Creek Don't Rise

Value of 70s Fender Banjo
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Author:  paulrace [ Sun Sep 01, 2019 9:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Value of 70s Fender Banjo

A reader writes:
I was gifted a banjo by my father, and can't seem to track down any information on the make and model / year. It is some kind of Fender Resonator Banjo - He says he thinks it is from the 70's from what he recalls. Any information would be helpful (FYI I have reached out to Fender as well, and haven't heard anything back) I do have pictures. Your guide was helpful for analyzing the state of the instrument, it's in excellent condition by those standards. Thanks for your time and have a great day!


Thanks for getting in touch. Are there any indicators of where the thing was made? Fender banjos were made in Japan for a while, then Korea, then China.
The Japanese banjos tend to have better quality control and materials.
None of them were built in America or have anything like the value of, say, Gibson or Deering banjos.

Fender's current Chinese banjos are available for $450 or so, if you know where to shop, though some of them list for much more. The best Japanese Fender banjos seldom go for more than that; $250-300 in top condition is more likely.

If you can send me photos from every angle, including a closeup of the side of the body so I can determine if there is a tone ring, I can be more specific.

Hope this helps,

Just reply to this message and attach photos.

- Paul

Author:  paulrace [ Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Value of 70s Fender Banjo

The reader replied, sharing photos of a Fender banjo with gold-looking hardware and dark brown wood.


It looks like it has a tone ring (that is, the banjo's drum head is resting on a metal circle instead of directly on the wood. It probably weighs a ton as a result.) This definitely increases the value.

Is the banjo gold-plated or is it nickel-plated and the plating has yellowed? If the latter, go to any good motorcycle shop and pick up a tube of Simichrome polish. It stinks to high heaven, so use it outside with a bunch of disposable rags like old cotton socks or a cut-up t-shirt.

This looks like one of Fender's best Japanese banjos. If you're certain it came into the family in the 1970s it almost certainly is.

For comparison, here's their best Japanese banjo: ... w.ds&pla=1

Generally, Leos top out around $600-700 if they're in perfect condition and the buyer knows banjos, though most people don't know what they are looking at and I've seen them go for less. Since so many low-quality Chinese Fender banjos have flooded the market in the last 15 years or so, saying "Fender banjo" doesn't give people the whole story. If its neck is straight and everything else is good, you might advertise it as one of Fender's pro Bluegrass-ready Japanese-built banjos from the 1970s and maybe get an interested buyer.

Not that you are planning to sell it, of course, but now you know the rest of the story.

Best of luck - Paul

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