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Best short scale/parlor banjo (not too expensive) for beginner

Jun 19, 2024 - 6:13:11 AM

GS

UK

82 posts since 11/24/2023

Hi all! Hope this is in the correct category.

I am learning (three finger and two finger) on a used deering goodtime parlor, 19 fret, five string, banjo. I really like the size of the instrument. As I am currently just a beginner I find it a little disappointing to be limited in what I am learning because I am keeping the banjo in standard g tuning (and don't want to keep tuning and retuning). If I do buy a second similar sized banjo, would anyone recommend a particular make/model? I am in the U.K. so that may limit my options Thanks

GS

Jun 19, 2024 - 6:51:50 AM

5 posts since 1/26/2020

I have a Gold tone CC-OT A scale and really enjoy it. It plays great, and can be tuned to G or A. I gave it a face lift and now it looks good as well.

Edited by - GreasyDave on 06/19/2024 06:53:56

Jun 19, 2024 - 9:55:07 AM
like this

2480 posts since 2/9/2007

Not that there's anything wrong with buying one more banjo, but...

I'm wondering why you find tuning such a chore. Yes, banjos generally do have some problems with tuning stability, but learning to tune (and to hear when you are and are not in tune!) is an essential part of learning to play. Good setup can make things a lot easier, but you're never going to get to where you can just turn a peg until the meter needle points straight up, and be in tune, much less stay in tune.

What brand and gauge of strings are you using, and when did you last change them? How's the tension on the head? Is the neck TIGHTLY attached to the rim? Are the slots in the nut and bridge smooth, not too deep, and lubed with a bit of graphite (pencil lead)? The tuning pegs turning smoothly and not binding? (worm-gear tuners need an occasional cleaning and bit of oil.)

Edited by - Dan Gellert on 06/19/2024 09:59:01

Jun 19, 2024 - 10:17:22 AM

GS

UK

82 posts since 11/24/2023

quote:
Originally posted by GreasyDave

I have a Gold tone CC-OT A scale and really enjoy it. It plays great, and can be tuned to G or A. I gave it a face lift and now it looks good as well.


Hi Dave, thanks for your post. That Good Tone looks a very nice instrument. If I've looked at the correct dimensions, it would appear it has a longer scale length compared to mine (approx 23 inches), and I do prefer this shorter length. 

Jun 19, 2024 - 10:40:10 AM

GS

UK

82 posts since 11/24/2023

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert

Not that there's anything wrong with buying one more banjo, but...

I'm wondering why you find tuning such a chore. Yes, banjos generally do have some problems with tuning stability, but learning to tune (and to hear when you are and are not in tune!) is an essential part of learning to play. Good setup can make things a lot easier, but you're never going to get to where you can just turn a peg until the meter needle points straight up, and be in tune, much less stay in tune.

What brand and gauge of strings are you using, and when did you last change them? How's the tension on the head? Is the neck TIGHTLY attached to the rim? Are the slots in the nut and bridge smooth, not too deep, and lubed with a bit of graphite (pencil lead)? The tuning pegs turning smoothly and not binding? (worm-gear tuners need an occasional cleaning and bit of oil.)


Hi Dan, thanks for your post. I may not have explained myself too well - it would not be the first time! What I should have possibly said was... as a beginner I'm kind of limited to standard g tuning, at present, when learning a handful of things, and don't want to have to change tuning to try and learn a song with a different tuning to then have to return to standard g. I just thought it'd be easier to have another banjo already tuned to another common tuning. So it's not so much a problem of tuning, but for ease in learning different songs. Hope that's better put!

As for strings, set up etc the banjo seems fine, structurally sound. This is how new I am to this wonderful instrument - I changed strings for the first time the other day!!! I watched a few videos but I hope it gets easier - it took me a little while, effort and frustration. 

I believe the strings were D'Addario medium.

Jun 19, 2024 - 10:40:45 AM

5 posts since 1/26/2020

it has a 23 9/16" scale length.




 

Jun 19, 2024 - 10:43:36 AM

GS

UK

82 posts since 11/24/2023

Ah, ok. I thought I read 26 inches when I looked it up. Cheers for the pics, it looks lovely.

Jun 19, 2024 - 12:47:39 PM

GS

UK

82 posts since 11/24/2023

quote:
Originally posted by GreasyDave

it has a 23 9/16" scale length.


Me again, Dave! This may be a naive, newbie, question but is your banjo set up differently, as it says it's a clawhammer banjo, to other banjos? Or is this banjo suitable for bluegrass and two finger playing? 

GS

Jun 19, 2024 - 12:51:14 PM

5 posts since 1/26/2020

First off, it's an A scale, you probably looked up a CC-OT. This is a CC-OT A I only play clawhammer, but it's a banjo, you could certainly play bluegrass on it if you wanted to. Hope this helps.

Jun 19, 2024 - 1:21:57 PM

62240 posts since 12/14/2005

For REALLY inexpensive, cobble up your own.

It was somebody from the UK who originally gave me the info about using glued-down, tacked on 2 liter soft drink bottle as a head.

I have been making banjos with salad bowl bodies and plastic heads ever since.

For the neck, just get a nice hunk of lumber, and saw and sand off anything doesn't look like a neck.

Stewart-McDonald has a fret spacing calculator, OR you can buy a pre-slotted neck.

OR, just draw the frets on with permanent marker. Gives a really smooth glissando when you slide up or down.

Feel free to contact me for plans, details, and advice.


Edited by - mike gregory on 06/19/2024 13:24:23

Jun 20, 2024 - 12:55:27 AM

GS

UK

82 posts since 11/24/2023

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

For REALLY inexpensive, cobble up your own.

It was somebody from the UK who originally gave me the info about using glued-down, tacked on 2 liter soft drink bottle as a head.

I have been making banjos with salad bowl bodies and plastic heads ever since.

For the neck, just get a nice hunk of lumber, and saw and sand off anything doesn't look like a neck.

Stewart-McDonald has a fret spacing calculator, OR you can buy a pre-slotted neck.

OR, just draw the frets on with permanent marker. Gives a really smooth glissando when you slide up or down.

Feel free to contact me for plans, details, and advice.


Hi Mike, thanks for your reply. I don't think I have the necessary skill set, or equipment, to make a banjo. However it looks like you do! Would you care to pop one in the post for me? wink

Have a lovely day 

GS

Jun 20, 2024 - 6:08:44 AM

62240 posts since 12/14/2005

if you are serious, figure out how much you can afford for parts & labour, PM me for my address, and pop half that much in the post to me, and I shall have it ready by August first, and have a lovely day.

If you are not serious, have a lovely day.

And if you want a drop-dead GORGEOUS banjo, made by someone closer to where you are (save a bundle on shipping) contact Martyjoe Hanley, a HangOut member in Ireland.
https://www.banjohangout.org/my/martyjoe

He made THIS one!


Jun 20, 2024 - 8:15:55 AM

GS

UK

82 posts since 11/24/2023

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

if you are serious, figure out how much you can afford for parts & labour, PM me for my address, and pop half that much in the post to me, and I shall have it ready by August first, and have a lovely day.

If you are not serious, have a lovely day.

And if you want a drop-dead GORGEOUS banjo, made by someone closer to where you are (save a bundle on shipping) contact Martyjoe Hanley, a HangOut member in Ireland.
https://www.banjohangout.org/my/martyjoe

He made THIS one!


Hi Mike, 

I wasn't serious. I very rarely am! I do appreciate your offer, and the info. That looks like a fine instrument. 

Take care, all the very best. Have a lovely day

GS

Jun 21, 2024 - 11:27:22 PM

2078 posts since 4/10/2005

Gold Tone does an openback with a 23 1/2" scale, a short-scale version of its new "High Moon" models. The short-scale version has "A" in the model name:

HM-100A

goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldton...s/hm-100a

Jun 22, 2024 - 1:05:40 AM
likes this

450 posts since 6/20/2020

quote:
Originally posted by GS

Hi all! Hope this is in the correct category.

I am learning (three finger and two finger) on a used deering goodtime parlor, 19 fret, five string, banjo. I really like the size of the instrument. As I am currently just a beginner I find it a little disappointing to be limited in what I am learning because I am keeping the banjo in standard g tuning (and don't want to keep tuning and retuning). If I do buy a second similar sized banjo, would anyone recommend a particular make/model? I am in the U.K. so that may limit my options Thanks

GS


Just looking over the horizon of your experience and playing I suggest that your current relationship to tuning will change quite naturally in the months and years ahead. That's a part of your banjo journey to look forward to and engage with in due course. There is a classic banjo compilation album titled 'High Atmosphere'. Whichever is your current style of playing it is worth acquiring a copy as part of your listening. I don't need to explain any further as the sounds on that album will become self-explanatory and a revelation and inspiration to new ears.

I'm among the worst people to 'advise' anyone on not buying another banjo. However the many positive aspects that attract players to short scale banjos are intrinsic to the short scale construction and playing characteristics rather than as a dodge for having to tune.

Edited by - Pomeroy on 06/22/2024 01:19:40

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