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Jul 27, 2021 - 11:18:24 AM
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35 posts since 7/26/2021

UPDATE: I bought an RK-R35 and am enjoying it!

My listing: banjohangout.org/classified/88309

If you don't want to read my wall of text, here is the short and sweet version:

I'm looking for the best used 5-string resonator banjo I can get, shipped to me, for $550. If there is a once in a lifetime deal for $150 more, give or take, I would absolutely consider it.

My wife and I decided we want to play bluegrass together and think it will be an awesome activity to do as a couple. We won't be doing any shows - just the two of us at home enjoying each other's company, jamming out. We are really looking forward to it! My main instrument is guitar and my wife can play a bit of rhythm guitar, so we want to throw a banjo into the mix and swap around both instruments.

I'm an obsessive researcher when it comes to buying larger ticket items and over the past week I've been looking for the best bang for my buck. I've budgeted $550 for a used banjo and the particular model I think has a lot of value around that price is the Gold Tone BG-250F. I found historical sales that were around my price point, so I was hopeful one would show up sooner than later. I listened to samples of both the BG-250 and the BG-250F and the F just sounded so much better to me, so the flange was a big selling point.

I found a listing online that got posted the day after I started seriously considering the BG-250F and I was beyond excited. I discussed with the person selling it, asked a few questions, and sealed the deal... but then noticed the model he was selling was without the flange! He and I both don't know much about banjos and he listed it as the BG-250F by mistake, and I didn't notice the discrepancy until after I had committed to buying it. The model with the flange seems to have some other improved parts, so it wasn't just a matter of installing a flange, either. So the price we agreed on didn't make it as good of a deal. He was a really solid guy though and we were able to cancel the sale very amicably and there were no hard feelings. But man, I was so bummed! I'm sure you all know the giddy feeling you get when you buy a new (to you) instrument. So when I discovered it wasn't the right one, my heart just sank.

So my search continues!

I'm not set on the Gold Tone at all. In fact, I am completely open to any model or brand that will give me the most bang for my buck at my budget, which i would say is 75% fixed. The reason I say that is because if there is something that is exponentially better for $150 more, give or take, I would be willing to bite the bullet. In my search, I have noticed that used banjos don't come up nearly as often as used guitars, so it seems I need to be patient and opportunistic if a crazy deal comes up that's a little outside of my budget. This is a listing that has piqued my interest: banjohangout.org/classified/84083

It's out of my budget, but depending on how flexible Barney is on the price, it may be a much better banjo than what I was looking at for $550. Anyway, that was just an example of my flexibility on budget, but I still need to research that particular model more.

Well, thanks for reading if you got this far. I'm really excited to start my bluegrass journey with my wife and want an instrument that we won't need to upgrade any time soon. Whether we totally fall in love with playing banjo or not, it's something I'm going to keep. I've had lower quality instruments in the past and for me personally, I know that having a quality one makes it so much more accessible and makes me actually want to play more, so I'm really hoping to find a banjo that will encourage me to play as much as possible and hopefully last a lifetime.

Edited by - Nathan E on 07/31/2021 18:25:01

Jul 27, 2021 - 11:36:32 AM
Players Union Member

Blackjaxe47

Canada

1611 posts since 6/20/2014

The older Goldstars from the early 80's are sought after and generally sell for around $2K and up. This particular instrument looks interesting, however I am not a fan of the 5th string conversion he has made. I have played a similar Deering with the same set-up and found it frustrating to try and tune the 5th. If your picking with your right hand you have to switch and pick the 5th with your left while adjusting the goofy 5th string tuner attached to the tail-piece......doing that while jamming or on stage would be enough for me to take up the accordian or bagpipes. The conversion may be undone and taken back to the original set-up, in my opinion "if it ain't broke - don't fix it".

Jul 27, 2021 - 11:52:42 AM

240 posts since 10/26/2008

You could probably find a used Deering Goodtime, or even Goodtime II, within your budget of $550. Personally, I think they are great beginner banjos. I can’t speak to the Gold Tones since I’ve never owned one.

Edited by - JimmyBobby on 07/27/2021 11:56:11

Jul 27, 2021 - 11:55:28 AM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

989 posts since 8/9/2019

You probably won't find a new or used bluegrass resonator banjo at the $550 price range.
If you do, it probably won't be the funnest instrument to play in terms of 'playability' and tone.

Some openback banjos sound really good played 3 finger style with picks, maybe that would be a decent compromise between budget/quality?

Gold Stars are great banjos for the price, the 2000s and on Chinese models usually go for about $1000 used (GF 100 models), but a GF 85 can sometimes be had for less. There was an 80s Japanese made GF85 for sale not too long ago at a good price.

Be patient, keep looking.

Jul 27, 2021 - 12:06 PM

35 posts since 7/26/2021

quote:
Originally posted by JimmyBobby

You could probably find a used Deering Goodtime, or even Goodtime II, within your budget of $550. Personally, I think they are great beginner banjos. I can’t speak to the Gold Tones since I’ve never owned one.


From my limited research, I read that Deering's budget instruments are more expensive for less instrument than you can get elsewhere. No fretboard, no truss rod, no resonator, etc. I have next to no knowledge of banjos, but coming from a guitar background, no fretboard and no truss rod makes me very wary.

quote:
Originally posted by ChunoTheDog

You probably won't find a new or used bluegrass resonator banjo at the $550 price range.
If you do, it probably won't be the funnest instrument to play in terms of 'playability' and tone.

Some openback banjos sound really good played 3 finger style with picks, maybe that would be a decent compromise between budget/quality?

What do you think of the Gold Tone BG-250F or BG-250 I mentioned? Those seem to sell within my budget. No resonator is definitely something to consider. My banjo knowledge is very limited so maybe as I learn more I would consider open backs more seriously, but from what I know so far, having a resonator is a pretty important to me.

Edited by - Nathan E on 07/27/2021 12:06:45

Jul 27, 2021 - 12:08:32 PM

14173 posts since 10/30/2008

Look right here in BHO Classifieds under Resonator banjos. There are several in your budget.

Jul 27, 2021 - 12:15:58 PM

35 posts since 7/26/2021

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

Look right here in BHO Classifieds under Resonator banjos. There are several in your budget.


Thanks, Dick. And thanks for reaching out to my original marketplace listing earlier as well.

I've had a look, focusing on the ones between $500-$750. I see that there are a handful of them that fit the bill, but I'm in need of advice on which ones will give me the most for my money. Since I'm new to banjos, I know next to nothing so I'm looking for help in that area. I appreciate you pointing out the shop for me in case I hadn't known about it yet, though!

Jul 27, 2021 - 1:54:36 PM
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246 posts since 7/3/2009

I've got a 1980 Aria 5-string that is a good instrument for beginner to intermediate level. It's a 2-piece tube and plate flange. Mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, maple pot and maple resonator. It's seen a lot of play in its time and has some dings and scratches and some holes on the 5th string side due to several previous sliding capos. Currently has spikes at 7 and 9. Comes with a new duraform case, new head, bridge and strap.

Had it listed on Facebook for $625 but I'm a motivated seller LOL. Shipping at your cost from Wichita, KS. 

If interested please send me a message through the BHO.

Edited by - Greg Gilbert on 07/27/2021 13:56:52

Jul 27, 2021 - 2:03:51 PM

57 posts since 5/8/2021
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quote:
Originally posted by ChunoTheDog

You probably won't find a new or used bluegrass resonator banjo at the $550 price range.
If you do, it probably won't be the funnest instrument to play in terms of 'playability' and tone.

Some openback banjos sound really good played 3 finger style with picks, maybe that would be a decent compromise between budget/quality?

Gold Stars are great banjos for the price, the 2000s and on Chinese models usually go for about $1000 used (GF 100 models), but a GF 85 can sometimes be had for less. There was an 80s Japanese made GF85 for sale not too long ago at a good price.

Be patient, keep looking.


Nonsense. A 70s banjo made by Kasuga can easily be had in that price range. With an actual tone ring, fingerboard, banjo tuners, an adjustable truss rod, I'd argue that it's more banjo than you'll ever get with a Goodtime. 

The only issue with the Kasugas is that the rim is one of those multi-ply painted black affairs. 

Jul 27, 2021 - 2:21:19 PM

Dave Churm

Canada

96 posts since 7/24/2007

Not much for 550, that would be a rare find if it is good. Have a 79 Gold Star Arch top love it, and a Gibson ESS, bought a Washburn damaged resonator in 85 for $800. I think a good Recording King, spend a little more and get a little more on re-sell.

Jul 27, 2021 - 2:30:27 PM
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35 posts since 7/26/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Dave Churm

Not much for 550, that would be a rare find if it is good. Have a 79 Gold Star Arch top love it, and a Gibson ESS, bought a Washburn damaged resonator in 85 for $800. I think a good Recording King, spend a little more and get a little more on re-sell.


I've been reading that the RK-R36 or RK-R36 are the best bang for the buck models. Are those the ones you're referring to?

Do you have any recommendations on my "extended" budget of $700ish?

Jul 27, 2021 - 3:33:50 PM

Dave Churm

Canada

96 posts since 7/24/2007

yes

Jul 27, 2021 - 3:39:12 PM

Dave Churm

Canada

96 posts since 7/24/2007

Just what I am saying, it will cost you more now, but at the time of re-sale, you will have more interested people, who have done their home work and will be less willing to do the low balling trick. Yow ill be happier with higher end (middle class) for learning and a better re-sale. Gold tones, Gold Stars, RK's, Deerings. Forgive me on the rest. You can't go wrong. Had an Iida , once, it was a tough sale.

Jul 27, 2021 - 4:58:47 PM

35 posts since 7/26/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Dave Churm

Yow ill be happier with higher end (middle class) for learning and a better re-sale. Gold tones, Gold Stars, RK's, Deerings. Forgive me on the rest. You can't go wrong. Had an Iida , once, it was a tough sale.


So what's your take on the Gold Tone BG-250 I can get for under $550?

Jul 27, 2021 - 6:25:34 PM
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57 posts since 5/8/2021
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Gilbert

I've got a 1980 Aria 5-string that is a good instrument for beginner to intermediate level. It's a 2-piece tube and plate flange. Mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, maple pot and maple resonator. It's seen a lot of play in its time and has some dings and scratches and some holes on the 5th string side due to several previous sliding capos. Currently has spikes at 7 and 9. Comes with a new duraform case, new head, bridge and strap.

Had it listed on Facebook for $625 but I'm a motivated seller LOL. Shipping at your cost from Wichita, KS. 

If interested please send me a message through the BHO.


I think you'd be very happy with this banjo. I started on something very similar (badged as a Univox) and it was a great beginner instrument. 

Jul 27, 2021 - 6:41:06 PM

YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

328 posts since 5/11/2021

Avoid the BG-250F, it's not a great deal even at 550. If you can stretch your budget to 750-800 you should buy a used RK-35/36.

Best option and it's within $550 shipped: Buy a Recording King RK-25. Discontinued model, but they're available used. It's a full fledged bluegrass resonator banjo with an integrated wooden tone rather than a heavy metal ring. It'll be everything you need in terms of power and tone, won't blow your wife's eardrums, and will be lightweight and comfortable. I've played paying gigs with a band using an RK-25, so it will work just fine for the living room. You can regularly find them for under $550 shipped with a case. Buy one of these. Final answer.

Jul 27, 2021 - 6:46:26 PM

240 posts since 10/26/2008

It seems you’re asking for a lot more banjo than your budget allows. For $550 you are going to inevitability get a banjo, that if you stick with the instrument, are going to want to upgrade out of anyway. If I offended you with my Goodtime advice (my apologies) but they hold their value and can be re-sold for essentially what you bought them for.

Jul 27, 2021 - 7:15:38 PM

35 posts since 7/26/2021

quote:
Originally posted by JimmyBobby

It seems you’re asking for a lot more banjo than your budget allows. For $550 you are going to inevitability get a banjo, that if you stick with the instrument, are going to want to upgrade out of anyway. If I offended you with my Goodtime advice (my apologies) but they hold their value and can be re-sold for essentially what you bought them for.


You didn't offend me at all! I'm sorry if I made it sound like you had. I appreciate everyone's input and it's exactly why I posted this thread. I'm the newbie here and don't really know a thing. I was just saying that I'd seen other brands in similar or cheaper price ranges that had features the Deerings don't. That's not to say that there aren't pros and cons to both sides.

I am sure you are right about going to want an upgrade at some point - I've gone through all that with guitars, much to my wife's dismay... haha! I suppose my point about buying it without the need to upgrade wasn't that I would never buy a better banjo, but just that I want one is respectable and will be fun and playable. The main thing I'm looking for is simply value for the money while ticking as many of my boxes I mentioned as possible.

Jul 27, 2021 - 7:19:23 PM

35 posts since 7/26/2021

quote:
Originally posted by YellowSkyBlueSun

Avoid the BG-250F, it's not a great deal even at 550. If you can stretch your budget to 750-800 you should buy a used RK-35/36.

Best option and it's within $550 shipped: Buy a Recording King RK-25 ... Final answer.


I'll definitely research the RK-25 a bit more, thanks!

It sounds like you have some experience with the BG-250F. What didn't you like about it?

Jul 27, 2021 - 11:47:50 PM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

1279 posts since 10/15/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Nathan E
quote:
Originally posted by YellowSkyBlueSun

Avoid the BG-250F, it's not a great deal even at 550. If you can stretch your budget to 750-800 you should buy a used RK-35/36.

Best option and it's within $550 shipped: Buy a Recording King RK-25 ... Final answer.


I'll definitely research the RK-25 a bit more, thanks!

It sounds like you have some experience with the BG-250F. What didn't you like about it?


There's an RK-25 in the classifieds right now but the seller wants local pickup.   Maybe if you talk to him...

EDIT:  He's KY, you are TN, maybe local pickup could work!

https://www.banjohangout.org/classified/88092

Edited by - Eric A on 07/27/2021 23:51:21

Jul 28, 2021 - 6:23:51 AM

212 posts since 3/2/2013
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by YellowSkyBlueSun

Avoid the BG-250F, it's not a great deal even at 550. If you can stretch your budget to 750-800 you should buy a used RK-35/36.

Best option and it's within $550 shipped: Buy a Recording King RK-25. Discontinued model, but they're available used. It's a full fledged bluegrass resonator banjo with an integrated wooden tone rather than a heavy metal ring. It'll be everything you need in terms of power and tone, won't blow your wife's eardrums, and will be lightweight and comfortable. I've played paying gigs with a band using an RK-25, so it will work just fine for the living room. You can regularly find them for under $550 shipped with a case. Buy one of these. Final answer.


I agree totally, i'm very picky about tone and have played numerous Goldtone 250's and numerous Rk 35/36's. To my ear and also playability wise the RK's were always a bit better and sometimes alot better even tho the goldtones have a bit more "bling".

Well worth paying a bit more for the RK in my opinion. If you could pick up that goldstar for $700 it really wouldnt be difficult or expendisive to return to original condition. You'd have a very good banjo then, not that the RKs aren't, i'm just a goldstar fan and they are super banjos. I'm also a DIY guy and do all may own banjo work but if thats not your thing and you don't want the headache of having a luthier change it back then that may not be an option. The Rk 25 ive never played so i don't have an opinion on that. 

Edited by - brententz on 07/28/2021 06:37:40

Jul 28, 2021 - 6:40:46 AM
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1267 posts since 9/6/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Nathan E
quote:
Originally posted by YellowSkyBlueSun

Avoid the BG-250F, it's not a great deal even at 550. If you can stretch your budget to 750-800 you should buy a used RK-35/36.

Best option and it's within $550 shipped: Buy a Recording King RK-25 ... Final answer.


I'll definitely research the RK-25 a bit more, thanks!

It sounds like you have some experience with the BG-250F. What didn't you like about it?


I'll tell you from experience, because I was where you are when I started off looking more at budget than banjo, I would stretch out a bit and go for the RK-25, 35, or 36. If you just want to play at home any of these will be all the banjo you will need. If you go cheap odds are that you will be frustrated and looking to upgrade within a year, maybe less. I started with a RK-R20 and was ordering a RK-35 within a few months. The good thing is that I sold the R-20 for what I paid for it so I didn't lose anything.

Jul 28, 2021 - 6:51:33 AM
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Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

1279 posts since 10/15/2019

Add the RK-30 to your list of options as well, in addition to the 25, 35, 36

Jul 28, 2021 - 7:10:45 AM
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35 posts since 7/26/2021

I found an RK-35 local for $725 and offered $670. That's as high as my wife would let me go (it's all the credit card points we've racked up.. haha). Hopefully the seller will accept the offer!

Jul 28, 2021 - 8:03:58 AM

92 posts since 2/7/2020

Good luck on the RK. I think that honestly any cheaper banjo will just make you wish you had spent a little more. A few years ago you could get an RK-35 or RK-36 for around $550 but I'm not sure you can these days. I'm not a big fan of non-Gold Star 70s masterclones, having owned one and played many.

Jul 28, 2021 - 8:44:48 AM
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Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

1279 posts since 10/15/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Nathan E

I found an RK-35 local for $725 and offered $670. That's as high as my wife would let me go (it's all the credit card points we've racked up.. haha). Hopefully the seller will accept the offer!


Scrounge up all the loose change in the house to make this deal happen.  My wife always has at least 5-10 bucks in change just in her purse alone.  Couch cushions.   Car cupholders.  Borrow from your kids if you have some.  Good Luck!

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