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Jan 24, 2021 - 4:44:50 AM
333 posts since 10/2/2017

I've heard Jim Panky playing an RK35 and it sounds Awsome. I'm considering buying one in the near future even though they are more tricky to get hold of in the UK. However, I have been put off a little by reading reviews about dissapointing build quality on some of these and it seems pot luck whether you get a good one.
Anyone else had experience of bad build quality on these?
Just wondered if it was common or rare for rk35 to have build problems?

Jan 24, 2021 - 4:52:54 AM



22179 posts since 7/6/2005


Jan 24, 2021 - 5:12:20 AM

534 posts since 6/2/2011

They are good banjos for their price range and have better fit and finish than most. Do they compare to fit, finish or detail of high. Priced banjos—-well no, but they are a good sounding banjo. There may be some with sloppy build get sold.
RK releases some as seconds so buy from a reputable shop who will check set up and look your banjo over for obvious flaws.
Good luck and enjoy the process too.
I was in a jam yesterday with a gentleman who is playing a RK 85 fairy up well to my Gibson Mastertone and looked good too.

Jan 24, 2021 - 5:18:49 AM
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13410 posts since 8/30/2006

These are factory banjos built by workers to specifications like plus or minus +/- a few thousandths.

Of all the imports, Recording Kings are competing freely at the top, notice they sell out.

The Silver Creek guitars are all over the internet. Those are superglue guitars and they take 3 weeks to build after cutting all the trees down.  Martin and Gibson are helping conserve trees that are growing in the ground.  Plant some. 

Rumours and hearsay don't play, they just watch.

These banjos need little additional set up out of the box, so they can be fine tuned by a banjo mechanic. Most novices just play them with dirty hands. They are built to take that.

3-ply laminated rims can be difficult and dangerous to build, notice manufacturers don't publish their method.

RK doesn't crush these blems, they are offered on line. Other makers crush their work because it makes it more exclusive.

The Silver Creeks got to the 50% point of quality control and discontinued. All the trees died for nothing and none of these guys plant new trees as a marketing gig, they just cut the forest down.

The import job shops are busy and use stickers like "high class banjo."

No drift intended: Imagine your community in the UK forming a reputable banjo cooperative with older people teaching younger ones. The whole crew gets a standard percentage of the profit, premiums are fairly paid for more skillful work.
Then that line of banjos could be sold for a real fair price in your market to compete with the bollocks hype they try to sell you. Imagine exporting banjos of quality from UK again. Clifford Essex is still in business, I sincerely hope.

Titanium banjos use metal ore that gives a teaspoon of Titanium for about 4 tons of earth and is sourced in Russia.
The "hype" states that sound travels faster with Titanium. Faster than what? Sound?

Hope this helps.  Here's a picture of Joe Stead and his Grandfather's Clifford.

Edited by - Helix on 01/24/2021 05:24:18

Jan 24, 2021 - 7:37:54 AM
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1330 posts since 8/30/2012
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I had one but it must have been defective because I could never get it to sound like Jim Pankey makes his sound.wink

Jan 24, 2021 - 8:16:27 AM
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534 posts since 6/2/2011

I guess my Gibson is defective too since I can’t get it to sound like Earl or JD.

Jan 24, 2021 - 8:17:23 AM
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48 posts since 8/31/2015

I've seen several brand new rk35s with loose frets from the factory. They are decent for the price, but expect some corners to be cut (like properly installing frets- this is kind of important on a fretted instrument)

Jan 24, 2021 - 10:02:30 AM



17 posts since 11/18/2020

Have you thought about a Grafton Clipper from Andybanjo? It’s a similar spec to the RK but it’s set up here in the UK so quality may not be an issue.
Just a thought because I have a similar budget and have been looking at the options as importing from the States really bumps up the price.

Jan 24, 2021 - 1:17:38 PM

3003 posts since 6/29/2003

I've had one since they first started making's the one I take out on the boat....and I've taken it on deployments before I retired from the's been a great banjo and I've got a few really good old banjos to compare it too.......

Jan 24, 2021 - 6:20:37 PM
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130 posts since 11/11/2020
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Love my RK35... it stands up to far more expensive banjos.

Jan 24, 2021 - 9:00:36 PM

7 posts since 6/15/2020

I have a blem RK-35. Got it for 549$ in 2019. The flange isn't completely lined up, resonator has a crack and the 5th string pip seems bad quality/amateurish. It needed a setup out of the box, which I did by myself with the guidance of YouTube videos (check out Johnny Buttons video on setup) and it was good to go.

I've owned a Deering Goodtime Classic and a cheap chinese banjo and the RK-35 blows them both away. Can't say how it compares to more expensive banjos though.

(Phone camera doesn't do it enough justice)

Jan 28, 2021 - 6:26:33 AM

552 posts since 8/12/2011

I owned one a few years ago and have no complaints. I took it apart and reassembled it to make sure everything fit together well. No issues with fit-n-finish. It was a solid banjo and played great. Did it sound/look as good as my Huber Workhorse? No. But you get what you pay for in most cases. The RK-35 is a lot of banjo for the money though. It would seem appropriate to just go through a reputable RK dealer for quality control and set-up. You might pay more but it may be worth it in the long run. Hope this helps.

Jan 28, 2021 - 8:21:36 AM

1530 posts since 2/4/2013

Originally posted by Ivor

Have you thought about a Grafton Clipper from Andybanjo? It’s a similar spec to the RK but it’s set up here in the UK so quality may not be an issue.

Andybanjos offerings have changed. No three ply rim flathead tone rings listed. They mention upgrades but haven't updated this page for months.

Jan 29, 2021 - 7:19:56 AM



17 posts since 11/18/2020

Thanks for the update Graham, I wasn’t aware of that.
I’m in no rush but looking at my options on a similar budget, so I’ll probably end up with a decent second hand banjo...I should never have never have swapped my old B&M for. Hofner Senator 30 years ago!

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