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OME banjos or Deering

23 Apr 07 - 11:02 AM (#2033483)
Subject: OME banjos or Deering
From: GUEST,need to be anon for this discussion

I have a long term decision to make and hope for some insight from banjo players on the subject.

I will be deciding between one of these two banjo makers very soon for an open back, folk/bluegrass banjo. I do a 3-4 finger style and some frailing ... I don't need a scooped neck, but could use it and could live with the lost frets if I went that way.

I'd be looking at one of their top or close to top of the line instruments - and will select custom features. Cost isn't my driving factor.

My first thoughts are probably an open-back Deering Calico with a bell bronze tone ring or an OME Sweetgrass 11" Traditional with a Silverspun tone ring.

Do yuo have any experience with either or these makers/models? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

... thanks in advance

23 Apr 07 - 11:48 AM (#2033529)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: oombanjo

I will enjoy this one once it gets postings Chee3rs Oombanjo

23 Apr 07 - 12:11 PM (#2033555)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: Spot


          Errmmm.... back? For bluegrass? Might that be classed a somewhat De Rigeur?? And a tad unsuitable? Old time stuff , yeah, but bluegrass?? Hmmmm... I too, look forward to the development of this one!!   ;-)


23 Apr 07 - 01:35 PM (#2033604)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: GUEST,DonMeixner

I play a pre-Ome Ode long neck. I have played a new Ome long neck and a comparably appointed Deering(Vega?) long neck. Of the three I' rather my old Ode.

The brand new Ome and Deering played and sounded the same. Probably becasue they were set up by the same guy. Once you get into the stratusphere of way high end banjos I think you are paying more for drapes and furniture and not for better sound.

Pick the appointments that matter to the sound you want not specifically the brand. I think very often that one brand of banjo has the appointments you want and thats how they get a name for themselves.

Nothing else is like a Mastertone pot. Nothing else frails like a Vega Whyte Lady.

My one complaint her is Deering needs to make or buy and put their name on a decent banjo string.


23 Apr 07 - 04:03 PM (#2033697)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: GUEST,need to be anon for this discussion

Sorry I don't mean I'd be playing Bluegrass on the banjo, I was using the "folk/bluegrass" term loosely to describe a performace genre rather then musical sytle.

23 Apr 07 - 04:22 PM (#2033707)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: RangerSteve

My experiences with a Deering were not good. I took it back the the place where I bought it to see about trading it in, and the owner of the store (also a repairman), admitted that Deerings were a problem, and he stopped carrying them. He did take is as a trade-in, however and I bought a Bart Reiter. The Reiter is one of the best purchases I ever made.

The Deering, bu the way, was fairly cheap, about $700.00, maybe they get better as the prices go higher.

23 Apr 07 - 07:12 PM (#2033843)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: GUEST,DonMeixner

Hi Steve,

Was that one of Bart's Whyte Laydie copies? My brother has one and it is by far a sweet axe.


24 Apr 07 - 07:21 AM (#2034171)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: BanjoRay

If it was my problem I wouldn't buy a Deering or an Ome. Both companies make banjos that are too bright for clawhammer playing. I recently went to an open day given by the main British Deering agents, which had Geoff Deering as a guest speaker. I got to play most of the different models Deering has to offer. They're beautifully made and very expensive, but the only ones I'd consider having for clawhammer would be the various low end Goodtime models, which sound more the way open backs should. I've also played high end Ome openbacks and was underwhelmed - too bright, more of a bluegrassy sound.
I would go for an openback made by one of the great specialist makers, like Kevin Enoch, Bob Flesher (Liberty), Mark Platin (Wildwood), Mike Ramsey (Chanterelle etc), Lo Gordon (Cedar Mountain) or Bart Reiter. I would choose one of the fine tonerings, like a Whyte Laydie, a tubaphone, a Bacon or a Lo Gordon rosewood tone rim. I've played different examples of all of these, and IMHO they're far superior openbacks to the Deerings and Omes. Some of the best Old Time players these days seem to be prepared to wait 5 years on Kevin Enoch's waiting list just for the honour of having one custom made. And if one of the few Riley Baugus banjos ever happened my way, I'd leap on it.
Personally I have a Lo Gordon and a Bart Reiter tubaphone with which I'm delighted. I also have a Deering Sierra which I rarely play, as it's a bluegrass banjo and the action (as usual) is too low for clawhammer.
If you're in the UK, I would seriously consider banjos by James Bowen of Shropshire (Griffin), by Dave Stacey of Letchworth or by Phil Davidson of Bristol. These guys are as good as the USA makers.
This is only my opinion, but I hope it helps.

24 Apr 07 - 10:06 AM (#2034310)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: GLoux

There is another fine maker that banjo player Adam Hurt is really touting: Wayne Sagmoen. Here's a review from Banjo Hangout.

24 Apr 07 - 10:52 AM (#2034350)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: GUEST,need to be anon for this discussion

This is actually a business deal ... I ain't looking ofr the perfect but the best choice between the two. They both make really fine banjos. I know some of the other makers have simply beautiful instruments and might be my first choice under ther circumstances - but I am not at all disappointed to have a choice between these two fine makers!

I love the warmth of the banjos made for frailing - but my musical style is somewhere between the old-style roots stuff and bluegrass - as is my finger-style playing. I love the clear crisp sound of the open back with a metal tone ring ... and these two makers actually offer that in their bag of tricks.

I have to admit I love the few Bart Reiter banjos I've tried, too - but they aren't in the discussion, at the moment.

... anyway, I appreciate y'all's thoughts. Thanks!

24 Apr 07 - 12:16 PM (#2034443)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: GUEST,DonMeixner

I think Ray is spot on about the two companies overly bright sound.

I would lean towards the open backs from either company and then have it set up specifically to frail. I would lean towards a Fiber Skin head set up just a little bit loose.

Tite Means Brite!

I would also make or buy and use a slightly chunky bridge. The bridge and the head would give you a fatter sound than the thin bite of a Bluegrass set up. This would be a more folky sound whether frailed or picked.

This is how my Ode is usually set up and I like the sound just fine.


24 Apr 07 - 12:58 PM (#2034473)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: BanjoRay

If it's a business deal with the offer of a banjo from either OME or Deering, and you want a good appearance, I think I'd go with the OME. Ken Perlman, one of the great banjo instructors, has a magnificent one with immaculate inlay work, which you can see here.
Good luck with your choice.

26 Apr 07 - 08:32 AM (#2036189)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering

I've decided to wait a bit. These offers are not yet as good as I'd like ... and I am not unhappy with what I've got, so maybe a little time and little thought will sweeten the deals.

Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate your thoughts.

I just put nylon strings on one of my little banjos - twisted them up to G, cranked down the head so you could stand on it and it sounded great!

It was a bitch keeping 'em tuned up to G. So dropped 'em back down to F. They sound really mellow down there, a bit plunkity. It's a cool new toy!

Now I have three banjos; one tuned to F, one tuned to G and one tuned to A.

Who needs a capo?

26 Apr 07 - 05:58 PM (#2036635)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: GUEST,forestabri

If you do both fingerpicking and clawhammer then you may want to look at Wildwood banjos, made in California. I have a Minstrel model and it sounds good both ways. It has a Fibre-skin head and a tubaphone tone ring. The pot is a full 3/4" thick, like a bluegrass banjo. The thinner walled banjos like Chanterelles or Chuck Lee will never sound "bluegrassy", IMO. You can even get one with a pop on resonator.
Deering makes a John Hartford model with a wood tone ring and pop off resonator, but it is very pricy. And you should know that Greg and Janet Deering are Scientologists, and include their literature with your banjo.

26 Apr 07 - 09:51 PM (#2036758)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: wilco

I own and operte an acoustic music store in east tennesee: Mountain Music. Here's the "skinny," from the perspective of a store owner and a musician.

Neither one of these companies are known quantities for your style of banjo playing. Also, Deerings don't enjoy the re-sale value of OME banjos. If you have to take one, go with the OME. Try a fiberskin head, and try different setups, bridges, etc.

I sell a lot of banjos. The Goldtone OB are great buys, with good warrenties. If you've got the money, go for a Rieter or Ramsey. I have full lines of these in stock.

Almost any banjo, with a wooden pot, can be made to sound "old-timey," with the right set-up man.

27 Apr 07 - 05:29 PM (#2037522)
Subject: RE: OME banjos or Deering
From: RangerSteve

Don, yes, it's a Whyte Ladie.