Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

413
Banjo Lovers Online


Mar 2, 2021 - 12:31:38 PM
48 posts since 10/6/2012

Reading this forum i found out that some older japanese banjo are quite good, i understand that two company like saga and another one i forgot the name made good mastertone copy under a lot of different name Lida, Alvarez and so on. Is there a list somewhere to identify such banjo, and even more important is there some features to look for that will be a dead giveaway, or question to ask (like weight maybe?) that will help me to know if this is one of those good banjo? Where I live, banjo are really not popular so I can rarely see the banjo in person and I have to rely on online classified.

Thanks for your help.
Rob

Mar 2, 2021 - 12:40:05 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

714 posts since 8/9/2019

1970s/80s Gold Star GF85 and GF100 are a good place to start. If you're after a flathead, one giveaway is a 3 ply full thickness rim, one piece flange, full weight tone ring.

Many vintage Japanese archtops have multiply rims, tube n plate flanges but can sound very good.

Mar 2, 2021 - 12:41:18 PM
like this
Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5450 posts since 10/12/2009

Mar 2, 2021 - 12:45:07 PM

Foote

USA

451 posts since 3/25/2009

There are two Japanese Gold Stars in the classifieds right now, and archtop and a flat head. In my experience, these old Gold Stars are excellent buys given the prices and much better banjos then the other Japanese brands mentioned.

Mar 2, 2021 - 12:53:41 PM
likes this
Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

9846 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Bachibouzouc

Reading this forum i found out that some older japanese banjo are quite good, i understand that two company like saga and another one i forgot the name made good mastertone copy under a lot of different name Lida, 
 


This is not correct. There is no "Lida" banjo, it's Iida. Iida was a real banjo factory and made the banjos itself. From entry-level to high end. The factory was founded by Mr. Iida in 1958.

Edited by - Emiel on 03/02/2021 12:53:58

Mar 2, 2021 - 12:55:35 PM

beegee

USA

22277 posts since 7/6/2005
Online Now

The things about vintage Japanese banjos is to examine the rim and the fit and finish. They also used metric measurements for hardware. The tone rings could be either pot metal or some sort of brass or bronze alloy, but a great many are pot metal. Arm rests and tailpieces are usually steel. Rims are multi-ply and often rough and painted black. Still, there are good examples available and if you can snag one for a low price, it would be better.

Edited by - beegee on 03/02/2021 12:56:17

Mar 2, 2021 - 1:04:42 PM
likes this

Bachibouzouc

Canada

48 posts since 10/6/2012

Thnk you for this information, unfortunately none of the above could easily be used to shop online classifieds, my question was more of visual giveaway sign or simple question I can ask and that the owner would be able to answer without much banjo knowledge or having to dismantle his banjo.

I’m sure some of you have good tips in your pocket!

Rob

Edited by - Bachibouzouc on 03/02/2021 13:06:37

Mar 2, 2021 - 1:16:30 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

714 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Bachibouzouc

Thnk you for this information, unfortunately none of the above could easily be used to shop online classifieds, my question was more of visual giveaway sign or simple question I can ask and that the owner would be able to answer without much banjo knowledge or having to dismantle his banjo.

I’m sure some of you have good tips in your pocket!

Rob


You can check out what kind of rim it is easily through pictures of the back with resonator off. As far visual cues to spot a good Masterclone, just make sure it hasn't been broken and repaired, no missing hardware etc. 

Also know which make/model you're looking at and what their original configurations are.

Most of these old Japanese banjos are pretty decent. Comparable to similar era Gibson. Make sure you don't overpay. 

Above all, ask for sound samples. And if you get super lucky and the seller is relatively close, demand a few days return policy.

Edited by - ChunoTheDog on 03/02/2021 13:24:11

Mar 2, 2021 - 2:08:59 PM
like this

2443 posts since 5/2/2012

The fastie site is a wealth of information. Read the page(s) on entry level banjos and stay away from them if you're looking for a high quality banjo. Lots of reviews of banjos here on the HO, as you probably know, and skimming through them on a banjo you are thinking about might give you some helpful clues. The quality of the components (like the tone ring, pot construction, etc. already mentioned) are starting points, and (again, as you know) how the parts are put together and how the banjo is setup are key. There are makers and models of banjos by those makers that are more desirable than others because of the quality of the banjo, so if you spot something interesting check the reviews, do a search using the maker and model to find past threads to read, and ask here to find out what owners think.  What are you currently playing?

Edited by - thisoldman on 03/02/2021 14:10:03

Mar 2, 2021 - 4:37:25 PM

Bachibouzouc

Canada

48 posts since 10/6/2012

I presently play on a recording king madison openback and would like to get a reasonnably price resonator model. Unfortunately, it seem that those made in japan banjo are now fetching quite high price even in the range of a used rk. So i want to be careful not to overpay for this, so for now i have to spot the good one.

Mar 2, 2021 - 7:48:25 PM
like this

beegee

USA

22277 posts since 7/6/2005
Online Now

Why would you want a vintage Japanese banjo when you can get a quality RK or Gold Star for around the same money?

I think there ar 2 Baldwin C models for sale right now for $1000 each. That's where I'd be looking.

Edited by - beegee on 03/02/2021 19:49:29

Mar 2, 2021 - 7:59:51 PM

Bachibouzouc

Canada

48 posts since 10/6/2012

Actually i did’nt plan on spending 1k on another banjo but i might change my mind, always open to suggestion.

Mar 6, 2021 - 4:54 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

13812 posts since 8/30/2006

Aida then the Iida which looks like Aida in scroll, knocking off knock offs has got to be exhAUSTING. Dumpster bait.

Learn how to set this baby up and get slinky action with a small towel inside rolled up to damping harsh bad breath, sweeten it up.

Aluminum was handy after the war I keep an aluminum banjo in my shop to compare with wooden sounding banjos.
They don't vintage, just like a good robot. There's no feel, there's a user's group. They're weatherproof, though.

Mar 9, 2021 - 11:57:43 AM
like this

banjonz

New Zealand

11115 posts since 6/29/2003

Not all Japanese banjos are "good". Some look fantastic but lack in the sound/tone department. I once bought an Ibanez Artist here for a good price. Condition was excellent (bought off a friend). I p[ulled the whole thing down and reassembled it. Man, that thing came alive. I have met US BHO folk here with their banjos and personally I haven't been impressed. Both were Gold Star's. Given the fact that banjos are essentially kitset instruments, there is therefore much worth in the set up and adjustment.

Mar 10, 2021 - 8:12:47 AM

2471 posts since 10/17/2013

The BEST vintage Japanese banjos are any of the Gold Star models (G11W, GF100FE, G100-A, GF-85, GF100-H&F.)

My G11W absolutely roars. I wouldn’t hesitate to compare it to a modern banjo.

 It’s got a tremendous quality of tone and just tons of POWER!

Mar 10, 2021 - 8:15:46 AM

2471 posts since 10/17/2013

How to spot a good Japanese banjo?

Look out for when a vintage Gold Star comes up for sale, and NO FURTHER! 

Japanese quality is bar none with the vintage Gold Star.

 The Japanese Gold Star is the master of all import banjos, from which all other imitation imports try to copy but fall quite short.

Edited by - okbluegrassbanjopicker on 03/10/2021 08:16:14

Mar 10, 2021 - 8:18:55 AM
likes this

KCJones

USA

1457 posts since 8/30/2012

The problem is that you're asking a bunch of banjo freaks that have been waist deep in this stuff for years, and we have a hard time translating things for beginners.

This is what you look for: The presence of some sort of metal tone ring (not tone hoop). A two-piece or one-piece flange (not hook-shoe). A tension hoop that is notched with round hooks (not grooved with flat hooks). Dual coordinator rods (not single). Planetary Tuners (not guitar style). 

What you're looking for is a banjo that is an actual masterclone, not something that appears to look like a masterclone. Masterclone means the banjo pot (rim, head, resonator, hardware) is built with the same design as a Gibson Mastertone.

And read that Fastie website. And read the Earnest website to see what Mastertone-style pot construction looks like.

And don't overpay. Visit the BanjoBuyer archives for data on past sale prices. 

Edited by - KCJones on 03/10/2021 08:20:34

Mar 10, 2021 - 12:54:13 PM

BobbyE

USA

2838 posts since 11/29/2007

>>There are two Japanese Gold Stars in the classifieds right now, and archtop and a flat head.<<

Can someone tell me the page numbers in the adds section that the two Gold Star Banjos are on? There are a lot of adds that I am too lazy and/or old to sort through to get to them. If you can refer them thanks, if not, no problem.

Bobby

Mar 10, 2021 - 1:29:05 PM
Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

9846 posts since 1/22/2003

These Gold Stars are in the classifieds right now:
banjohangout.org/classifieds/s...submit=Go

Mar 10, 2021 - 1:33:24 PM

57017 posts since 12/14/2005

Mar 10, 2021 - 1:43:23 PM
like this

57017 posts since 12/14/2005

For OPEN-BACK Japanese banjos, buy whichever one survived the duel.

Mar 10, 2021 - 4:00:11 PM

Bachibouzouc

Canada

48 posts since 10/6/2012

My question was more to look for a made in japan banjo of the ‘70’s not new one. At 1000$ those goldstar are just too expensive for me. I know quality come at a price but a lot of folks found good deal and good sounding banjo made in japan of this vintage wothout big name on them. I guess this is a hit or miss.

Mar 11, 2021 - 4:15:28 AM

4604 posts since 11/20/2004

I started playing @ 1970 and owned several different Japanese banjos through the seventies. I think I played most of the brands out there. Those Goldstars are the only Japanese banjos I would put in the "good" category. Like many others, I played what I could afford, and Japanese looked the most like a good banjo, but components and hardware were lacking.

Mar 13, 2021 - 4:18:11 AM

6 posts since 4/3/2018

I would have to say rule #1 try a banjo before you buy it or have an agreement to return it if not up to your liking. #2 work with your budget, money is the deciding factor.#3 how is your playing ability? A good chef can cook in an old pot (right). Now if you are a hard player you will want good build quality. Kind of like a mechanic will desire good tools cause they get used every day and he gets paid. Now speaking for myself I do not have a refined ear and most banjos to me sound like banjos, I play to satisfy myself and do get some applause(whether it be out of pity or not it's hard to say Haha) I have a couple of inexpensive banjos that are fine (for me) and I have one I bought at goodwill and is about as homely as a banjo can get. Thick neck, some sort of metal pot miss-matched turners, But It is the banjo I like to play most. Don't get me wrong there is a place for fine quality instruments, But you don't need a Maserati just to go to the dollar store. Right? A whole lot of science can be built around a subject but remember when you go to a bait store and see all the pretty colors on those lures are really meant to catch fishersmen

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.265625