Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

First Banjo

I’ve never played a banjo but am looking to buy one. Could someone recommend a good first banjo. I think the wife will let me spend around 500. Thanks!

any playable 5 stringer (one that stays in tune!!) try to borrow one from a buddy etc. my advice is to save the 500 until you’ve got 6/9 months under your belt, start saving now so as to add to the 500 cos if your still playing after this period you’ll
know what banjo you want :smiley:


I’ve seen some nice starter Gold Tones in your price range. I’m sure others have some good suggestions too.

I just bought my first banjo from out of Knoxville, Tennessee and couldn’t be happier.
They are very good to work with and will take time to answer any questions you may have before and after the purchase.
I bought the mahogany mastercraft classic for 429.00 but they have many choices.

Hope this helps

“Which one to buy?” is something when I started looking for a banjo I also was asking myself.

I decided that what was most important to me, was to buy an instrument from someone that could do the setup properly.

As someone that has attempted to save a few dollars in the past … :unamused: … I can attest that a poorly setup instrument affects the learning curve significantly.

I dont have a recommendation for Brand X, but I am happy with my first banjo - and decided that is what it would be - a starter instrument. I did buy mine online from a shop that deals primarily in banjos, I didn’t buy the cheapest one I could find - but I didnt break the bank either (was in the $400 range).

Hope this helps somewhat!

— Begin quote from "Banjo Ben"

Hey Bobby! These are great suggestions, and be sure to scour eBay/Amazon for Deering Goodtime 2 banjos. They are in your price range and are great starters. And as Cobbler said, setup is important, so expect to have to spend a little after you get your banjo to have it setup to play better (it may not need it, though!).

— End quote

Ben…what is it about Deering Goodtime 2’s that makes for such a great starter? Just curious…I came across the website of a shop here in town (one that I’d never been in) that had a used Deering Goodtime 2 for $175, cleaned up, setup and all. Unfortunately, I came across the listing too late…I wasn’t the only one who thought that was a good deal!

I am ready to upgrade but am leaning towards going the used route. There are several shops in town that offer used ones, setup and ready, for a very reasonable price ($250 range).

Thanks for the advice guys! One other question, should I get an open back or a resonator and whats the difference? Thanks!

Since we are on the subject already…

what are some of the features we are looking for that a make a quality banjo? In the “this is my banjo” video ben talks about a crowned fretboard being nice to have but I don’t see that feature in many of the banjo’s i’ve looked at.

What are some aspects/features that set a $500 banjo apart from a more expensive one?

Also what are we listening for Ben?

Hopefully this thread can serve as reference…



I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Recording King RK-R35 Madison. 700 bucks and you will go pretty far before you outgrow it. Greg Rich designed it and RK’s quality is reportedly very good. The tone is comparable to many higher end jo’s. Mahogany resonator banjo, not many frills.

I just checked, Elderly Music has one for 599.

The RK-R36 is a maple version with more frills.