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Dec 1, 2022 - 12:20:22 PM
4 posts since 11/29/2022

Hello!

I've gotten a lot of encouragement on this forum to bite the bullet and learn the banjo! Great. Next step: buying one. We don't have the funds right now to spend a lot on a banjo, I'm really looking for something to learn the basics on and maybe in 1-2 years buy a better instrument.

I am in Ottawa, Ontario and a search of the classifieds around here do not yield much! I did find "no name" banjo from a local collector ( no brand) . He never played, it's just been sitting around for a year or two. But he had cleaned it up and tuned it. Looked good as far as I can tell...sounded like a banjo. But I don't really know what the heck I'm looking for.

For $100 would this be OK to purchase?

Dec 1, 2022 - 1:02:52 PM

2992 posts since 5/2/2012

So, a no name aluminum rim "sounds like a" banjo. (picture on home page). $100 might be a bit of a stretch, perhaps you could negotiate down a bit. But $100 would probably be OK. Once in hand, do a search for "banjo setup" here and on the web.
All (well, almost all) banjos need a bit of tweeking. Fairly simple stuff with youtube and articles you find on the web. You might start with some new strings.

Dec 1, 2022 - 1:06:27 PM

15129 posts since 10/30/2008
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Well for $100 CDN the tests would be is it "solid" -- not on the verge of falling apart or all loosey-goosey or wobbly; it should have workable tuners; a head that is reasonably tight; and string action that is low enough that you can comfortably press down and get a clean note on the 1st string up at the 5th and 7th frets. If it feels good to you and passes these basic tests, it's better than nothing and can at least get you started. A modern plastic head is preferable -- less troublesome than an old calfskin head.

It should hopefully have a standard length neck (Not an "extra long" type which requires longer strings). I presume you're talking about a 5 string banjo. But the same advice would hold for a 4 string tenor or plectrum banjo. Do you know what style of banjo you intend to learn? Don't buy a 4 string banjo if you want to play bluegrass or hillbilly old time style which is done on a 5 string.

Can you take a photo of this banjo front and back and post it here for more comments?

Hopefully this banjo can get you started. Good luck.

Dec 1, 2022 - 1:08:07 PM

15129 posts since 10/30/2008
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By the way, there are good bluegrass and old time/hillbilly 5 string banjo players that have regular jams in Ottawa. You should link up with them.

Dec 1, 2022 - 1:10:36 PM
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leehar

USA

193 posts since 2/18/2018

If you find a playable banjo for $100 it will surely be adequate for you to get started on. Heck, I paid $150 for my “beginner banjo” and that was 46 years ago!
Do you have a knowledgeable friend who could check it out structurally for you and maybe pick a few notes so you can tell how it sounds? If not you should at least check some basics; tuners, string height, neck straightness and condition of the frets. Little things like bridge, tailpiece, nut can be replaced later if necessary. In my experience most beginners, if they stick with it for six months or so will want to upgrade to an intermediate instrument anyway.

Dec 1, 2022 - 1:11 PM

2992 posts since 5/2/2012

quote:
Originally posted by thisoldman

So, a no name aluminum rim "sounds like a" banjo. (picture on home page). $100 might be a bit of a stretch, perhaps you could negotiate down a bit. But $100 would probably be OK.  If you are picking it up, bring a tuner (you probably have one for your guitar) along and see if it is still in tune.  Fret at the 12th frets and you will have the same notes as open strings (strings 1 - 4), an octave higher, to see if it intonates well.  Make sure the neck is not twisted.  Make sure all the bits and pieces fit well together.  

Once in hand, do a search for "banjo setup" here and on the web.All (well, almost all) banjos need a bit of tweeking. Fairly simple stuff with youtube and articles you find on the web. You might start with some new strings, perhaps not.  


Dec 1, 2022 - 2:23:04 PM
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4 posts since 11/29/2022

Oops, thought I attached the picture! Here it is.


 

Dec 1, 2022 - 2:44:20 PM
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Alex Z

USA

5110 posts since 12/7/2006

Picture helps a lot.  Looks good.  All the strings are there.  Bridge alone is worth $10!  Clean.  Add on arm rest.  Decent tailpiece.

$100 CD is $75 USD.

Go for it, sister! smiley

Does it have a case or a carry bag?

Edited by - Alex Z on 12/01/2022 14:45:30

Dec 1, 2022 - 3:41:47 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

16373 posts since 8/30/2006

If you need muting, a sponge or towel does fine

Your wooden resonator looks a little small

Look down the neck from the tuners to the heel and see if the neck is twisted

My wife has one

It’s easy to get adjustment guidance here
Get to enjoying the playing

Dec 1, 2022 - 3:48:16 PM

3227 posts since 9/5/2006

Guitar center is offering a beginner banjo at a great price HERE.

Dec 1, 2022 - 3:56:56 PM
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bubbalouie

Canada

16437 posts since 9/27/2007

If it's right there I would take it! It looks like a banjo from here! It's all small steps anyway! 

Dec 1, 2022 - 8:01:50 PM
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15129 posts since 10/30/2008
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That looks like fine for $100 CDN. If everything "works right as in my first reply. Good luck.

Dec 2, 2022 - 1:24:34 AM

KatB

USA

280 posts since 9/3/2018

Just get it.
Then come back to BHO to figure out what tweaking it needs

Dec 3, 2022 - 6:51:53 AM

246 posts since 6/5/2006

Since you're "leaning toward" clawhammer, the resonator isn't really needed for volume. You can play with the resonator removed or internally dampened and you'll probably need heaver strings and a less bright head. The only thing you can't fix is a warped neck so sight down it or put a metal straight edge against the frets.
The danger is you'll keep fiddling with the setup thinking that will improve your playing. Best to find someone local to set it up for you.

Are the little holes the only sound ports in the flange?

Edited by - restreet on 12/03/2022 06:55:42

Dec 11, 2022 - 9:31:20 AM

1206 posts since 11/22/2006

quote:
Originally posted by hbataille

Hello!

I've gotten a lot of encouragement on this forum to bite the bullet and learn the banjo! Great. Next step: buying one. We don't have the funds right now to spend a lot on a banjo, I'm really looking for something to learn the basics on and maybe in 1-2 years buy a better instrument.

I am in Ottawa, Ontario and a search of the classifieds around here do not yield much! I did find "no name" banjo from a local collector ( no brand) . He never played, it's just been sitting around for a year or two. But he had cleaned it up and tuned it. Looked good as far as I can tell...sounded like a banjo. But I don't really know what the heck I'm looking for.

For $100 would this be OK to purchase?


Hilary, don't know if you bought this but that bridge is in the wrong place, too far from the neck. That means the banjo will sound out of tune, the farther your right hand goes up the neck. How to set the bridge up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtJtHy-Pi5U

But you don't need a drum dial, though this video suggests you use one to get the tension of the head right.

Dec 11, 2022 - 10:37:13 AM

13887 posts since 6/2/2008

This banjo looks great for CDN$100.

Plenty of people here and around the world started on this type of beginner's banjo. While it has an aluminum rim with integrated flange, it's not actually what we typically call a "bottle cap." Those are so named because a bottle cap is exactly what the body with head minus resonator looks like.

A lot of people cling to old ideas about the low cost of used instruments in private sales, forgetting that $100 isn't what it used to be.

If this looks good in person, get it.  Then search the Hangout for local banjo players who could help you with setup. I see there are several folk music stores in Ottawa in case you need professional help getting the banjo set up. But that costs extra money. There is plenty of reliable free guidance online about doing the basics of putting the bridge in the right place, changing strings, tightening the head, and maybe even adjusting the neck on a banjo like this for playable string height.

Good luck.

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