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May 23, 2022 - 1:16:01 PM
3 posts since 5/23/2022

Looking to buy a banjo at some point this year. What is the best I can do in the $700-1000 range?

I want something I can learn on(I have 1 year banjo experience and 30 years guitar experience) all the way up to record in the studio(if possible). 5-string.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 05/23/2022 16:47:58

May 23, 2022 - 1:21:45 PM
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2934 posts since 12/31/2005

Be a little patient and watch for Recording King 35 or Recording King 36 in the classifieds. $1K will get you close to a new one if you prefer that.  NEW.  They seem to be creeping up used to around $800 these days.  Here is one at $900 ask:  LINK

Another model that will fall in that range used is the Gold Tone OB-150 (OB stands for Orange Blossom, not open back (go figure)). These are banjos built on the traditional bluegrass designs that may be all the banjo you will ever need (but not all that you will ever want).  Here is a good looking deal on an OB-150 right now:  LINK

Beware of some other brands that look similar, but that do not have the quality control or components you will find in a Recording King or upper level Gold Tone.

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 05/23/2022 13:29:44

May 23, 2022 - 1:25:20 PM

3 posts since 5/23/2022

Thanks for the input. I think it would be great to find a playable used banjo. Do they age well? I have a 53 year old guitar that plays great, how do banjos fare in that category?

May 23, 2022 - 1:40:45 PM

eljimb0

USA

2061 posts since 7/24/2007

I would find the best clone, fake, repro, whatever... Find one made with US parts and a three ply maple rim. That way you can do anything you want with it and it will still be OK.

May 23, 2022 - 1:42:47 PM
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Players Union Member

TLG

USA

1665 posts since 10/11/2004

Older Vega
great quality, made in the USA

May 23, 2022 - 1:44:06 PM
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2934 posts since 12/31/2005

quote:
Originally posted by cody42500

Thanks for the input. I think it would be great to find a playable used banjo. Do they age well? I have a 53 year old guitar that plays great, how do banjos fare in that category?


Banjos are far sturdier than guitars. Every guitar requires, at some point, a neck reset. The joints are all comparatively more fragile. Braces come loose. Tops belly. Banjos are bolts and thick wood, much more like an electric guitar than an acoustic in terms of construction and durability. Kept within decent climate parameters, banjos will last hundreds of years. Eventually, heavily played necks need to be redone or replaced (in addition to the occasional fretwork or fretboard dressing). For most of us casual players, this is not an issue. Where banjos suffer is when they fall into the hands of a tinkerer who doesn't know what he is doing.

If the action is good, neck relief is correct, everything is solid, and the neck to pot joint is good (no shims, etc.) you probably have a perfectly good platform.

May 23, 2022 - 1:59:13 PM
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33 posts since 3/29/2021

quote:
Originally posted by cody42500

Looking to buy a banjo at some point this year. What is the best I can do in the $700-1000 range?

I want something I can learn on(I have 1 year banjo experience and 30 years guitar experience) all the way up to record in the studio(if possible). 5-string.


What do you play on your banjo? If you're looking for an openback, my first thought would be an Enoch Tradesman:

https://www.banjohangout.org/classified/93555

May 23, 2022 - 2:16:41 PM
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2775 posts since 5/2/2012

I'll second a GT OB-150. Street price new $1100. You'll get a real nice banjo at a decent price, ready to tune up and play. Plus you get a case. Seller has a 100% positive rating.

Banjos "can" age well. I have a 1970's banjo that played well when I got it a few years ago. The only thing I needed to do was tighten up the head to improve the tone up the neck. Tinkering with the banjo is part of the banjo experience.

May 23, 2022 - 3:08:20 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

1479 posts since 8/9/2019

Gold Star GF 85 (or GF 100) if you're lucky enough to find one at $1k.

May 23, 2022 - 4:13:56 PM
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5291 posts since 5/9/2007

This looks like a good buy ...

https://www.banjohangout.org/classified/93475

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May 23, 2022 - 4:53:18 PM

5291 posts since 5/9/2007

…. Bridge looks to be in a good plunky position … walnut tone ring …
These things bode well for a nice oldtime banjo.

May 23, 2022 - 4:55:39 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

26041 posts since 6/25/2005

Patrick asked the key question: what kind of music? Bluegrass and folk/old-time generally require different banjo types. After we know your answer, you’ll get much better advice.

May 23, 2022 - 4:58:23 PM

5291 posts since 5/9/2007

This fella has his finger picks on!
Stone banjo sounds pretty good …

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TxNCP_aG2hzi8PIT62mARbOm6RH2b_bF/view
 

May 23, 2022 - 6:16:44 PM
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rcc56

USA

4227 posts since 2/20/2016

If you're looking for a resonator banjo, RK 35 and 36 are a good reliable choice. Whenever one comes into my neighborhood store, I check it out to see if the quality remains reasonably consistent. So far, it has.

If you're looking for an open back, two of the Vega Tubaphone conversions in the classifieds  appear to have been reasonably well done: the one for $875 and the one with the larger 11 13/16" rim for $1100 [which includes a detachable resonator]. Standard disclaimer: I have no personal knowledge of either banjo or any experience or connection with either seller. There is a return policy on the $875 instrument. The large rim instrument is being sold "no returns."

The old Vega Tubaphone and Whyte Laydie banjos were the upper line professional models from one of the best open back banjo makers of all time. We see quite a few that have been converted from tenor configuration to 5 strings with modern necks. These are a lot of banjo for the money as long as the work has been well done.  Prices on Tubaphones and Whyte Laydies with factory original 5 string necks start at $2000+.

Edited by - rcc56 on 05/23/2022 18:27:17

May 23, 2022 - 7:00:06 PM

14764 posts since 10/30/2008

The best $1000 bluegrass banjo is a 1960s/70s Ode Model C. Hands down. It used to be Fender Artist but folks have woken up and prices have moved up a little.

May 23, 2022 - 7:24:18 PM

13304 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

The best $1000 bluegrass banjo is a 1960s/70s Ode Model C. Hands down. It used to be Fender Artist but folks have woken up and prices have moved up a little.


That's not a $1000 banjo. Hasn't been for a while.

May 23, 2022 - 8:32:11 PM

229 posts since 7/22/2012

Seems like the Deering Goodtime should be mentioned. More than one on eBay right now, some with the resonator. Eddie Adcock has one and plays it, check it out...

youtube.com/watch?v=n6ZwIhxVYUc

May 24, 2022 - 12:36:35 AM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

26041 posts since 6/25/2005

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

The best $1000 bluegrass banjo is a 1960s/70s Ode Model C. Hands down. It used to be Fender Artist but folks have woken up and prices have moved up a little.


Great banjos for sure, but they don't have quite the flathead Mastertone type sound so many want. 

May 24, 2022 - 12:39:44 AM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

26041 posts since 6/25/2005

The opinions continue to fly, but we still don’t know what kind of music Cody wants to play.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 05/24/2022 00:42:36

May 24, 2022 - 5:37:47 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15584 posts since 8/30/2006

First, welcome this man to the hangout.

He's a guitar player, my favorite.

My intermediates start at $777, there is a choice of rim wood with a Maple kit neck or a bamboo neck.

Then $1000 is where my pro models start with basic inlays, further choices of rim wood with a Helix neck and gold pearl logo.

Some of us feel inlays and other bling do not contribute to the sound, but they do look nice.

There are reviews of my work and a 44 member users' group, you can ask around, there are no used Helix available, that's because we play them. I play my own on stage to further my building experience. Lots of worthy road warriors play Helix.

I don't toot my own horn, I play banjo. Have fun with this process. I started on guitar first myself.


 

May 24, 2022 - 5:41:09 AM

31 posts since 4/19/2014

I play clawhammer but mess around with three finger, so I’ll give you one of each…

I wanted a “mellower” bluegrass banjo, so I waited until an RK-25 came up for sale. Supposedly it’s like the RK-35 but has a wooden tone ring. It was well below your budget. I haven’t played a ton of bluegrass banjos but I’ve played a lot of guitars, and this would be at the top of the heap for Asian made. I had a PRS SE C24 for a minute and it was on par with that as far as finish was concerned and that could easily have been gigged or recorded (if you could get along with the pickups).

If you want a CH banjo, a vintage Vega is nice but good luck getting one for under a grand with 5 strings that is actually playable. My advice there is - if you know what you want, and can stretch, hit up one of the builders here, Zach Hoyt, Stone, and have them build you one. They make fantastic instruments. I sold some gear and went haywire and got one from each figuring I’d decide which (or both) was the keeper after I played them for a while. Hit me up privately and I’ll give you my initial thoughts.
If you’re not sure what you want, well, those builders, and others, are making a decent amount of banjos at an excellent value and some players get one and sell them. Those will drop into your price point. They’re an excellent value.

May 24, 2022 - 12:42:05 PM
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2654 posts since 10/17/2013

Best bluegrass banjo for $1,000?

 Gold Star GF-85. HANDS DOWN. 

May 24, 2022 - 1:26:27 PM
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13304 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Banjfoot

Seems like the Deering Goodtime should be mentioned. 


He asked for "best."

May 24, 2022 - 1:53:41 PM
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3 posts since 5/23/2022

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Murphy
quote:
Originally posted by cody42500

Thanks for the input. I think it would be great to find a playable used banjo. Do they age well? I have a 53 year old guitar that plays great, how do banjos fare in that category?


Banjos are far sturdier than guitars. Every guitar requires, at some point, a neck reset. The joints are all comparatively more fragile. Braces come loose. Tops belly. Banjos are bolts and thick wood, much more like an electric guitar than an acoustic in terms of construction and durability. Kept within decent climate parameters, banjos will last hundreds of years. Eventually, heavily played necks need to be redone or replaced (in addition to the occasional fretwork or fretboard dressing). For most of us casual players, this is not an issue. Where banjos suffer is when they fall into the hands of a tinkerer who doesn't know what he is doing.

If the action is good, neck relief is correct, everything is solid, and the neck to pot joint is good (no shims, etc.) you probably have a perfectly good platform.


I write my own music. It's like folk/americana... I want t o be able to incorporate the banjo into the next album. 

May 24, 2022 - 2:33:51 PM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

282 posts since 12/6/2021

I'm sure many here will disagree with me and some will laugh, but I am writing from my own experience. One of the most underrated banjos and a good bang for the buck is the Fender FB58, especially the Korean made one. When this banjo is properly set up it is a cannon. In like new condition (I'm not sure if they are even currently being made, those the ones made in China might still be) they can be had for around $700 give or take. On mine, I replaced the tuners with new Schallers and I replaced the clamshell tailpiece with a gold tone as i don't care for the clamshell at all. They are not difficult to find and some can be had at real bargain prices. Just a thought as something to consider.
Robert

May 25, 2022 - 7:17:02 AM

229 posts since 7/22/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by Banjfoot

Seems like the Deering Goodtime should be mentioned. 


He asked for "best."


Yes, *maybe* I should not have posted that. On the other hand, is there really ONE best kind? I have heard that SOME of the Goodtimes could be notably better than others (like all banjo models, I understand, some of them are better than others). It MIGHT be worth trying one out, if convenient, so I mentioned it just in case it *might* turn out best for the original poster. You never know... If it's good enough for Eddie (for whom lightness is a plus, among other considerations)... People do happen upon the "best" banjo for *them*, once in a while, anyway! Yay!

Edited by - Banjfoot on 05/25/2022 07:20:35

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