Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

I'm Officially A Goodtimer

Welp, I guess my latest purchase of a Deering Goodtime banjo officially makes me a Goodtimer :sunglasses:

As I mentioned in a different thread, the whole reason I bought a Deering Goodtime was because of it’s take-anywhere-ness. As a truck driver, I wanted something I could take on the road in the seat next to me and it be there for ease of playing (my “truck hound”, so to speak). Shortly after deciding that this was the kind of banjo that I needed, Deering put an add in the Banjo Newsletter that called it the Take Anywhere Banjo, and featured a guy holding it at the base of a mountain next to his tent. Being as I’m a sucker for advertising, and like the thought of a banjo that I can take anywhere (I’m an avid camper/hiker as well), I was pretty much sold.

I bought it a week ago and this week it has served its purpose far beyond what I thought it could. It’s light - which makes a great travel companion, it’s has great tone (WAY better than I thought a $400 banjo could ever have), and there’s not a lot of money put into it for eye candy - so I don’t mind if it gets a little scratch or dent here and there.

Here’s a collage picture of it. I call it “Vanilla Pudding”, because it’s smooth like pudding.


And here’s the truck hound in action:


My avatar also has a picture of me playing it.

Your passenger should have a seatbelt! :confused: It’s a law in most states you know.

Congrats on the new banjo. It looks nice, glad you’re liking it.


Does Vanilla Pudding qualify you to drive in the carpool lane?

— Begin quote from "ldpayton"

Does Vanilla Pudding qualify you to drive in the carpool lane?

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I like the way you think.

[They need a stroking beard smiley]

Awesome! How did the action on it come setup (good/bad/middlin)?

— Begin quote from "mreisz"

Awesome! How did the action on it come setup (good/bad/middlin)?

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Good question: I’ll give you a little background first to help you understand my evaluation of it.

Now remember, I’m only about a year into this hobby. So my experience is severely limited, especially compared to most of the pickers on this board.

Every banjo I have ever bought before this one has been online. Therefore, each banjo is shipped with the bridge off and strings loosened. Not to mention, who knows how FedEx/UPS handled it (having worked as a package handler for FedEx in the past, I shutter to even think about it). So I’ve always had to set the bridge up myself and set the intonation and all that. Even adjusting the truss rods to set the action has been left up to a very nervous me. And I am no expert banjo setter upper, by any stretch of the imagination.

So this time I read that Deering ships all of their banjos to their dealers professionally set up. Sweet! With that information, I was determined to finally play an instrument before I bought it.

So with limited experience, I think it came set up superbly. The action is about 1/8" (maybe a little less) above the fret board at the 19th fret. No string buzzing. The intonation is set beautifully. Additionally, the head is evenly tightened, giving it a consistent sound all the way around. I’m very pleased.

Since picking several banjos in that store, and especially Vanilla Pudding, I am now fully convinced that I have no idea whatsoever how to set up a banjo and I will be promptly finding an expert to take my other banjo to get set up.

It would be nice if you could find out exactly when your banjo was finished being built.

For the first year or so you can expect the head to stretch a bit and the wood to compress slightly where the tone ring hits the rim. These will cause the head to become a bit looser.

I had to tighten the heads on my two new banjos about 3-4 times each during the first 1 1/2 years of the instrument. Learning how to tune the head is a great thing to learn…several times I wondered why the sound I liked seemed to just disappear one day and when I checked the head, found it had tuned down, and tuned it back up, the sound I loved showed right back up!

Glad yours came setup well, that’s always a nice thing.

— Begin quote from "fiddlewood"

Learning how to tune the head is a great thing to learn

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Just out of curiosity do you tune it to a particular frequency (as in a note)?

Mike, Yes.

I keep mine around A. If it gets below G# I’ll tighten it up a bit. It takes some getting used to to tune a head. I check several times before I actually hear what note it is tuned too.

— Begin quote from "mreisz"

Just out of curiosity do you tune it to a particular frequency (as in a note)?

— End quote

Steve Huber at Huber Banjos sends all of theirs out tuned at G#. Then they send along with it a torque wrench so that if it gets out of tune during shipping or anything, you can easily tighten it back up to where it was on the day it Huber released it as a finished product.

Here’s the video link to the interview of how they find that frequency. It’s a long video that I’ve watched about 20 times (I REALLY want a Huber Banjo…Roanoke TrueTone with speed neck option and lexington engraving…in case anybody out there is feeling generous :smiley: ) and I would recommend watching the whole thing, but at about 9:29 is the part about tuning the head.

yep, Huber likes G#

Arthur Hatfeild tunes his banjos heads to A

Dana Cupp (Bill Monroe, Osbornes) tunes it to Bb.

I’ve played Dana’s Hatfield Celebrity and several l Arthur has converted. or built, all excellent sounding.

I have a couple other friends who are great players, and good set-up guys, who just go by a combination of feeling the tension and listening to the tone produced when played to find the sweet spot for that individual banjo.

I never knew banjo heads were pitch tuned. I learn something new around here about every day.