Creek Don't Rise

Is a 6-string banjo "worth it"?
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Author:  paulrace [ Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Is a 6-string banjo "worth it"?

A reader writes:

I want to know / if the 6 string banjo is I dont want to spend over $400

-------------Our Reply, please log in and add your own, or use the e-mail link above to contact me offline------

I totally understand your hesitation. I'm a guitarist AND a 5-string player, and when I bought my first 6-string banjo it took me a while to figure out what it is good for.

If you're a fingerstyle guitarist or lead player, you'll probably get some good out of it. If you're a strummer and you're willing to take the back off the banjo, you may get some good out of it. (That rules out the banjos with one-piece metal pots and all the points, though.)

You won't sound like Earl Scruggs; the instrument wasn't made for that.

You didn't say what state you're in. If you're like me, you don't live anywhere close enough to try one out. I tried several under-$400 ones locally and they were junk. I bought a Dean Backwoods 6 with a metal pot off Craig's list. Then I had to set it up, because the music stores that sell them don't set them up. When I had accomplished everything I could with my first one, I bought the electric version, which I thought would be a step up, but wasn't, really. When I had accomplished everything I could with that one, I found a Deering that more-or-less needed rebuilt for a price I could afford. One of the hard things about the under-$1200 6-string banjos is that most of them are made by guitar companies who don't really know what they're doing, and that all of them (except for the Deering Goodtime Soldana) are made in China with no quality control to speak of. I find it ironic that I can easily get a playable 6-string guitar or 5-string banjo for under $500, but getting an equally playable 6-string banjo for under $800 or so is much, much harder.

May I ask what you're hoping it will do for you?

Here is an article I wrote when I got my first one to play for a faux-Dixieland musical: ... string.htm

Here's an article comparing the two Deans. ... ootout.htm

Hopefully that will answer a few questions.
Please let me know if you have any other questions,


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