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Aug 15, 2020 - 6:20:22 AM
281 posts since 7/11/2014

Does anyone have experience of these? I know some history and they look well made and a little different. I had been considering an rk36 or possibly a Capek but thought an Ode looks nice. Not interested in bling but like a strong tone with depth as well as punch, eh Gibson crossed with Prucha.....

Aug 15, 2020 - 7:36:14 AM
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13255 posts since 10/30/2008

The Ode C is a terrific banjo, if you don't overpay. Excellent design and execution.

Back in 1969-70 banjoist Bill Emerson wrote a 2 or 3 part series for Bluegrass Unlimited magazine reviewing the 4 American banjos available at the time: Gibson RB 250 (came in last for many reasons), Vega Scruggs (plasticky finish and the most expensive), Fender Artist (close second to best on the market) and the Ode C, best all-around American banjo for its price point. Lacking only a little bit fancier inlays compared to the others. Emerson himself switched from his Gibson to the Fender Artist as did many others.

Personally I believe had the Ode C had a bit larger/fancier inlay, it would have walked away with the 1970s banjo market. The gold plated Ode D with very nice original inlays, was used much more by pro banjo players, than the C. Pretty much identical construction other than gold plating, a bit of engraving, and the difference in inlays/binding. Today even Ode Ds are unquestionably the lowest asking price vintage American gold plated banjos.

Today for whatever reason, the market doesn't offer a lot of respect for Ode Cs. Asking prices I have tracked over several years seem to be "around" $1200-1300, or even lower. For very good quality specimens. The Fender Artist is probably slightly more popular/valuable.

Odes are loud, clear, bell-like and uniform all the way up and down the neck. They do not sound like Mastertones however. Try one before you buy one. Have fun!

Just my opinion...

Aug 15, 2020 - 7:54:44 AM
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219 posts since 5/13/2009

Mike Stanger is one of the resident experts on Ode / Ome banjos.

https://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/home.asp?id=4573

Aug 15, 2020 - 1:25:42 PM

1715 posts since 4/10/2005

The Ode scale length is longer than standard. Some players find it virtually unnoticeable and others don't want even a hair of added reach. I'm in the latter group, but have always found model C and model D Odes incredible sounding.

Odes also are known for very thin necks that can be break-prone.

Aug 15, 2020 - 3:06:18 PM

281 posts since 7/11/2014

Very helpful, thank you all. Unfortunately I can't find a local one to play but will keep looking! They do seem a little forgotten for such great instruments but I guess that's fashion and banjo culture shifting over the years. Amazing value compared to similarly priced modern equivalents.

Aug 18, 2020 - 12:54:01 PM

2260 posts since 4/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by ceemonster

The Ode scale length is longer than standard. Some players find it virtually unnoticeable and others don't want even a hair of added reach. I'm in the latter group, but have always found model C and model D Odes incredible sounding.

Odes also are known for very thin necks that can be break-prone.


Are the Ode necks very thin, or very narrow? I was considering a couple D models for a while but was hesitant due to the rumors I had heard of the necks being narrow & difficult to play.

Aug 18, 2020 - 1:08:57 PM

1715 posts since 4/10/2005

RE narrowness in terms of presenting difficulty for playing---That's a tough one, because mileage varies. Some players love thin banjo necks and find them ideal, others find them uncomfortable.

Aug 20, 2020 - 1:26:43 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12826 posts since 8/30/2006

There’s an ODE user’s group here in the hangout. Go ask them what the width is at the nut

Aug 23, 2020 - 5:29:40 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12826 posts since 8/30/2006

Refresh.  1-3/16" is narrow for some

Edited by - Helix on 08/23/2020 17:31:18

Aug 23, 2020 - 8:56:05 PM
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chuckv97

Canada

51993 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

Here’s my ODE Style C at work. (recorded on a mini iPad). I’ve loved the tone and power from the first time I picked it up at Intermountain Guitar and Banjo in Salt Lake City. Paid $1500 for it 6 years ago....it’s in great shape, hardly used.
youtu.be/uB0LUZrzdzc

Aug 23, 2020 - 9:45:38 PM

dmiller

USA

23834 posts since 7/22/2007

quote:
Originally posted by monstertone

Are the Ode necks very thin, or very narrow? I was considering a couple D models for a while but was hesitant due to the rumors I had heard of the necks being narrow & difficult to play.

The Baldwins are more narrow than they are thin.  I've got pretty big fingers, but I still manage to play mine with no problem.  I measured the neck width at the nut of:  a 65 Boulder Ode D (pre-Baldwin)/ a 62 RB-250 Gibson Mastertone/ and a 72 Baldwin Ode D.  The Boulder Ode has the same width as the Gibson RB-250 while the Baldwin Ode is narrower.  Here's the specs  for the three- - -
Boulder Ode  - - - -1 1/4" at the nut;
Gibson RB-250 - -  -1 1/4" at the nut;
Baldwin Ode D - - 1 1/16" at the nut.

Waltraud - -  Old Timer is correct about the Baldwin Ode C.  A lot of folks pass it up because it doesn't have the bling that the Baldwin Ode D has.  Both the D and the C are priced and selling for a whole lot less now than when I bought mine back about 10 years ago.  The D is gold plated, the C is not.  The D has the fancy inlays, while the C has plainer ones.  Other than the cosmetics - - both are built identical.  Both are walnut/ both have same rim, neck, etc./ and both have the same quality built into them.  Granted there are "bad apples" in any product, but (imo) you won't be disappointed if you get a Baldwin.

I have a hard time describing "sound" when it comes to comparing instruments.  Gibson is pretty much the standard sound for Bluegrass and yes the Baldwin Ode does sound a bit different than a Gibson does - - but not in a bad way at all.  The Boulder Ode (imo) has all the characteristics of Gibson - - and then some.  Good luck with whichever of the banjos you're considering and eventually end up with.
 

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