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$1000-2000 banjo suggestions

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Feb 24, 2020 - 7:21:36 PM
3 posts since 6/12/2010

Hey guys let's do this again! I'm looking for a better banjo and I'd like to spend somewhere in the one to two grand range. I currently play a Fender FB-55 which I've had for way too long without an upgrade! I play mostly bluegrass Scruggs style and some more loud jam/grass stuff in my band. There's nowhere close to me to conveniently go try out banjos so I'm kind of relying on the interwebs for advice. It seems like the RK-75 is wildly popular and I'm leaning toward that as I think I like that style, but I really don't know. Give me your opinions and/or recommendations from the classifieds or dealers! Thanks

Feb 24, 2020 - 8:23:32 PM
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rcc56

USA

2578 posts since 2/20/2016

If you can save up another thousand to get you into the 2 to 3 range, and you buy a used banjo that's not too fancy, you will be able to get an instrument good enough to last the rest of your life-- Sullivan, Hatfield, Hopkins, Stelling, Gibson [from a good period], etc, etc.

There's nothing wrong with an upper line RK or Gold Star, but the above domestic banjos will still be quite a bit better.

An example in my part of the country:  A used Sullivan Bardstown, quilted mahogany resonator, near mint, $2250 with case; at Gruhn's in Nashville.  NFI.

In the classifieds, dozens of things come up in that price range.

Edited by - rcc56 on 02/24/2020 20:41:43

Feb 24, 2020 - 8:38:14 PM
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Dragonslayer

Mozambique

231 posts since 10/9/2019

Gold tone Twanger (RB3)! It's about $1500 and its awesome!

Feb 24, 2020 - 8:40:32 PM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

Take a look at the smaller builders

I find they are more responsive than the big boys

RK sells out and has had consistent build quality for years

Develop your specs like which wood(s) you want to use , scale length, metal parts and so on

Many of us small guys are also
Made in USA. Not everyone weighs a on




Edited by - Helix on 02/24/2020 20:41:35

Feb 24, 2020 - 8:53:42 PM
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10532 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by roryjohnson

I'm looking for a better banjo and I'd like to spend somewhere in the one to two grand range. . . It seems like the RK-75 is wildly popular and I'm leaning toward that . . .Give me your opinions and/or recommendations from the classifieds or dealers!


Happy to.  If I were in your position, I'd make an offer on this 2011 Deering Sierra. The asking price is reasonable for what is the current version with the 06 tone ring and vintage inspired inlay. It does no harm to offer the seller something else. If they're firm, this is still a good price.

Every now and then a post-1988 Gibson RB-250 will turn up at or a bit below $2000, but I think they mostly go for more.

Your price range can also buy you a 1970s US-made Fender Artist, Ode Style C and occasionally an Ode Style D (gold, engraved and fancier inlay).  I think one was here on the Hangout or eBay within the past month under $2000.  That's really rare.

Pre-06 Deering Maple Blossoms have turned up from $1500 - $2000. They typically go for more.    Used Deering Deluxe is also in your range -- even post 06. But you don't see a lot of them.

Used Bishline Cimarron should be under $2000, but they don't turn up too often.

You can also get a 1970s Gibson RB-250, but they're not the best -- and I say that even though I'm more than happy with mine.

I think that about covers what you can expect to find in good US banjo under $2000.

From dealers, you might consider the Gold Tone OB-3 "Twanger" sold exclusively by Banjo Ben's General Store. $1700.  It's their version of JD Crowe's Banger -- marketed without actual participation of JD.  Each batch of 36 has sold out quickly. You can sign up to be notified when orders are being accepted again.

For a bit less, you can get the Gold Star version of JD's banjo, the officially endorsed GF100JD. Ross Nickerson appears to have it in stock.

If you like the idea of the longer scale on the RK Elite, then go with that. Or consider a 70s Ode C or D. They also had the 27+ scale.

This is my usual assortment of recommendations in this price range.

Have fun shopping.

Feb 24, 2020 - 9:10:12 PM
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10532 posts since 6/2/2008

Feb 25, 2020 - 1:25:47 AM
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Helix

USA

12362 posts since 8/30/2006

There are other builders besides myself who do rim change outs. I do mine for $275.
The Fender FB-55 is a great candidate. You have a shoe and plate rim. How much does it weigh?

I'm interested in what SOUND you are after. Are you using a pickup and/or a mike?

There are also two Helix bluegrass rigs with magnetic resonator mount in the classified ads now. One is an all bamboo neck and rim and mahog rez. The other is a Grapefruit rim with a mahog mag rez. They both weigh 7 pounds and eat Gibsons and Sierras for lunch.
I have a deep warranty and great customer service.

I jam frequently and often with my own banjos with all the major brands and models. So many people follow the crowd because they aren't close to a retailer and they publish their budget here and start an opinion frenzy. My first "Nice" banjo was a 2005 Gold Tone OB250 flathead with a longneck and resonator. It now has a Black Walnut rim since 2009, same neck.

My point about changeouts is that you can keep a nice neck and hardware and change the rim to get a better expression of your personal quest and save a whole bunch of money. You get your old rim and tone ring back.

This is just an informative post to show what other options you may have for obtaining better sound. If you buy used, ask why someone is selling what.

A customer of mine had a seller send me a used neck. When it arrived, the seller had left the studs hang out the back of the triangular package because they refused to use two triangular tubes instead of the one which was too short for a longneck. When it arrived, the neck was just fine. BUT it had cracks on both sides of the nut, littles ones, but just enough to show the banjo had fallen over and that was why it was being sold. See my point? Is the spouse making the owner sell extra banjos? Stuff like that.

I have bought and sold on the banjo hangout since 2007. I own a trademark. I confer many times off forum without a sales message.

Buying used or otherwise on the hangout has been a sage and safe proposition for thousands of players, collectors, builders and lonely diagnoses.

for $2000, I want a car, a scholarship for an aspiring youth and some swag. Ask them how much they weigh 3 hrs. later after the gig.

Free trade and sailors' rights. Leave the music in a better place.


 

Feb 25, 2020 - 3:50:50 AM

1816 posts since 1/4/2009

Get a 70s rv 250 with an upgraded 3 ply rim. You can get the banjo for less than 1500’and put a nice 3 ply maple rim in it for 500 or so or
Find one that already has had the work.

Feb 25, 2020 - 4:00:56 AM

36 posts since 1/26/2020

I was just in this same position. I tried a lot and looked even more. Ultimately I ordered a new Cimarron from Bishline last week. A hair over $2000 but it should be a quality instrument for a long time.

Feb 25, 2020 - 4:48:11 AM

2096 posts since 12/31/2005

I agree on that Deering Sierra.  There is also a Crafters just inside your range.  In that range, I would not go RK.  I would go domestic.  If you can be patient lots of good stuff comes in at that 1800 or so neighborhood, including some Hatfields, etc.  The best deal ever on the planet will post the week after you buy something.  

Feb 25, 2020 - 5:38:41 AM
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BobbyE

USA

2668 posts since 11/29/2007

Didn't have time to read every post but with your price range scour the used banjos listed on the HO here. You will get more bang for your buck and a good quality used banjo, that was taken care of, will do you good in the long run.

Bobby

Feb 25, 2020 - 6:08:51 AM

3 posts since 6/12/2010

Thnaks for the great info guys! I've definitely been eyeing that Deering Sierra in the classifieds on here as well as considering a Bishline. There's a Stelling Sunflower for under $2600 as well, but thats a stretch for the price range. I was thinking about buying from Banjo Ben for the setup aspect because it's hard for me to get to a luthier. Somebody posted a new Rk-85 from Ben for $1200 on the Hangout ads too which is intriguing. As for sound I usually play plugged in with K&K pickup unless I'm at practice, jam, or home. I like the deeper sound of Bela and Noam's old Gibson's which is why I'm stuck on the RK's I think.

Feb 25, 2020 - 8:34:11 AM

2096 posts since 12/31/2005

Geoff Hohwald just posted this Bishline    

Feb 25, 2020 - 9:23:07 AM

10532 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by kyleb

Get a 70s rv 250 with an upgraded 3 ply rim. You can get the banjo for less than 1500’and put a nice 3 ply maple rim in it for 500 or so or  Find one that already has had the work.


Eric Sullivan will turn a 3-ply rim for two-piece flange and tone ring for $125 plus $10 to drill holes for coordinator rods.  This will get you the same grade rim used in countless thousands of banjos. You could pay more for specialty wood. Or pay more to have the rim finished and installed.

A Cox rim fitted to your two-piece flange and tone ring costs $250.

Yes:  1970s RB-250s are the most affordable way to get a genuine Gibson banjo. If you don't mind lack of originality, replacing the rim is a good way to improve the sound and lifetime endurance.

Feb 25, 2020 - 10:09:44 AM
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2096 posts since 12/31/2005

Sullivan Festivals and Festivals Deluxe turn up in that price range. Why pay for a "Gibson" inlay from the company's worst era when you can have a banjo built by the people who made necks for and supplied Gibson during its most recent Golden era (i.e. Sullivan and First Quality)? Sullivans (and Hatfields) are huge bargains with used stuff in your range if you really like the Gibson-like build and specs.

Feb 25, 2020 - 11:35:28 AM
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mud400

USA

16 posts since 5/30/2016

Definitely check out Davis also. They pop up in your range periodically. Great builder!

Feb 25, 2020 - 11:46:56 AM

36 posts since 1/26/2020

There’s a Huber Workhorse for sale right now for $2199 I was highly considering before I got the Bishline. That would be an amazing instrument as well.

 

or this Bardstown
https://reverb.com/item/25788580-1990-s-sullivan-bardstown-5-string-banjo-handmade-in-kentucky?utm_source=rev-ios-app&utm_medium=ios-share&utm_campaign=listing&utm_content=25788580

Edited by - jgbrady13 on 02/25/2020 11:58:21

Feb 25, 2020 - 1:46:31 PM

2096 posts since 12/31/2005

quote:
Originally posted by mud400

Definitely check out Davis also. They pop up in your range periodically. Great builder!


Heck yeah.  I haven't seen one that low.  i play one, and it is a great instrument.   Super responsive.  My biggest issue was learning to soften attack.   The thing will do the work for you, and with great tone.  Tim is also a great guy to do business with.  

Feb 25, 2020 - 2:18:43 PM
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6 posts since 7/30/2019

I will be in the market for a banjo soon as well. I would like to move up from the Goodtime brand and have been looking at:

Sullivan Festival
Bishline Patriot
Deering Sierra
Deering Boston

I want to stay close to $1500 as I can. I also want a lighter resonator that still has a good sound. Thoughts?

Feb 25, 2020 - 2:18:53 PM
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mud400

USA

16 posts since 5/30/2016

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Murphy
quote:
Originally posted by mud400

Definitely check out Davis also. They pop up in your range periodically. Great builder!


Heck yeah.  I haven't seen one that low.  i play one, and it is a great instrument.   Super responsive.  My biggest issue was learning to soften attack.   The thing will do the work for you, and with great tone.  Tim is also a great guy to do business with.  


There has been a couple that have gotten down to $2K in the last year. I think the prices are staying up more now that he is getting more popular.

Edited by - mud400 on 02/25/2020 14:20:29

Feb 25, 2020 - 2:59:49 PM

2096 posts since 12/31/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Pilot172000

I will be in the market for a banjo soon as well. I would like to move up from the Goodtime brand and have been looking at:

Sullivan Festival
Bishline Patriot
Deering Sierra
Deering Boston

I want to stay close to $1500 as I can. I also want a lighter resonator that still has a good sound. Thoughts?


The Patriot will be light because (IIRC) it is a a tone hoop.  THe Boston is a steel rim.  Sound is subjective, but not in the same class as the others.  I would look also at wood ring banjos.  The Turtle Hill Woody is a great banjo well within that range used.  But I prefer a good wood rim to a brass hoop.

Feb 26, 2020 - 7:21:36 AM

6 posts since 7/30/2019

I have been playing one with a wood tone ring and wasn't really satisfied with it. I have never played one with a hoop so I don't know about it, but I do like the thought of a lighter banjo with resonator.

Feb 26, 2020 - 7:33:35 AM

1606 posts since 2/10/2013

Buy used and be patient. I picked up a Stelling Sunflower for $2500. It was in excellent condition. I was able to examine the instrument when I made the purchase.

Feb 26, 2020 - 11:53:02 AM
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3308 posts since 7/12/2006

if you are more into sound than looks you.can get a luthier to build you a plain looking banjo but with top notch pot assembly.

Feb 26, 2020 - 12:19:24 PM

506 posts since 1/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory

Bishline Heirloom, $1999.


That Bishline looks nice.  Might be able to get for for $1800 also.

Feb 26, 2020 - 12:44:13 PM
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36 posts since 1/26/2020

Somebody on this thread should grab this. New listing. Doesn’t get much better than this

banjohangout.org/classified/65522

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