Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Mar 24, 2023 - 4:28:31 PM
likes this
9 posts since 3/4/2023

I just purchased a brand new banjo (at sticker, 4k+) and received shipment. I purchased through a store (not the manufacturer) and still have a few days to go through the return process if needed.

Generally, the banjo looks great (as expected based on pictures and manufacturer reputation). However there is one small annoyance that I'm really wrestling with - the 12th fret marker dots on the neck binding are noticeably misaligned (not quite parallel to the surface of the fretboard). Given the overall fit and finish I was surprised to see that.

I am not sure how much I care yet and would hate to return the instrument and eat the cost, but I need to make a call on a short fuse and wanted to solicit thoughts. Is this something that is generally considered acceptable in a new banjo at this price point?

Thank you in advance for helping me work through this!

Mar 24, 2023 - 5:24:35 PM
Players Union Member



16740 posts since 8/30/2006

For 4 k. I want a car, a Calton case and a scholarship for young people like Molly Tuttle and MEAN MARY

My opinion is ouch. None of them noticed this because they smell, inventory that is

You qualify, but shipping and insurance might be a cynical form of risk management on their part

They need good reviews
You need customer service

Mar 24, 2023 - 5:36:02 PM

284 posts since 2/22/2019

I would return it since it bothers you. It would bother me. Any change the mfg will fix it for free on their dime?

Mar 24, 2023 - 6:07:20 PM

9 posts since 3/4/2023

Appreciate the validating responses. It is one of those things that probably looks insignificant to some folks, but definitely there and noticeable to me and I assume most purchasers would spot it fairly easily.

The only other cosmetic issue I see is that one of the inlays (a modest size abalone diamond) uses two noticably different pieces of abalone - kind of like they didn't have a full piece left over and made do with what was available? Not sure if that is common practice though and given how bad inventory is these days (and the cost of returning) I think I can probably live with that.

I suspected the manufacturer would be resistant to do any significant work (replacing ivaroid binding?) if they felt it met their quality standards initially. But I see no reason not to ask, especially since the manufacturer has a stellar reputation for fit and finish. I will reach out and see if they can work with me on this.

Mar 24, 2023 - 8:04:50 PM

291 posts since 7/24/2021

Any reputable luthier should not hesitate to work with you on those issues. 4000.00 Will get you a really nice banjo and you should be happy with it and the maker / seller should make sure your happy . If it bothers you now it will make you nutty as a squirrel turd when the warranty runs out ! Just saying

Mar 24, 2023 - 8:08:25 PM
Players Union Member



160 posts since 12/12/2021

I'm mildly OCD with my banjo(s) and other way would I accept a flawed binding on a new banjo at that price.

It's like buying a new car and it arrives with bad paint, or mal-aligned seams at the doors or other stupid quality issues.

Mar 24, 2023 - 9:28:46 PM

10494 posts since 8/28/2013

Don't live with it. For four grand, it should be perfect.

Mar 25, 2023 - 3:45:33 AM

4581 posts since 4/29/2012
Online Now

Like they said. For 4k you should expect and demand perfection. The retailer should eat the cost of returning it. If they don't then name and shame them here.

Mar 25, 2023 - 7:05:56 AM

Alex Z


5307 posts since 12/7/2006

Maybe post a picture of the dots, then all can see the amount of misalignment.  Then responders can assess better a course of action.

Regarding the abalone diamond, is it actually in two pieces?  Or does the coloring make it look like two pieces?  Abalone can have swirls of different colors adjoining in the same piece, not always a uniform color.  Post a picture of that too.

Responders might hold their torches and pitchforks until taking a look at what is there.  smiley

Mar 25, 2023 - 7:55:09 AM

9 posts since 3/4/2023

Entirely fair Alex. It was tough to get photos that are fair representations of what I'm seeing, and was avoiding identifying the make if possible, but attaching here.

The misalignment is small in measure, but its easy to spot in person I think and harder to miss when playing.

The two pictures here should show what I'm talking about with the inlay. I'm aware that this might just be my ignorance, but I also looked at night with a flashlight and there is a visible line running top to bottom on the respective inlays where the pattern changes. You might be able to see it in the mustache- like inlay at fret 21 because the pattern is more consistent.

Open to anyone telling me I'm being a bit neurotic or misleading here! There are some other small items but I think those can be addressed more easily.

Mar 25, 2023 - 8:02:50 AM

9 posts since 3/4/2023

Also - just to be 100% clear - I haven't had a chance to speak to either the manufacturer or the retailer about any of this yet (given time zone differences) so do not want to give the impression that anyone had been less than helpful. At this point I'm figuring out how I should approach and all of your responses are helpful and encouraging.

Mar 25, 2023 - 8:30:05 AM

Alex Z


5307 posts since 12/7/2006

OK.  Good pictures.  

"Inlay 2" -- I'm seeing what appears like tiny crack parallel to the edge of the fingerboard, at the far end of the inlay, about 1/5 of the way in.  The crack line is crossing the striations in the abalone, which is all one piece, not two pieces.  Crack can develop after gluing in the inlay.  It is a defect -- whether manufacturing or after the fact, don't know.

"Inlay" -- All inlays looks OK to me.  No crack in the diamond, just a change in the coloring.  The inlays look well fitting, so a certain amount of care was exercised in the inlaying.

"Side dots"  -- whoa!  How did that get by?  I see what you mean.

Also, the fret work -- the edges are cut precisely to just in from the edge of the binding, so that was carefully done.  Something about the slots under the frets appears not so neat -- glue squeeze out?


Since you asked, the first approach should be to the retailer.  Let the retailer go to the maker as needed if there is warranty work to be done, as this is a new banjo, unless there is a warranty directly from the maker to the retail buyer.

Mar 25, 2023 - 8:40:11 AM

Alex Z


5307 posts since 12/7/2006

If it were me, and I really liked the banjo, and it was otherwise excellent except for the two cosmetic items, and it was from a known maker banjo (not a large manufacturer), I'd keep it.  Kind of a couple of endearing idiosyncrasies.  Don't want anyone replacing binding on an otherwise excellent banjo.

If the banjo is from a large manufacturer where there are a lot of the same model made and the banjo was merely OK, not special, I'd return it.  Retailer can resell to someone else.   The inlay crack is nitpicking, but the side dots -- let the retailer and someone else deal with that.

Hope this helps.

Mar 25, 2023 - 8:54:05 AM

9 posts since 3/4/2023

Oh it definitely helps, thank you for the thoughtful look and opinion.

It's not a unique model by any means, but not commonly available (at least new). I dont expect another new one to come on the market within the next year+ based on a prior conversation with the manufacturer. Otherwise I would probably have it boxed up for shipment already.

I'm of a similar mind on not wanting to get serious work done on my watch and risk running down those rabbit holes. It feels more like an outright return or I'll be keeping it at this point. I'll be sure to circle back with the resolution once it's all handled, either way.

Mar 25, 2023 - 3:09:27 PM

5183 posts since 11/20/2004

Sometimes we are lucky enough to find a special banjo that just feels and sounds right. If this is one, just know you can always identify it. If it is not special, return it. There are plenty more just OK banjos. Much like we overlook flaws in people we love, but find the same trait annoying in others. Those fret dots will always be offset, so you had better love it.

Mar 28, 2023 - 8:12:11 PM

81 posts since 8/23/2022

As I luthier, I would not let an instrument out of my shop with fret markings like that. I would not accept it. It could hurt resale value.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories