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Nov 26, 2022 - 5:47:24 PM
4 posts since 11/10/2022

Good evening everyone,

I'm still fairly new in my picking journey, but have decided to step up to better piece of equipment.

I'm looking to pick up a new to me bluegrass banjo with resonator. I've been reading, way to much, and decided I'll most likely be going with a R35/R36, OB-150, OB3, or GF-100. Probably whatever I feel is the best deal at the time.

So during all my searching for good deals, I ran across someone selling a banjo built by Luthier Jeff Burch. I can't find any reviews, or anything period for that matter about his banjos. I've read he's a great Luthier, but can't find anything about the banjos.

Does anyone have any experience playing one of these? Would this be as good or better than the ones listed above?

It is a beautiful banjo, and I like the idea of having something unique.


Nov 26, 2022 - 8:18:57 PM
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23156 posts since 7/6/2005

1. Does it play easily?
2. Does it sound good?
3. Does it look well-constructed?
4. Is it in your price-range?

Nov 26, 2022 - 8:21:56 PM
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176 posts since 7/24/2021

I’m not familiar with Burch but the others you mentioned are all quality banjos. Do yourself a favor and take your time. I can’t stress that enough. It’s hard ! If you can , travel. Take a road trip for the day . Play! Ask a lot of questions. Play them! Look at as many banjos as you can. Take my advise . Don’t buy sight unseen or un played. Check them out ask tons of questions. Take resonator off check it all out . The banjo for you is out there. Take you time. Play play play them. That’s my one cent…. Biden took my other cent !

Nov 26, 2022 - 8:44:17 PM



2046 posts since 8/9/2019

I had a 2006 Gold Star GF100.
Great banjo, nice sweet mahogany tone. Really nice playing neck.

Not a fan of the thick nitrocellulos(?) Finish.

Nov 27, 2022 - 3:38:30 AM
Players Union Member



16373 posts since 8/30/2006

R35/R36, OB-150, OB3, or GF-100. Probably whatever I feel is the best deal at the time.

I like your choices.  I have dealings with Gold Tone, I just bought an OB-150 neck.

I am also an RK dealer, we can drop ship to you.  The xmas rush is almost over.  

You can contact me off forum without sales pressure, I can explain a lot more in text.

Both RK and Gold Tone are making blems available instead of crushing. 

Which voice do you prefer, Maple or Mahog. ??

Nov 27, 2022 - 6:04 AM



193 posts since 2/18/2018

I agree with what Will said. You need to play the banjo and look it over carefully before you buy. Problem is that it is nearly impossible (at least in my part of the country) to find a store that will have any of the banjos you listed in stock. The average guitar center may have one very poor quality starter banjo for $200. I have had the good fortune to play all four of these options at one time or another at the Bucks County Folk Music store near me. I didn’t really like the RK that much. OB150 sounded sweeter to me. I purchased a GF100 without ever seeing one and, fortunately, loved it. The store recently got a used OB3 and I played that also. Sounded similar to the GF100. Probably would have bought it if I hadn’t already bought the Gold Star. Any of your picks would give satisfaction but it seems to me you have two different price points. You need to set a price limit, being somewhat flexible. Remember you may have that banjo for decades so if it costs $100 more that’s really not a deal breaker.

Nov 27, 2022 - 10:19:48 AM



2081 posts since 2/22/2006

The Gold Tone and RK banjos are all good choices, but I have always had a soft spot in my heart for instruments by small luthiers. My first two good banjos were both by small makers, both purchased from Elderly, and were great choices that I played for many years. I like playing something unique and different, so if the Burch banjo is well made, sounds good, and has a bargain price I would probably buy it. You can always find one of the others. Your wide range of choice of RK and Gold Tone models is good; with a little searching and not being tied to a single model I have found some good bargains lately. They are all good banjos with a good setup, and part of what will make them sound good is you.

Nov 27, 2022 - 10:23:46 AM
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15129 posts since 10/30/2008

Someday if you resell your banjo to move up again, you will most likely find the "known" brand names sell quicker/easier/higher price than little-known luthiers.

Nov 27, 2022 - 11:51:53 AM
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4 posts since 11/10/2022

Well, first off, thank you everyone for your input. It's not too often that one can find a website without a whole lot smart a**es that want to belittle you. For that, I thank you. It is really neat to run across some genuine people that want to help one another.

beegee mrbook
The Burch banjo (Gemini Banjo Works) is about four ours away from me, so I don't know how it plays or sounds yet. It does look very well constructed and is in my price range. I'm going to message the owner today for some pictures, and some questions about it's construction. i.e. tone ring, tuners, rim

Will Frady leehar
I'm trying to be patient, but my current Banjo is broken, and I'm getting aggravated not having one. I started out looking at used R35/36 and OB-150, but people are wanting almost new prices. If not close to new prices, they need fret work or something. So then I started looking at used OB-3 and GF-100. I was thinking like you, what is another $100 if I plan on keeping it for a long time. I'm very open to any of these at the moment, there are just none with-in a short distance right now. They are all 4-6 hours away, but I'm not scared of a road trip for the right situation. There is a GF-100-HF listed for $900, but an easy 6-7 hours lol. I know I'll find one eventually. I should also note that Banjo Bens store is offering 15% of a purchase over $1000, which brings a new R35 to $935 with professional setup. It's almost overwhelming, I've been bird-dogging the want adds for weeks lol.

I'll message you when I have time.

Nov 27, 2022 - 12:31:08 PM



2081 posts since 2/22/2006

Dick Bowden makes an important point that name brand banjos have a better resale value. I've never purchased any instrument with any thought of resale, but it is a consideration. Both of my unique banjos eventually went back to their original owners. The second one I purchased, after playing it for about 12 years, was seen on the internet by the builder, who surprised me with an e-mail when I came home from a festival. He had built it as his dream banjo, but was forced to sell it due to financial difficulties, and never thought he would see it again, It took about 4 years to get me to sell it back - I loved the banjo, and even offered to trade even if he built one without the unique inlays. Eventually I decided he was the one person who needed it more than me.

The first one, with the ceramic tone ring, also went back to its first owner. Just when I decided to start playing it more, I received an e-mail from someone who said he had it custom built, but then had to sell it to pay family medical bills - almost 30 years earlier. No question this time about what to do. He could no longer play, but wanted it for sentimental reasons, and if wasn't long before it was on the way back to him. He said there were tears in his eyes when he opened the box.

I realized that I had found the two people who really wanted my unique banjos, and although I hadn't intended to sell, I had saved my daughter a lot of work about what to do with them when I passed on. She liked them, too, but doesn't play. If I hadn't sold them I would still be playing them almost 30 years later, so the money was well spent. Nevertheless, resale value is an important consideration.

Edited by - mrbook on 11/27/2022 12:32:46

Nov 27, 2022 - 1:25:21 PM

13887 posts since 6/2/2008

Originally posted by B Royals

There is a GF-100-HF listed for $900, but an easy 6-7 hours lol. I know I'll find one eventually. I should also note that Banjo Bens store is offering 15% of a purchase over $1000, which brings a new R35 to $935 with professional setup. 

Those are great prices on both of those (especially if shipping is inlcuded on the RK). The GF 100 is a bit more banjo than the RK-35 in that the peghead isn't grafted and I believe it has better quality tuners and real mother of pearl inlay. But the RK-35 has been considered the most bang for the buck bluegrass banjo since its introduction over 10 years ago.

The Gold Tone OB-150 now competes very well head-to-head with the RK-35/36. So if you prefer the late pre-war Gibson styling of the double cut peghead and ribbons and bows inlay, then you have a choice at comparable price.

The Gold Tone OB-3 Twanger is the next step up and competes more at the level of the Gold Star GF-100, and is priced accordingly. If you find one priced more like an OB-150 or RK-35, that's a great deal. If you can find a well-priced Gold Star GF100-JD, so much the better.

Final thoughts: Since the pandemic, it's less common to see super deals on 1970s US-made Fender Artist, Ode Style C, or 1990s to early 2000s dot inlay Deering Sierras. But should you stumble upon one at $1200 or less -- which seems to be your budget -- it would be worth serious consideration. A post 2011 Sierra (with the current vintage style inlay) at that price is a no-brainer. Rare, but it happens. Maybe not worth waiting for if you're without banjo. A Deering Eagle II at such a price would also be something to consider. $1500 is about the lowest I can remember seeing, and that was unusual.

Sorry I have no constructive advice on how to buy. Just wanted to chime in on your consideration list, which is excellent. Each of those banjos could be all you ever need.

Have fun!

Dec 15, 2022 - 1:49:56 AM
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4 posts since 11/10/2022

I thought I'd give an update about finding myself a banjo, since many threads go on with no reply. I finally bought one last night, the Gold Tone OB-3. It was only an hour away, and appears to hardly played. I met a nice gentleman in the process as well. I believe I got a very gracious price as well. I'm so excited, and can't believe the sound it produces. Going to have to buy wife saver (mute)

Dec 15, 2022 - 3:13:59 AM
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16373 posts since 8/30/2006

Very well done, grasshopper.

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