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Jan 25, 2021 - 9:54:45 AM

kkeesy

USA

69 posts since 7/8/2006

I'm 65 been playing Scruggs style for years.I want to get into clawhammer a little more.What would be a decent open back to practice on without breaking the bank?

Jan 25, 2021 - 10:11:30 AM
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15 posts since 12/8/2011

quote:
Originally posted by kkeesy

I'm 65 been playing Scruggs style for years.I want to get into clawhammer a little more.What would be a decent open back to practice on without breaking the bank?


Difficult to say without a hard number to work from. And, if course, the banjo you already have for bluegrass is likely fine.

But generally a) whichever GoldTone at your preferred price point that strikes your fancy b) a Deering Goodtime c) a Recording King if set up properly.

Jan 25, 2021 - 1:25:13 PM

1595 posts since 7/4/2009
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Just bear in mind that an open back is in no way necessary for clawhammer banjo, so don't feel pressured to get one unless you really want one.

That said, I echo the suggestions above.

Jan 25, 2021 - 3:58:40 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

24383 posts since 6/25/2005
Online Now

Among notable resonator clawhammer players: Tom Ashley, Cathy Barton, Grandpa Jones, Doc Watson, Wade Ward.

Jan 25, 2021 - 4:17:46 PM

259 posts since 10/16/2011

I have three gold tones and like the Whyte lady and use the best for d tunings . It has a great tone ring in it . You can get a new one for around 750.00 . I have an 1.800.00 Bob Carlin 12 inch but play the 11 inch Whyte lady the most .

Jan 25, 2021 - 9:08:37 PM
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Paul R

Canada

13862 posts since 1/28/2010

The best way to not break the bank is to use your resonator banjo. It has benefits to you: 1) no money outlay, 2) the resonator spares you the discomfort of all those brackets and other hardware digging into your leg as you play, 3) you're already quite familiar with it, so no having to get used to a different instrument.

However, it's your musical direction and your choice. Just don't let not having an open-back stop you from enjoying clawhammer and other Old Time styles.

Here's Don Stover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCIBgiVvM7o&feature=emb_logo

Jan 26, 2021 - 12:04:54 AM

AndyW

UK

680 posts since 7/4/2017

As others have said use your current banjo.

I'd add, change the bridge for one a bit higher. You will not be flicking the 5th with a pick anymore, and need a bit of room to get the meat of your thumb into. Doesn't matter that you raise the overall action as you won't need to go up the neck anywhere near as much with closed chords, in fact you will tend to use partial chords (and different tunings) and stay in the first five frets most of the time where the action will still be fine.

Jan 26, 2021 - 3:49:19 AM

Bill H

USA

1526 posts since 11/7/2010

After many years of playing clawhammer, I just bought my first 20 hole tone ring banjo specifically because I am trying to learn bluegrass style. I love it for clawhammer. A banjo is a banjo, though I would not discourage you from adding another one.

Jan 26, 2021 - 5:41:20 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

13410 posts since 8/30/2006

Kip, anyone with a Possum for a friend is ok by me.
Enjoy the journey


Edited by - Helix on 01/26/2021 05:41:41

Jan 26, 2021 - 9:16:42 AM
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3959 posts since 5/12/2010

I had a nice RK 80R ( I think that was the model) which was a Masterclone. I got it as a trade in on one of my "clawhammer" specific banjos. I played clawhammer on that banjo for the time I kept it. It sounded great, and I only had a little trouble playing it due to not being used to the setup. Strings are a little closer together (could adjust with a wider bridge) and not as much space between strings and head for my style of "clawmammer" which is what used to be called "Thumping" or "Rapping" a banjo, but I got along with it pretty well just the same.

So, you can certainly learn Clawhammer, or any other style on the banjo you already have, but there are some advantages of having one specifically designed for it.

I build mine, usually on a 12" rim to get a warmer tone, and better balance. I use a slight radius on the board to facilitate pull offs and other string bending embellishments, I usually place the 5th string peg at 6th or even 7th fret to give more room for slides. This design works well for the style of playing I and many others play, but some people do not like these features, and most with a bluegrass picking background might find it too different from what they are used to.

At about 19:00 in this video Diller is playing on one of my base model banjos. This particular one is a  short scale (23 1/2") with a 12" rim topped with a Dobson style tone ring instead of the two piece tone ring I use on higher priced banjos. I think this little banjo has a lot of voice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5FLys15jn0&t=2715s

Jeff Kramer who used to own "Cloverlick Banjos" made the absolute best banjos of this type I ever played or owned, and those were an inspiration to my designs, but he got out of the banjo business years ago, and his certainly weren't what I would call low priced.

If low price is the goal, I don't think you can beat the Gold Tone banjos on quality for the price. I started out on their bottom line banjo a CC-50 and I think even that banjo is twice as much banjo as a Deering Goodtime which costs more.

For a commercially made banjo at a reasonable price my suggestion is Pisgah Banjo Company. Good people, and excellent quality banjos. They usually have a booth at the Clifftop festival with a wide selection of their banjos with the prices marked down to real bargains. Patrick told me he marks them down to clear inventory, but whatever the reason when you can get one of his good banjos for less than a thousand bucks with a good case included it is a good deal.

Pisgah has several offerings which far exceed the quality of the seemingly popular Enoch "Tradesman" at about the same price.

Ken Levan builds a very nice banjo he calls "New Vintage" at a moderate price. He is a one man shop, so may take some time but these are very, very nice banjos at a very honest price for handmade and Ken takes handmade to a whole new level. Highly skilled craftsman and artist.


 

Edited by - OldPappy on 01/26/2021 09:33:29

Jan 26, 2021 - 9:25:06 AM

KCJones

USA

1331 posts since 8/30/2012

"Break The Bank" depends on how big the bank is.

There's some great deals on modern and vintage open-back banjos that were recently listed in the classifieds. From $250 all the way up to about $1400.

I don't see any reason to buy a banjo anywhere but the BHO classifieds. 100% of the time in nearly every circumstance, the BHO classifieds offer the best deals for the best banjos (from the best people).

Jan 26, 2021 - 9:43:49 AM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

1036 posts since 10/15/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Scott Barnbilly56

I have three gold tones and like the Whyte lady and use the best for d tunings . It has a great tone ring in it . You can get a new one for around 750.00 . I have an 1.800.00 Bob Carlin 12 inch but play the 11 inch Whyte lady the most .


I agree.  I think a Whyte Laydie (aka Electric) tone ring is magic, even when it's in a chinese banjo.

Jan 27, 2021 - 3:43:35 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

13410 posts since 8/30/2006

What would be a decent open back to practice on without breaking the bank?

A Helix Jackrabbit, all bamboo neck and rim. $777 + $50 case +$50 shipping = $877 shipped.

I realize nature photographs are not banjo related, but they seem to find me, so I'm sharing our needed connection the music provides.


Jan 27, 2021 - 4:48:50 PM
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Terry F

USA

101 posts since 2/16/2015

quote:
Originally posted by UncleClawhammer

Just bear in mind that an open back is in no way necessary for clawhammer banjo, so don't feel pressured to get one unless you really want one.

That said, I echo the suggestions above.


LOL

I really wanted an openback but I also wanted a resonator!  The flush resonator was a good compromise.

So...  I just had one built with top tension head, flush resonator, and a scoop to boot!

How's that for compromise!??  I play at bluegrass jams but claw-hammer style so I guess I don't do anything normal.

See my beautiful banjo here: https://weitzelbanjo.com/gallery/binnacle/

We named it the Binnacle and Jeff did a wonderful job on it. It took over a year to build and I just love it.

Cheers

Terry

Feb 4, 2021 - 9:41:29 AM

Big Ed

USA

18 posts since 4/12/2019

Souds like a Pisgah Possum would be a good place to start!  ;)

Edited by - Big Ed on 02/04/2021 09:42:22

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