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Feb 28, 2020 - 4:59:09 AM

olbap

France

466 posts since 11/24/2007

Hello all,

Imagine you are a french banjo player, from France and living in France. You have easy access to online shop like elderly instruments. You are playing old time banjo (clawhammer & two fingers), playing daily,few days per year doing a gig, few days per year doing a jam. And you have around 2000 - 3000 $ to buy your next banjo companion for the next 10 years. Which one do you buy ?
(my choice is for now elderly.com/collections/catego...se-walnut ). I will decide in few weeks. Any advices, suggestions, tips, hints ? txs

Edited by - Lynne on 02/28/2020 19:59:42

Feb 28, 2020 - 5:29:38 AM

2800 posts since 2/18/2009
Online Now

It looks like you've chosen a very nice banjo. My only question about it is whether there is any problem with shipping it overseas since it has some pearl on it. Maybe Elderly has this sorted out so they can do it, I just know that some companies won't ship shell products out of the country because of the paperwork involved.
Zach

Feb 28, 2020 - 5:33:30 AM

154 posts since 3/16/2008

That's a beautiful banjo, and you won't go wrong with an Ome. If I were buying an openback in that range, I'd consider this one for its looks and the tone ring:

rickardbanjos.com/product/bras...on-banjo/

Feb 28, 2020 - 5:46:05 AM
like this

2080 posts since 4/7/2010

As you are n France, I recommend checking in with Philippe Revel from Lyon. He does excellent work and may have something in his shop ready to sell. His website is here

As a tease, I have attached a picture of one of his inlaid banjo headstocks. Even if you are not shopping for a banjo, viewing his artistry is a treat.

 

Bob Smakula

smakula.com


Feb 28, 2020 - 6:09:04 AM

1320 posts since 4/25/2007

But have you considered the import charges ?

Feb 28, 2020 - 6:38:12 AM
Players Union Member

R Buck

USA

2745 posts since 9/5/2006

I'd go with that French builder Bob suggests.

Feb 28, 2020 - 7:03:03 AM
likes this

2098 posts since 12/31/2005

quote:
Originally posted by R Buck

I'd go with that French builder Bob suggests.


Yeah, but maybe not the astronaut butt model.  Maybe it's a moon pun.

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 02/28/2020 07:04:04

Feb 28, 2020 - 8:41:40 AM

1320 posts since 4/25/2007

Only shipping to pay in the EU. Eagle Music in the UK have a good stock of OME banjos.

Feb 28, 2020 - 11:29:26 AM
like this

14 posts since 12/19/2019

It seems a reoccurring question on BH is what banjo to buy for $2,000. I am surprised how many responses relate to factory banjos when there are excellent banjo builders on here who will build you a custom banjo for that price. It is like buying a signed print, when you could have an original oil painting for the same price!

I am currently having an open back banjo built by one of BH’s well respected builders. The experience has been crazy good. Wood choices, tone ring choices, inlays made just for me, etc. How a factory made banjo could even compare? I won’t say who is building it, in case he does not want to get into this discussion. However, if you could see what I’m getting for $2,000 or less it is insane. The artistry and craftsmanship. It will stay in my family for generations. I am buying a one of a kind piece of art and musical instrument. If he wants to share what he is building me, I’m good with that but it is his choice. Factory made? Really?

Edited by - Glenn Smith on 02/28/2020 11:31:38

Feb 28, 2020 - 12:36:19 PM

olbap

France

466 posts since 11/24/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Zachary Hoyt

It looks like you've chosen a very nice banjo. My only question about it is whether there is any problem with shipping it overseas since it has some pearl on it. Maybe Elderly has this sorted out so they can do it, I just know that some companies won't ship shell products out of the country because of the paperwork involved.
Zach


Txs, elderly told me no problem, but taxes.

Feb 28, 2020 - 12:36:42 PM

olbap

France

466 posts since 11/24/2007

quote:
Originally posted by rooksbay

That's a beautiful banjo, and you won't go wrong with an Ome. If I were buying an openback in that range, I'd consider this one for its looks and the tone ring:

rickardbanjos.com/product/bras...on-banjo/


I look at it. merci

Feb 28, 2020 - 12:37:20 PM

olbap

France

466 posts since 11/24/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

As you are n France, I recommend checking in with Philippe Revel from Lyon. He does excellent work and may have something in his shop ready to sell. His website is here

As a tease, I have attached a picture of one of his inlaid banjo headstocks. Even if you are not shopping for a banjo, viewing his artistry is a treat.

 

Bob Smakula

smakula.com

 


I know Philippe. I play sometimes with him. I'm looking for a "typical" american banjo. txs

Feb 28, 2020 - 12:37:49 PM

olbap

France

466 posts since 11/24/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Stephen John Prior

But have you considered the import charges ?


Yes elderly warned me. thank you.

Feb 28, 2020 - 12:38:22 PM

olbap

France

466 posts since 11/24/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Stephen John Prior

Only shipping to pay in the EU. Eagle Music in the UK have a good stock of OME banjos.


Txs I'll check there.

Feb 28, 2020 - 12:38:41 PM
likes this

doryman

USA

792 posts since 11/26/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Smith

It seems a reoccurring question on BH is what banjo to buy for $2,000. I am surprised how many responses relate to factory banjos when there are excellent banjo builders on here who will build you a custom banjo for that price. It is like buying a signed print, when you could have an original oil painting for the same price!

Factory made? Really?


At what point do you call a banjo a "factory made" banjo?   Is Deering factory made?  Is OME?  Is Pisgah?  Is it some number of banjos produced per year?  Is it the number of people employed to build a banjo?  Also, just because someone can make you a "custom banjo" doesn't mean it's going to be great banjo, or a banjo that is better than a banjo that comes from a "factory."  

Think of it this way.  If a person is writing here, asking for advice about purchasing their first serious banjo, I would argue that they are NOT advanced enough to really know what they want in a custom banjo.  Take me for example.  I'm learning to play the fiddle.  I have some money to spend on a decent fiddle.  Enough money to buy one custom made if I want.  I'm far enough along in my fiddling to appreciate a good fiddle and to be limited by a bad one, but I have absolutely NO idea about having one custom built for me.  I don't know what to ask for, I haven't played long enough, or played enough fiddles to be capable of that.  So I'm happy to buy a "factory" made fiddle of good reputation...of known quality and characteristics.  And, if and when I decide that I want a custom made fiddle, I most certainly won't be  writing in to the Fiddle Hangout asking for advice about how I should have it custom made for me!  I'll know exactly what I want by then!

Feb 28, 2020 - 12:40:46 PM

olbap

France

466 posts since 11/24/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Smith

It seems a reoccurring question on BH is what banjo to buy for $2,000. I am surprised how many responses relate to factory banjos when there are excellent banjo builders on here who will build you a custom banjo for that price. It is like buying a signed print, when you could have an original oil painting for the same price!

I am currently having an open back banjo built by one of BH’s well respected builders. The experience has been crazy good. Wood choices, tone ring choices, inlays made just for me, etc. How a factory made banjo could even compare? I won’t say who is building it, in case he does not want to get into this discussion. However, if you could see what I’m getting for $2,000 or less it is insane. The artistry and craftsmanship. It will stay in my family for generations. I am buying a one of a kind piece of art and musical instrument. If he wants to share what he is building me, I’m good with that but it is his choice. Factory made? Really?


Thank you. I understand, but I already got my own banjo ordered to a luthier, gérard beuzon. It's a very nice one.


Edited by - olbap on 02/28/2020 12:41:04

Feb 28, 2020 - 1:01:16 PM

olbap

France

466 posts since 11/24/2007

Hummm. watching this one now ... eaglemusicshop.com/prod/5-stri...scription

Edited by - olbap on 02/28/2020 13:01:50

Feb 28, 2020 - 1:30:38 PM

olbap

France

466 posts since 11/24/2007

Just realised I should have put this topic into shopping advice... help @admin

Feb 28, 2020 - 6:01:46 PM

14 posts since 12/19/2019

Love your Banjo Pablo especially that bear claw inlay!!

Feb 28, 2020 - 6:29:38 PM

764 posts since 12/19/2010

Since you like Ome, also consider the North Star, especially if you can find one with an Ome Silverspun tone ring. It will be brighter than the Flora, but in my opinion, a better player for both frailing/clawhammer and finger-picking. But hard to go wrong with either. I've owned a 12" Flora and played several North Stars. Both have plenty of volume and projection in a jam or an ensemble (I play in a jam that usually has three Floras in it--they are heard!). Ome quality is also very consistent, both in terms of construction and tonal aspects.

Feb 29, 2020 - 12:39:36 AM

olbap

France

466 posts since 11/24/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Smith

Love your Banjo Pablo especially that bear claw inlay!!


Txs. Got the deer and the bear claw in mind when I asked Gérard Beuzon (the luthier / banjo maker) to build it. And yes the result is mighty fine. I think Stéphane Barry did the inlay (https://www.facebook.com/guitares.barry). He worked for Gérard. He is a master in inlay. see his guitars. From the south of France. 

Edited by - olbap on 02/29/2020 00:39:54

Feb 29, 2020 - 12:41:24 AM

olbap

France

466 posts since 11/24/2007

quote:
Originally posted by jack_beuthin

Since you like Ome, also consider the North Star, especially if you can find one with an Ome Silverspun tone ring. It will be brighter than the Flora, but in my opinion, a better player for both frailing/clawhammer and finger-picking. But hard to go wrong with either. I've owned a 12" Flora and played several North Stars. Both have plenty of volume and projection in a jam or an ensemble (I play in a jam that usually has three Floras in it--they are heard!). Ome quality is also very consistent, both in terms of construction and tonal aspects.


Txs Jack. What about this one : https://www.eaglemusicshop.com/prod/5-string-banjos/Ome-Trilogy-5-String-11-Openback-Banjo-With-Deluxe-Hard-Case.htm

?

Feb 29, 2020 - 1:21 AM

m06

England

8453 posts since 10/5/2006

This question is asked regularly here on the hangout.

No-one can remotely 'guide' you to your 'ideal' instrument because that is something that we all find as a result of experience. And your imagined 'preferences' themselves will change as you gain that experience. We can share how we each did that.

$3000 is a hefty budget. For most of us (if we're fortunate) it's what we may spend on our lifetime keeper banjo. I wouldn't advise to spend that much on any instrument I didn't have a feel for from actual comparison. No way.

I would use some of that money to put yourself somewhere you can play a lot of quality banjos. Notice the difference in feel and tone in scale length, neck width, tone ring, pot size, frets/fretless, wood, hardware and set up.

Why not plan a trip to the US in festival season and work in a visit to Elderly and some of the superb luthier/musicians who live all around festival territory. They will talk to you about banjos, you will pick up knowledge and ideas you never conceived at home. But most important of all you function like a musician -- you handle and play the top-end custom-made instruments you are considering purchasing. Then the luthier you choose is actually in an informed position to build a banjo specially for you which meets all your own individual needs.

Bear in mind also that higher price buys quality but $$$$ in huge amount isn't necessarily required to acquire your ideal banjo. Price tag does not automatically make you a better banjo player or deliver your ideal tone.

Good luck and have fun. smiley

note - there are also a bunch of superb banjo luthiers in the UK. Much closer than the US. My inside tip would be to check out Leon Ballard in Norfolk; a very talented and skilled luthier and a fine musician. He can build you a banjo easily as good as any US custom-made instrument. I recently worked with him on a neck build for a very specific one-off semi-fretless project and he was a joy to deal with. And the finished banjo is more than I ever hoped it would be.

Edited by - m06 on 02/29/2020 01:40:03

Feb 29, 2020 - 4:05:24 AM

Emiel

Austria

9372 posts since 1/22/2003
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by olbap
quote:
Originally posted by jack_beuthin

Since you like Ome, also consider the North Star, especially if you can find one with an Ome Silverspun tone ring. It will be brighter than the Flora, but in my opinion, a better player for both frailing/clawhammer and finger-picking. But hard to go wrong with either. I've owned a 12" Flora and played several North Stars. Both have plenty of volume and projection in a jam or an ensemble (I play in a jam that usually has three Floras in it--they are heard!). Ome quality is also very consistent, both in terms of construction and tonal aspects.


Txs Jack. What about this one : https://www.eaglemusicshop.com/prod/5-string-banjos/Ome-Trilogy-5-String-11-Openback-Banjo-With-Deluxe-Hard-Case.htm

?


That looks wonderful. Although the UK hast left the EU, there still is no import-VAT (TVA à l'importation) until the end of the year. After that, things may change.

Feb 29, 2020 - 4:20:09 AM

m06

England

8453 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

As you are n France, I recommend checking in with Philippe Revel from Lyon. He does excellent work and may have something in his shop ready to sell. His website is here

As a tease, I have attached a picture of one of his inlaid banjo headstocks. Even if you are not shopping for a banjo, viewing his artistry is a treat.

 

Bob Smakula

smakula.com

 


Beautiful.

But one further bit of advice; marquetry, inlay and ornament makes for expensive, fine quality furniture that others may covet and admire. But we don’t play ornate or furniture; all the eye candy in the world has absolutely no effect on sound and musical fit.

Less is often more. Put your hard-earned money into what counts. Use your hands and ears and trust your heart.

Edited by - m06 on 02/29/2020 04:26:21

Feb 29, 2020 - 6:01 AM
likes this

764 posts since 12/19/2010

quote:
Originally posted by olbap
quote:
Originally posted by jack_beuthin

Since you like Ome, also consider the North Star, especially if you can find one with an Ome Silverspun tone ring. It will be brighter than the Flora, but in my opinion, a better player for both frailing/clawhammer and finger-picking. But hard to go wrong with either. I've owned a 12" Flora and played several North Stars. Both have plenty of volume and projection in a jam or an ensemble (I play in a jam that usually has three Floras in it--they are heard!). Ome quality is also very consistent, both in terms of construction and tonal aspects.


Txs Jack. What about this one : https://www.eaglemusicshop.com/prod/5-string-banjos/Ome-Trilogy-5-String-11-Openback-Banjo-With-Deluxe-Hard-Case.htm

?


Full disclosure: I'm not an Ome Representative, just a guy who likes Ome banjos, and happens to live fairly close to the Ome shop.  My current banjo line-up is a Fairbanks Whyte Laydie, Enoch Dobson, and Enoch Tradesman.

Don't hesitate to email Ome with questions.  It really is a small, family business, and they are always helpful and glad to talk to banjos.  Chuck Ogsbury is the founder, but his daughter Tanya runs the business, handles, emails, answers the phone, etc.  The really are your best source, and will communicate with you in a straight up and honest manner.  Like any reputable luthier, they fully stand behind their instruments.

I've never played the Trilogy, but for comparative purposes, it is part of the Professional series, whereas the Flora and North Star are both in their Old Time series.  What does this mean? First off, there are differences in technical specifications.  Professional models have a longer neck than the Old Time models (26.25" vs. 25.5" scale length).  There is no neck scoop on the Professional models, whereas the Old Time models have neck scoops.  The Professional models have a slightly narrow neck than the Old Time models (1.28" vs. 1.34" nut width).  Also, the Professional models use coordinator rods for neck-rim attachment, whereas the Old Time models use a wooden rim-rod.  Generally, there is more detailing on the Professional models too in terms of inlay, etc.  But banjos in both series are high quality instruments built as what I like to call "heirloom" banjos.

Comparing tonal qualities, the Professional models should be brighter than the North Star, but still tonally balanced.  The Professional models are not "plunky."  Any Ome I have ever played has plenty of punch and projection.

My opinion: The Trilogy might be more "high end" than you might want/need, but only you can actually be the judge of that.  Like Mike suggested, when purchasing in your price range, it is best to play the banjo before purchasing (do you like the feel in your hands? do you like the tone? do you like the general aesthetic?).  I realize that not everyone can do this easily, which is why I am trying to offer some objective information.

I will say this, I have never met an Ome owner who was disappointed with their banjo.  I sold my 12" Flora to a friend because my preference for tone migrated toward 11" rims and I had an opportunity to purchase the vintage Whyte Laydie (from Bob Smakula).  I still hear my old Flora played in our local jam, and it still brings me smiles.

Lastly, do take some time, and consider all the available options.  Ome will be there if that is your final choice, but there are many, many banjos of equal quality today.

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