Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

There’s a reason it’s not called “Banjo Center”

(With all due respect to commercial music stores)

On a lark, I stopped by the new local Guitar Center to check out their selection of banjos. Saw only two low end RKs, one behind the counter and another high up on a wall. I picked one up, strummed it, and it was very, very soft. Oh, no bridge!

On my way out, I checked with the clerk that that was their entire inventory, and mentioned the missing bridges. His response: “Oh, yeah it’s weird, when we order banjos, they forget to send us the bridges.” I said I thought that was pretty unlikely, and he said, “… or the bridges get thrown out with the packaging.”

Yep, thanks. No Sale.


Same with a guitar center I was at a few weeks ago, only 2 open back RK, terribly set up. The 3 mandolins were not much better…


Wow, lucky y’all, the one in Beaumont only had cheap Savannahs? And maybe a goodtime, but it was gone the next time. All not set up at all.

How disturbing… Not only about the story but because I did get my Epiphone MB-100 from GC.

Uh… mine came with a bridge that did get set up while I waiting (took awhile too) and a starter kit… Including an instructional basics Banjo DVD called:
Play Banjo Today! Beginner’s Pack: Level 1 Book/CD/DVD Pack (Ultimate Self-Teaching Method!)

I did have to pay for a gig bag and those horrid nylon straps that were so uncomfortable.

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Glad you had a more positive experience than I did!

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Me too…

As a complete newbie, I can imagine no bridge and me trying to figure out why the thing sounds so flat… Figuratively and literally…


Ha, it did take me a second to notice. “Wow, that’s really low action!” :slight_smile:



Well, this has taken an interesting turn. I’ve been trying to find a reasonably priced mid-range open-back banjo to use for my initial foray into clawhammer. As described in a different forum post, I decided on a Gold Tone CB-100 with the “natural finish”. My first stop of course was @BanjoBen’s General Store, but while they had the traditional black finish, their distributor was sold of out the natural finish I wanted (although @AdamAsh and @Jake dug deep to find one for me).

My next steps were to contact the two Gold Tone authorized dealers here in the Bay Area. They couldn’t help either.

BUT, I found one online, at, (ahem), the aforementioned Guitar Center. I bought it. I had it delivered to my home, as I didn’t want the local store to attempt any set up. Carefully opening the box (I wanted to be able to quickly return it if the finish was wrong), and it was the proper finish.

I took it straight to my fave store (and Gold Tone dealer), Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto, and they’re setting it up (adjust the action, truss rod, install 5th string “railroad spikes”, lower the nut, etc.). I also got a not-too-expensive hardshell case that fits it perfectly.

So, I guess I should back off my “Banjo Center” quip a bit. Still wouldn’t go there for setup or repairs (glad I have better local alternatives), but they did come through for me with respect to the instrument I wanted.

Can’t wait to pick it up. I’ll post a vid or two soon.

Thanks for reading.


Congrats on finding what you were looking for. Good call going to Gryphon. I have not had any instrument work done there, but I have probably learned as much from Frank Ford about repair work as I have from anyone else.


Thanks! Yep, love Gryphon. This Sunday is their 50th Birthday, and a huge party is happening. Can’t wait!!!

Fingers crossed that Molly Tuttle will show up! Her Dad Jack has taught there for decades, and she’s in town (she grew up in Palo Alto). We’re seeing her sold-out show at a nearby community center the following night.

Thanks again.

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Guitar Centers are the Wal-Marts in the musical instrument industry!

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