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Good used/starter banjo? (Hey boy, you got pretty lips.)

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by circusinthesky, May 19, 2011.

  1. circusinthesky

    circusinthesky Member

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    My In-Law is looking for a Banjo. Used or quality starter. Any recommendations? I am completely ignorant on the banjo topic.

    Thanks for your recommendations and Deliverance jokes.
     
  2. brucesinger

    brucesinger Member

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    Look into Saga and The Music Link. (not sure what their brand names are) These two companies import very good quality instruments at affordable prices.
     
  3. TaylorPlayer

    TaylorPlayer Member

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    I could be wrong, but I think the quote should read...."Sure gotta purdy mouth" :omg
     
  4. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Member

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    It's okay to be ignorant but lemme hip ya: there are basically two types of banjo playing (presuming of course, you mean 5string banjo! Four string banjo is generally for folks over eighty or so!):

    Bluegrass banjo is played on a banjo with a heavy, metal tone ring and flange, and a resonator closing off the back. It is picked with a combination of one plastic thumbpick and two metal fingerpicks.

    Old-Time banjo is played on a banjo constructed with more wood than metal and has an open back. The strings are struck with the fingernails and bare thumb in the "clawhammer" or "frailing" style.

    Earl Scruggs is the best known example of the bluegrass style (as he pretty much invented it!), and Tommy Jarrell for old-time style. Google them up for more info and look at banjohangout.org for a wealth of banjolalia. Be prepared to lose popularity if word gets out to your friends of your interest in this inst!

    I think Pdx has a music store or two specializing in acoustic insts. They can help.
     
  5. circusinthesky

    circusinthesky Member

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    TaylorPlayer, I stand corrected. You've clearly heard that phrase many times. :eeks

    musicofanatic5, thanks for the info, and yes, I am totally ignorant on this topic. If I do post, I'll list my age as 90, and location as Virginia, just to keep my trail confused.

    brucesinger, thanks for the recommendations. I'll check those out.
     
  6. JP~)

    JP~) Member

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    the banjo can be a loud toneless instrument...in the wrong hands...when I wanted to learn to play, i bought a closed back...cuz that's what earl played...I learned shortly afterward that with an open back, you can stuff a pillow or a towel in there and mute the sound. That banjo lasted less than 30 days in my house...just something to consider.

    If I remember correctly, it was a goldtone and was under 500-. think they had another model for around 300- and both were of good quality and playability...it was more like driver error for me :(
     
  7. tsar nicholas

    tsar nicholas Member

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    A guy I know, Larry Hill, builds very good banjos under the Helix brand. He's not doing super-beginner models now due to soem supply issue, but his intermediate model isn't too badly-priced :

    http://www.helixbanjos.com/contact.php
     
  8. kenneth

    kenneth Member

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    heh, heh.
     
  9. bazooka47

    bazooka47 Member

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    I recently took up banjo to play a few parts in a 'modern country' band. For stage use I spent a few bucks and got a Deering resonator banjo, and added a Fishman Rare Earth pickup. The one I got was the lowest level of their "professional series", but Deering makes some budget models as well. They are USA made and high quality.

    Now I am getting into clawhammer style, which I find to be much more alluring. I recently found a deal on a Bart Reiter Whyte Laydie, which is a pretty accurate replica of an old model produced by Vega, and later Fairbanks (or maybe the other way around) about 100 years ago. The WL is so fun to play and sounds so great I cannot help but grin. The WL is no longer made, but Reiter still makes the same instrument without the gryphon inlay and other bling. Forgot what it is now called, but they are not prohibitively expensive.

    Lots of used bam-joes on ebay.

    Now that the band is on the rocks I hardly ever play the resonator anymore. Those damn things weigh more than 70s Les Pauls!
     
  10. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Member

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    Do you know what you call it when you throw an accordian in the dumpster and it hits a banjo?





    Perfect Pitch!





    I once told that joke to a friend who plays banjo and he didn't appreciate it.
     
  11. jbraun002

    jbraun002 Member

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    A great new starter instrument is the Deering Goodtime banjo. It's cheap for a fairly high-quality instrument, and if your in-law grows on the banjo he/she won't necessarily want to get rid of it once he/she decides to get a professional quality banjo. I recommend avoiding getting a resonator model - just stick with the basic Goodtime model. When it's time to get a pro model he/she can find a good quality resonator banjo.

    If you're looking for a good used banjo you might consider either the Goldstar 85 (or 100) or perhaps a Recording King RK-80 banjo. Both are imports, but both can sound great (even Ralph Stanley used a Gold Star model at one point). And the used prices are excellent.

    I myself have a Goldstar 100 I got a killer deal on. However, it's loud. I didn't really appreciate how loud banjos get. One of these days I might buy a simple Goodtime banjo (or maybe some other openback model) just to get an instrument that's quieter.

    One last tip: many banjo websites are full of folks who very much do not want you to buy import banjos (unlike guitar websites, eh?). As long as you buy quality imports you'll get a good product. But just like guitars, there are some bad imports out there. Beware the xenophobia, but make sure you know the brand too.

    Good luck!

    Edit - I forgot to mention that you can also find the Deering Goodtime banjos used (of course, right?).
     
  12. Schroedinger

    Schroedinger Member

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    Deering Good Time is a cheap, well-made and great sounding instrument.
     
  13. chinaski

    chinaski Member

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    i have an entry level morgan monroe. it's a servicable thing (and loud!) an they go for about 400.00 with a hard case.
     
  14. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Member

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    A '59 Les Paul through a '59 Bassman can be a loud toneless inst!! A resonator banjo can be stuffed for muting; the resonator is not welded on.
     
  15. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Member

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    The clawhammer/frailing style is soooo "where it's at"! It's just a mellow approach, compared to all that frantic picking with Scruggs style.

    A lot of folks seem to like the "Goodtime" banjo but they just look way too cheapo to me. I bought a used (a lot of folks "try" the banjo, and don't get far, which is great for the used banjo market!) Goldtone BC-250 for well under $500 and it is a "real banjo" (banjo tuners, not gtr tuners! Gloss finish, not the cheapo matte look, brass rod tonering, wooden neck dowel-stick). It has popular, pro-level features like 12" pot, and scalloped fingerboard end. This will be all the banjo I will ever need till I deem myself eligible for a real White Layde or Tubaphone. If you find a goodtime for $150-200, maybe; but otherwise skip it.
     
  16. lespaulreedsmith

    lespaulreedsmith Member

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    I own a Gold Tone as well and am looking for a 6 string or something else also but be careful.... There's banjo G.A.S as well believe it or not....
    Go to the banjohangout.org website and you'll see. It's the Gear Page for banjos...;)
     
  17. tsar nicholas

    tsar nicholas Member

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    Q: "What's the difference between a banjo and an onion?"



    A: "Nobody cries when you cut up a banjo."
     
  18. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Member

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    Izzat all you got? Whaddaya call 10,000 banjo's at the bottom of the sea? A good start. How do we know the toothbrush was invented by a banjo player? Anyone else would have named it a teethbrush. What's the difference between a chain saw and a banjo? Chain saw has a dynamic range and an off switch. The difference between a trampoline and a banjo? One removes one's shoes to jump on a trampoline. Most commonly heard request of a banjo player in a suit and tie? "Will the defendant please rise". et cetera
     
  19. tsar nicholas

    tsar nicholas Member

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    ^ hahahhar, nice! That chainsaw one is great.
     
  20. Mike Eldred

    Mike Eldred Member

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    +1 on the Deering Goodtime Banjo, and on the clawhammer style. I just bought the Deering.

    ME
     

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