I’m visiting the U.S. late April, and one of my goals is to check out great banjos, learn about setup, and see what all the fuss is about with pre-war Gibsons. Maybe even buy one! On my itinerary, I’ll be passing these banjo sellers:
Ceres Banjos near Nashville (Jim Britton)
Hohwald Banjo Warehouse near Dahlonega
Jim Mills Banjo near Durham
My road trip starts at Nashville, loops around Athens GA at the bottom, then back up to Charlotte NC and surrounding areas.
Is there anywhere else I should be checking out? Also, has anyone bought any banjos from the above list?
I currently play a Gold Tone OB3 Twanger, it has great reviews, I think it’s a Gibson clone of what JD Crowe used to play, but curious to see what’s out there and meet people/learn more about the banjo.
Gruhn's in Nashville.
Better call well ahead of time, Jim's a bit off the Interstate and well East of Nashville not really on the way to Athens.
It might be worthwhile to re-route your trip through Sevierville TN and check out the Music Outlet. Their website doesn't really show much but when I was there a few years ago they had a plethora of high end banjos locked up behind glass.
If you aren't averse to going a little bit further north I'd urge you to visit Bristol Country music museum and the Floyd Country store in Virginia. I see from your post you're probably into bluegrass banjo, but if your interest extends to clawhammer, this area is central to that style. You might talk to Mac Traynham who teaches at the country store, and I know they have one of Bob Browder's banjos, he apprenticed with him, for sale along with some others.
Lowe Vintage Instruments in Burlington, NC will be along your route. I have not been there recently, but have seen a couple of classics there in the past. Check their site for hours of operation.
I haven't visited here since Harry West passed away, but at that time the sore was full of instruments. It is located in Statesville, NC. I would call ahead to check their inventory.
Harry and Jeanie West – Fine Musical Instruments
(16) Harry and Jeanie West Fine Musical Instruments - YouTube
I’ve bought from both Jim and Geoff. Both very knowledgeable and nice guys.
You may want to checkout a killer small music shop in Black Mountain, NC, Acoustic Corner. They usually have several banjos. Link here: https://acoustic-corner.com/collections/banjos
Gruhn has the best selection in Nashville. They currently have 11 Gibson or Gibson-made banjos from various periods, a Yates, a '60's Fender Concert Tone, an Ode, and a better-grade Deering.
The more valuable banjos will be upstairs to keep them from getting shopworn. Be sure to ask to go up there, and they'll oblige.
Carter Vintage's inventory is smaller, but they do have 2 Gibsons, a couple of Deerings, and what appears to be an original Paramount 5 string.
Expect the inventory at both stores to change somewhat by the time you get there.
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