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A banjo for my niece (She is 12-13 years old) average height

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Jan 14, 2020 - 7:24:59 PM
39 posts since 6/22/2019

Hi guys

So I've improved a lot since last time I posted here and my niece is getting excited watching me play, had a few tries and she's picking up the technique quite quickly...she wants one. I could get a travel banjo but she'll be 14 this year, and liable to grow pretty quick over the next year so maybe we don't need a smaller one? I saw a kid as young as 9 or 10 managing a full size.. ha....

That said I'm open to a smaller banjo if one can be found cheap.

I'm in the UK and been looking at the Harley Benton cheapest of the cheap - frankly because I think when set up properly with a decent head and decent strings, it may be ok to start out with. I'm a sound buff myself and can hear when something sounds like a toy..I'd love to buy her the cheapest Grafton available but it's not cheap enough sadly...

Also if anyone in the UK has an old banjo for sale do let me know.

I'd gravitate to a smaller banjo if available, don't mind what head but prefer it not to be renaissance. Purely because mine is one and I'm bored of the tone haha... be nice if she plays with me to get a bit of a different tone.

the HBs seem very well reviewed...but if someone could tell me how I can get the fullest sound for as little money as possible.. that'd be good... I'm assuming it's a 3 ply rim I want, but I doubt I'll get that on this budget.

Jan 15, 2020 - 4:39:22 AM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12135 posts since 8/30/2006

She will only grow, so a smaller banjo won't work.

The HB's can be set up, your ears will help you there. I suggest a newer tailpiece. Adjusting the action is easy and easy to learn.

I do rim change outs, so I see various low spec. banjos in my shop. The reason I see them is that people outgrow plywood rims, and plastic, and aluminum because they got no soul, they don't get better with playing, no vintaging next month.

I rarely replace necks, they are like the wheels and tyres, but the rim is like the motor and is what produces most of the music.

I suggest go straight ahead, you have some recourse with the shop that is selling. You can upgrade little parts like the bridge along the way. Get her a strap and a good capo.


Edited by - Helix on 01/15/2020 04:41:49

Jan 15, 2020 - 4:56:54 AM

346 posts since 9/21/2018

I'm with Larry, He knows his stuff. I'd think a normal size banjo but look for something a little lighter in the weight department. Or Gold Tone makes a C scale banjo if you think something smaller is needed. I'm sure you could find a retailer that can get them and I don't believe the cost is outrageous.

Jan 15, 2020 - 5:42:23 AM

Eric A

USA

345 posts since 10/15/2019

Get a good sounding and easy playing banjo in regular G scale. She'll grow into it.

Jan 15, 2020 - 5:44:29 AM
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John_J

USA

869 posts since 12/23/2007

I recommend that you consider a used Deering Goodtime banjo....   Good starter banjo, very light, multiple versions for sale on the Hangout for under $400...

She can upgrade to something else after she demonstrates that she's going to play long term and has grown into a young lady....   JJ

Jan 15, 2020 - 6:41:22 AM
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Players Union Member

R Buck

USA

2715 posts since 9/5/2006

A regular size banjo, the more inexpensive tend to be lighter. I teach lots of kids and they start with the regular size younger and smaller than her. She just has to want to play it!

Jan 15, 2020 - 7:01:53 AM
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1130 posts since 7/12/2004

A regular size lightweight banjo with a capo to shorten the neck to the size she needs. If she gets good enough for up-the-neck work before she's grown enough to handle full-size, use tape for temporary position markers. Besides helping her find the right positions on the neck, it will make it a big deal when you move the capo when she grows.

There is an age (actually, a size) below which a full sized banjo is too much to handle. If you're teaching a 5 year old, an A banjo like the Gold Tone travel banjo line is a good step. If you're a banjo player, you can get some use out of it after your child is done with it. But if the kid is physically able to hold a full size banjo without it being a distraction from playing, that's the way to go.

Jan 15, 2020 - 7:18 AM
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53257 posts since 12/14/2005

This little blaster was NINE when he made the Letterman show.

Get the gal a regular sized banjo, and let 'r rip!

 

Jan 15, 2020 - 7:19:38 AM

346 posts since 9/21/2018

quote:
Originally posted by waystation

A regular size lightweight banjo with a capo to shorten the neck to the size she needs. If she gets good enough for up-the-neck work before she's grown enough to handle full-size, use tape for temporary position markers. Besides helping her find the right positions on the neck, it will make it a big deal when you move the capo when she grows.

There is an age (actually, a size) below which a full sized banjo is too much to handle. If you're teaching a 5 year old, an A banjo like the Gold Tone travel banjo line is a good step. If you're a banjo player, you can get some use out of it after your child is done with it. But if the kid is physically able to hold a full size banjo without it being a distraction from playing, that's the way to go.


Re-sizing with a capo is a fantastic idea. 

Jan 15, 2020 - 7:33:12 AM

Jbo1

USA

863 posts since 5/19/2007

The way I read to OP is: "I want a new banjo so I can give this one to my niece. What kind should I get (for me)?"

I say, go with that notion.

BTW, I started on a full sized banjo when I was 12. I think she would do just fine with it.

Jan 15, 2020 - 7:49:43 AM
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77 posts since 5/14/2014

I am four foot eleven, and shorter than a lot of 13 year olds!
Get her a standard sized banjo.
OR, give her YOURS, as Jim Bolek has suggested, and find yourself something nice.

Jan 15, 2020 - 8:01:57 AM

250 posts since 10/9/2017

Hobgoblin has a shop damaged unit of one of it’s house brand (Ashbury) open-backs available. The description says it has a “broken perch”, whatever that means, but at £139, (normal is 339,IIRC) it might be worth checking out. I’ve played that model and it’s perfectly fine as a starter banjo.
 

Link

Jan 15, 2020 - 8:20:59 AM

53257 posts since 12/14/2005

The "Perch rod" is the piece inside, from the end of the neck, to the tailpiece.

Jan 15, 2020 - 8:21:54 AM

conic

UK

615 posts since 2/15/2014

there is a lot of trash cheap banjos in the UK, please dont fall for one .
There is a nice open back deering goodtime on ebay currently 300 quid located on the south coast with a case, picks, strap and even a book, this is the one I would recommend. I have many very good banjos but always go to me deering goodtime ,  Once I even sold my super RK-75 and kept the goodtime. 
 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Deering-Goodtime-5-string-open-back-Banjo-with-assessories/233457359260?hash=item365b24999c:g:lSMAAOSwRl1eEzPu

Jan 15, 2020 - 9:50:23 AM

Nickcd

UK

139 posts since 1/28/2018

It really depends on your budget - if only at the cheap Hatley Benton price bracket then maybe keep looking at your local gumtree for a second hand slightly better make - at least you can try it out before parting with any cash. Otherwise if willing to go a little higher perhaps an Andybanjo grafton - that will be well set up from the word go.

Jan 15, 2020 - 4:47:23 PM

250 posts since 10/9/2017

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

The "Perch rod" is the piece inside, from the end of the neck, to the tailpiece.


Is that the coordinator rod?

Jan 15, 2020 - 5:44:31 PM
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53257 posts since 12/14/2005

Si, Jahwohl, Oui, ten-four, affirmative.
Yes.

Without SEEING a picture, no way to guessimate how hard to repair it, but, I've made banjos out of cookie tins, salad bowls, a slice from a heart/lung machine, and slats from a discarded futon, so if I can do it,  pretty much ANYBODY can fix that, SOME kind of way.

It's just a hunk of metal rod, can be replaced with another piece of metal rod.

Suggestion to the Original Poster: If the price is right, buy it, post pics on a NEW thread, and Free Advice will flow like water from the overflowing tub upstairs.

Edited by - mike gregory on 01/15/2020 17:53:14

Jan 15, 2020 - 7:50:57 PM

12454 posts since 10/30/2008

I started playing banjo, a regular sized Gibson RB 100, at age 10.

Get a regular sized banjo for her.

Jan 17, 2020 - 11:14:34 AM

39 posts since 6/22/2019

thanks for all your tips sorry I took a while to get back.

Deering Goodtime would be my first bet, OR a Grafton 'little gem' - I'm hoping that's a real rim on those as they're supposed to be competitive. But we're really on a budget here. I can only afford to chip in £50 or so and my family about another £50-70 so we are bottom of the road here.

My plan would be to keep my eyes open for a bargain on a second hand good time or ashbury/grafton. I just had bad luck with ashbury varnish splitting, and inconsistency in them. But the crap thing is I sold an Ashbury because I didn't want to pay to get the neck looked at. the action was all messed up. Sold it for abour £140 second hand. On reflection I regret it and should have just got the £50 from my family and given it to her. Live and learn.

What is frustrating is that there's no clear way to tell the difference in rim quality on these £100-250 banjos....people said don't fall for the cheap banjos but they HBs are so well reviewed online, for the money , they really don't seem bad at all.

"Perch pole:  a wooden bar used to attach the neck of a banjo to the body and to regulate the neck angle"

This sounds pretty important. Action is going to be messed up, no?

Edited by - DeepRiverRuse on 01/17/2020 11:18:51

Jan 17, 2020 - 11:55:52 AM
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Nickcd

UK

139 posts since 1/28/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

She will only grow, so a smaller banjo won't work.

The HB's can be set up, your ears will help you there. I suggest a newer tailpiece. Adjusting the action is easy and easy to learn.

I do rim change outs, so I see various low spec. banjos in my shop. The reason I see them is that people outgrow plywood rims, and plastic, and aluminum because they got no soul, they don't get better with playing, no vintaging next month.

I rarely replace necks, they are like the wheels and tyres, but the rim is like the motor and is what produces most of the music.

I suggest go straight ahead, you have some recourse with the shop that is selling. You can upgrade little parts like the bridge along the way. Get her a strap and a good capo.


I Think the advice from helix is on the money considering your budget. You can achieve quite a lot by changing strings etc. 

You could also look at the gear for music own brand - possibly similar spec. 

(though I do remember the fools & horses scetch where Trigger said he had had the same broom for 20 years though he had changed the head several times and also put on a new handle now and again) 

Jan 17, 2020 - 1:22:09 PM

39 posts since 6/22/2019

I'd guess medium strings would help the thin sound.

I've been quite partial to cheaper banjos with a fibyrskin head though I know that's personal taste. I almost think the plunkiness counters the thin sound a little.

I play clawhammer so it works for me. I do like standard heads though.

how difficult would it be even to get someone to fit a better im on a junk banjo?

Jan 17, 2020 - 1:46:30 PM

Nickcd

UK

139 posts since 1/28/2018

Well - changing strings stuffing a sock in back under bridge will maybe mellow the sound - later changing the head BUT initially see how your neice gets on with it
- how old is she? Likely she may like the idea of learning the banjo now but within a few months will move onto something else.
A freinds daughter was really into Mundford & Sons & wanted to learn banjo - so they got her one but after few lessons lost interest.

Jan 17, 2020 - 4:50:18 PM

39 posts since 6/22/2019

all the time I'm around, I reckon I can maintain her interest. she's bright and we have a good relationship. She is 12 or 13 but I forget now. haha

Jan 17, 2020 - 8:01:19 PM

39 posts since 6/22/2019

rimmersmusic.co.uk/pilgrim-ban...ing%2Bads


I found a few options on FB market place second hand. Saw one of these the blighter is trying to sell for almost as much as retail price..... but it looks real nice and something that, should she not be interested in, I may be interested in owning (for the different head, and fact that it's walnut and may produce a different tone that may be useful to me)

It's too much new. But if I could barter to £150-200 I'd probably snap it up.

Again my issue is not knowing what the true quality of these rims are....

3 ply ? 10 ply ? laminate? it never says on the cheap ones... but I assume as the price is going up, the rims improve?

There's quite a few cheap options like this:

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/483926635672995/

Edited by - DeepRiverRuse on 01/17/2020 20:04:42

Jan 18, 2020 - 4:52:11 AM

Nickcd

UK

139 posts since 1/28/2018

gumtree.com/p/banjos/5-string-...362886729

£85
You should be able to take the resonator off to turn into open back.
Or
gumtree.com/p/banjos/pilgrim-5...363262774

£100

Edited by - Nickcd on 01/18/2020 04:52:56

Jan 20, 2020 - 1:36:16 PM
Players Union Member

jjonzee

USA

38 posts since 12/19/2010

Deering has a 19 fret Goodtime parlor model that is smaller.

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