Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Choosing my first banjo?

I have been a member for almost one year however i have not been on the new site have some problems getting around. I play the guatar and have learned alot from ben and the group. I think i would like to learn to play the banjo as well however i have to concerns. First will it hinder my future improvement with my guitar or confuss me. Secondly how do i choose a good bandjo, brand, quality, what to look for, price and so on. remember i have never held a banjo and am starting from scratch. All helpfull advice is wecome.

Hey Johnny, welcome to the site!

I’m a primarily guitar player too, with some fingerstyle experience. I found that it translated pretty good over to banjo and I picked stuff up pretty quick. I think playing different instruments helps to improve your overall skills, although I can’t really explain why. :slight_smile: Maybe it’s technique, I don’t know. The only problem I ran into was splitting up the time between the two.

Hopefully some guys with buying experience (I borrowed one) can give some good advice on what to look for. Good luck, they are fun to play!

If you’re having problems with the site, post up any questions. Maybe one of us can help ya.

Thanks Shawn maybe there is hope yet

I just bought me a Fender “Rustler” 5 string banjo at Guitar Center for 300 bucks. You can get banjo’s for about 150 dollars online. I would think that if you are just starting to play it and don’t know if you like it or not, that you would want to go the cheapest route possible. I also believe that as you get better at guitar you will get better at banjo and vice versa. Had I never played guitar I wouldn’t even know what a “chord” was at this point or BPM or anything like that. Not that I am good at any of that stuff but at least I can talk the talk ha

I just started playing banjo about three weeks ago. I’ve been playing guitar all my life. My father-in-law found my banjo in a dumpster behind a Churches Chicken in Houston. It’s really old. Not too sure what brand or how old, but it sounds decent and we only had to make a few minor repairs.

I’ve got a buddy that works a local shop close to where I live who has a few Ventura brand banjos for around $300. I’ve played them recently and they all sound great (better than the “dumpster banjo”) but they all differ slightly in their tone depending on the makeup of the banjo structure. The one I’m looking at in particular has a solid aluminum 36 bracket head tightening system-thingy. Sounds sharp and crisp all the way up the neck. Not too sure what the body and neck are made of, but at this point it all seems great.

Good luck on your search for the right mo-sheen for you.

If you can do like Shawn and borrow one to see how you like it, that’s a good bet. I borrowed one and worked on it for about 1 month before returning it. It was pre-Ben’s website days, and I suspect I would have enjoyed it more by working with Ben’s vids. I might give it another spin at some point. It didn’t hurt my guitar playing, but like Shawn, I found it difficult to devote time to multiple instruments.
I don’t know enough about a banjo to make a meaningful suggestion, but with that said, the Recording King RK-R35 looks like a cool instrument for $700.

In the past I saw Banjo Ben recommend a Deering Goodtime 2 banjo for bluegrass beginners. So I guess if the banjo(s) you’re looking at shares features with a Deering GT 2, it’ll work out well for you.

hey fellas, have any of you heard of an alvarez banjo? i found one i might be interested in buying. it’s an absolutly beautiful banjo,with amazing work on the neck and head.a friend of mine said alvarez was to martin what epiphone is to gibson.any input ?

I am a beginner, and here’s the banjo I bought a few years ago, from this seller on eBay. I see the price has gone up about $100 since. You get a good quality case too, and free shipping. I was jamming with my uncle who has very good banjos. He played this one, and I really figured he would soon put it down and get his out of the case, but he didn’t. So that told me I had something half-decent anyway! … 5d3267b4f5

Johnny, if you’re still following this post (and haven’t bought a banjo yet), I’d stick with the Deering Goodtime recommendation. And if you intend to pick it 3-finger/Scruggs style, get their resonator banjo. The Goodtime sounds good. I have played quite a few other “beginner” banjos and even though they cost a few hundred dollars, they didn’t sound very good. In fact, my first banjo did not have a metal tone ring and I was able to eat away the fretboard with my fingernails. Good sound quality and action/playability can help keep your motivation level up.