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Relative banjo prices over time (Please add data)

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Jun 17, 2020 - 5:29:08 PM

388 posts since 10/23/2003

Instrument prices, especially before the Internet age were extremely variable, often much higher than what the instrument was actually sold for at normal retail.  For better instruments, still, often major discount sellers and serious venders wont even disclose their prices publicly.   Normal retail varied immensely just in my life.  I the 60s when I lived in Hartford CT,  instruments that cost say 300 bucks in the local music store cost 175 bucks at Mannys ot one of the other big music stores on 48th street in NYC, back when it cost 5 bucks for a round trip ticket to NYC.

Originally posted by Brian Murphy

Here is what got me thinking of this. I have seen comments that new Goodtime banjos are "expensive." Looks like retail for basic model is $480. I saw on e-bay a 1970 ad for five string Roy Smeck banjos for $99. $99 in 1970 is about $675 in today's dollar (roughly the price of a used RK-35 or -36).  But even comparing new to new, $480 for a Goodtime vs $675 for a bakelite Harmony . . . you get the point.

Anyway, I was thinking about my own first banjo, an "Antares" bottlecap, which I believe was in a guitar store in 1980 for about $300 (that's about $933 in today's dollars).  Think about that -- over $900 for a bottlecap banjo.

Can others post their old purchases, year and amount.  (In Google you can just type in $xxx in 1982 and it will tell you what adjustment for inflation is in terms of today's dollars).  I am not asking just about beginner instruments.   RB-250 prices, OME prices, etc. would all be interesting.  I think it would be interesting to see how values on new banjos have changed over time compared to inflation. 

(I know the market price for used banjos is what people use to justify saying that a new price is "high" but that is beyond the scope of what I am trying to see here).

Edited by - writerrad on 06/17/2020 17:30:32

Jun 17, 2020 - 6:56:26 PM

2268 posts since 12/31/2005

Good point. When you had a local music store, and that was about it, and your kid wanted a banjo and there was maybe 2 on the wall, what were you going to do? You paid what they charged and really had no idea whether you got a deal or not.  Now, everyone can go to Amazon or Musicians Friend and we all get the same price and can review ratings, see similar products, etc.  Plus, as we have seen many times here, you can come on and post the ever popular "Need Advice on a First Banjo" post.

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 06/17/2020 18:58:08

Jun 20, 2020 - 9:04:08 AM

4559 posts since 3/6/2006

I paid $60 USD in 1962 for a (then) 40-year-old Vega Regent 5 string. Using the inflation converter on the internet, that converts to $509.29 in 2020 US dollars. I think my Regent today would go for around $900-$1000.

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