Well I am pretty new to banjo playin' and I don't know much about what real banjo players have been using in the past. I do know that the technologies we use for pick ups these days, has matured a lot over the last 30 years or so since the fore runners of fishman and baggs have been on the market - and to the payers advantage. The stuff really works well, now-a-days!
It is still a compromise, and if it weren;t such a pain in the a*s to work with mics in the variety of acoustic settings I am forced to play - I wouldn;t be usig a pick up. Unlike the guitar, the banjo does mic pretty well, even in noisy environments, but the issues of presence (in the mix) and control, just pushed me over the top.
I must admit I found really intriguing stuff about electric banjos used by Bella Fleck and others - there are some wonderful instruments on the market. A bit beyond my price range, for an untried instrument, though! I knew the Vega would be beautiful, sight unseen (I bought it from Deering over the web).
As a guitar player, learning banjo, one of the challenges I've struggled with is that darn fifth string peg right in my way everytime I move up the neck!! My long neck helps out with keys like F, E (and I love the deeep 'baritone' qualities of the Vega) - but what the hell do you do in B and B flat??? chuckle. I guess I'm learning, but the banjos with the 5th string that tunnels through the neck up to the peg on the head really looked like a great idea to a guitarist like me, masquerading as a banjo player!