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Aug 7, 2020 - 12:20:57 PM

Tailgate

Canada

6 posts since 8/7/2020

New member here, tried clawhammer a number of years ago but it didn't take at the time (I ended up focusing more on mandolin for a while). I've spent the last 4 months intentionally and diligently focusing on clawhammer and I think I'm making really good progress. I currently play an Epiphone resonator that's been sitting around the house for years, but would like to buy a quality open back. There aren't a lot of choices in my neck of the woods, but I've been intrigued by what I see from County Banjo Co out of Ontario. No matter which builder i go with, it would have to be site unseen, so I like the idea of supporting a smaller Canadian builder.

Anyone have experience with his banjos? Seems like he sources quality parts from Rickard and Brooks. They seem like really good value at $950US.

Aug 7, 2020 - 12:47:50 PM

dirigible

Canada

33 posts since 3/8/2010

I don't know anything about County Banjo Co., but I've heard great things about Ian Pattison's banjos. He's a small builder in Guelph. He sells independently and through Folkway Music in Waterloo.
pattisonstringedinstruments.com/

Edited by - dirigible on 08/07/2020 12:50:54

Aug 7, 2020 - 2:48:44 PM

Selmer

Canada

58 posts since 7/22/2012

I’ve seen their photos on FB and they look really good, but have never seen or heard one in person.

I’ve had quite a bit of experience with Rickard and wouldn’t hesitate to buy one of their instruments again... absolutely beautiful!!

The maple ridge is their most affordable model and would be a great lifetime banjo. They can custom make you just about anything you imagine.
They sometimes also have some banjos waiting for a home in the shop, so you could contact them and see what is available.

If you want to go another way, Luke Mercier is also in Ontario and does custom builds.

Aug 8, 2020 - 12:11:53 PM
Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2552 posts since 3/10/2008

Rickard makes great tuners, but I haven't had my hands on one of his banjos. 

Edited by - Lew H on 08/08/2020 12:13:51

Aug 9, 2020 - 5:36:23 PM

47 posts since 7/31/2006

Coming from someone who has built a few banjos myself, and owns quite a few, Dans are high quality and pretty hard to beat for the price. I have toured and played many a big venue, using three banjos in different tunings at every gig, and I love my custom made arch top Dan made me. I sent him a vintage Gibson arch top tone ring, told him I wanted to use steel strings and have a wider neck, and left the rest to his artistic discretion. He stayed in contact the whole way through in the decision making and gave me lots of options. He uses high quality Richard hardware, and hardwoods from a Old-Time sawmill on the cold water lake by his home. He ended up building mine with a flamed maple steam bent pot capped with walnut, a cherry neck with a Dobson heel a paddle style headstock and antiqued brass star shoes and hardware. And gold evowire frets, he also uses zero glide nuts. He used dual gold coordinator rods for mine for quick adjustments since it would be touring and facing different venues and humidity/temps. It’s never let me down. I highly recommend his banjos, you can easily pay twice as much for a hand built banjo of this quality, and the fact that you pick the specs, leaves you with a truly unique banjo.

Aug 9, 2020 - 9:34:55 PM

Tailgate

Canada

6 posts since 8/7/2020

Thanks for the input so far. I've been looking at a few builders (Rickard, Pisgah, Cedar Mountain and Brooks), but I came across County Banjo Co and it seems like I could get a similar build at almost half the price. He uses Rickard and Brooks parts, so I assume that the quality is there, but my biggest concern was the potential of getting into a custom build from a relatively unknown builder and end up with a problem child. With some of the 'bigger' names, you have an idea of what resale values are in case you don't bond with it, but with a really small builder your kind of all-in hoping that it works out.

For what it's worth, I don't plan on keeping more than one banjo at a time, and I also don't tend to flip instruments... so hoping to find something that I keep around for a while.

Any other input would be greatly appreciated, especially from folks who have one, or have tried one.

Aug 11, 2020 - 10:41:59 AM

ElvisB

UK

22 posts since 9/27/2019

Sorry won't be able to help with that particular builder but the sound of them on YouTube seems pretty good.
If you are already thinking about reselling it in the future, you might want to look at a better known builder. However as the banjo will be custom-made to your specification it's less likely that you might experience buyers regret at the end as well. Also for independants cheap doesn't mean lesser quality as they have less production/business cost.

I've just made the custom-made plunge from a lesser known builder too, but across the pond, and I'm waiting for the banjo to be delivered now.

My take aways from that experience are: do your research on what you would like (size, wood, tonering, sound etc...) contact them, ask for more music samples and see what kind of feeling you have with it. Cost nothing to get in touch!

Aug 11, 2020 - 8:20:23 PM

100 posts since 12/9/2018

I own one of Daniel's banjos and have been pretty happy with it. It's his standard build minus any position markers and a Gotoh tuner upgrade. Build quality is solid and it plays well. Daniel was easy to deal with and would probably be up for building whatever you're looking for.

Aug 13, 2020 - 9:21:02 AM

Tailgate

Canada

6 posts since 8/7/2020

Thanks everyone. For those who have recommended Rickard's, I've definitely considered them, but they are stretching out the top of my price range. Also, the reason I mentioned the resale consideration is only because most of us have probably been there, so while I'm not buying something with the intention of selling, I am realistic in acknowledging that this may happen if it just doesn't feel or sound right.

Been a musician for about 20 years and I have had one 'lessons learned' experience buying site unseen. It was a beautiful looking and feeling guitar, but just didn't sound that good. Trying my best to avoid this in my banjo upgrade.

Edited by - Tailgate on 08/13/2020 09:23:00

Aug 14, 2020 - 12:08:53 AM

Nickcd

UK

221 posts since 1/28/2018

quote:
Originally posted by ElvisB

Sorry won't be able to help with that particular builder but the sound of them on YouTube seems pretty good.
If you are already thinking about reselling it in the future, you might want to look at a better known builder. However as the banjo will be custom-made to your specification it's less likely that you might experience buyers regret at the end as well. Also for independants cheap doesn't mean lesser quality as they have less production/business cost.

I've just made the custom-made plunge from a lesser known builder too, but across the pond, and I'm waiting for the banjo to be delivered now.

My take aways from that experience are: do your research on what you would like (size, wood, tonering, sound etc...) contact them, ask for more music samples and see what kind of feeling you have with it. Cost nothing to get in touch!


Hi - out of interest who did you commission to build your banjo in the uk? 

Aug 14, 2020 - 9:08:32 AM

ElvisB

UK

22 posts since 9/27/2019

Hey @Nickcd

I went with Leon, it was a very good experience.
I've just received the banjo but I'm not home at the moment so haven't seen it yet. As soon as I come home I'll make an update to my Ome vs Vega post with all the details and pictures and sound. But if you're curious it's the first one here : ballardbanjers.com/whats-he-bu...-in-there

(isn't it a beauty?)
Did you get yourself anything from Eagle Music at the end?

Aug 14, 2020 - 9:37:34 AM

Nickcd

UK

221 posts since 1/28/2018

I thought you may have gone for ballard - his banjo's sound v good but then he is a v good player.
No never went for anything from Eagle. Having spent ages doing fairly blind listening tests of ome, Nechville & ballard, I thought the Ballard 12 inch ones sounded the best. But haven't taken the plunge (was tempted by a stock walnut one with Dobson tone ring but my wife said "why?").
Instead I have put a skin head on my current starter-ish maple banjo and scooped it. Plus have various other secondhand banjos I have put skin heads on strung with nylon to keep me going.
But will possibly treat myself one day....?.

Enjoy. 

Edited by - Nickcd on 08/14/2020 09:39:39

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