Forum - Banjo Ben Clark



I’ve been a guitar player most of my life. I am 53… I’m a picker and have two sweet guitars, a gibson and a taylor. Here’s the problem. I played banjo briefly in high school, it seriously helped with my guitar playing but I drifted away. I would now like to pick it up again and learn to be a proficient player. The problem is, when I go to a music store and pick around on the lower end banjos, I don’t like the tone. I played a Huber workhorse this week and really like the way it sounded, but was struck by the 2600 price tag. Am I going to have to go that high to find a tone I can live with?? I know I won’t play a banjo that doesn’t please my ear (which apparently has become snobbish…) I really didn’t want to spend that much to find out if I could/would stick with banjo. Any input would be appreciated!


I’m not much of a banjo player, but I did play a Recording King banjo that was about $900 that I liked the way it sounded and played. If you get a chance to try one, it would be worth a shot.

With that said, you already know you have an ear for nice things. Sometimes it is cheaper in the long run to get the instrument you are going to keep.

When I first looked at banjos, I too was surprised at the prices for American made banjos. I was looking at Gibson banjos and coming from an electric guitar background, I was not expecting ES175 type prices.

But well made banjos are expensive. If you look at the hardware and the small numbers produced, it does make some sense.

I have heard good things about the chinese made Recording King brand of banjos. The work is supervised by a former Gibson production manager Greg Rich. Quality control is so so and they are usually not set up and ready to play unless the shop selling the banjo has done the set up but once set up, they sound very good.

Prices are much lower than US made banjos with the RK35 (the lowest priced Greg Rich supervised model) under $1000. You may want to check these out.

All my information is from hearsay and internet soundclips only though. I myself have an old Gibson banjo.

I drool over Huber banjos on an almost daily basis.

With that said, my wallet lets me have a Deering Goodtime and a Washburn B-19 I found on ebay for a steal.

It’s all about contentment. Get the best banjo your wallet (or wife) will allow you to get, then pick and grin.

I started with the lower end Fender. It actually wasn’t that bad. After a year I traded for a recording King, it was about $600 and I love it. The sound is great and though veneer it is really a beauty.

Have to say I agree with mriez (hope I got that right)

Although I am truly a beginner, I first bought a bottle cap banjo, because it was cheap. Hated the sound. I now have a 74 Iida that is good but I made the decision that if I’m seriously going to play, just get a good one. I ordered a handmade custom from Hatfields. I’ve heard nothing but good about them. Have not received it yet (it just hit the border today). Can’t wait to play it but will have to, as I just had a total shoulder replacement a week ago. Something tells me I’ll find a way to prop the wing up and pick it a bit.

As was said, sometimes just biting the bullet and getting a good one is the way to go. I’m sure this Hatfield will be in the house until I die.

Congratulations on your soon to be new banjo. It sounds like a really nice one!

I got myself nice banjos from the very start and have never regretted it (nearly three years on).

Hope your shoulder gets better. You’ll just have to play sitting down for now…

For me it all comes down to:
1 what do you want
2 how much are you comfortable spending?
3 what is in your wallet

  1. you want a good sounding banjo.
    I wanted that too, but over a period of time. My banjo-buying-list: I upgraded from Dean (we did not know nothing back then haha!) in 2011 to Goldtone BG150F in 2012 to Huber Lexington in 2014 (cannot say I would not have considered the Working Horse but it wasn’t out then) and soooo happy I invested in the Huber. The great tone and playability definitely increase my practice hours. I could have done a smaller upgrade step after the Goldtone, but that would have probably meant another upgrade in 2016, don’t think that is necessary now. Lexi’s here to stay :sunglasses: !

  2. Let me bring in a different viewpoint besides the price tag as such. It’s a fact that you will longer enjoy a good instrument, so to get confortable with the price of a certain instrument, I think you should break it down somehow, e.g. like this:
    Huber Working Horse catalogs for $2659, so if you really like it and expect to play it for let’s say 5 years, it’ll cost $44 per month (only 1,45 per day,) which is less than some people spend on gym subscriptions they don’t use… And you can always sell a Huber, making the actual amount less than I calculated here. [Dean and Goldtone are €5 apart when calculating for the time I used them, but the quality difference is actually worth way more to me!]
    This calculation helped me to be okay with the price of the Lexington, because even if I knew rationally that quality is well worth paying for, when I looked at the price tag I simply found it a lot of money. However, in this perspective it didn’t seem weird anymore to pay for quality. Moreover, I quit the gym immediately :laughing: :laughing:

Point 3 is key in all this but that question is only for you to answer

— Begin quote from "jacqy79"

For me it all comes down to:
1 what do you want
2 how much are you comfortable spending?
3 what is in your wallet

— End quote

Jacqy made some very good points here. I would add that in buying any instrument, see what you can find used. Using Jacqy’s points on a used instrument may lead to something as good or even better than what you were expecting.