Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

My playing is starting to progress I am looking at upgrading my banjo. I intend this to be the last banjo I buy so I want to make sure I make the right decision.

I’m torn between a vintage Epiphone Alhambra and a new Emerald Paragon Gold.

There’s only a couple hundred difference between the two, so money isn’t a factor.

Can someone with some wisdom please advise me on which would be best to go for.

Or maybe there’s another Banjo you’d recommend?

Ta.

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

You could get more subjective opinions here than there are available banjo choices. Try them out and pick the one you like best within your price range. My only advice is don’t buy anything you haven’t tried.

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Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

Thanks @Gobby, I’m sure both instruments will be equally good in their own right. I guess opinions what I’m after when I asked for someone with wisdom, pros & cons of each etc.. But I agree I’ll definitely try before I buy.

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

I don’t have a ton of experience with either. I have played a few vintage Epiphone banjos, and thought they were quite nice, and my personal preference tends toward vintage instruments. I played an Emerald Paragon Gold, and it was a stunning beauty to look at. But I found the sound to be a bit too much on the brightness. (And I like bright, ringy banjos) But setup has a lot to do with that.

Just in general, a vintage instrument will hold its value better than a new one. But if you’re making this the last banjo you ever buy, it doesn’t matter as much… So I think it’s certainly down to which one you feel better playing…

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

Hi,

I would agree with what has been said previously and say definitely try before you buy.
The vintage banjos can be great, I know Gerry O’Connor has said he records with a Vintage Epiphone Recording A. Also I’ve heard many people say good things about the Emerald Banjos.

For the price range you’re in the Deering Calico Banjo could also be worth considering, Kieran Hanrahan has spoken highly of it. Also many players like the Clareen Banjos so that could also be worth looking into.

Similarly there is also a Clifford Essex Paragon being advertised on Banjo Hangout at the moment, these are vintage instruments that are very highly regarded.

Hope some of these suggestions help.

Cheers

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

Whatever you buy be sure to take it to a luthier skilled in the banjo world. It’s probably as important as the instrument you choose. None will be perfect. You’ll adapt. Looking for "perfect" will have you bouncing from instrument to instrument. It’s always a moving target. The enemy of "good" is "better".

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

Thanks everyone.. plenty to ponder over.

I’m not sure I’m any the wiser ..lol. I really appreciate the advice and opinions.

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

I like vintage banjo’s myself; Vega, Paramount, B&D and tend to like the heavy ones with larger heads. I play a Vega Style X no 9 and my banjo GAS has been satisfied. Spend time, go out and play as many as you can.

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

@Daniel Watson Gerry O’Connor plays in regular tenor banjo tuning, so difficult to compare.

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

@houlberg Fair point. I do love the sound of his Epiphone though, super punchy.

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

That’s a really difficult question to answer — vintage versus new, and opinions vary with tastes. Vintage does have a certain mojo, and as said earlier, a good vintage instrument should hold its value. I have an Epiphone Recording A, which is a wonderful instrument for trad, and I believe the Alhambra is the same as the Rec A with more bling. If it’s in good condition needing little work and is set up right, it should be a great player. I’ve never played an Emerald so shouldn’t comment, but I’ve heard they’re really good banjos too. All that said, I recently acquired a new JP and I’m having a hard time putting it down!! I echo the advice given earlier — if you’re looking at purchasing at that level, it would really be worth trying them both out and see which one "speaks to you" or whether you feel it’s worth looking around more. Good luck!

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

I, like the others who’ve answered have the same thoughts. Vintage instruments keep their value better, but are much more of a problem when they need worked on (most will at some point in their life). Finding original replacement parts, in order to keep the value up is difficult and costly, whereas a newer instrument is much easier to find parts for or even upgrade. In my experience, tuning machines made years ago, do not compare to modern tuning peg choices. Modern Waverly’s are far better than the original plank tuners on my 1912 Gibson Model A Mandocello, but replacing them would drop the value of the instrument significantly ($500 or more per a couple of appraisers). So proceed with caution if you go the vintage route, as even replacing an endpin can change the value. Whichever way you go, as several others have stated, having a competent banjo technician or luthier go over the instrument and properly set it up, will increase your satisfaction with your choice. Best wishes for your success.

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

I play a bacon supertone 1935 I have been giging with this for 22 years and never had a prob it was the best investment i ever made .. I made at least 30 times what I paid for it and it still holds it value so go and invest in yourself and your instrument. Best of luck

Re: Which Banjo is best for progressing player?

Thanks again everyone for the advice and comments. I made my decision and indeed purchase.

I opted for the Epiphone Recording A. The sound from it is amazing, completely different from what I’m used to. Very pleased with what I got for the money and I’m sure it’ll stand me well for years to come.

P.