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I need a light weight banjo

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Aug 14, 2019 - 11:14:43 AM
276 posts since 2/27/2004

My 40 lb (or so it seems) gorilla banjo of mine is starting to wear on me. Any suggestions for one of the "wood tone ring", light weight banjos? I'm not a professional, only play for a hobby. But I do like quality and clarity.

Aug 14, 2019 - 11:53:10 AM

256 posts since 2/6/2018

Don't know what your budget or skill level is, but Deerings are light.
Twanger has been getting a lot of publicity:
...and this subject has been discussed before here at the old Hang Out:

Aug 14, 2019 - 12:23:50 PM
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Players Union Member



18 posts since 12/19/2010

Bruce Kunkel’s “World” and “Artist” banjos are his patented design with resonator and a wood tone ring. Great sound and just over 5 lbs.

Aug 14, 2019 - 12:27:31 PM



1045 posts since 12/4/2012

I have a 1930s KK Style 11 (a brass hoop for a ring) and a Nechville with a wood +Ti ring. Both sound great (the Gibson has a really, really great sound) and weigh in around 8lbs.

Aug 14, 2019 - 12:55:24 PM
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243 posts since 11/15/2012

My Bishline Patriot weighs in at just over 8 lbs. It's got a brass hoop rather than a full tone ring.  It sells new for $1895.00. 

Bishline just recently introduced their Ultra-light model. It weighs 7 lbs. It's got what they call an Ultra-light flange and a hard maple tone ring.   It's pricey at $4195.00 but they'll apply the Ultra-Light treatment to any of their models.   So you could conceivably get the Patriot  down to about 7 lbs with the maple tone ring and light flange.  Link to the Ultra-light follows.  It's not stated what the cost is to "Ultra-light" their other models.

Bishline Ultra-Light

Happy hunting!

Edited by - Shake-Boy on 08/14/2019 12:59:12

Aug 14, 2019 - 1:51:06 PM

599 posts since 3/12/2008

If within your budget, consider a light-weight (9 lbs) but full tone-ring banjo like the two Gibson pyramids for sale in the classifieds. I have no financial interest in the sale of either instrument, but I have owned and played Gibson pyramids. They can be a hoss, while still saving your back.

Edited by - loggerhead on 08/14/2019 13:52:53

Aug 14, 2019 - 3:41:43 PM

1163 posts since 2/10/2013

Stelling and Bishline are making some light weight banjos. Buying one will also take some weight off your wallet. They sound pretty good though.

Aug 14, 2019 - 4:39:34 PM

59 posts since 1/19/2015

Aug 14, 2019 - 5:15:56 PM
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2631 posts since 5/29/2011

Check the used market for a Vega Ranger. They have a wooden bead turned into the top of the rim and sound remarkably good. There is one in the classified ads now for $500. I have no connection to the seller.
I bought a tenor version several years ago and made a five string neck for it.

Edited by - Culloden on 08/14/2019 17:19:36

Aug 14, 2019 - 5:37:04 PM
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Players Union Member



330 posts since 4/17/2019

You like quality and clarity.

I'm the only one building with Bamboo. They weigh 5 lbs. WITH the tone ring, no woodies. Therefore note separation is better, sustain is great and decay is less.
The 8 blocks are cut on a 45 degree bias which puts the end grain up against the tone ring, no one else does that.
Thus you can add a one pound wooden resonator, or 12 oz. of spoons, they do the same thing and weigh less.
Take a look at the Helix reviews. I'm just finishing up the 10th Bamboo Jackrabbit. with magnet mount resonator., 18 hooks.

People adding wooden rim caps are all looking for something in my opinion. They top laminated rims and expect a result.
But if the signal path isn't there, then the same old struggle entails at the jam. I've seen this a lot.

All these rims have the same number of board feet. Go ahead and look over all the laminated 3-ply rims you want.
They all add the tone ring by mounting it parallel to the grain run, like walking up to the tree and putting your tone ring there on the side of the tree.
The Helix rim adds the tone ring to the bottom of the tree to directly contact the grain run, and at a 45 degree angle, it gives the rim a virtual depth of 4.24". More sound is available this way, all the parts vibrate to make banjo. Banjo is a verb.
Right at $1000 with case and shipping.  In the photo, the bamboo jackrabbit is on the far right. 
Contact me if you like, I'm pretty busy.

Edited by - Helix1 on 08/14/2019 17:38:57

Aug 14, 2019 - 6:20:53 PM

407 posts since 6/2/2011

I have a Companion Custom, “woodie” banjo with a tone rim “ring” inter grated into the block rim, one piece. It weighs about eight pounds. Loud clean tone. Steve Sorenson gives GREAT customer service. Check the website for a video..

Aug 14, 2019 - 11:46:46 PM

314 posts since 2/5/2014

I found that if I sit down, and hold the banjo on my lap, the weight doesn’t bother me any longer. I hold it like a classical guitar, with the neck angled upwards and my left foot on a riser.
I am going to jam on Sunday, hopefully I can sit most of the time.

Aug 15, 2019 - 5:04:10 AM



1544 posts since 3/11/2004

My Ome Triple-X has the “Silverspun” rim and ring. About 7.5 pounds. It’s a different, sweeter sound than a Mastertone.

Aug 15, 2019 - 5:12:04 AM

1499 posts since 10/12/2011

I have a Kalamazoo Conversion banjo and its really light weight. I took down the wood bead and added a PW brass hoop. It sound great and its light (about 7-8 lbs) I know their are a couple in the classifieds. And no none of them are my banjo. Good luck in your quest.

Aug 15, 2019 - 6:36:35 AM
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302 posts since 2/28/2006

Lots of great suggestions for you here!
When I want a light, great sounding banjo, I pick up up my 1925 Gibson ball bearing conversion.

All the best
Brian Saulsman

Aug 15, 2019 - 7:29:55 AM

8703 posts since 2/22/2007

If you can bear the $3.5K freight, Bruce Kunkel's new creation will astound you, both it's lightness and it's apparent volume. I had no way of determining it's projected volume but when played the impression was "very light and very loud".

Aug 15, 2019 - 7:55:25 AM

18 posts since 2/12/2019

Take a look into the Pisgah Banjo Company. I have a custom walnut A scale with a persimmon tone
ring and love it. I wanted light weight and the old timey sound and that's exact;y what I have.

Aug 16, 2019 - 9:03:20 AM



172 posts since 1/6/2004

I'd second the Companion custom woodie banjo. Also there's the Turtle hill woody banjo and there was one for a nice price in the classifieds. I'd get that if I didn't already have a Companion woodie banjo.

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