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Barnes & Mullins BJ350G Albert Open Back 5 String Banjo

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Aug 25, 2019 - 7:57:55 AM
2 posts since 8/25/2019

Hi all. I'm a newbie considering my first banjo purchase. I want start with an open back as I like playing clawhammer uke. Does anyone have anything to say about the Barnes & Mullins BJ350G 'Albert' Banjo?
I live in rural SW France so have no chance of seeing/playing any instruments. The Albert, which I can get on line, seems to fit the bill for me on paper and I've seen some good Amazon reviews but I would really appreciate any feedback from anyone on this amazing forum who knows something about these banjos.

Aug 25, 2019 - 10:48:26 AM
Players Union Member

Helix1

USA

420 posts since 4/17/2019

Buy it. its a good little banjo. You can learn to adjust it yourself. If help is needed ask us

Aug 25, 2019 - 11:54:15 AM

945 posts since 2/4/2013
Online Now

Tricky question. I have a similar version of this banjo - The Pilgrim VPB003, a downgraded version of the original version. Read this but don't let it put you off. It was my most disappointing banjo purchase but I have made it work with some effort. Originally I'd have described the sound as thin, dull and hollow. This is not helped by the fyberskyn head and multiply walnut rim.

I can't say the Albert is exactly the same. The Pilgrim had a very small brass hoop tone ring. Originally it had a normal larger rolled brass ring, two co-ordiniator rods and a rim with a nice cap on the bottom. I can't say what the Albert has except the rim seems to be the same. Does it have a tone ring? Although disappointed with my Pilgrim it's OK now. I added a better rolled brass ring (after some sanding) and a frosted head kept very tight to reduce the hollowness. The changes I made were to brighten it up as much as possible The overriding sound is now mellow. It's not longer dull.

I see the price on Amazon UK is £225. It says resonator - brass. I guess this means tone ring but who knows. Barnes and Mullins is now just a name used by an instrument importer and they have no idea what their banjos have. The next question what can you get better at this price. The factory that made these and other half decent cheaper banjos has gone so options are very limited expect second hand which I guess are also very limited in France. At that sort of price, plus a frosted head, it's still a decent option for mellow clawhammer. You might be happy with fyberskyn. I had the "advantage" of playing other banjos so had lots to compare with.

Edited by - GrahamHawker on 08/25/2019 11:54:56

Aug 25, 2019 - 2:50:01 PM

1260 posts since 4/13/2009

Aug 26, 2019 - 1:59:31 AM

2 posts since 8/25/2019

Thanks Guys for all your advice.

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