Hi, I wondering if a high quality banjo made a huge difference compared to an average one? Also, when did you guys upgrade to a higher quality banjo. When u became more advanced? Intermediate? Thanks!
It really depends on the individual banjo. I’d say that if 2 banjos are set up to feel and play exactly the same, no, it won’t make a huge difference in your ability to play. If one banjo is set up better than the other, that makes all the difference in the world. I personally like a nice, low action. I think it helps me play faster. Some guys prefer a medium to medium-high action. I have a really tough time playing cleanly on their banjos.
So, if the set ups feel the same, the only benefit you really get from the high end banjo is the tone. I will say, though, that the right tone on any instrument can inspire me to play more, which does improve my playing.
Cody, it depends on your definition of high and average. To most folks, average means a $3-500 banjo. Is there a huge difference? Absolutely, in feel, playability, tone, and ability to adjust/customize it. The reason I sell the RK 35’s and 36’s is that I believe they are the most affordable (cheapest, if you will) of the good banjos, meaning banjos that are a good investment if you plan on playing for a while. The Deerings are like that as well, though the RK’s are more in the vein and tradition of the Gibson models.
I don’t know what banjo you have now, but if it’s a learner model, the RK-36 is going to feel and sound like a Corvette in your hands.
I don’t know much about banjos, but for other stringed instruments, it takes X amount to get to the “sacrifices nothing” level. That is, it plays well, intonates well and sounds solid. Everything beyond that is nice to have (mostly improved tone, but also aesthetic features or being made in a certain locale), but that basic level is everything you need. Based on Ben’s description (and other accounts I have heard and experienced) it sounds like the RKs are right around level X.
FWIW, and just my experience… I have never regretted buying “too nice” of an instrument.
That’s the truth. I went safe shopping one time and the salesman said, “No one complains that their gun safe is too big.” I went with the bigger one and glad I did.
Awesome, thanks for the replies, it helped a lot. I’m thinking about upgrading to that Corvette now!
Huber banjo, i want a huber banjo maybe the workhorse not sure … but i do have a Deering golden Era should i just be satisfied, iam always thinking something is better ?
That is the million dollar question!!! Ha!
I play a Goldtone OB250. I was wondering if anyone out there has played this banjo and if so what they thought of it. I bought it as a starter banjo and I’ve enjoyed it since. Now, after playing for years, I’m wondering if I should upgrade. I know that if @BanjoBen played my banjo it would sound way better than me playing it but I also think that he wouldn’t really enjoy the tone and quality. I’ve been thinking lately that I would like to own a banjo that has the sound I’m looking for,in it, even if I cant get it out yet as a picker. That sound may be waiting to come out of my Goldtone too, but I don’t really know if it’s in there.
yeah i have ob250 and i think it sounds great. this will last until ill get my huber in 5 years
I have to say, after seeing Ben’s video today showcasing that new Nechville banjo, I’m thinking it just might give the Workhorse a run for its money.
Just got my RK-36 From @Jake yesterday. And @Ben you are right about the feel and sound of a Corvette compared to my Epiphone MB 200 which is a fine instrument as far as intonation and action on the neck. But when you pick up a fine instrument right out of the case for the first time that new Corvette smell hits your nose and before you start playing you think this is going to sound great, and it does and you can’t stop playing it. @Jake does an excellent job setting up and fine tuning everything for you just the way you like it. My wife Alice is happy it weighs more than my old one, she say’s I could use the exercise.
One thing I will say is that while a better banjo might be easier and nicer to play (but that depends a lot on your definitions of ‘average’ and ‘high quality’) until you can really play, having a really nice banjo can be a disappointment tone-wise.
I got my 1931 Gibson Kel Kroydon Syle 11 one year into my playing. These banjos sound like dynamite on Youtube but mine sounded pretty rotten. After I had been playing about 2 1/2 years it started to sound better. 4 years + and it’s beginning to sound more like what I hear on Youtube.
I’ve recently heard and seen the gold star banjos. These are great sounding banjos much like the tone of a Gibson. I keep hoping I might get lucky one day and own one. They are harder to find in the UK.
Hi Ted, That kinda reminds me of a story I read where a group of pro musicians were sitting chatting at a music festival and a young lad came up to the banjo player (I think it may have been JD Crowe) and asked if he could try out his banjo. Not wishing to discourage the young lad the banjo player handed over his banjo and said give it your best shot son. After the young lad had tried out the banjo he handed it back seemingly unimpressed and said, “Hmm It just sounds like my Asian banjo back home” and walked off.
What can we learn from this? It’s not just owning a great banjo that makes it sound great, it’s knowing how to get the best out of the instrument. That applies to any instrument.
Hi Johnathon, Probably find it easier to buy a pint of Yaks Milk in the UK. I was told many years ago that the Gold Star was probably ‘The Best’ sounding Asian built banjo and when I was ready to upgrade I was to seek out the guy who told me all this. and he would fix me up. Well when I was ready to upgrade I went looking for this guy but he had disappeared from the scene and I have not been able to find a UK Gold Star supplier. I came to the conclusion he was a back door supplier probably through a European stockist . If you really want one go check out Tom Adam’s website he is an official supplier. Ask Tom if he has any info on a European stockist. It would probably work out a lot cheaper than shipping one from the US.
I’ll second that GoldStar recommendation. I love mine. Whenever I play it in public, other musicians always comment on how crisp it sounds, and especially how loud. It has several decibels on my Gibson. It weighs a ton, though.
I agree with you Mark. Being the proud owner of a new Neckville and before that the owner of a reissued Granada(8712) and before that a 1960’s RB 250 the Saturn is awesome for plethora of reason.
After three years of beginner Scruggs-Style (on a Framus) my second banjo teacher got me started into melodic playing and supplied me with an Iida banjo. As good as the Gold Star’s and may be a little less cash. Now I have two Gold Stars and wouldn’t mind getting the Iida back some day.
A buddy of mine just bought a Kusuga Japanese banjo for 300 at a pawn shop and set it up himself. I’ve seen 3 intermediate players and one pro try it and they were all pleased with the tone and playability.