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Nov 22, 2020 - 1:41:34 PM
1751 posts since 8/4/2011

Last year I bought a B-stock Gold Tone CC-100R+ as my "knock around" banjo. I like the sound but ultimately I just don't care for the neck feel. It's a bit too narrow above the 5th string for me, and the D string likes to slip down off the side of the fret. I've tried a lot of fixes for it, including a new nut, and so far the only thing that's worked is a tall bridge, which messes with the action (though it's still playable).

There's a Morgan Monroe MNB-1 for sale for a decent price at a shop near hear, and I liked how it felt and sounded. It doesn't have quite the same level of specs as the Gold Tone, but it does have a 3 ply rim, and it has a brass tone hoop, which the Gold Tone doesn't.

That's a long preamble to a simple question: what would be a good campfire/backup banjo? Must be light, so no full weight tone rings. Prefer something with a resonator. Budget in the $500 range.

Nov 22, 2020 - 2:43:42 PM

11379 posts since 6/2/2008

Gold Tone CC100 definitely has a hoop.

If the Morgan Monroe is in your budget ($500 or less sounds like a used price), then it can do the job as a knock-around. I'm surprised to hear it has a 3-ply rim, but just checked the specs and it does.

If I were looking for a knock-around, I might try to get an early 1970s Aria, or other branded bowtie-inlay Kasuga-made banjo, for $300 or less. Plenty of people ask more, but I'd never pay it.  Despite the pot metal tone ring slop-fit on a lightweight rim, these sound pretty good. The tone ring is lighter than one in brass or bronze, but these banjos still might be a touch heavier than you're looking for.

I also think Deering Goodtimes make good knock-around banjos, but they can be pricey, even used.

Have fun shopping.

Nov 22, 2020 - 6:24:46 PM

1751 posts since 8/4/2011

Oh, you're right about the hoop, sorry I missed that. I don't think the MM is used. $500 does appear to be the going price. Thanks for the suggestion on the Aria and Goodtimes...I'll keep an eye out for those.

Nov 22, 2020 - 10:28:58 PM
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pfalzgrass

Germany

36 posts since 9/13/2017

I am using a Recording King RK-25 for this purpose. It is a tube and plate with wood rim, no tone hoop or tonering. Being tube and plate I removed the resonator to use it as openback.
They are no longer built, so look for a used one. Quality is A+

Nov 23, 2020 - 5:31:41 AM

1751 posts since 8/4/2011

I'll keep an eye out! I was wondering what RK might have for this. I used to have an RK-20 but just didn't really care for it. The 25 looks like a considerable step up.

Nov 23, 2020 - 6:42:40 AM
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KCJones

USA

1133 posts since 8/30/2012
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Recording King RK-R25, without question. I managed to find one on ebay for $300 including case and shipping. You get (almost) all the sound of a full-fledged masterclone, with a fraction of the weight and cost. It's an incredible banjo, I don't know why they discontinued it.

There's one on reverb right now for under $500. I think it's worth the price, you won't find a better banjo at that price IMO.

Nov 23, 2020 - 8:04:13 AM

1476 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Joe the banjo guy


There's a Morgan Monroe MNB-1 for sale for a decent price at a shop near hear, and I liked how it felt and sounded. It doesn't have quite the same level of specs as the Gold Tone, but it does have a 3 ply rim, and it has a brass tone hoop, which the Gold Tone doesn't.


The Gold Tone CC110r+ is supposed to have a three ply rim. While the Morgan Monroe claims to have a three ply rim I'm not convinced. I seem to remember this coming up before. The price doesn't seem right for a three ply rim banjo.

Nov 23, 2020 - 8:11:08 AM

1751 posts since 8/4/2011

I would guess they save money on other factors. It's a single co-rod, and no truss rod.

Nov 23, 2020 - 8:14:46 AM

1476 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory

 

I'm surprised to hear it has a 3-ply rim, but just checked the specs and it does.

 

Further to my last post i don't think Morgan Monroe know what their banjos are made of. There's a picture of the rim on the following link. It's clearly multi ply and probably mahogany with a nasty neck connection.

https://reverb.com/item/10087942-morgan-monroe-mnb-1

While here it says mahogany rim.

https://www.banjoteacher.com/banjos-for-sale/beginner-packages/morgan-monroe-mnb-1-deal-on-banjos-with-all-you-need.html

I'd only buy this if I could see the banjo with the resonator off. Perhaps the specs changed.

Nov 23, 2020 - 8:18:12 AM

1476 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Joe the banjo guy

I would guess they save money on other factors. It's a single co-rod, and no truss rod.


I'm sure it has a truss rod.

Nov 23, 2020 - 8:19:54 AM

1751 posts since 8/4/2011

Nov 23, 2020 - 8:25:19 AM

1476 posts since 2/4/2013

I would be surprised if these days the MNB-1 and the Recording King RK-R20 are exactly the same banjo except for the peghead.

Nov 23, 2020 - 8:26:13 AM

1751 posts since 8/4/2011

quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker
quote:
Originally posted by Joe the banjo guy

I would guess they save money on other factors. It's a single co-rod, and no truss rod.


I'm sure it has a truss rod.


It looks like it does in the pictures.  I don't know where I got the idea it didn't.  I thought I had looked for the truss rod cover when I was test driving it the other day but maybe I'm imagining that. 

Nov 23, 2020 - 9:05:59 AM

1751 posts since 8/4/2011

The Morgan Monroe customer service confirmed that that model has a 3 play rim.

Nov 23, 2020 - 10:01:24 AM

11379 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Joe the banjo guy

I'll keep an eye out! I was wondering what RK might have for this. I used to have an RK-20 but just didn't really care for it. 


In that case, DO NOT buy the MNB-1. It's the same banjo, with a different name.

The RK-20 version is the one banjo in the Recording King lineup that Recording King doesn't make, but rather re-badges as do so any other exporters/importers.

Used RK-25 is a great option. RK's current offering would be the RK-OT25 open back with a frailing scoop. So if you play bluegrass you'll miss those upper frets. $600 or so new, so outside your budget.

Nov 23, 2020 - 10:07:47 AM

11379 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by KCJones

Recording King RK-R25, without question. I managed to find one on ebay for $300 including case and shipping. You get (almost) all the sound of a full-fledged masterclone, with a fraction of the weight and cost.


I've played two or three and was amazed at the sound. It was hard to believe it didn't have a tone ring.

I really regret that I didn't grab one of the open back versions when RK was closing them out through Guitar Center 5 or 6  years ago. I think they went for $279 or less.

Nov 23, 2020 - 10:09:02 AM
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56504 posts since 12/14/2005

The Squared Eel is a fairly light banjo for carrying along on a camp-out, and at a mere $75 plus shipping, it CAN, in an emergency, double as firewood, without an enormous amount of regret.

 

 

Nov 23, 2020 - 11:03:33 AM

1476 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Joe the banjo guy

The Morgan Monroe customer service confirmed that that model has a 3 ply rim.


Assuming this is correct it seems at some point the spec changed from mahogany multiply rim. I've seen a Mprgam Monroe catalogue listing with the latter and that it what is shown in the picture I linked above. So if you buy make sure your not getting old stock. It should be fairly clear with the resonator removed.

Nov 26, 2020 - 9:07:59 AM

250 posts since 11/15/2012

Joe the banjo guy
PM Sent to you

Dec 1, 2020 - 11:09:51 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

13294 posts since 8/30/2006
Online Now

The Morgan is a shoe and plate

I have two aluminum rimmed merit badge banjos. My wife had the Guild when I met her.
Guild? The tempered aluminum rim with the tuba phone square tubing clone inside the upper lip of the rim?
There is a wide range of quantity in void and slag
Any aluminum with a plastic head can teach a youngster they have to earn a finer banjo
Mine have planetaries

Dec 2, 2020 - 4:32:23 PM

173 posts since 5/27/2008

"Recording King RK-R25, without question. I managed to find one on ebay for $300 including case and shipping. You get (almost) all the sound of a full-fledged masterclone, with a fraction of the weight and cost. It's an incredible banjo, I don't know why they discontinued it".

I totally agree, I have one as my main banjo. I would like to upgrade, but wonder what I'm missing out on that the RK-R25 doesn't have (OK... a tone ring). I'm sure there's more than a few sweet banjos out there, though, that I'd be happy with. I've had mine since March of 2016, when they were being discontinued.

Dec 2, 2020 - 8:57:27 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

24250 posts since 6/25/2005

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