It looks like I'll be braving an airplane ride and going to Los Angeles in May.
While I'm there I'll have some down time; I'd love to try as many different types of banjos as possible in my search a better resonator banjo.
I don't think there's much there.
In the old days, I would have suggested McCabe's, but they are a very different type of store from what they were in the old days.
The best selection I know of in California would be at Gryphon in Palo Alto, but that would be another airplane trip.
Sylvan Music in Santa Cruz sometimes has a few banjos, but their prices tend to be high, even for California. Also, not near L.A.
Edited by - rcc56 on 04/19/2021 07:56:51
My understanding is, that unless it’s being used as a movie prop, a banjo is pretty much illegal in LA.
Been to LA numerous times, never seen a banjo in any music store or pawn shop. Not a one. Did see more Fender Stratocasters than I even knew existed though....
Unfortunately there is nothing here. The stores mentioned above are in Bay area about 5 hours away.
Deering is in San Diego about 2 hours away depending on traffic.
I agree with the above, having grown up in the LA area and watched McCabe's go downhill. I recently came across a video of Bill Knopf playing 1925 Granada on sale at Norman's Rare Guitars in Tarzana. youtube.com/watch?v=onp5yiQf5mo
Their site shows no banjos but it might be worth a call or email. normansrareguitars.com/pages/contact
If you do find something we don't know about, please share.
I was at Norman's Rare Guitars 3 or 4 times in the early 2000's went I visited my father in LA.
I bought a guitar there once. It was rather an odd shop. It felt like a place that catered to wealthy aging rock and rollers who had never seen older instruments and were there for the "experience."
I remember them digging an old herringbone D-28 out of a case, and treating it as if it was some mythical beast that was almost never seen, rather than a somewhat common instrument. Strangely enough, the guitar that I bought, while not valuable, was indeed a rare instrument, although I don't believe they knew it was rare.
I don't recall ever seeing much in the way of banjos there-- perhaps a few tenors and an occasional '60's Gibson. I would be surprised if they have anyone on the staff who knows much about banjos.
If you like old guitars, it might be worth a visit for that, though there prices tend to be quite high. I wouldn't expect to find a good selection of banjos, though.
Edited by - rcc56 on 04/19/2021 11:43:18
What they said. It's all true. :(
(From Bill Knopf's Web page: "During practically this entire time (at least since 1978), I had been teaching banjo and guitar at the Blue Ridge Pickin' Parlor until it closed in 2010. We started in Reseda, CA, moved to Canoga Park for twenty years, and in 2002, we relocated to Granada Hills, CA."
I used to go to the Pickin Parlor. Frank Jaworsic (sp?) owned and operated it. Nice little shop with Bill Knopf teaching banjo! I've never understood why LA didn't support bluegrass. There used to be a great bluegrass club in Santa Monica, the Banjo Cafe I think, not far from McCabe's. Last I heard, Bill and Herb Pedersen were in bands playing regularly in the Newhall/Valencia area, well out of the LA area. I don't get it.
You might try Boulevard Music in Culver City . . . not too far from LAX, actually. Their site says they've reopened for visitors and have COVID Curbside as well. They sometimes have nice stuff . . .Not sure if he's still there but for years they had an ace resonator-banjo tech who spent years at Sullivan. It's prolly worth giving them a call to ask what's on hand in the way of banjos . . .
Edited by - ceemonster on 04/19/2021 18:26:50
i live north of LA. Banjo's are rare out here. Last time I asked at the local Guitar Center I got raised eyebrows and a chuckle. I do best at antique shops, flea markets and craigslist.
'Banjo cake' 3 hrs
'Gold Tone BG-250' 3 hrs
'A song for Koriander' 4 hrs