Mudcat Café message #789859 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #51755   Message #789859
Posted By: Bee-dubya-ell
23-Sep-02 - 06:11 PM
Thread Name: Help: Banjo - newbie buying tips wanted
Subject: RE: Help: Banjo - newbie buying tips wanted
This link will take you to Paul Hawthone's banjo site, specifically to a page dealing with Asian imports, which is what most inexpensive models are going to be. He has some good things to say about a few brands. But poke around and look at the American-made pages too.

If you do decide to go with an Asian-built instrument, be sure to consider the Samick brand. Samick actually manufactures many of the instruments marketed under other names (ie Epiphone). The ones that actually say "Samick" are usually quite a bit cheaper because one link (and one price mark-up) has been eliminated from the distribution chain.

Personally, I have an Alvarez "masterclone" that I bought from a local guy who picks up a few Alvarez instruments from the importer every time he happens to be in NYC and sells them through the classifieds at about half of list price. I really like it (particularly considering how little I paid). I also have an old Dixon (no longer made?) that I picked up from a pawn shop for $130.00 that I like for D and C tunings.

As far as features to look for in inexpensive banjoes goes, the most important one is whether it has a cast aluminum pot (the rim part of the banjo) or a wooden one. Wooden is defintely preferable. Also, many inexpensive banjoes, including the Deering "Goodtime" models Banjoest mentioned, have guitar style tuning machines instead of planetary-geared banjo tuners. The guitar type tuners work just fine, but they broadcast a "cheap banjo" message. All other factors being equal, a banjo with regular banjo tuners just looks more like a "real banjo". But it's strictly a cosmetic issue. If one with guitar tuners sounds best, buy it.

Bruce