Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

157
Banjo Lovers Online


When should I upgrade my beginner 5 string banjo?

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Jul 17, 2019 - 5:46:40 PM
6 posts since 8/4/2018

I got a Rogue B30 5 string banjo about a year ago and have been self-teaching after having taken lessons a short while about 40 years ago. It's coming along well I think, but I'm wondering: "When is it time to upgrade, and how crazy should I get?" Will the quality of a better banjo make a difference in how I sound and add the encouragement I need to continue? I'm playing mostly for my own amusement, or with CD's, etc. My fingers on both hands are going where they should, but sometimes the sound seems 'off', even though I tune before playing with an electronic gizmo. I can probably assist myself with an answer here and go try a few out at a music store, but additional suggestions would be helpful. I'm looking for more quality/improved sound at this point, without spending thousands of dollars on a new 5 string.

Jul 17, 2019 - 5:55:17 PM
likes this

1780 posts since 12/31/2005

A better instrument will definitely inspire you. If you have been at it a year and you know that you want to stick with it, you are overdue. Do you have a budget in mind?  You don't have to spend thousands to get a great banjo.  Find someone reputable here selling a Recording King used for 600-1200 and you'll be having a lot of fun soon.  Here are two other interesting choices   GoldTone OB-150 Blem and GoldStar  

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 07/17/2019 18:15:25

Jul 17, 2019 - 6:04:28 PM

hoodoo

Canada

486 posts since 10/6/2017

quote:
Originally posted by 5stringjim5

I got a Rogue B30 5 string banjo about a year ago and have been self-teaching after having taken lessons a short while about 40 years ago. It's coming along well I think, but I'm wondering: "When is it time to upgrade, and how crazy should I get?" Will the quality of a better banjo make a difference in how I sound and add the encouragement I need to continue? I'm playing mostly for my own amusement, or with CD's, etc. My fingers on both hands are going where they should, but sometimes the sound seems 'off', even though I tune before playing with an electronic gizmo. I can probably assist myself with an answer here and go try a few out at a music store, but additional suggestions would be helpful. I'm looking for more quality/improved sound at this point, without spending thousands of dollars on a new 5 string.


I've been playing for over two years. My first banjo was a standard, aluminium pot with the name "Alabama" slapped on the headstock. Once I knew that I really loved everything about the instrument, I really wanted to upgrade, so I went for a Deering Goodtime Americana, which itself is considered a quality entry level instrument. The difference was like night and day. About 8 months later I came into some money, so I decided to get another more expensive banjo, an Eastman WL250. The difference was like night and day in comparison to the Goodtime. I've since sold the Eastman and bought a Pisgah Possum. I would say that both of these banjos play in the same league, but the Possum is definitely a keeper! That doesn't mean that I won't add any other banjos to my stable, but It has it all, the feel, the sound and the look that I was going for. 

In other words, upgrade when you are ready. It can seem daunting... like "I've only been playing for a year, why should I be playing an expensive instrument"... sometimes it needs some getting used to.... the higher end instruments are more responsive etc. But in the end, it is a motivating factor to want to keep playing and improve. 

If you tell us your budget and type of banjo you're looking for (resonator, open back), folks here will only be too happy to give you 1001 suggestions :)

Jul 17, 2019 - 6:52:38 PM

1843 posts since 5/2/2012

My first resonator banjo was a Fender B54, about in the same league as your Rogue. I found the sound to be a bit bright and "thin", but the deal breaker was the width of the neck at the nut -- too narrow for me. A higher quality banjo will definitely make you sound better - at least it does for me. Look for a banjo with a (3 ply better than multi-ply) wood (not aluminum like your Rogue) pot and a tone ring (cast brass would be best) and other high quality components. If you can try a few different banjos at a music store, so much the better.  If you feel your present banjo is holding you back in terms of playability or the sound you want, you will know that it is time to move on.

You can find 70's era banjos with real (cast, but not necessarily  brass) tone rings in the, let's say, $4 - 500 range (but you'll have to look hard for a good one), sometimes cheaper. In that range you can also find a used or new RK20 Songster, that has a rolled brass tone ring - I think you will find it has good reviews. If you want to spring another, say $3-400, you are getting in the territory of a newer used RK35, Gold Tone OB 150, BG250F or OB250.

Edited by - thisoldman on 07/17/2019 18:55:05

Jul 17, 2019 - 8:48:29 PM

Edwards

USA

76 posts since 3/26/2014

My first banjo is it fireside banjo, it’s a composite pretty good but not much volume. Only weighs about 2 pounds, easy to make it’s not much, I really gave it to a travel banjo now. After about a year and a half I got a gold tone which I’m very pleased with, and his volume and warm sound. My suggestion would be to go to a shop, try out the instruments. Talk to your friends, perhaps a few them play and have their own instruments that they with my new putting hands on. I tried post to 25 banjos before I found one I liked. I have to say the recording king is a wonderful instrument the dirty 30 is a no thrills aesthetic which is very reliable a buddy of mine plays one. I guess what I’m saying is you can take all the suggestions in the world. But in less you decide on what you are after some thought, it’s always help me someone else’s choice. I wish you luck in your journey in Vini I have to say the recording king is a wonderful instrument the dirty 30 is a no thrills aesthetic which is very reliable a buddy of mine plays one. I guess what I’m saying is you can take all the suggestions in the world. But in less you decide on what you are after some thought, it’s always help me someone else’s choice. I wish you luck in your journey in by finding Your banjo. And just some inside it took me about eight months to figure out which one I want it, and to try all the ones on my list. Take care cheers

Jul 17, 2019 - 10:27:25 PM

311 posts since 2/5/2014

I was having fun playing my Deering Sierra this afternoon and wouldn’t have stopped but I had to make dinner. To me, that is a true test of a good banjo - that you enjoy playing it so much that you don’t want to stop.

Do some research, and if you live in a metropolis find a music store that carries banjos and try some out. I wasn’t able to do that because I live in a small town. Lucky for me I was able to buy a great banjo off this classified section. That upgrade made my practice sessions a true joy.
Good luck, and watch out for BAS (banjo acquisition syndrome).

Edited by - talljoey on 07/17/2019 22:28:06

Jul 18, 2019 - 4:59:19 AM
likes this

128 posts since 4/11/2019

You absolutely NEED to get a new banjo about twice per year.

Or more.

Jul 18, 2019 - 5:20:16 AM

189 posts since 4/1/2003

I sold Doug a really great first banjo. I also set it up for Him. get a really decent banjo to start out with. You make have to spend extra cash..


Jul 18, 2019 - 8:41:02 AM

6 posts since 8/4/2018

Thanks everyone for responding. Sounds like I'll be heading out to a few local music stores and checking out their stock. I appreciate everyone's feedback and encouragement.

Jim

Jul 18, 2019 - 4:24:09 PM

1780 posts since 12/31/2005

Looks like you are about 2 hours from Penny Lane  

Jul 18, 2019 - 6:13:31 PM

h

616 posts since 2/20/2013

As soon as you decide you want to get serious about it.

Jul 20, 2019 - 7:18:35 AM
Players Union Member

Helix1

USA

327 posts since 4/17/2019

I’m a small Banjo builder, this is not a sales message

I started with a $50 garage sale Banjo. I still have the neck

I do rim change outs for $275
That gives you another option

Starter banjos can be chipboard or plywood or non feeling metal, whatever

Be careful not to purchase 12 pounds of fun. Ask questions

You might not need to have a bunch of pearl, but it’s free trade and sailor’s rights. Customizing and
tinkering are allowed

What a wooden Banjo will do for you is allow your “feelings” to come
through your hand made music , it will vintage from being played, and you get better, too

Call me off forum, I’ll give you more information

Old time music is dry = high decay
Bluegrass is wet = high sustain

Now you can begin to develop your own specs
Snap= attack
Crackle = sustain
Pop = decay

You can get a wooden spoon and go around your house and rap different items to get an idea of knock note. A higher nock note means more fiber , less pitch, you get to choose

Everybody reads this, stay positive and curious, good luck, enjoy the journey


Edited by - Helix1 on 07/20/2019 07:42:42

Jul 22, 2019 - 5:12:47 AM

6 posts since 8/4/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Murphy

Looks like you are about 2 hours from Penny Lane  


Thanks so much, Brian, for the info on Penny Lane. After a very disappointing trip to the local Guitar Center here, I was planning on calling and possibly checking out the Gold Tone factory that's about 5 hours away. I don't want to pay for shipping in order to try out an instrument, nor buy site or sound/played unseen either. This site had 2 of the 3 - 5 string banjos I was wanting to try out. I'll give them a call this week and see if they still have them. Much appreciated!

Jul 22, 2019 - 5:32:39 AM

2321 posts since 10/9/2011

Are you sure your current banjo is set up properly or are you playing it just as it came out of the box? A good setup can make any stringed instrument sound and play a lot better,especially a banjo with so many parts that could be "off".

Jul 22, 2019 - 6:09:21 AM

1780 posts since 12/31/2005

Check the classifieds. Some really great looking sub $1K stuff has hit in the past week, including an Ome XXX (if it is still available). A RK75 went quickly. OTOH, playing before you buy is a good policy. Titusville is a hike from where you are, but they're great people and if you think you'll be choosing from something they have, it may be worth it. Penny Lane is a GT dealer, I believe. I bought one from them.

Jul 22, 2019 - 10:17:40 AM

128 posts since 4/11/2019

Sometimes Gold Tone will have a blemished item for sale at a nice discount.

Right around the corner is the Gheenoe factory, so you can kill two birds with one stone.

Stop for lunch at Dixie Crossroads and it will be time for a nap!

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.328125