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Oct 30, 2020 - 5:58:03 AM
42 posts since 11/11/2019

Hello all:

I have two banjos, but find myself reaching for the basic Deering Goodtime open back over the much nicer Recording King RK-R35 for one reason, the weight. Even though I love the sound and playability of the RK, my 71-year-old bones just resist picking up that 15-pounder and lugging it into the next room to play a bit.

So I'm considering selling the RK-35 and buying a lighter weight resonator banjo so I can enjoy the resonator sound without the weight. I'm aware of the Gold Tone BG150f (about $775 and 8 pounds) and the Recording King R-20 ($550, 10-plus pounds), but don't know if there others I should consider.

I'd appreciate any input you folks have on other banjos to consider and thoughts about those two choices.

Jim

Oct 30, 2020 - 6:20:43 AM

512 posts since 10/9/2017

Ken LeVan makes a top-tension resonator banjo that comes in under 10 lbs. He also makes ultra-light open-back banjos. AFAIK, he has not combined the two, but perhaps no one has asked.

Oct 30, 2020 - 7:02:35 AM
likes this

190 posts since 6/25/2016

I recently sold my RK35 and got a Prucha lightweight student model.  It weighs about 9 lb, and I love it.  It's simple in appointments  - plain white dots, etc., - but the build quality is first rate, it's a real pleasure to play (I got the radiused neck option), and I love the sound.  Prucha also makes the Lightweight Jason Burleson, which is a beautiful but much pricier top tension model.

before buying it, I also tried the Bishline Patriot, their lightweight model, but it just wasn't for me.

I do wish someone would figure out how to make a 5-7 lb banjo that really does the job.  There was somebody selling a carbon fiber tone ring for a while, but I think that's no longer available.

Edited by - loonsailor on 10/30/2020 07:09:28

Oct 30, 2020 - 7:03:50 AM

Helix

USA

13072 posts since 8/30/2006

OregonJim I"m 75 this year, way too young for this stuff.

I build with bamboo. right at 6lbs. that's WITH the tone ring, two way truss rod, two rim rods, real fingerboard, 18 hooks. Solid neck and heel, no glued on pegheads or finger joints. 
$777 with case and shipping = $877 shipped.  I have the number 001, but there are nine others out there jammin' til morn, not kidding. 

I also build tube banjos @ 24 hooks. 6.75 pounds.

Lighter weight was an extra boon with the design of my rim.  The sound of my banjos is what you would be looking to discover, that's the tell at the jam.  I can eat Gibsons and Deerings and Stellings at the lunch table.  A kingly feed.  It's not a power play, I took a lot of crap when I first approached the market.

Remember the "this has legs."  Well my banjos don't need legs, they have strings. Three hours later your shoulder doesn't fall off from fatigue of wearing somebody else's 10 pound hype.

Simple rolled brass tone ring on mine whether wet bluegrass or dry oldtime.  I play them myself on stage. 

Tom Chapin has had Helix Cherry Blossom #002 Whyte Laydie (the only one) for 16 years. She's a little too heavy, but vintaged just fine with the 45 degree grain run, touring with a national artist will show every flaw and weakness, weather changes, room size and shape.  Rain or shine.  She just got better.  

I play Bluegrass, clawhammer , etc. on all my personal banjos. I use bamboo, Chestnut and Black Walnut rims.

Glad to confer off forum even if you don't buy through me. It's good for the whole community and comes back to me in good time.


Edited by - Helix on 10/30/2020 07:22:37

Oct 30, 2020 - 7:30:01 AM

Helix

USA

13072 posts since 8/30/2006

I got timed out. For the resonators, I offer a magnetic mount so you can remove the resonator easily at will. No bayonet mount, no clips or bolts.

The wooden resonators weigh a pound, plus hardware. In the audio field they are called a "passive distributor."

The golden spoons weigh just 75% of the wooden ones, same passive distributor. No kidding. It took them 5 weeks at the jam to catch me playing without a resonator. People don't really notice that, but they noticed the sound, that was a real compliment from all this hard work.


Oct 30, 2020 - 8:13:06 AM

188 posts since 8/9/2004

You might consider a Deering White Lotus, I love mine. 8 pounds and it really snap, crackle pops. I got it as an alternative to my much heavier Deering Sierra, so I could play more comfortably standing up. The White Lotus doesn't have the overall beefiness and projection of the Sierra, but it more than gets the job done when I need to stand while playing. It's a great banjo. Full specs and details on the Deering website.

Oct 30, 2020 - 8:26:15 AM

KCJones

USA

966 posts since 8/30/2012

I've got a RK-25. 2 piece flange with Woodie rim. It is every bit as powerful as the RK-35 I used to have. I sold the 35. I still own the 25.

They're discontinued so you'll have to find one used if you go that route. They used to be found for $300-400 used but it looks like they've crept into the 500-600 range. There's one on reverb.

Oct 30, 2020 - 9:05:04 AM

3401 posts since 5/29/2011

A 1960's model Vega Ranger or a Vega Little Wonder would fit quite well into your weight range. They come up for sale from time to time and usually are not that expensive.

Oct 30, 2020 - 9:35:24 AM

42 posts since 11/11/2019

Thanks for the ideas everyone. I probably should have mentioned I'm trying to stay in the same price range as the two I mentioned: $500 to $800 or so. I'd like to have the proceeds from my RK 35 cover the new banjo.

Any thoughts on the two I had zeroed in on? The Gold Tone BG150f or the RK R-20?

Jim

Oct 30, 2020 - 10:28:49 AM

1356 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by OregonJim


Any thoughts on the two I had zeroed in on? The Gold Tone BG150f or the RK R-20?

Jim


The RK-R20 gets mentioned a lot. It's an OK beginners banjo and gets mentioned it seems because it has Recording King on the headstock even if they don't actually make it. If it had Morgan Monroe on the headstock I doubt it would be mentioned much. They used to make their own basic multiply rim tone hoop banjo the RK-R15 which i have and is better than this type of multiply rim rolled brass tone ring banjo. Compared to an RK-R35 it's still disappointing. I have both. i can't comment on the Goldtone which looks like a upgraded CC series banjo. Once you've had the real thing multiply rims with tone hoops seem to be filled with disappointment.

Oct 30, 2020 - 10:57:02 AM

KCJones

USA

966 posts since 8/30/2012

quote:
Originally posted by OregonJim

Thanks for the ideas everyone. I probably should have mentioned I'm trying to stay in the same price range as the two I mentioned: $500 to $800 or so. I'd like to have the proceeds from my RK 35 cover the new banjo.

Any thoughts on the two I had zeroed in on? The Gold Tone BG150f or the RK R-20?

Jim


Between those two, the RK-R20 is the better option. But neither are very good.

If you're going to get something in this range, you should really just spring for the RK-R25 that's on Reverb. I have no affiliation with that banjo, but it is without question a better banjo than the RK-R20. It has all the power of the RK-R35, and the light weight of the RK-R20. Honestly it's one of my favorite banjos. Set up properly you wouldn't even know it was a woody. For the life of me I don't understand why they quit making them and replaced it with the RK-R20, it doesn't make any sense.  

Edited by - KCJones on 10/30/2020 11:03:24

Oct 30, 2020 - 11:12:38 AM

2217 posts since 9/25/2006

Do yourself a favor and check Helix out. Make sure you put the spoons in it!

Oct 30, 2020 - 11:19:08 AM

287 posts since 10/4/2018

I have a Helix with a resonator, but no spoons, and I have played with the resonator off since one month after I got it. It is plenty loud and has great tone for bluegrass. Every time I look at that banjo I get excited to play it. It is very lightweight, 6# without the resonator and 7# attached (If anyone read 6&7 hashtag, you need to get away from your computer for a year or two).

Edited by - Good Buddy on 10/30/2020 11:20:46

Oct 30, 2020 - 11:40:07 AM

526 posts since 2/6/2018

What if you threw a Deering resonator on your open back? Could play either way.

reverb.com/item/2015682-goodti...own-stain

I have no connection to this seller.

Oct 30, 2020 - 1:47:16 PM

KCJones

USA

966 posts since 8/30/2012

quote:
Originally posted by MoJoBanjo

What if you threw a Deering resonator on your open back? Could play either way.

reverb.com/item/2015682-goodti...own-stain

I have no connection to this seller.


That price! For $75 more you could buy an entire Goodtime resonator banjo... 

Oct 30, 2020 - 1:58:07 PM

526 posts since 2/6/2018

Sorry, should have looked here first: deeringbanjos.com/collections/...ollection

Oct 30, 2020 - 2:23:37 PM

27 posts since 5/28/2015

quote:
Originally posted by loonsailor

I recently sold my RK35 and got a Prucha lightweight student model.  It weighs about 9 lb, and I love it.  It's simple in appointments  - plain white dots, etc., - but the build quality is first rate, it's a real pleasure to play (I got the radiused neck option), and I love the sound.  Prucha also makes the Lightweight Jason Burleson, which is a beautiful but much pricier top tension model.

before buying it, I also tried the Bishline Patriot, their lightweight model, but it just wasn't for me.

I do wish someone would figure out how to make a 5-7 lb banjo that really does the job.  There was somebody selling a carbon fiber tone ring for a while, but I think that's no longer available.


I have not tried the Prucha Lightweight Student model, but can vouch for Prucha in general. I tried every lightweight model banjo I could get my hands on and they all were lacking in sound quality, except Prucha. Love my Lightweight Jason Burleson model!! 

Nov 1, 2020 - 5:28:33 AM
like this

Brett

USA

2396 posts since 11/29/2005

fender, Vega, Gibson all made nice resonator banjos without the tone ring. All you have to do is use the search feature here and spend weeks reading the pro and con of each. fender allegro, Vega ranger or wonder, Gibson rb-100, or the many prewar non tone ring variants, like Kalamazoo.
There are many modern builders of woody banjos to avoid the 3 pounds of tone ring. There is also a stand, though I hate to use them. You keep a stand right beside your easy chair and you’ll find you don’t have to go and monkey with getting case out, getting banjo out, using the bathroom, forgetting you were getting banjo out and why, remembering as soon as you get into other end of house, and so forth. But stands can be dangerous.
I find if I leave an inexpensive instrument laying around, rather than one I’m worried over, I’ll practice more. I won’t bother to go un case stuff and all that either.

Nov 2, 2020 - 11:46:16 AM

371 posts since 9/8/2005

Jim, are you anywhere near Sisters, Oregon? You should stop and see me. I have several lightweight models in process now. My banjos are hand made in America, may be a little higher price, but You can call me at 6122756602

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