edited by - talljoey on 07/06/2019 22:39:49

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