Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

263
Banjo Lovers Online


Buying a used older model vs. a new model

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Sep 20, 2019 - 6:57:30 AM
5 posts since 9/20/2019

I've been playing 10 months and am looking to upgrade from my $180 absolute beginner banjo to something of quality. I'm looking at the Goodtime Special and the Sierra. The special isn't THAT much more to buy new. The Deering website says the "new tone ring is much higher than quality than the one on the earlier specials." Anybody know if this is the case or just a sales tactic? Also looking at a late 70's Sierra for what I think is a good price ($800). But not sure if the age of the instrument is something to be weary of?

Thanks for the help, folks!

Sep 20, 2019 - 7:06:04 AM

399 posts since 8/14/2018

quote:
Originally posted by grodhaus

Also looking at a late 70's Sierra for what I think is a good price ($800). But not sure if the age of the instrument is something to be weary of?
 


Not necessarily. An instrument that has been taken care of and not abused can remain playable for a long time (some of us have 100+ yr old banjos). You might have to consider if it needs a new head or some other tune-up. But you would want to be able to examine it in person if possible, or at least be sure you were buying from someone reputable. 

Sep 20, 2019 - 7:15:05 AM

1929 posts since 12/31/2005

There weren't Sierras in the '70's. When Deering started in 1975, it had two levels of metal rim banjos. It later added the Standard, but I am not clear on the year. The Standard later became the early Sierra. If something is marked Sierra, the earliest it would be is about 1993-95 (I can't remember which year they were re-named).

If it is a Deering Standard in good shape, it is a different level of banjo than a Goodtime. But make sure you know what you are getting. If you have pictures you can post (include label) folks can help you here. The Deerings also are well known for answering questions from people even when you are buying used.

Sep 20, 2019 - 7:47:40 AM

5 posts since 9/20/2019

quote:
Originally posted by MacCruiskeen
quote:
Originally posted by grodhaus

Also looking at a late 70's Sierra for what I think is a good price ($800). But not sure if the age of the instrument is something to be weary of?
 


Not necessarily. An instrument that has been taken care of and not abused can remain playable for a long time (some of us have 100+ yr old banjos). You might have to consider if it needs a new head or some other tune-up. But you would want to be able to examine it in person if possible, or at least be sure you were buying from someone reputable. 


Thanks, I appreciate the response! Anything specific you would look for as far as being able to identify a necessary tune-up?

Sep 20, 2019 - 8:12:03 AM

5 posts since 9/20/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Murphy

There weren't Sierras in the '70's. When Deering started in 1975, it had two levels of metal rim banjos. It later added the Standard, but I am not clear on the year. The Standard later became the early Sierra. If something is marked Sierra, the earliest it would be is about 1993-95 (I can't remember which year they were re-named).

If it is a Deering Standard in good shape, it is a different level of banjo than a Goodtime. But make sure you know what you are getting. If you have pictures you can post (include label) folks can help you here. The Deerings also are well known for answering questions from people even when you are buying used.


Thanks! I sent the pictures to deering to see if they can be of any help. By a different level, you mean it would be a higher quality banjo? Attached the pictures here as well if that helps.

Sep 20, 2019 - 8:17:54 AM

399 posts since 8/14/2018

quote:
Originally posted by grodhaus
quote:
Originally posted by MacCruiskeen
quote:
Originally posted by grodhaus

Also looking at a late 70's Sierra for what I think is a good price ($800). But not sure if the age of the instrument is something to be weary of?
 


Not necessarily. An instrument that has been taken care of and not abused can remain playable for a long time (some of us have 100+ yr old banjos). You might have to consider if it needs a new head or some other tune-up. But you would want to be able to examine it in person if possible, or at least be sure you were buying from someone reputable. 


Thanks, I appreciate the response! Anything specific you would look for as far as being able to identify a necessary tune-up?


Fret wear is a common issue if the instrument has been played a lot. A good luthier could dress or replace worn frets, it's a non-fatal issue. For a good quality instrument, it's worth fixing up, you just have to account for the possibility in your budgeting. (A possibly fatal issue would be a bad crack in the neck or headstock that wasn't repaired properly).

Edited by - MacCruiskeen on 09/20/2019 08:20:24

Sep 20, 2019 - 8:26:41 AM
like this

2714 posts since 5/29/2011

From what I can see in the pictures the banjo in question is a far better banjo than a Goodtime for just a little more money.

Sep 20, 2019 - 9:29:43 AM

5 posts since 9/20/2019

quote:
Originally posted by grodhaus

I've been playing 10 months and am looking to upgrade from my $180 absolute beginner banjo to something of quality. I'm looking at the Goodtime Special and the Sierra. The special isn't THAT much more to buy new. The Deering website says the "new tone ring is much higher than quality than the one on the earlier specials." Anybody know if this is the case or just a sales tactic? Also looking at a late 70's Sierra for what I think is a good price ($800). But not sure if the age of the instrument is something to be weary of?

Thanks for the help, folks!


Sep 20, 2019 - 9:42:23 AM

1319 posts since 2/10/2013

If you are a serious banjo player and plan to keep playing, buy the best instrument you can afford. That will be cheaper than a series of upgrades.
I initially bought two new banjos. Now I buy used banjos. If the banjo has no defects, you can save over $1000 buying a professional quality used banjo.

Sep 20, 2019 - 10:35:05 AM

5 posts since 9/20/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Richard Hauser

If you are a serious banjo player and plan to keep playing, buy the best instrument you can afford. That will be cheaper than a series of upgrades.
I initially bought two new banjos. Now I buy used banjos. If the banjo has no defects, you can save over $1000 buying a professional quality used banjo.


Thanks Richard! Would you consider this older sierra/standard model to be a professional quality banjo if there are no defects?

Sep 20, 2019 - 12:21:29 PM

1929 posts since 12/31/2005

Interesting. The tailpiece is a Presto, an aftermarket upgrade. I have never seen a truss rod cover with the model on it. That's likely after market as well. There will be a label on the inside of the rim if you take the resonator off, which will give you the full serial number, which is necessary for figuring out year.

The Standard/Sierra have the same wood and hardware components of more expensive Deerings. The difference is the lack of ornamentation, such as inlay and some money saved by having a stain finish vs. gloss finish. The Eagle on the headstock was screened on, not inlaid. The concept was to create a professional sounding instrument at a more accessible price point. It's a strategy a lot of other builders have tried. As some processes, such as inlays, became automated and less labor intensive, the Sierra has become more ornate itself. It's a great looking banjo today.

I had a Standard like this from 1993. It was a solid instrument. Deerings have a tone that is distinct from other banjos. THe build is slightly different from what would be considered Gibson specs. The resonator is typically more shallow (until you get to the Golden line). The tone ring to rim fit is more snug than what is typically preferred today. Good banjos, but I thought the tone on mine was a little thin. It was well balanced though and I actually considered it preferable to the Stelling Bellflower that I played before it.

In terms of comparing it to a GoodTime, there really is no comparison. The Standard/Sierra is a stage worthy instrument. It won't be the last banjo you buy, but it could be if you wanted it to be.

Sep 21, 2019 - 11:34:39 PM

357 posts since 2/5/2014

I got a Sierra after playing banjo for a few months. It had a bell chime sound and I loved it. Unfortunately it weighed a lot so I sold it.
After that I got a Special, thinking that the weight would be more manageable. As far as the sound goes, there was no comparison at all. The Sierra won hands down.
I flipped the Special and got a Sierra again. In order to deal with the weight, I place a thick towel on my lap and take occasional breaks. That chiming tone I love so much makes me happy.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.171875