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ok…i’m an idiot…a ring tone banjo would be???
Also, can u explain proper fret board and truss rod? Please and thanks
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A bluegrass style banjo, say like the banjos that Ben plays, have a heavy brass ring between the wooden rim and the plastic head. This makes the banjo very loud (and heavy, up to 13+ lbs is normal) and, some will say, gives it that distinctive ‘bluegrass’ sound.
So something like a Recording King RK 35 has gotten really good reviews as a cost effective bluegrass style banjo. You can, if you’re lucky and patient, find USED ones in the same price range as that Zombie banjo’s NEW price. The recordings I have heard of this banjo sound good but I know it is heavy, in the 13+lb range.
The Goodtimes, if you know guitars a bit, do not have a separate fretboard, so they are more like vintage Fender electric guitar maple necks, where the frets are inserted into the neck itself. Not in itself a bad thing though most bluegrass style banjos, following the pattern of vintage Gibson Mastertone banjos, will have a rosewood fretboard on a maple neck.
And the Goodtimes have no truss rod. Not a big deal in the tradeoff in price but it does mean if the neck starts to bow or warp, you have to buy a new banjo (or at least a new neck). I also use the truss rod to make very small action adjustments (very UNHIGHLY recommended) so you can’t do that with the Goodtime.
I have seen used Goodtimes for as low as $250 (once on my local Kijiji) but they are more common in the sub $400 range (you cannot get a RK35 for this price). Goodtimes are made in the USA and you do pay more for that. Recording Kings are made in China (under the supervision of Greg Rich who used to be production manager for Gibson when they made banjos).
I also have heard that going from a beginner Washburn banjo to a Goodtime is kind of a sideways move. Going to a RK 35 (not an RK 20) is definitely upward.