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Nov 29, 2021 - 12:48:08 PM
179 posts since 1/7/2019
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I am looking at three specific banjos to purchase and I really need help deciding. It is super close, in my mind, and I just can't decide which way to go. They are the same price BTW

Banjo 1
RK36 blem (slight surface crack in the resonator)

Banjo 2
GT OB-150WF (wide fretboard)

Banjo 3
2015 RK36 (private online sale)
Supposedly mint

I can't try out any of these banjos as I will be buying them online. I have done a pros and cons list and they just come up even.

I have searched for all I could related to these two banjos but I just need a push over the edge.

Thanks in advance for any help

Jeff

Nov 29, 2021 - 1:26:23 PM
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YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

616 posts since 5/11/2021

IMO this is really a question of fretboard width. If you want a wider fretboard, the GT is the only option. And if you don't want a wide fretboard, the RK36 is the only option.

Overall, the RK36 is a better built banjo. #1 vs #3 depends on the asking price and condition. 

I would not buy a wide fretboard banjo without first trying one. Some people love them, others can't stand them. There's no way for other forum users to tell you what you prefer.

Edited by - YellowSkyBlueSun on 11/29/2021 13:27:23

Nov 29, 2021 - 1:29:06 PM

179 posts since 1/7/2019
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Thanks for the advice.

I do tend to have fat fingers and have always thought that a wider fretboard might help my fretting hand. I consider that one of the positives about the GT. I have never tried one though.

Jeff

Nov 29, 2021 - 1:35:01 PM
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BobbyE

USA

3005 posts since 11/29/2007

A lot of people with fat fingers get by just fine with a standard width neck. I would go with the mind condition RK36 since we are really only comparing two different banjos, unless the price is considerably lower on the one with a blemish in the finish. An added thought, since this is not likely to be your last banjo purchase a move up might be with a banjo with the standard width neck so you just as well learn to handle one now and not be limited by that skill set later.

Bobby

Nov 29, 2021 - 3:09:30 PM

2669 posts since 5/2/2012
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I am a Gold Tone fan. GT banjos get no love here on the HO when compared to the RK35 or RK36. I think the OB150 is a fine banjo, easy to play and it has great (but not outstanding) tone. The standard version is 1-3/16" at the nut, while the WF version is 1-5/16" at the nut. If you look at the specs, you probably won't see a huge difference between the GT and the RK banjos. Don't recall seeing many (maybe 1 or 2) used OB-150's for sale, and you don't see many used RK36/36 for sale either. Given the esteem the RK banjos are held, they may retain their value better than the GT banjo.

Nov 29, 2021 - 3:35:09 PM
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1125 posts since 1/26/2011

I’ve played the RK and the GT. In my opinion, the hardware on the RKs is better.

I’d go with the mint condition private sale RK, even if it was slightly more.

Nov 29, 2021 - 4:43:38 PM

beegee

USA

22577 posts since 7/6/2005

I have played the RK36 and OB-250. My choice would be the RK

Nov 29, 2021 - 4:55:12 PM

12594 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Gixxer340

I do tend to have fat fingers and have always thought that a wider fretboard might help my fretting hand. 


Do you currently play banjo and have trouble fretting cleanly? If so, what banjo are you currently playing and what is its nut width?

I'm not sure, but I think the nut width on the RK-36 is around 1.2 inches: more than 1-3/16, less than 1-1/4. I could be wrong. People with all different sized fingers do fine with this banjo -- and with nut widths down to 1-3/16-inch.

If you believe the wider nut will suit you better, then your choice is made and there was no need to ask here.

As to the two RK-36s, you didn't reveal the prices or provide more information on the surface crack in one. Do you mean a finish crack? If so, this might be rendered invisible by wicking super glue into it then ultra-fine sanding and polishing the area. Dan Erlewine of Stew-Mac has a how-to video on finish spot repair. If the slight crack is in the wood, maybe what you do depends on whether it's in a place you'll see all the time or if it's not stable and subject to getting worse.

Either way, we don't know how much they'll cost and how bad the crack really is. So go with the one in better condition, unless the difference in price is hundreds.

Nov 29, 2021 - 5:09:51 PM

179 posts since 1/7/2019
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Ok, I think I have settled on the RK36. Here is a pic of the crack in the resonator. This one is new (with the blem) for $969 shipped. The private sale one is $900 shipped. It is basically new vs 2015 model. 

Any reason not to go with the 2015 model? I don't think they have changed since they were introduced. Have there been any bad quality years to look out for? 

Jeff


 

Edited by - Gixxer340 on 11/29/2021 17:10:40

Nov 29, 2021 - 5:37:42 PM
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YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

616 posts since 5/11/2021

Take the cheaper RK36 and never look back.

Just to clarify, the "new" blemished RK isn't really new. You're effectively comparing two used banjos, and one of them is in better condition with a lower cost. I would bet the blem doesn't come with a factory warranty, and a factory warranty is the only real reason to buy new (and even then, the value of a warranty is questionable).

You can find RK36s on ebay with minor cracks like that, for much cheaper prices. $969 isn't a good deal at all for a damaged RK36. In fact I'd say $969 is a bad deal for any RK36, regardless of condition.

Nov 29, 2021 - 6:15:52 PM
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179 posts since 1/7/2019
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quote:
Originally posted by YellowSkyBlueSun

In fact I'd say $969 is a bad deal for any RK36, regardless of condition.


Why would you say that? As far as I have heard, and read, the RK Madison line is the "best bang for the buck" going in Banjos today. That they are surprising when compared to banjos costing 2X or even 3x the money. Why do you thing that they are a bad deal when selling at under retail? 

Jeff

Nov 29, 2021 - 6:15:59 PM

1125 posts since 1/26/2011

quote:
Originally posted by YellowSkyBlueSun

Take the cheaper RK36 and never look back.

Just to clarify, the "new" blemished RK isn't really new. You're effectively comparing two used banjos, and one of them is in better condition with a lower cost. I would bet the blem doesn't come with a factory warranty, and a factory warranty is the only real reason to buy new (and even then, the value of a warranty is questionable).

You can find RK36s on ebay with minor cracks like that, for much cheaper prices. $969 isn't a good deal at all for a damaged RK36. In fact I'd say $969 is a bad deal for any RK36, regardless of condition.


I agree with these comments.  Get the cheaper mint condition banjo. 

Nov 29, 2021 - 8:09:06 PM
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12594 posts since 6/2/2008

The blem costs more than the one in better condition? No brainer.

I would not expect a 2015 RK-36 to be any different from one built in 2021 --  with the possible exception that today's fretboard is padauk and the original might have been ebony. Even then, the change may have happened before 2015.

No one on the Hangout has ever described any years being being better than others for this model. The RK-35 and 36 have been best bang for the buck since they were introduced.

Nov 30, 2021 - 5:22:53 AM
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8314 posts since 6/30/2020

For reference: the nut width on my RK-R36 is exactly 1-1/4” with the string spacing exactly 1” from the outside edges of the D strings. That string spacing is actually 1/16" wider than the spacing of the top four strings on my guitars with 1-3/4” nuts (considered a wide nut on guitar). I find these measurements to be about average for a banjo. I have no problems playing that width.
In my opinion get the RK-R36 that is in like new condition.

Edited by - Pick-A-Lick on 11/30/2021 05:24:12

Nov 30, 2021 - 5:39:17 AM

84 posts since 12/12/2019

You can get a new RKR36 for $1149.00 setup up by banjoteacher.com, I would not even consider the blem at that price. When you consider how long you will probably keep this banjo it's not much more. Don't get the wide fretboard banjo unless you know you need it. If you can do a clean cripple creek slide you probable do not need a wide fretboard.

Edited by - TheWoodBoss on 11/30/2021 05:46:26

Nov 30, 2021 - 6:24:24 AM

BobbyE

USA

3005 posts since 11/29/2007

If I am seeing it correctly the side wall of the resonator and the binding is cracked. If so, this is more an indication that the banjo was dropped or something was done that caused both the wood of the resonator and the binding to crack. If this were something to do with just the finish the binding would/should not be cracked IMO. Again, only if I am seeing what I think I am seeing. That being said, it still doesn't indicate that there is any structural damage to the banjo, just that it is not simply a crack in the finish per se.  One last consideration, it looks like the binding is cracked in two places so it could be weakened and if so, might come loose at some point and detach itself from the resonator.  

Bobby

Edited by - BobbyE on 11/30/2021 06:28:16

Nov 30, 2021 - 7:10:33 AM

leehar

USA

44 posts since 2/18/2018

Just my two cents here but I would steer away from the wide fingerboard unless you’ve got pretty beefy hands. I played an older Gold Star with a wide neck many years ago and found it very awkward, but then again I have ridiculously skinny fingers. You really need to “test drive” one of them before you buy. I’ve been pretty impressed with the RK’s I’ve been able to pick at the local folk music store. However, I was also quite impressed with an OB150 with the radius fingerboard. I don’t think you can go wrong with either the RKR36 or the OB150.

Nov 30, 2021 - 7:13:04 AM
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179 posts since 1/7/2019
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Thanks for all the input so far. My number one right now is the private sale RK36. I am trying to get ahold of the seller. Hopefully I will have it on its way to me soon :)

Jeff

Nov 30, 2021 - 1:25:22 PM
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1675 posts since 1/28/2013

Whatever you do, stay away from any banjo with a 1 3/16ths nutwidth.

Nov 30, 2021 - 6:04:13 PM
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12594 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by jan dupree

Whatever you do, stay away from any banjo with a 1 3/16ths nutwidth.


Whatever you do, don't follow this advice.

Dec 1, 2021 - 8:55:13 AM

1675 posts since 1/28/2013

Deering dropped the narrow neck years ago, and most other Builders followed. There is a reason all the Modern and Progressive players use wide radiused necks, and high bridges with wide string spacing, which narrow necks cannot provide.

Dec 1, 2021 - 7:38:33 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5099 posts since 1/5/2005

quote:
Originally posted by jan dupree

Progressive players use [snip] high bridges with wide string spacing


Keep in mind that they represent only a really tiny minority in the banjo-playing world...

Dec 2, 2021 - 3:35:02 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15048 posts since 8/30/2006

I think you will find 1-1/4" to be wide enough.
A radiused fretboard is not always the best thing.
I have a Gold Tone OB250 neck from 2005. I have no problem fretting.

Dec 2, 2021 - 10:42:12 AM
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179 posts since 1/7/2019
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Well, player four enter the fray. I just picked up a new RK-36 for less than 1k shipped due to a cyber deal.

Now, I start the wait for it to arrive. indecision

Thanks for all the advice here. It definitely helped me make my final decision.

Jeff

Dec 2, 2021 - 10:45:12 AM

1675 posts since 1/28/2013

One comparison is, Classical and Flamenco Guitar Players do not use guitars with 1-11/16ths necks. They use guitars with 2 inch necks. Progressive Banjo Players fall into that same category.

Dec 2, 2021 - 10:46:44 AM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

1183 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by jan dupree

Whatever you do, stay away from any banjo with a 1 3/16ths nutwidth.


Not everyone lacks dexterity in their fingers.

Nothing wrong with the skinny little pre war Mastertone style nut width. Just takes practice. 

Edited by - ChunoTheDog on 12/02/2021 10:46:57

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