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Jun 22, 2020 - 2:19:28 PM

coreyowen

Canada

246 posts since 7/26/2006

Hi everyone,

I’m looking for a hardy custom open-back—one that I feel comfortable playing around the fire after a few drinks, and can shamelessly place on the ground when I need to set it down. One that I feel comfortable leaving on a stand or wall bracket in a household rendered slightly chaotic by two teenagers and a six-year-old. One that wouldn’t look all offended if it got a few nicks. Preferably less than $1500.

Can anyone recommend a builder whose instruments could meet these requirements? I have an excellent open back already, but I don’t like to bring it around the fire, and I wouldn’t dream of leaving it out.

Thanks for any thoughts!

Corey

Jun 22, 2020 - 3:08:31 PM

2233 posts since 4/7/2010

I am a fan of Enoch Tradesman banjos. A solid no frills instrument that is tough, and wouldn't be offended by a few dings and nicks from flying sparks and teen chaos.

My current stock of Enoch Tradesman banjos is listed on this page

Send a personal message if you need more info.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

Jun 22, 2020 - 3:18:48 PM

368 posts since 10/9/2017

Goldtone AC-1 is pretty indestructible. I've played one and it's just fine for round a campfire. Lists for $220 and it floats.

Jun 22, 2020 - 5:28:27 PM

357 posts since 11/5/2010

http://levanbanjos.com

You can get a LeVan New Vintage for under that...

Edited by - OldInTheNewWay on 06/22/2020 17:33:04

Jun 22, 2020 - 5:31:40 PM
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jacot23

USA

49 posts since 12/13/2012

I personally wouldn't spend over a grand for something like you describe. I will reccomend anything from Stone Banjo Company or Hoyt Banjos. Stone Banjo builds some very nice no frill banjos in the $600-$900 range that I wouldn't have a problem setting around a campfire playing. Here's some he has for sale here and on his site:
stonebanjo.com/for-sale

I'm not affiliated wither either of these gentlemen, but they do make great banjos at a great American made price.

Jun 22, 2020 - 7:33:57 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23761 posts since 6/25/2005

A new or used Bart Reiter. As solidly built banjo as you’ll find. I’m curious why you want a custom-made banjo (not inexpensive) for a knock-around. A true custom banjo runs a good deal more than $1,500.

Jun 22, 2020 - 9:11:42 PM

coreyowen

Canada

246 posts since 7/26/2006

quote:
Originally posted by OldInTheNewWay

http://levanbanjos.com

You can get a LeVan New Vintage for under that...


I listened to the sound files on your page--that banjo sounds spectacular!! What are the specs?

Jun 22, 2020 - 9:13:25 PM

coreyowen

Canada

246 posts since 7/26/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Remsleep

Goldtone AC-1 is pretty indestructible. I've played one and it's just fine for round a campfire. Lists for $220 and it floats.


a banjo that floats is a hardy banjo indeed--thanks for the tip! I think they have one at a local music store--I'll check it out.

Jun 22, 2020 - 9:15:08 PM

coreyowen

Canada

246 posts since 7/26/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula

I am a fan of Enoch Tradesman banjos. A solid no frills instrument that is tough, and wouldn't be offended by a few dings and nicks from flying sparks and teen chaos.

My current stock of Enoch Tradesman banjos is listed on this page

Send a personal message if you need more info.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com


Thanks Bob! A Tradesman is definitely in the running

Jun 22, 2020 - 9:23:02 PM

coreyowen

Canada

246 posts since 7/26/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers

A new or used Bart Reiter. As solidly built banjo as you’ll find. I’m curious why you want a custom-made banjo (not inexpensive) for a knock-around. A true custom banjo runs a good deal more than $1,500.


Thanks for the suggestion, Bill. My last knock-around banjo was a parts banjo I was never completely happy with (of course, it had my Chuck Lee to contend with). I'm looking for something closer to the ballpark of the Lee, but that I have less money invested in, so I'm less anxious about. I was watching a Reiter Whyte Laydie here that was for sale here a few weeks ago at a very reasonable price, but it seems to have been snatched up, understandably. Perhaps "custom" is the wrong word--banjo by an independent builder?

Jun 22, 2020 - 9:24:29 PM

coreyowen

Canada

246 posts since 7/26/2006

quote:
Originally posted by jacot23

I personally wouldn't spend over a grand for something like you describe. I will reccomend anything from Stone Banjo Company or Hoyt Banjos. Stone Banjo builds some very nice no frill banjos in the $600-$900 range that I wouldn't have a problem setting around a campfire playing. Here's some he has for sale here and on his site:
stonebanjo.com/for-sale

I'm not affiliated wither either of these gentlemen, but they do make great banjos at a great American made price.


Thanks Jason--those banjos look great, and very reasonably priced!

Jun 22, 2020 - 9:25:53 PM

coreyowen

Canada

246 posts since 7/26/2006

Are there any Pisgah owners out there? Would you subject your Pisgah banjo to the conditions I described? I sure like the look and sound of them!

Corey

Jun 23, 2020 - 4:35:24 AM

749 posts since 2/19/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Remsleep

Goldtone AC-1 is pretty indestructible. I've played one and it's just fine for round a campfire. Lists for $220 and it floats.


Okay, I have to ask...how do you know it floats?  My son has one and i can't quite imagine it floating.

Jun 23, 2020 - 6:50:37 AM

368 posts since 10/9/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Parker135
quote:
Originally posted by Remsleep

Goldtone AC-1 is pretty indestructible. I've played one and it's just fine for round a campfire. Lists for $220 and it floats.


Okay, I have to ask...how do you know it floats?  My son has one and i can't quite imagine it floating.


I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it has a rim made of "composite material" which is, I believe, less dense than water and also water-resistant. Feels a lot like the stuff used for my "weather-proof" patio furniture. ISTR someone saying on this forum that in an emergency you could use it to paddle your canoe. But it really does sound decent, especially for the price, it's feather-light, and perfectly suited for a campfire session, unless you're jamming with a 4-piece band, in which case it might not have enough volume. 

Something a bit more upscale would be a Keepsake from Ryan Navey at Carolina Banjo Co. Just on budget at $1495 and, without a tone ring, it weighs nothing. Because they look like antiques out of the box, a few dings would just add character, IMO. I've played some of Ryan's banjos, and they are something else: great tone, great playability. If I ever succumb to the Nylgut strain of BAS, that's where I'm going, although he can set them up just as well for steel.

Jun 23, 2020 - 8:05:43 AM

749 posts since 2/19/2012

Remsleep

My son took his AC-1 on a bike trip we did a couple of years ago across MO on the Katy trail. It certainly got damp on occasion. I think they're pretty amazing for what they cost.

Overall, I think my favorite five-string banjo, and the one I'd keep if I had only one, is my Tradesman. It's light, easy to pack, and has a great neck and Gotoh tuners. The action was a little high on mine so I changed to a 9/16" bridge. No biggie. They respond well to setup also. I've played around quite a bit with both plastic and skin heads on it. It's been all over the country in our little travel trailer. Some don't care for the thin rim, which is a trade-off I'm happy with in this case. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a great RB-170, but I'd never want to travel with it.

Edited by - Parker135 on 06/23/2020 08:06:51

Jun 23, 2020 - 8:30:41 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12720 posts since 8/30/2006

Cool. Aluminum? No?

I’ll discuss 50-yr Bamboo flooring, darn good paddle if somehow you need one while “ up the creek”

I have the #001 out in my shop since 2009, all year rain or shine, just a dust cover, no case for market “research”, no warping, no delaminations, just Banjo. I play with the neck out the window at stoplights, doesn’t everyone? It sure makes Banjo Friends while driving to our all-volunteer coffee house, stop after stop

There are 8 others that are out on the road the #010 is for sale with magnetic mount Rez, there’s a classified ad

In Az, The humidity during this time of year can hit like a wall @ 100+ deg. F at night, then the dust storm, not an Haboob, then raindrops big as dinner plates around 5pm, then big lightning
So swings in humidity are common daily, whether at 7000 ft or desert floor

No Helix banjo was harmed while hiking on the Appalachian Trail with 2 Yorkies

Now Anyone can build a Banjo from bamboo, Hickory or other flooring or flooring that has been repurposed
You MUST WEAR A RESPIRATOR while skinning the finish off

We all want the good sound of wood,
Thanks for listening, this is professional information, anyone is welcome to confer with me while building with Bamboo


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