General Question

ronski's avatar

I want to upgrade to a better banjo, have any suggestions?

Asked by ronski (737points) August 8th, 2010

I have been playing banjo for two years now with a beginning Fender model, but I am ready for a serious upgrade. What would you recommend for under $1,000? I don’t mind if it is used or vintage, as long as it sounds right and glides easily under my fingers. I would like something that could withstand some ware and tare, as I would potentially like to start playing in a band. I also want something that could maybe sound good with a banjo pick-up…Thanks for any information at all!

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5 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

Under 1000. Hmm. You might check out Banjo Hangout

Are you looking at a 5 string or a 4 string? Bluegrass or tenor? Arch top or flat top? Open back or closed back?

Rarebear's avatar

I’ll add that if you’re looking for a “serious upgrade” you’re probably not going to get anything really professional sounding new. You’ll want to search the used stuff. Remember that Gibsons run 4000 and over. I bought my RB-3 20 years ago for $1800 and that was at dealer cost since it had some damage to it.

ronski's avatar

woops, wear and tear… @Rarebear I found a discounted used Gibson RB, not sure what model, but do you think I should get it? Are Gibson’s pretty sturdy?

I knew I was leaving a bunch of stuff out, so thanks for all the questions. I guess I want a 5-string bluegrass banjo. I’m not sure if I care about it being open or closed back yet. Hmm, I think I want a flat head, but I’m unsure of the exact difference in sound between the two. I like heavier sounds.

Thanks for the link. I will check that out soon! Cheers.

Rarebear's avatar

@ronski Well, it depends on the model of Gibson. If its online and you link me to it I can try to render an opinion. If it’s in a music store, the best thing to do is to play it. If you have a local music store that specializes in bluegrass instruments they can show you what’s what. In banjos, like any instruments, you get what you pay for.

Standard bluegrass banjos are pretty much all flat tops. Arch tops are played by some musicians and they lend a more treble tone. I prefer flat tops.

You might check out Gold Star banjos. Here is a group that Janet Davis has

But again, it’s best to play one before you buy.

Rarebear's avatar

I’ll add that I had a gold star arch top for a few years. I really liked it, but I preferred the sound of the RB-3, so I sold it.

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