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Oct 26, 2020 - 6:37:09 AM
405 posts since 6/12/2017

I play OT a gold tone OB. Just wondering if prices for resonator banjos are comparable for quality to OB? And is there more of an emphasis on expensive art that jacks up cost without adding adding to quality?

Oct 26, 2020 - 7:09:06 AM

KCJones

USA

966 posts since 8/30/2012

The low end for OB and resonator seems to be about the same for price, around $500-750 to get something that's reasonably nice and playable. The high end for resonator is much higher than OB. Just my observation.

A brand new high quality US-made resonator banjo starts at 2500, with a few exceptions, and you regularly see models in the 4k-5k range and sometimes even higher. But you can get a brand new high quality US-made open back for 1000-1500, and I've never seen an open back over $2500-3000. Bart Reiter, who makes IMO the best open back banjo you can buy, prices things at around $1500 brand new.

Oct 26, 2020 - 7:45:43 AM
likes this

1589 posts since 10/12/2011

I think theirs many factors that going into a price of a resonator banjo or a banjo in general. Not all woods cost the same, mahogany is more expensive than maple. Other cost factors are necks that are one piece vs laminated pieces. One piece necks are usually more expensive, cause you need a larger piece of wood to make it, versus strips of wood. Some folks use actual pearl inlays others pearl looking plastics.

The quality of the hardware, differs from many manufacturers. Not all rims are 3 ply, some are 15 plus thin plies. 3 plys are more expensive. Tone rings are all different (steel, brass, tubes, none at all). Plastic nuts vs bone nuts. Quality tuners vs cheap tuners. One piece or two piece flanges vs shoe bracket and plate flanges. For me its all about the parts and their fit and finish. This is where the quality is. Everything is done for a price point.

To flush out quality vs just a fancy looking banjo shaped object it comes down to the details and what manufactures list in the specifications/ descriptions or intentionally do not list (I find this more telling) An example is when listed it has a "maple neck and maple rim", vs "one piece maple neck and 3 ply maple rim". These are both maple necks and rims, but are not of the same.

Oct 27, 2020 - 3:27:37 AM

405 posts since 6/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by KCJones

The low end for OB and resonator seems to be about the same for price, around $500-750 to get something that's reasonably nice and playable. The high end for resonator is much higher than OB. Just my observation.

A brand new high quality US-made resonator banjo starts at 2500, with a few exceptions, and you regularly see models in the 4k-5k range and sometimes even higher. But you can get a brand new high quality US-made open back for 1000-1500, and I've never seen an open back over $2500-3000. Bart Reiter, who makes IMO the best open back banjo you can buy, prices things at around $1500 brand new.


 

Yeah I see after searching a bit that resonators go for a lot more than OB. Just out of curiosity what are the best names in resonator banjos. I know Stelling is one. Also, if I got one it would probably be in the $500 -$1000 range, Maybe slightly more. What are good banjos in that range?

The Morgan Monroe Duelington looks pretty cool to me. 

Edited by - 6stringedRamble on 10/27/2020 03:28:02

Oct 27, 2020 - 5:01:48 AM

KCJones

USA

966 posts since 8/30/2012

quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble
quote:
Originally posted by KCJones

The low end for OB and resonator seems to be about the same for price, around $500-750 to get something that's reasonably nice and playable. The high end for resonator is much higher than OB. Just my observation.

A brand new high quality US-made resonator banjo starts at 2500, with a few exceptions, and you regularly see models in the 4k-5k range and sometimes even higher. But you can get a brand new high quality US-made open back for 1000-1500, and I've never seen an open back over $2500-3000. Bart Reiter, who makes IMO the best open back banjo you can buy, prices things at around $1500 brand new.


 

Yeah I see after searching a bit that resonators go for a lot more than OB. Just out of curiosity what are the best names in resonator banjos. I know Stelling is one. Also, if I got one it would probably be in the $500 -$1000 range, Maybe slightly more. What are good banjos in that range?

The Morgan Monroe Duelington looks pretty cool to me. 

 

 


Best resonator banjos overall? Stelling and Gibson are the obvious choices. Then I have a particular affinity for Huber, Yates, and Nechville. There's lots, basically any modern US-made resonator is going to be top quality. Everyone has their preferences.

Best under $1000, you should buy used. Recording King RK-35/36/50/75/80 series will be the most common recommendation. Gold Tone OB-150/250/3 is also a common recommendation. There's also tons of options for Japanese/Korean made banjos from the 70s/80s, under 500, but you really need to know what you're looking at to go that route. 

Oct 27, 2020 - 5:35:25 AM
like this

56047 posts since 12/14/2005

Shop for a USED one, on the HangOut.
Probably been well cared for.

Oct 27, 2020 - 6:51:58 AM

405 posts since 6/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

Shop for a USED one, on the HangOut.
Probably been well cared for.


Well I've got to deal with shipping to Israel and don't really have funds to deal with shipping and returns and all that if you're talking about any kinds of problems.

Oct 27, 2020 - 7:04:58 AM

405 posts since 6/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by KCJones
quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble
quote:
Originally posted by KCJones

The low end for OB and resonator seems to be about the same for price, around $500-750 to get something that's reasonably nice and playable. The high end for resonator is much higher than OB. Just my observation.

A brand new high quality US-made resonator banjo starts at 2500, with a few exceptions, and you regularly see models in the 4k-5k range and sometimes even higher. But you can get a brand new high quality US-made open back for 1000-1500, and I've never seen an open back over $2500-3000. Bart Reiter, who makes IMO the best open back banjo you can buy, prices things at around $1500 brand new.


 

Yeah I see after searching a bit that resonators go for a lot more than OB. Just out of curiosity what are the best names in resonator banjos. I know Stelling is one. Also, if I got one it would probably be in the $500 -$1000 range, Maybe slightly more. What are good banjos in that range?

The Morgan Monroe Duelington looks pretty cool to me. 

 

 


Best resonator banjos overall? Stelling and Gibson are the obvious choices. Then I have a particular affinity for Huber, Yates, and Nechville. There's lots, basically any modern US-made resonator is going to be top quality. Everyone has their preferences.

Best under $1000, you should buy used. Recording King RK-35/36/50/75/80 series will be the most common recommendation. Gold Tone OB-150/250/3 is also a common recommendation. There's also tons of options for Japanese/Korean made banjos from the 70s/80s, under 500, but you really need to know what you're looking at to go that route. 


Really I've been kinda eyeing this morgan monroe duelington. Are they any good? I've a gold tone custom, the owner hooked me up with a good deal. Its a cb100 pot. Cant complain. It didn't sound that good, and I thought it was the banjo and wanted to rush out and buy an American made. But as I get better, I realized it was my playing and I didn't progress enough to even understand that. Still though though I'd love to have a higher end American made OB, almost bought one, but after covid decided not to buy anything big, but now I'm considering a Resonator

Oct 27, 2020 - 7:26:04 AM

1361 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble

Really I've been kinda eyeing this morgan monroe duelington. Are they any good? 

but now I'm considering a Resonator


Morgan Monroe are fairly typical Chinese factory made rebadged with the Morgan Monroe headstock design. This one looks like the higher end with 3 ply rim and a proper tone ring. However I'm not sure these would ever match a Recording King RK-R35 or 36. It might be an option at a decent price. On the hangout the Morgan Monroe type banjos seem to get looked down upon. However banjos from the same factory get recomended if they have the right name on the headstock. However I was never tempted by them in their varying guises in the UK and waited until a good priced Recording King RK-R35 came along.

Why do you want a resonator?

Oct 27, 2020 - 7:37:09 AM

KCJones

USA

966 posts since 8/30/2012

The CB-100 is a good banjo. It was my first decent open back, always thought it had great tone and looked nice too with the shooting star neck inlay.

I don't have any experience with Morgan Monroe so I can't give an opinion on their quality. The model you mention appears to be a hook-shoe construction rather than a one piece flange which is a negative IMO. It does appear to have a cast tone ring and 3-ply rim, so that's good IMO. It may be a good banjo, but if you can afford one a RK-35/36 or OB-150/OB-250 would be a better choice.

Oct 27, 2020 - 8:24:39 AM

405 posts since 6/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker
quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble

Really I've been kinda eyeing this morgan monroe duelington. Are they any good? 

but now I'm considering a Resonator


Morgan Monroe are fairly typical Chinese factory made rebadged with the Morgan Monroe headstock design. This one looks like the higher end with 3 ply rim and a proper tone ring. However I'm not sure these would ever match a Recording King RK-R35 or 36. It might be an option at a decent price. On the hangout the Morgan Monroe type banjos seem to get looked down upon. However banjos from the same factory get recomended if they have the right name on the headstock. However I was never tempted by them in their varying guises in the UK and waited until a good priced Recording King RK-R35 came along.

Why do you want a resonator?


Oh because I heard Obray Ramsey playing on YouTube in a David Hoffman vid, and I liked it.

Oct 27, 2020 - 10:08:45 AM

405 posts since 6/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker
quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble

Really I've been kinda eyeing this morgan monroe duelington. Are they any good? 

but now I'm considering a Resonator


Morgan Monroe are fairly typical Chinese factory made rebadged with the Morgan Monroe headstock design. This one looks like the higher end with 3 ply rim and a proper tone ring. However I'm not sure these would ever match a Recording King RK-R35 or 36. It might be an option at a decent price. On the hangout the Morgan Monroe type banjos seem to get looked down upon. However banjos from the same factory get recomended if they have the right name on the headstock. However I was never tempted by them in their varying guises in the UK and waited until a good priced Recording King RK-R35 came along.

Why do you want a resonator?


Recording King is made in a different Chinese factory?

Oct 27, 2020 - 10:19:59 AM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

440 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble
quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker
quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble

Really I've been kinda eyeing this morgan monroe duelington. Are they any good? 

but now I'm considering a Resonator


Morgan Monroe are fairly typical Chinese factory made rebadged with the Morgan Monroe headstock design. This one looks like the higher end with 3 ply rim and a proper tone ring. However I'm not sure these would ever match a Recording King RK-R35 or 36. It might be an option at a decent price. On the hangout the Morgan Monroe type banjos seem to get looked down upon. However banjos from the same factory get recomended if they have the right name on the headstock. However I was never tempted by them in their varying guises in the UK and waited until a good priced Recording King RK-R35 came along.

Why do you want a resonator?


Oh because I heard Obray Ramsey playing on YouTube in a David Hoffman vid, and I liked it.


Think he plays a late 50s/early 60s Gibson RB-100 or RB-250 archtop in Hoffman's videos, similar to this one:

https://www.retrofret.com/product.asp?ProductID=6514 

 

But yea, buying a resonator banjo vs an OB, for something of the same quality, you'll need to spend 2X the $. 

Edited by - ChunoTheDog on 10/27/2020 10:22:09

Oct 27, 2020 - 10:21:28 AM

1361 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble

Recording King is made in a different Chinese factory?


Yes Recording King is made in their own Chinese facility. There are a few exceptions like the RK-R20 and some of their older discontinued open backs.

Oct 27, 2020 - 11:23:08 AM

516 posts since 10/9/2017

quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble
quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

Shop for a USED one, on the HangOut.
Probably been well cared for.


Well I've got to deal with shipping to Israel and don't really have funds to deal with shipping and returns and all that if you're talking about any kinds of problems.


Where would you get one in Israel? The last time I was there (2017), I went into several music stores in Jerusalem and TA and didn't see any. Plenty of ouds though. 

Oct 27, 2020 - 11:25:16 AM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

440 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble
quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

Shop for a USED one, on the HangOut.
Probably been well cared for.


Well I've got to deal with shipping to Israel and don't really have funds to deal with shipping and returns and all that if you're talking about any kinds of problems.


A brand new, out of the box banjo will need an extensive set up and could arrive needing to be returned, too. 

Oct 27, 2020 - 4:56:53 PM

405 posts since 6/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Remsleep
quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble
quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

Shop for a USED one, on the HangOut.
Probably been well cared for.


Well I've got to deal with shipping to Israel and don't really have funds to deal with shipping and returns and all that if you're talking about any kinds of problems.


Where would you get one in Israel? The last time I was there (2017), I went into several music stores in Jerusalem and TA and didn't see any. Plenty of ouds though. 


There's a small folk scene in Israel. There are two banjo sellers in Israel that have small shops from their homes. But they sell mostly deerinng, and recording king. IMO it's better to get a banjo from USA, or the UK on a trip. But I don't have money for that, so. 

 

https://www.musicalspices.com/ 

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Arts---Entertainment/%D7%90%D7%A1%D7%A3-%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%95%D7%96%D7%99%D7%A7-%D7%91%D7%94%D7%A0%D7%94%D7%9C%D7%AA-%D7%90%D7%A1%D7%A3-%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%96%D7%95%D7%91-Assaf-Music-194795988357/

 

Here's the FB page of the main banjo group in israel if you are interested: 

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/370095736746521

Edited by - 6stringedRamble on 10/27/2020 16:58:53

Oct 27, 2020 - 5:04:14 PM

405 posts since 6/12/2017

You might see like a fender or a washburn banjo occasionally in a music shop. The cheap china stuff.

Oct 27, 2020 - 5:08:53 PM

405 posts since 6/12/2017

Now I'm curious is there a list out there of bluegrass banjo brands that are good? Cus the Bishline on banjo.com looks decent. I don't like all that flowery design.

Oct 27, 2020 - 5:35:21 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

440 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble

Now I'm curious is there a list out there of bluegrass banjo brands that are good? Cus the Bishline on banjo.com looks decent. I don't like all that flowery design.


I've played a bunch of bluegrass resonator banjos, I'm no pro by any means, but I do like a nice dry sounding, smooth playing banjo. The two that I own are a 1928 archtop Gibson TB3 and a 2006 Gold Star GF100 flathead.

For the price, the Gold Star is such a sweet deal. It's less than 1/4 the price of the pre war Gibson Mastertone and I can safely say I enjoy playing it just as much. There is nothing wrong with the sound and playability of some of these Chinese made Gibson copies (such as Recording King).

If you're patient you could probably even find an 80s Gold Star archtop bluegrass banjo. It would meet or surpass the tone of the one you heard on that Hoffman recording.

If you're interested in playing old time frailing/clawhammer as well as 3 finger picking, I'd go the archtop route, personally. But a flathead can in fact give you a sound that is very very close.

Lots to consider when searching out a banjo, let it be fun! 

Oct 27, 2020 - 5:51:25 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

440 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble

Now I'm curious is there a list out there of bluegrass banjo brands that are good? Cus the Bishline on banjo.com looks decent. I don't like all that flowery design.


Hatfield, Bishline, Yates, Frank Neat, Deering, Sullivan, Gibson (obviously)... so many good builders in the USA

For great Asian made: Gold Star/Saga/Tokai (80s era models are the most sought after), Recording King.

Oct 28, 2020 - 2:43:57 PM

405 posts since 6/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by ChunoTheDog
quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble

Now I'm curious is there a list out there of bluegrass banjo brands that are good? Cus the Bishline on banjo.com looks decent. I don't like all that flowery design.


Hatfield, Bishline, Yates, Frank Neat, Deering, Sullivan, Gibson (obviously)... so many good builders in the USA

For great Asian made: Gold Star/Saga/Tokai (80s era models are the most sought after), Recording King.


 

I'm not real crazy about the ornate designs of the bluegrass banjos. I like some of the cheaper bishlines, like the coal dust and cimmaron

 

I also found this prucha I like. It's not too fancy, and reasonable priced. 

 

Do you know of other's that are around $2k and fairly plain? I think I'll just save up for a better banjo than getting something that costs $600 made in an iffy chinese factory

Oct 28, 2020 - 4:28:53 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

440 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble
quote:
Originally posted by ChunoTheDog
quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble

Now I'm curious is there a list out there of bluegrass banjo brands that are good? Cus the Bishline on banjo.com looks decent. I don't like all that flowery design.


Hatfield, Bishline, Yates, Frank Neat, Deering, Sullivan, Gibson (obviously)... so many good builders in the USA

For great Asian made: Gold Star/Saga/Tokai (80s era models are the most sought after), Recording King.


 

I'm not real crazy about the ornate designs of the bluegrass banjos. I like some of the cheaper bishlines, like the coal dust and cimmaron

 

I also found this prucha I like. It's not too fancy, and reasonable priced. 

 

Do you know of other's that are around $2k and fairly plain? I think I'll just save up for a better banjo than getting something that costs $600 made in an iffy chinese factory


Fancy inlays have been part of banjos since forever. Careful with selecting banjos based on inlay options, you'll leave many fine instruments out of contention doing so. Especially since you seem to prefer simple dot inlays (Gibson RB-00 style), which are almost always associated with the lower end instruments.

Before pulling the trigger on any instrument in particular, ask yourself: what kind of tone do I want from my banjo? and What styles will I be playing most often? This surely will help narrow down the search.

Another thing to add other than inlays and tone ring configuration, is the wood used for neck material. Usually mahogany or maple. I find mahogany to be darker, warmer more subdued but in play notes feel less responsive (can be great thing depending on style). Maple seems to be crisper, brighter, more responsive.

As for high quality resonator banjos under 2K, with simple inlays... I'm a bit partial to Gold Star but they do not have simple inlays and are built in Japan or China depending on year, so it doesn't fit your needs. 

A used Gibson RB-00 can maybe be found in that price range, but it will be few and far between and you will have to look hard. Something like this, brass hoop tone ring so it will be lightweight and imo will sound good 3 finger or clawhammer. https://www.banjobuyer.com/banjo/81271 the price seems a bit high to me, tho. 

Oct 28, 2020 - 5:09:24 PM

405 posts since 6/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by ChunoTheDog
quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble
quote:
Originally posted by ChunoTheDog
quote:
Originally posted by 6stringedRamble

Now I'm curious is there a list out there of bluegrass banjo brands that are good? Cus the Bishline on banjo.com looks decent. I don't like all that flowery design.


Hatfield, Bishline, Yates, Frank Neat, Deering, Sullivan, Gibson (obviously)... so many good builders in the USA

For great Asian made: Gold Star/Saga/Tokai (80s era models are the most sought after), Recording King.


 

I'm not real crazy about the ornate designs of the bluegrass banjos. I like some of the cheaper bishlines, like the coal dust and cimmaron

 

I also found this prucha I like. It's not too fancy, and reasonable priced. 

 

Do you know of other's that are around $2k and fairly plain? I think I'll just save up for a better banjo than getting something that costs $600 made in an iffy chinese factory


Fancy inlays have been part of banjos since forever. Careful with selecting banjos based on inlay options, you'll leave many fine instruments out of contention doing so. Especially since you seem to prefer simple dot inlays (Gibson RB-00 style), which are almost always associated with the lower end instruments.

Before pulling the trigger on any instrument in particular, ask yourself: what kind of tone do I want from my banjo? and What styles will I be playing most often? This surely will help narrow down the search.

Another thing to add other than inlays and tone ring configuration, is the wood used for neck material. Usually mahogany or maple. I find mahogany to be darker, warmer more subdued but in play notes feel less responsive (can be great thing depending on style). Maple seems to be crisper, brighter, more responsive.

As for high quality resonator banjos under 2K, with simple inlays... I'm a bit partial to Gold Star but they do not have simple inlays and are built in Japan or China depending on year, so it doesn't fit your needs. 

A used Gibson RB-00 can maybe be found in that price range, but it will be few and far between and you will have to look hard. Something like this, brass hoop tone ring so it will be lightweight and imo will sound good 3 finger or clawhammer. https://www.banjobuyer.com/banjo/81271 the price seems a bit high to me, tho. 

 


 

Well I'm not shopping as of now. Just interested in buying one at some point. Unfortuantely living in Israel I don't have an option to go and try diffierent banjos out. I don't intend to play bluegrass, just OT. 

Oct 28, 2020 - 5:23:41 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

440 posts since 8/9/2019

Well I'm not shopping as of now. Just interested in buying one at some point. Unfortuantely living in Israel I don't have an option to go and try diffierent banjos out. I don't intend to play bluegrass, just OT. 


Budget notwithstanding, I'd look for an archtop resonator banjo. 

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