Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

289
Banjo Lovers Online


Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Jan 22, 2020 - 3:53:19 AM
likes this
17 posts since 3/22/2017

Hi Hangers! I've been playing for a few years, I've self taught a whole load of bad habits, but now trying to get back to basics and discipline myself to learn the claw hammer style. I'm currently playing a pretty entry level Tanglewood Union series with a resonator, but want to move up and get a half decent open back banjo. I'm looking at a Gold Tone WL250 or a Griffin regulator, both under a grand, but one is a couple of hundred (pounds sterling) cheaper than the other--I'll let you decide which is which... My question is, considering I've got a long way to go on my banjo journey, should I go for one of these, or is there a better intermediate stepping stone in frailing banjos? After all, I don't want to be the kid who's just passed his test driving around in an Aston Martin!

Jan 22, 2020 - 4:47:04 AM

2044 posts since 12/31/2005

Oh, come on. We all want to be that kid. What is your price range (in USD)? What features do you like (scooped neck?, tone ring?). I got married in Glastonbury at the Abbey chapel and we stayed at the George Hotel and Pilgrim's Inn. Awesome place.

Jan 22, 2020 - 6:02:23 AM

adamf

UK

17 posts since 3/22/2017

It certainly is a beautiful part of the country. I used to work in the bar of the George and Pilgrims way back in my youth, hope you didn't have any uninvited ghosts on your honeymoon night! My budget is around the thousand USD mark, would have been about 1500 a couple of years back, but that's politics for ya! I just don't want to be the guy with all the frills and none of the skills if you know what I mean... As far as features go, it's only in the last couple of months I've been reading up on different tone rings and how they sound, and as far as scooped necks, I didn't even know they were a thing until last week! As I say, I've really just been banging away in my own little banjo bubble for the last few years, teaching myself bad habits and playing some kind of 3 finger/strumming hybrid that sounds nothing like a classic banjo sound, though it is pleasing to my ear at least... 

Edited by - adamf on 01/22/2020 06:12:22

Jan 22, 2020 - 6:04:59 AM
like this

2044 posts since 12/31/2005

quote:
Originally posted by adamf

I just don't want to be the guy with all the frills and none of the skills if you know what I mean...


Man, you'd never make it in the states.  We're all about that  :-) 

Jan 22, 2020 - 6:08:58 AM

2044 posts since 12/31/2005

Have you looked at this? Has a steel tone ring, Deering quality, and available at Eagle Music:  https://www.eaglemusicshop.com/prod/5-string-banjos/deering-goodtime-special-open-back-banjo.htm

Jan 22, 2020 - 6:16:35 AM
like this

hoodoo

Canada

623 posts since 10/6/2017

From the archives of Dwight Diller :

: How do I decide what banjo to buy?
A: It is BEST to have someone help you that knows the business, an experienced person that is neither the salesperson or has no kickback who can help you make a selection that is playable. playable is relative. What's good for the goose may not fit the gander, but it's a start.
I have opinions that i have developed over 35 years of experience. This experience was full of mistakes. Hopefully, I learned and didn't repeat them. More expensive often doesn't mean better. Depends on who is building. One of my students was told by a maker 'if you knew me you wouldn't buy a banjo from me.' And inexpensive doesn't always mean cheap/shoddy.
The question is: what is your commitment to learning? How long have you wanted to play a banjo? What is your style? Do you set your sights on something and work toward it or do you leapfrog? Here's what my experience says: a beginner needs to purchase the absolute best s/he can afford. With my years of experience, I can play on junk and get something out of it. But it is unsettling when I hear a beginner saying that 'I am going to get something to begin on, and then when I learn how, I am going to really invest in something better.' That sounds like the state of marriage and the family in the past 35 years.
If you really want to play, make the committment to continue to work on the banjo/music for 10 years. No matter what. If cash is a problem, borrow for it and make payments if you have to. You have to pay for quality, but you must not let the high price tag make it look as if there is quality when the instrument is less than claimed. People borrow all the time for autos which depreciate as soon as they move off the lot. Try to purchase an instrument that will hold its value or appreciate for resale in the future. After you have been working for awhile on your first instrument, you will probably want to sell and buy or trade for another instrument. If you have spent your funds on an instrument that has no resale value, you will lose the money you spent on it. This autumn there was for sale a fancy Fairbanks-Vega banjo in excellent condition built around 1920 for between $2000-3000. Unless another economic depression sets in, that banjo will hold it's value and maybe appreciate. On the other hand there are new banjos being sold for a few hundred dollars to the public right now that have little skinny necks with no tension rod nor fingerboard. The frets are put right into the wood of the neck. What do you do with that banjo when the neck starts to warp? How much do you think you can get out of this instrument in trade in or resale? And unless you have very small tipped, thin fingers how well are you going to be able to learn with that handicap? However, if you already have a banjo, then by all means use that one. Resonator or no resonator, thin neck or not. Unless it is totally unplayable, do not go out and buy another. What I am saying is for someone who is about to make a purchase

Jan 22, 2020 - 6:33:28 AM

Nickcd

UK

160 posts since 1/28/2018

Presume the Griffin is secondhand as prices seem to start at £1200 for a new one. SO if under 1000 dollars may be worthwhile if you like the sound of it (I couldn't find any sound samples). The reviews here seem pretty good but are all mainly for more expensive custom models.

Jan 22, 2020 - 7:31:55 AM

1278 posts since 4/25/2007

The Gold Tone is the cheaper. Nice enough banjo more mass produced though. I've not played a Griffin but they consistently get good reviews. Plus they are a good quality small volume maker based in the UK as you are. Something that may be worth considering.

Jan 22, 2020 - 7:38:31 AM

adamf

UK

17 posts since 3/22/2017

They're both second hand, on a well known Internet auction site, so don't come with the benefit of try before you buy...

Jan 22, 2020 - 8:02:39 AM

1441 posts since 2/12/2009

I bought a Whyte Laydie conversion here in Kent a couple of months ago for £600, it has a beautiful Clancy Mullins neck (according to the seller) it is a banjo for life, they are out there, do yourself a favour and think about an old Vega and, have a drink and a curry with whats left !

Jan 22, 2020 - 8:04:38 AM
likes this

2377 posts since 4/29/2012

I'd go for the Griffin too. I have a friend with a WL250. Not bad (if you ignore those ugly cloud inlays) but I'd prefer a goodplain boutique builder banjo like the Regulator. I've only ever played one Griffin a long time ago - But it was a very well made banjo. They're both on ebay with no bids. So it's anybodies guess what they will actually sell for. My guess is that they will not attract bids at those prices. May be worth making a cheeky offer at below the minimum bid price ?

Jan 22, 2020 - 8:50:26 AM

adamf

UK

17 posts since 3/22/2017

@hoodoo...
Wise words from Dwight, which may well sway my choice... Rather than get a banjo that I think suits my skills, why not get one that fits the skills I aspire to?

Jan 22, 2020 - 8:54:46 AM

adamf

UK

17 posts since 3/22/2017

@spoonfed...
Are you saying it costs that much to even THINK about a Vega??! ??

Jan 22, 2020 - 9:01:34 AM

adamf

UK

17 posts since 3/22/2017

@AndrewD...
Shhh! Don't tell every one, someone might put in a bid... ;)
There was also a nice Deering Boston up for about £850 which went unsold, I guess the post Christmas lull isn't the time to be buying banjos...

Jan 22, 2020 - 9:08:03 AM
likes this

381 posts since 2/6/2018

If you're a serious player with commitment for the long-term, get as much banjo as you can afford. Speaking from experience, I purchased my last banjo for a lot more than I had originally intended (good price for a higher end banjo) and have never looked back since. It has made me a much better player more quickly.

Jan 22, 2020 - 10:01:04 AM

Banjo Lefty

Canada

1755 posts since 6/19/2014

Nobody ever regretted buying quality. Get the best instrument you can afford; you'll grow into it.

Jan 22, 2020 - 10:14:47 AM

1441 posts since 2/12/2009

I think the post Xmas period is the perfect time to snag a bargain and, the price I quoted above for a decent Vega is, I think a bargain, many folk, myself included are playing 100 year old instruments that just keep getting better and better, nobody yet knows how newer banjos will perform even 30 years hence !

Jan 22, 2020 - 11:01:36 AM

adamf

UK

17 posts since 3/22/2017

@spoonfed... I have a beautiful old George Matthews banjo, well over 100 years old, in dire need of a refret, but otherwise lovely, and an old Barnes and Mullins zither banjo which looks great but has an action in two time zones, which may well end up back on ebay in order to part finance buying something more practical ( or at least convince my loving wife I'm not suffering from BAS!)...

Jan 22, 2020 - 11:13:02 AM

adamf

UK

17 posts since 3/22/2017

@Brian Murphy...
I do keep looking at the Deerings, but something about them, or at least about the Goodtime range, just doesn't float my boat, I know they're US built to a high spec and all that, but to me they have a bit of a DIY/kit build look to them... (tarred and feathered and run outta BHO in three... two... one... ??) That said, some of their other banjos are beautiful, I saw a really lovely looking Boston on ebay, but decided I would rather go down the open back route...

Jan 23, 2020 - 3:27:58 AM

2377 posts since 4/29/2012

quote:
Originally posted by adamf

@Brian Murphy...
I do keep looking at the Deerings, but something about them, or at least about the Goodtime range, just doesn't float my boat, I know they're US built to a high spec and all that, but to me they have a bit of a DIY/kit build look to them... (tarred and feathered and run outta BHO in three... two... one... ??) That said, some of their other banjos are beautiful, I saw a really lovely looking Boston on ebay, but decided I would rather go down the open back route...


The WL250 is a better banjo then a Goodtime. The Griffin is another category altogether. I have a Goodtime as a travel banjo. It works - and the neck profile is very good. But it's not a patch on my British boutique banjo ( a Dave Stacey).  If you buy a Goodtime you will eventually want to upgrade. The Boston is a weirdie. It sounds ok, if a bit raucous for old-time,  but only its mother could love that steel rim. The current old-time range from Deering, under the Vega label, are wildly over-priced.

Jan 23, 2020 - 8:15 PM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14945 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by adamf

Hi Hangers! I've been playing for a few years, I've self taught a whole load of bad habits, but now trying to get back to basics and discipline myself to learn the claw hammer style. I'm currently playing a pretty entry level Tanglewood Union series with a resonator, but want to move up and get a half decent open back banjo. I'm looking at a Gold Tone WL250 or a Griffin regulator, both under a grand, but one is a couple of hundred (pounds sterling) cheaper than the other--I'll let you decide which is which... My question is, considering I've got a long way to go on my banjo journey, should I go for one of these, or is there a better intermediate stepping stone in frailing banjos? After all, I don't want to be the kid who's just passed his test driving around in an Aston Martin!


I'm not familiar with Griffin, but it seems odd tht you should settle for a Pac rim banjo shipped to Goldtone then shipped back to the U.K.  That's a lot of excess shipping and middle men taking their share of the profit on a "import" banjo.

Is Leon Ballard anywhere close by?

https://www.ballardbanjers.com/open-back-banjos.html

His open backs tend to be a bit higher than your price range, but those represent more of a jump than what you are looking for.  Leon  would most likely work with you on a custom instrument that was less frills and lower in price.

Jan 23, 2020 - 11:45:50 PM

670 posts since 6/25/2006

The Griffin is hand-made - they don't come up very often whereas you will always get a chance to buy a used Goldtone.  In fact, pretty annoying for me as had just placed an order when that advert came up! I am getting the shorter-scale Ariel.

The only thing to consider is I think that Griffin model has a simple brass tone-ring and a slim neck profile, if that is what you want.  A lot of clawhammer players seem to want wider necks and string spacing these days (e.g Howson banjos).

Edited by - hobogal on 01/23/2020 23:54:22

Jan 26, 2020 - 3:36:03 AM

adamf

UK

17 posts since 3/22/2017

quote:
Originally posted by hobogal

The Griffin is hand-made - they don't come up very often whereas you will always get a chance to buy a used Goldtone.  In fact, pretty annoying for me as had just placed an order when that advert came up! I am getting the shorter-scale Ariel.

The only thing to consider is I think that Griffin model has a simple brass tone-ring and a slim neck profile, if that is what you want.  A lot of clawhammer players seem to want wider necks and string spacing these days (e.g Howson banjos).


Do you happen to have any figures for the neck width at the nut? I can't find any spec for Griffin, or is that because they are all hand made and vary in size? The Tanglewood has a fairly narrow profile and I get on okay with that... 

Edited by - adamf on 01/26/2020 03:52:13

Jan 26, 2020 - 7:09:52 AM
likes this

670 posts since 6/25/2006

Sorry, I don't have the specs but you could try contacting the seller or James Bowen direct.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.234375