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Mar 22, 2021 - 2:05:14 PM
11 posts since 2/26/2019

I'm old fashioned. I prefer to play instruments before I buy them, rather than basing my decisions only on the comments of others and recordings. Even within the same brand and model, the sound and feel may vary materially.

What are the best banjo retailers in the US, particularly in the Northeast? I am looking for retailers that stock a good variety of high quality new and/or used 5 string resonator banjos at a range of prices (I am unlikely to buy a $10,000 banjo.); buy, consign or trade used banjos; provide a comfortable environment for trying them; and are knowledgeable and honest.

Does anyone know of a such a retailer in the Northeast, perhaps NYC or Boston.

Mar 22, 2021 - 3:02:15 PM

142 posts since 9/19/2005

Elderly Instruments in Michigan.
Gruhn Guitars Nashville.
Carter’s Vintage Guitars Nashville.

Mar 22, 2021 - 3:11 PM

hoodoo

Canada

774 posts since 10/6/2017

I've never been, but this place in Boston seems to be the type of place you're looking for themusicemporium.com/

Mar 22, 2021 - 3:13:27 PM
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576 posts since 2/6/2018

Go upstate to Rah-Cha-Cha to Bernunzio: bernunzio.com/search/?q=banjo

Mar 22, 2021 - 3:25:42 PM

4287 posts since 6/15/2005

Focusing on the northeast, there's not all that much to choose from anymore in the NY area. Lark Street Music in Teaneck, NJ, John Bernunzio in Rochester, NY, and Retrofret in Brooklyn, NY are all reputable dealers although Bernunzio doesn't often carry a lot of resonator banjos and Retrofret has even fewer (none right now). Bucks County Folk Music Shop in Pennsylvania usually has a decent selection. If you stretch "northeast" to include the Baltimore area, then Turtle Hill Banjo in La Plata, MD is one of the premier retailers of resonator banjos in the country.

Mar 22, 2021 - 3:46:41 PM

rcc56

USA

3533 posts since 2/20/2016

Not many resonator banjos for sale in the northeast. Bernunzio in Rochester, NY is your best bet, they have a few.

Music Emporium no longer carries many banjos since Jim Bollman sold the business. They rarely have anything but open backs, mostly new or recent issue. Right now they have eight open backs in stock. They have no resonators at this time.

Sometimes Retrofret in Brooklyn has one or two resonator banjos in stock.

For a better selection, you'll have head south or west.

There is a place in Maryland called Turtle Hill Banjo Company. They carry a lot of banjos, but they don't publish prices, so I don't generally waste my time looking at their website.

Banjo Warehouse in the Atlanta area carries many resonator banjos. Their advertised prices for Gibsons tend to be very high.  Their prices on some of the other brands are more reasonable.

Gruhn Guitars in Nashville usually has a good selection.  Right now, they have 17, half of them US made, plus a couple of pre-war flatheads.  If you come south, I would go there first. You can also visit Carter Vintage while you're in Nashville. Right now, they have a couple of Gibsons and several Deerings.

Elderly Instruments in Michigan has a couple of dozen resonators in stock.

Edited by - rcc56 on 03/22/2021 15:55:09

Mar 22, 2021 - 4:21:25 PM

rcc56

USA

3533 posts since 2/20/2016

I'll add that sometimes Fred Oster's Vintage Instruments in Philadelphia has a couple of resonator banjos in stock. But right now, they have none made in the US. They are a Gold Tone dealer, and do have several of them in stock.  They are also listed as an Ome dealer, but they do not have any at this time.

Edited by - rcc56 on 03/22/2021 16:23:53

Mar 22, 2021 - 5:18:50 PM
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153 posts since 9/20/2009

If you come to Rochester for Bernunzio's, you should stop at Stutzman's (I've bought a few instruments (banjos included) from them and they have good service) and you can't ignore the House of Guitar's (though they don't have the greatest in banjo selection or care).
I agree that playing an instrument has/does direct(ed) my desire to own/covet said instrument.

If you come this way, I have none to sell but a few you could play.  

Edited by - patrick martin on 03/22/2021 17:24:14

Mar 22, 2021 - 5:44:19 PM

KCJones

USA

1488 posts since 8/30/2012

Elderly Instruments in Michigan has the best showroom of any store in the country. It's worth the trip, even if you're several states away.

Mar 22, 2021 - 6:30:46 PM

112 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Banjo Barry


What are the best banjo retailers in the US, 
 


Not so much the northeast but I made a purchase here a while back and got some great customer service. 

https://store.banjobenclark.com/

Mar 22, 2021 - 6:43:01 PM
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Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

1198 posts since 10/15/2019

Maybe Jake's. I bought one from them once.  Good folks.

https://jakesmainstreetmusic.com/


 

Mar 22, 2021 - 7:32:32 PM

116 posts since 11/13/2007

I agree with Arnie Fleischer, Bucks County Folk Music in Doylestown, PA generally has a good stock of new and used open back and resonator banjos. They show their inventory on their website. They also are good people to deal with.

Mar 22, 2021 - 8:00:35 PM

11722 posts since 6/2/2008

Appalachian Bluegrass in Catonsville, Maryland, (Baltimore area) used to stock a good selection of new and used banjos. They don't seem to have a website any more. Their Facebook page is active and current, but no inventory is listed.

Pickers Supply in Fredericksburg, Virginia,  shows only 10 banjos in stock right now.  For a sense of what else they had, just change the search criteria to include sold instruments.

NYC lost some great instrument shops in the past decade.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 03/22/2021 20:01:07

Mar 23, 2021 - 3:59:47 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

18430 posts since 6/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56


Music Emporium no longer carries many banjos since Jim Bollman sold the business. They rarely have anything but open backs, mostly new or recent issue. Right now they have eight open backs in stock. They have no resonators at this time.

 


That's too bad.  When I bought my banjo there I couldn't believe how many banjos and other acoustic instruments were hanging on the walls.  Definitely the best music store I had ever been to. 

Mar 23, 2021 - 5:06:23 AM
Players Union Member

OM45GE

USA

107070 posts since 11/7/2007

You should give The Music Emporium a call. They often don’t have all of their instruments on the website. The last time I was in there (admittedly pre-COVID) they had well over a dozen banjos but there were only six on the website at the time.

Mar 23, 2021 - 5:53:19 AM
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3958 posts since 9/21/2009

The Music Outlet in Sevierville Tennessee carries a good line of banjos, but I'm not sure if they deal in used banjos or not.

Mar 23, 2021 - 9:15:21 AM

71 posts since 10/13/2010

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

Music Emporium no longer carries many banjos since Jim Bollman sold the business. They rarely have anything but open backs, mostly new or recent issue. Right now they have eight open backs in stock. They have no resonators at this time.


I live less than 5 miles away from The Music Emporium (aka TME), and while it is a music paradise to walk/drool into, @rcc56 is correct in that they don't really carry much for banjos anymore, and what they do carry now are only open backs (beautiful open backs though!). Pre-covid, I used to find a couple of Deering Sierra's in stock, but haven't seen anything the last few times I've stopped in. Real shame, especially considering the greater Boston area has a very vibrant bluegrass scene in addition to old time, and there's not many places I know of that gives people plenty of options to try before you buy. And, TME sells some pretty awesome boutique guitars, electric guitars, amps and pedals now in addition to their acoustic guitar and mandolin offerings, one would think they would add a 2 or 3 boutique resonator banjos to their retail lineup too.

A good bet is if you have an opportunity to meet up with other players who have a model you'd like to try. I did that recently, when I was considering a Nechville. I met up with a player who had one, and after playing it for a bit, realized how fantastic an instrument it was, BUT not right for me. I then decided to contact Steve Huber at Huber Banjos and ordered a custom Mahogany VRB4, after having played another player's Lancaster a couple of years before at Banjo Camp North, and remembering how I loved the sound and feel. The banjo is expected to arrive in the next week or two, so hopefully I made the right decision!

~ Bobby

Edited by - rwsansom on 03/23/2021 09:16:25

Mar 23, 2021 - 9:43:30 AM

40 posts since 1/25/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Eric A

Maybe Jake's. I bought one from them once.  Good folks.

https://jakesmainstreetmusic.com/

 

I was at Jake's this weekend. They have a lovely Ome Alpha that's on their website, as well as a very nice Gold Tone; I think he said it was a OB 250? Plus some less fancy stuff: a Washburn, an Epiphone, and a handful of cheap Asian banjos. (all those are bluegrass; he had other stuff as well) 

Good COVID protocol, too. I made an appointment and he checked to see how long I'd be lingering before he let someone else in. 


Mar 24, 2021 - 1:23:41 PM

2706 posts since 4/16/2003

In the northeast, not much left anymore.

If you really want to play a wide selection of banjos, better plan on a road trip to Tennessee (Gruhn's, Carter Vintage, Huber Banjo, etc.), or perhaps Turtle Hill Banjo  in Maryland.

Or as someone else mentioned, Elderly Instruments in Michigan.

There IS "Mountain Music" up on Rt 28 in Old Forge, not all that far from the Albany area:
 http://www.banjoshop.com
I've made a trip up there a few times, a very nice shop.
You can view their stock list here:
 http://www.banjoshop.com/Inventory.html

Mar 24, 2021 - 3:57:40 PM

167 posts since 4/1/2016

Check out the website for the Fretted Instrument Workshop in Amherst MA.

Mar 27, 2021 - 8:31:46 AM

12 posts since 5/11/2020

The Music Emporium has sold more banjos in the last year than they have in years. Stock is moving faster than they can unpack it. Pisgah is just delivering the last of their 2020 orders, and if you are looking for something call them. They OMEs and ODEs sell even before they get to the store.  Call them if you are looking for something. They may have it. That said, their orders from most of their builders including Check Lee and Seeders are behind, but they have taken in Carolina Banjo Company as a new line. Unfortunately, once things get sold, it takes a while to get restocked.

As for Jim Bohlman, he hasn't been a partner in years (probably more than a decade). They don't sell many resonators, but are trying to get inventory from a lot of open back makers. I've bought at least 6 banjos there since last May. I bought my last Seeders from Will himself.

They've gone, like a lot of other shops to appointments only.  Best call ahead.

Bernunzio is in the same spot, although he has some nice vintage stuff. Vintage-Instruments (Fred Oster) doesn't have much right now either. Overall, there is not a lot of stock in one place right now, and I think this is going to go on for at least another year.

Edited by - mckaczowka on 03/27/2021 08:34:05

Mar 29, 2021 - 11:17:47 AM

40 posts since 1/25/2021

quote:

There IS "Mountain Music" up on Rt 28 in Old Forge, not all that far from the Albany area:
 http://www.banjoshop.com
I've made a trip up there a few times, a very nice shop.
You can view their stock list here:
 http://www.banjoshop.com/Inventory.html


Has anyone had any interaction with Mountain Music? I've seen his inventory list, and it makes it sound like he's got a giant warehouse full of instruments. But looking closer, it kind of looks like he's just naming the whole Deering line. Only a few say "out of stock." 

I'm wondering if his inventory list is kind of aspirational? 

I had a similar experience with Alto music. Their site lists a bunch of banjos as "in stock" but when I went to one of their stores, they had one open back Goodtime. The lady checked the computer and they had nothing at any other location either. 

Apr 4, 2021 - 10:18:55 AM

mrbook

USA

2010 posts since 2/22/2006

Although I guess he is getting out of the business and only open by appointment, I would check out Al Worthen at Mountain Music in Old Forge, NY. banjoshop.com. There are still a lot of banjos listed on his web site, and when I went there a few years ago there was a whole wall of banjos.

Apr 5, 2021 - 7:15:44 AM
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alprice

USA

1143 posts since 9/9/2005

Turtle Hill Banjo Company in Maryland is an excellent place to try out a number of different banjos in a private setting. Dave works with one customer at a time, by appointment. At last count, over 200 banjos in stock, so you have lots to choose from.  Dave is a great resource fo banjo-related information and a great guy.   301-274-3441

www.turtlehillbanjo.com

Apr 6, 2021 - 9:16:41 AM

11007 posts since 6/17/2003

Bucks County Folk Music at https://www.buckscountyfolkmusic.com/

Apr 6, 2021 - 1:37:23 PM

630 posts since 10/9/2017

quote:
Originally posted by mckaczowka

The Music Emporium has sold more banjos in the last year than they have in years. Stock is moving faster than they can unpack it. Pisgah is just delivering the last of their 2020 orders, and if you are looking for something call them. They OMEs and ODEs sell even before they get to the store.  Call them if you are looking for something. They may have it. That said, their orders from most of their builders including Check Lee and Seeders are behind, but they have taken in Carolina Banjo Company as a new line. Unfortunately, once things get sold, it takes a while to get restocked.
 


Apparently Ryan Navey of Carolina Banjo Co. sent them four different models to sell on consignment to get a sense of demand. Three of the four sold within five hours. The one that didn't is a mountain banjo, which is a much more specialist item. 

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