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Buying a Banjo

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GUEST,SanityCheck 16 Apr 03 - 09:31 PM
DonMeixner 16 Apr 03 - 09:49 PM
Steve Latimer 16 Apr 03 - 09:55 PM
GUEST 16 Apr 03 - 09:59 PM
Steve Latimer 16 Apr 03 - 10:00 PM
DonMeixner 16 Apr 03 - 10:02 PM
GUEST,Russ 16 Apr 03 - 11:32 PM
GUEST,noddy 17 Apr 03 - 04:11 AM
TIA 17 Apr 03 - 08:57 AM
chip a 17 Apr 03 - 02:06 PM
chip a 17 Apr 03 - 02:09 PM
chip a 17 Apr 03 - 02:13 PM
wilco 18 Apr 03 - 09:37 AM
wilco 18 Apr 03 - 09:39 AM
GUEST,sorefingers 18 Apr 03 - 10:08 AM
Charley Noble 18 Apr 03 - 11:14 AM
BanjoRay 19 Apr 03 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,Arnie 19 Apr 03 - 12:27 PM
Leadfingers 19 Apr 03 - 01:05 PM
GUEST,sorefingers 19 Apr 03 - 03:22 PM
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Subject: Buying a Banjo
From: GUEST,SanityCheck
Date: 16 Apr 03 - 09:31 PM

I've finally got the $$$ together and will be buying a good quality open-back 5 string. There are 2 really great acoustic music shops, each 6o miles from where I live (in opposite directions). They carry hand crafted banjos by Terry Mead. Most are all wood, but there is a metal-rimmed model.
I've looked on line, and the best of the open backs seem to be the Bart Reitter or the Chanterelle. I have a few friends who play bluegrass, but when I ask them about something for old-timey playing they look at me as if I were from Mars.
Any input would be appreciated.
SC-


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: DonMeixner
Date: 16 Apr 03 - 09:49 PM

Play a lot of banjos. Buy the one that suits you best. Be less concerned about how much it cost and who made it that you are about how it sound and feels to you. But also remember that the better the banjo the more likely you can modify set up and fix an sound discrepancies thatn you can on a less expensive banjo.

   My brother owned a Bart Reiter banjo I loved to play. I have a friend who had a Chanterelle he couldn't wait to get rid of. I heard Grandpa Jones and String Bean play old time music on resonator pot banjos. I've seen and heard Mike Seegar play ass kickin bluegrass on an old Whyte Lady. And everyone who has played my old Bacon (Not Bacon and Day) banjo wants to own it.

Play many and buy one you like to play. But play a lot of them.

Don


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 16 Apr 03 - 09:55 PM

The fellow that I bought my resonator banjo from was selling it so that he could buy an oepn back. I believe that this is the model that he chose. I know that he is very happy with it.

Saga Open back


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Apr 03 - 09:59 PM

Thanks for the input. One of the problems I face is finding the "for sale" banjos to play. There just aren't many around my area.


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 16 Apr 03 - 10:00 PM

Sorry, it was this one.   

Saga Open back


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: DonMeixner
Date: 16 Apr 03 - 10:02 PM

I believe Dick Greenhaus got one of these Shortys for a trip to England awhile ago. It's shorter scale won't allow for standard tunings so be aware of that. Saga made some good banjos too.

Don


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 16 Apr 03 - 11:32 PM

What Don said.

Except...

If this is your first banjo, I wouldn't recommend buying a banjo unless it is a case of true love at first strum. I have never bought a banjo with the intention of significantly altering its sound. A friend of mine who did never succeeded in getting a sound she was happy with and finally sold the thing.

My first banjo was a "pig in a poke". I knew absolutely nothing about banjoes when I bought it. I tinkered with it a lot and sort of got that out of my system.

Reiters and Ramseys excellent banjos and very popular.


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: GUEST,noddy
Date: 17 Apr 03 - 04:11 AM

Only buy one if you do not intend to play it. That way it takes one of the bu****S out of circulation! Think of it as charity.


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: TIA
Date: 17 Apr 03 - 08:57 AM

Check out these. I'm delighted with my long neck Troubador model (and, I could actually afford it without pissing off the spouse). These folks custom build, and set mine up for a nice mellow, sustained, guitary sound. The greatest compliment (?) I've gotten is "hey that sounds really nice -- not like a banjo at all."

http://www.wildwoodbanjos.com/traditional.html

TIA


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: chip a
Date: 17 Apr 03 - 02:06 PM

The Wildwoods have a block style pot and a tubaphone style tonering. I've never met an owner who wasn't in love with theirs. I have a Bart Reiter, Bacon type with internal resonator and I'm very happy with it.
Lo Gordon of Brevard, N.C. is making one of the finest open backs available anywhere. If I could buy another banjo, his would be the one. Hands down. Very playable instruments with beautiful sound and superior craftsmanship. These have a block style pot like the Wildwoods. Check them out at http://www.celestialmtnmusic.com
Lots of folks seem happy with the imports and they are cheaper. For the long haul, if you're ready to spend more than $50.00, I'd skip the imports and get a real, hand made banjo. Which by the way, won't lose it's value if cared for.
Just my opinion.
Come back and let everyone know what you end up doing.
Chip


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: chip a
Date: 17 Apr 03 - 02:09 PM

http://www.celestialmtnmusic.com


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: chip a
Date: 17 Apr 03 - 02:13 PM

Sorry, I'm just learning how to make links. Go to the Celestial Mtn Music website above and click on "Cedar Mtn Banjos". These are Lo's banjos.


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: wilco
Date: 18 Apr 03 - 09:37 AM

My first open back banjo was a Bart Rieter. Around here (East Tennessee USA), there are lots of old open backs, but I wanted a new one. Several of my friends have bought Gold Tone open backs, which are great insturments. They paid around $400.00, with hard case.


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: wilco
Date: 18 Apr 03 - 09:39 AM

One other suggestion, if you're short on cash, is to buy a cheap, used
resonator banjo, and take the resonator off. Around here, you will spend $100.00.


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 18 Apr 03 - 10:08 AM

I go by what I hear and old pre WW2 banjos are different. Kinda like Martin Guitars are different, one may not like the sound but nobody could not hear the difference.

That said for allaround value for yer buck and assuming you later want to sell the thing for as much or more than you paid, buying a Gibson would be a really bad idea, but a Vega is almost to easy these days.

I echo and emphasize what is reported about Mike Seger above, but add my encounter was not with either Mr Seger or his Ladie but a beaten up old Vega Tubbie with a hide top in the hands of a wizard of the banjo playing early Bluegrass. Outside of the radio recordings of Scruggs which I own, I have never heard anything on any stringed instrument so beautifull or memorable.

I add too that I rarely hear a well played Openback that I do not like so if it's a Reiter etc or a cheapo Korean I have no idea since I mostly don't care to notice.


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Apr 03 - 11:14 AM

You really can't go wrong with a Bart Rieter banjo via Elderly Instruments, except that you'll have to pay about $1000.

Used banjos, if you have direct access to some, can be a better buy but call for judgment, which is hard to come by if you're less experienced; however, if you have a more experienced friend who can demonstrate a used banjo in question that could work.

I wouldn't recommend going to e-Bay; this really requires experience in judging banjo quality from scanned images and seller descriptions which can mask a variety of problems.

My favorite old-time open back banjos are S. S. Stewarts from the 1890's. Good quality ones can still be found for around $750, generally the Model 2's as described at the Mugwumps website.

Good luck in your search! Avoid plastic!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: BanjoRay
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 06:53 AM

I'd like to back up Chip-a's comment about Lo Gordon's Cedar Mountain banjos. I've had a Dwight Diller model for about three years now, and I'd like to have a pound for every time someone has said what a great sounding banjo it is (another one said it last night in an old time session in Sheffield, UK). Lo doesn't call them that these days, but he still makes them - they have no metal tone ring, but the body's beautifully made out of Brazilian rosewood, giving a great mellow - but not too quiet - sound, that goes really well with fiddles.
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: GUEST,Arnie
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 12:27 PM

I wonder where you are? You could speak to my buddy Donald Zepp (banjo nerd)who has a store in N.C. His website is http://zeppmusic.com/ .
Banjos are very difficult things to deicide on. Every style has a different sound and feel, and some are more stable than others. If you want a sound that is clear and bright and has good sustain, then look at the ones with the tubaphone or Whyte Laydie tone rings. These are good for chording as well as melody. If you want a deeper, plunkier tone with less sustain - better for playing melody, old time tunes in instrumental jam sessions, then try the Ramsey or wooden tone rings or no tone rings with 11 or 12" pots. My advise is also- check out the stability of the neck. A lot of banjos are not stable in this department which could create problems in tuning. Every banjo is different - so you need to physically try it out and not just order one. Make sure you can give it back within a certain time period if you don't like it. Setup is important. I've seen very good banjos setup poorly as if they were practically unplayable - and they can be adjusted to your liking by changing bridges, tailpieces, string gauges, heads and tightness of heads.
Good luck!!!


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 01:05 PM

And then you find you want a slightly different sound so you buy another one and finish up addicted and collecting the sods !!!


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Subject: RE: Buying a Banjo
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 03:22 PM

Since the mighty banjoists of the world are here hows about your favorite tweak for the dusty unplayed banjo which then sounds like a Floweryinlaidgibson.

My theory is tighten the top till it creaks, the neck so bent it cannot budge, the bridge so tight it is ready to crack and the whoop ringing from the mere echo of a twang no matter how far away, or how faint; then and only then will it stay in tune.


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