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new player looking for a used banjo

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Apr 5, 2020 - 5:06:07 PM
2 posts since 4/5/2020

A pandemic seems the perfect time to learn a new instrument. Looking for some feedback on a Craigslist post (see pics - can't post the actual link). I'm not looking for anything of extraordinary quality, but I obviously don't want to try learning on trash either.
The post is pretty bare - "5-string Abilene banjo in great shape." $150
Thoughts based on the pictures? Also would appreciate general advice on picking up a used instrument. Thanks!

Apr 5, 2020 - 5:40:02 PM
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3338 posts since 7/12/2006

Just my opinion mind you, but be ready to spend about 3 times that amount of you want something decent to start on. By decent I mean one that has good intonation stays in tune and has not too high or low action . You don't want a banjo that will fight you as you try to learn.

Edited by - stanleytone on 04/05/2020 17:40:33

Apr 5, 2020 - 6:14:47 PM
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298 posts since 2/27/2004

I agree with Stanleytone. $150 is not much banjo. If you are new to banjo, having a banjo with the correct action is vitally important. Usually the low end banjos have painfully high action. At least look at a Deering Goodtime Banjo. I have no affiliation with Deering but they are good beginner banjos, built in the USA. You can start out on an open back model, then when you are ready you can add the resonator.

Apr 5, 2020 - 7:13:17 PM

7058 posts since 8/28/2013

Even if you can only spend $150, you shouldn't spend it on this banjo, because:

A. It isn't worth that much,
B. It most likely needs set-up to be playable.
C. There is at least one hook missing (it probably broke when the head was tightened to an adequate tension).

Apr 5, 2020 - 7:40:29 PM

8 posts since 6/4/2019

this one one might be good to look into, id say that this is a good buy. the banjo has a tone ring and a resonator and it comes with a nice case.

deering goodtime 2

Edited by - eansprinkle on 04/05/2020 19:53:16

Apr 5, 2020 - 8:12:14 PM

8 posts since 6/4/2019

Originally posted by eansprinkle

this one one might be good to look into, id say that this is a good buy. the banjo has a tone ring and a resonator and it comes with a nice case.

deering goodtime 2

it actually does not have a tone ring, but i would still say this is a good buy.

Apr 5, 2020 - 8:42:39 PM
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1499 posts since 6/20/2014

I think a lot of novice banjo players give up when saddled with a bad instrument. They are difficult to play, do not stay in tune, almost always sound bad even when given a half hearted attempt at set-up. They just take the fun and drive out of learning to play. How many times I have heard this statement " how come my banjo doesn't sound like yours".
Save up until you can afford a better instrument than the one you are currently looking at, Deering Goodtime 2 are great starter banjo's, no tone ring but still sound very good and made in the USA, Recording King RK-35 is a major step-up and sound really good.
Good luck and welcome to BHO and the start of a wonderful musical journey, lots of great people here who are willing to help in any way they can.

Apr 6, 2020 - 6:19:01 AM

1738 posts since 2/10/2013

I also think a person should start out with the best instrument they can afford.
Who knows, it may be good enough to the last banjo you may ever need. Avoiding periodic upgrades can save money. Get a good quality banjo.
You can save some money by buying a used banjo, and having it set up by a qualified repair person. Learning to play can be difficult, and trying to learn on an inferior instrument makes the process even harder.

One last thing. "Clunker" banjos can be hard to get of. Make sure your first banjo is marketable.

Apr 6, 2020 - 7:36:24 AM
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12818 posts since 10/30/2008

If you want to learn to play banjo, buy the thing and get busy. It's plenty good enough to get started. Every day you spend picking on this thing is better spent than a day of shopping for the "best" banjo you can afford.

If it turns out you're a good learner, you can buy a better one for $500-$600 soon enough. You'll know when you become better than your banjo.

As long as nothing is busted or badly repaired, this one is good enough. Be sure the tuners work.

Good luck!

Apr 6, 2020 - 7:50:10 AM

229 posts since 12/9/2009

Make sure the frets are in the right place too, especially on something that is inexpensive. Remember that the bridge is movable so intonation will change up the neck if it's not in the right place. Welcome to the world of "fiddling around" with your banjo!

Apr 6, 2020 - 8:03:06 AM
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85 posts since 2/21/2020

That banjo isnt worth $150 unless theres a $100 bill inside it. I learned on worse than that. After practicing rolls for 2 months and I started to see light at the end of the tunnel , I jumped up to an Alvarez Hunkojunktone
Banjo and though I was in tall cotton man.

Apr 15, 2020 - 3:05:46 PM

43 posts since 9/23/2019

Buy whatever you can afford to get started. If your budget is $150, than get a $150 banjo. Will it look and sound good? No. Will it be the last banjo you ever own? No (or at least probably not).
I have a Japanese masterclone. The fact that it doesn't have the volume or tone to get me through a jam session or gig is a problem I don't think I'll ever have to deal with. And if by some chance I do progress that far and it does become a problem, then I can start thinking about an upgrade. 

Edited by - szbassoon on 04/15/2020 15:09:38

Apr 15, 2020 - 3:26:05 PM
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3938 posts since 10/18/2007

I was struck by the word "used" is your title. You can get some good banjos going "used"--and you are wise to seek advice from people on the BHO, who, for the most part, know what they are talking about. Most music stores don't have a clue.

Apr 15, 2020 - 6:06 PM

298 posts since 2/27/2004

I've have a Deering "Artisan" Special with tone ring and resonator if interested. Not even a year old. The Resonator is "non Deering" but the flange and flange parts are from Deering. Comes with a basic hardshell case that I ordered from Amazon.  This would be a very good banjo for you to start out with, and it will keep you happy for a long time.  Or, until BAS hits you. Email me if interested.

Edited by - PickinFool on 04/15/2020 18:08:01

Apr 17, 2020 - 6:46:42 PM
Players Union Member



12552 posts since 8/30/2006

Everybody has a budget
The Banjo shown is a spec Banjo
They can be set up to play slinky action
The trade off is less projection

If you make your fingers hurt, then there is less fun
You can learn the adjustments from us here
Look down the neck from the peghead to check for twists
Why is it for sale?
I also have banjos for sale, that’s not why I’m posting


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