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Curious about a highly decorative Banjo for really cheap

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Aug 11, 2022 - 10:00:21 AM
11 posts since 7/5/2022

Howdy folks!
I was browsing the local listings and found a really interesting ad.
I feel like its too cheap (389€) to look so good, plus it has no brand. But it does have planetary tuners, and the body mechanichs seem ok.
Can someone confirm me that its not worth the resources? Or am i missing one of those things?

Looking forward to read some opinions.

Cheers!

Aug 11, 2022 - 10:04:04 AM

11 posts since 7/5/2022

Nice 5-string banjo. Lush full sound with lots of sustain. Headstock with mother of pearl. Neck from Taiwan. The fingerboard is covered with mother of pearl with abalone inlays. heel carving. American maple shell with bronze tone ring. Mechanics gold-plated with ebony toggles. There are also dampers for changing the sound or adjusting the room volume, as well as a case with a carrying strap. The decorated resonator is also from Taiwan.
Can be shipped, plus DHL)

Aug 11, 2022 - 11:00:56 AM
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1643 posts since 4/13/2009

some pictures might help generate opinions

Aug 11, 2022 - 11:04:25 AM
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beegee

USA

23075 posts since 7/6/2005

Here's "1000 words" Give us a picture?

Aug 11, 2022 - 12:15:54 PM
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4591 posts since 5/29/2011

389 euros for a highly decorated banjo from Taiwan sounds suspicious. Fancy pearl inlay, heel carving, and no name brand make me wonder if it is one of the banjos sold on eBay by Antonio Tsai or Lueez Guitars. The instruments they produce are long on decoration but short on quality. The banjo may sound good but, in a year, or two it may fall apart. The wood used in the necks, and banjos, they sell is not properly cured. In 12 to 18 months the fingerboard can look like a roller coaster at King's Dominion.
So, you are right to be suspicious about the price. A good-looking, cheap banjo is not worth the aggravation it may bring in the future.

Edited by - Culloden on 08/11/2022 12:17:14

Aug 11, 2022 - 3:31:53 PM

11 posts since 7/5/2022

Sorry they somehow dont load

Aug 11, 2022 - 3:33:49 PM

11 posts since 7/5/2022

Im gonna try from the laptop later. Here it loads pics as attachments but they dont get posted

Aug 11, 2022 - 5:15:18 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

26316 posts since 6/25/2005

“All hat and no cattle.”

Aug 11, 2022 - 6:56:49 PM
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14912 posts since 10/30/2008
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The fingerboard "inlay" is a rare Gibson pattern as used on a few Florentine banjos pre-war. It's known as "Florentine Special". So the decorator of this banjo knew a good model to go by. The peghead shape and inlay don't duplicate any existing banjo I'm aware of. The work on the heel and resonator makes me think of Pietsch, who also uses a variety of American designs, and is a whiz at that high level of woodwork, inlay, etc.

There are no photos of the banjo pot to show us if it's modeled on anything we recognize like a Gibson, Vega or B&D. Please post photos of the pot from front, sides and inside if you can do that.

I would guess if it IS designed after some American banjo, by the quality of the woodwork and inlay, it's well worth checking out for playability and sound, which are what REALLY count. If you like it, it's worth the price in my opinion. E389 seems low to the point of being a steal, if the pot isn't a piece of junk.  If it's playable, I think it's worth the Euros being asked.

Edited by - The Old Timer on 08/11/2022 18:58:07

Aug 11, 2022 - 8:02:03 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15845 posts since 8/30/2006

 

Those photos make it look very custom.  We've seen import necks with carved heels.

For that price, take a look down the neck from the nut and see if it is twisted.  It looks very unplayed.  

Otherwise, I would like to own that banjo and put it back in service. You described how it sounded:  If it moved your heart, buy it now. Jetzt. 

There is a tradition of mating older 4-string rims to new or custom made 5-string necks.

Here is an old pre-war rim with a new (at the time)  5-string long neck.  




 

Edited by - Helix on 08/11/2022 20:10:42

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Aug 12, 2022 - 5:03:18 AM

banjoy

USA

10428 posts since 7/1/2006

This over-the-top bling on this banjo reminds me a lot of several eBay sellers who produce all sorts of banjo necks, complete banjos, mandolins, guitars, etc, all having tons of inlay and carvings, and super cheap...

Here a a few examples this banjo reminds me of, current overseas luthiers who sell on eBay. One is from Vietnam, the other from Taiwan --

ebay.com/sch/i.html?_ssn=lueez...eezguitar

ebay.com/sch/i.html?_ssn=inlai...ndolinart

I have never seen any of this work up close so can't comment first-hand on quality. But I have my suspicions :) ... My main concern would be the quality of the fretwork and truss rod, and for a finished instrument, its setup, for starters ... but they could be decent players for all I know.

Edited by - banjoy on 08/12/2022 05:06:43

Aug 12, 2022 - 6:50:57 AM

427 posts since 11/9/2021

Much like the mass produced violins from CHina, the $15 kind, if you buy a dozen 1 may be a decent one, needing only a little bit of setup or refinement. The rest are VSO's (violin shaped object). But with the more $$ items like a banjo neck, buying a dozen is not such a good deal.

Aug 12, 2022 - 6:59:11 AM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

1704 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Helix


Otherwise, I would like to own that banjo and put it back in service. You described how it sounded:  If it moved your heart, buy it now. Jetzt. 

 


Horrible advice.

 

Do not buy this unless you want a big paper weight for a few hundred euro. Use that money to save up toward a real instrument.

The maker(s) couldnt even get the truss rod cover lined up straight.

Aug 13, 2022 - 4:53:21 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15845 posts since 8/30/2006

We've seen import necks with carved heels.   I am referring to the Vietnam/Taiwan necks with the heel carved by air tool.  People here on the hangout have posted that they buy 12 to get one or two good ones.  Returns are a nightmare.  Other Alvarez traits are present such as misaligned side dots, some even off the binding.  The wood is green and uncured, and the inlays are paper thin.  I have used only one of these necks as noted because it was sent to me by the customer.  The rim is grapefruit,  one of ten. 

If you get a good one of these necks, they play music .  That's why I suggested he look down the neck for twisting.

Did anyone read his bio or other info.  He's out in the banjo sticks, he does busking.  He has a big budget, no ,he doesn't so he can save up for a great banjo or just sit there and wait tables.  

 

ChunoTheDog   I respect your experience and your opinion.  This man is an artist like us, he just doesn't have the information and tools to work with.

We can give  him the advice to wait and postpone his banjo search.  I might send him a "clock."

Let him decide,  "all those  potatoes."  That's the new joke, there ain't no meat.  

Aug 13, 2022 - 5:16:54 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15845 posts since 8/30/2006

I found a picture of the Taiwanese neck I used. 


The "hook Bolt or screw in the heel is usually left hand thread and only turns about 1/4 turn to loosen the neck from the rim rod.

For the spunover rim the metal plate for a gusset is good.

Vlad is a tinkerer, he's a banjo guy, enjoy the ride and let us know how things work out.  We will always try to help you.  Sometimes too much.  Play. 


 

Edited by - Helix on 08/13/2022 05:26:03

Aug 13, 2022 - 9:55:14 AM

11 posts since 7/5/2022

Aug 14, 2022 - 7:15:01 AM

11 posts since 7/5/2022

quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers

“All hat and no cattle.”


i added a pic of the drum!

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