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Buying/ Selling/ Trading Banjos as a Hobby

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Oct 13, 2019 - 6:54:07 PM
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44 posts since 12/9/2018

As the title suggests, wondering if any of you fine folks do this type of thing, even if it's only a justification for the well known Banjo Acquisition Syndrome.
The main reason for asking is to see if I'm out of my mind or have just been very fortunate in my dealings as a total banjo newbie. Over the last year in my search for the "right" banjo or three, I've bought and sold several nice instruments and learned a fair amount in the process. All the while, not really taking any financial hits because I've stuck with well known builders and reputable sellers.
All this has allowed me to spend some quality at home time with some really nice instruments and get a better idea of my likes and dislikes. And if I don't really jive with one, I've been able to pass it along to it's next owner at a fair price, sometimes collecting a cool story or experience to go with it.

Oct 13, 2019 - 7:11:50 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)


22455 posts since 6/25/2005

It's great as long as you treat it as a hobby, being willing to take losses as the price of your enjoyment.  If you expect to just break even, know that you probably won't.

Oct 13, 2019 - 9:10:24 PM
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1927 posts since 12/31/2005

You're doing it right. Buy from good sources, and check them out first. Any mistakes then will be minor and you'll more than recoup the losses on future transactions if you learned something. If you think about any losses simply as rent over the time you've had the instrument, it puts it into perspective. But banjos are like every other hobby. Folks will tell you all about the ones they flipped for a pretty profit, but they'll forget to mention the one about the "Gibson" they bought that was probably never anywhere near Kalamazoo or Nashville.

Oct 14, 2019 - 4:45:34 AM
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287 posts since 9/12/2006

I've been doing this for a hobby for nearly 30 years. Of course I have made some awful goofs over the years!! But overall, I have had quite a bit of good luck. I also came to the realization many years ago it isn't so much about trying to make big bucks on flipping banjos and parts at a big profit, but rather a bit f pocket change which, more or less, I can say justifies the time I spend doing it. I also just love trying to help folks track down that part they simply can't find, OR to put the right banjo into the hands of it's next rightful owner. That is what drives me to do this. Of course it also allows me to spend time chasing down something which I don't even realize I'm looking for!! YEP - I have indeed run into some things which I kept for myself!! And to top it all off I've met quite a few really good folks in the process and traded a few licks, learned much, and had a great time doing it!!

Oct 14, 2019 - 6:34:01 AM
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2500 posts since 2/16/2017

This was my plan for a while. Problem is, I'm really good at the buying part, and not so good at the selling part..

Oct 14, 2019 - 7:43:07 AM
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399 posts since 8/14/2018

That is basically the process I used to accumulate a shelf-full of old cameras.

Edited by - MacCruiskeen on 10/14/2019 07:43:26

Oct 14, 2019 - 4:06:56 PM

44 posts since 12/9/2018

I figured there had to be a decent number of "hobbyists" out there and I appreciate the replies.
My dealings have been a mix of in person and online transactions via the Hangout, Reverb, Craigslist, and FB Marketplace. I figure as long as I do my research, on the instruments as well as the buyers/ sellers, I'm in pretty good shape.
Some of the banjos I purchased expecting to hang on to for a while and some were picked up hoping they could be flipped for a few extra bucks. I've been lucky enough to find a couple of "right place at the right time" kinda deals which have allowed me to expand my budget a little and get into that sweet spot where the instruments tend to hold their used value better.
There have been some neat stories as well. I picked up two open backs and a bunch of books and accessories from a widow who used to play in a small band with her husband, who also did some teaching. She had been holding onto the instruments for several years and finally decided to let them go and wanted to be sure they would be played and appreciated. I cleaned them up and played them for a while. I ended up selling one to a well known instructor up north and the other went to a friend who plays it regularly in his old time band.
And just recently I picked up a banjo through the Hangout, and while doing some pre-purchase research, I found out that the seller had just picked up one of my old banjos from the young lady I sold it to. Pretty wild.

Oct 21, 2019 - 7:45:14 AM



1957 posts since 2/22/2006

I once thought buying and selling instruments would be a good side hobby, but found that dealing with the money aspect (I run a small business otherwise) took a lot of the fun out of it. I mostly buy them just to play, and only sell when they no longer meet my needs, usually after a few years. Nevertheless, ever now and then I come across an instrument at a garage sale, church sale, or even a music shop that is too good a buy to pass up, and I buy it with the intention of making a modest profit selling it to the right person. The money goes back into instruments or PA equipment.

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