Did you know that banjos almost always have a higher price tag than guitars of similar quality? That's because banjos usually have metal work and plating, which raises the cost. However, the price gap can start to close as you approach a better quality banjo.
Beware of cheap, poorly made banjos. You know - the ones that are found at yard sales, on-line, as hand-me-downs from friends or family members. The price seems too good to turn down and the banjo may even look really good, but chances are it is not a playable instrument.
In my 50 years in business we have seen countless customers come in with a “too good to turn down” banjo. The customer is excited that they now have a banjo (finally, after waiting so long!) that cost them very little money and they want to get started playing as soon as possible.
98 out of 100 times the customer discovers that the cost to get their banjo up and running far outweighs what its value will be AFTER the necessary fixes, and - for the cost of making that banjo playable they could buy a brand new, better quality banjo.
Getting a cheap, poorly made banjo in playable condition is much more difficult and time consuming than getting a decent banjo up and running. I can set up a good banjo in less time and with more success than any cheap one.
When banjo shopping ask the sales person what they know about coordinator rods, hook spacing, head tightness, bridge location, 5th string machines, bridge height, heal cutting, tone rings, planetary tuners, string gauge, arm rests, tailpieces and string mounting, truss rod function and lag bolts, 5th string hooks, sliding capos, and can they play one so you can be on the receiving end of how it sounds?
Guitars and banjos have strings and frets (usually) and that is where the similarities end. Being an expert in guitars does not make you knowledgeable about banjos (and vice versa!).
We have an extensive banjo selection (the best in the tri-state area), expert banjo knowledge, and competitive banjo prices. We always perform a set-up on every instrument BEFORE we put it up for sale. We also play, build, and repair them. So put us to the test and see what we know!
Bob – Thank you for your kind words and glad to know the set-up and wrist tip have made a difference. Best, Karl
I can’t thank you enough for the “tune-up” on my banjo. It sounds great. I also should pay you for the tip on how to bend my wrist while fretting—such a difference!
It was good to read your Banjo selection blog. I wish I had known about your site before I bought my banjo. Even though I bought a decent instrument. I now want a better sounding one and might have been able to have made a wiser choice. Thank You.