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open backed banjos

johnfitz.com 25 Jan 04 - 12:51 PM
Uncle_DaveO 25 Jan 04 - 01:08 PM
kendall 25 Jan 04 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,Russ 25 Jan 04 - 05:19 PM
BanjoRay 25 Jan 04 - 07:11 PM
Leadfingers 25 Jan 04 - 07:37 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 25 Jan 04 - 08:07 PM
Guy Wolff 25 Jan 04 - 09:40 PM
Cap't Bob 25 Jan 04 - 10:24 PM
kendall 25 Jan 04 - 11:05 PM
Charley Noble 26 Jan 04 - 09:11 AM
GUEST,Chip Arnold 26 Jan 04 - 03:15 PM
johnfitz.com 26 Jan 04 - 03:31 PM
GUEST,Chip A. 26 Jan 04 - 04:20 PM
Uncle_DaveO 26 Jan 04 - 08:37 PM
bigchuck 26 Jan 04 - 09:39 PM
DonMeixner 27 Jan 04 - 12:12 AM
johnfitz.com 28 Jan 04 - 07:38 AM
Charley Noble 28 Jan 04 - 09:09 AM
BanjoRay 28 Jan 04 - 10:46 AM
GUEST,banjoman 28 Jan 04 - 11:32 AM
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Subject: open backed banjos
From: johnfitz.com
Date: 25 Jan 04 - 12:51 PM

I'm in the market for a good open backed banjo. Any recomendations? If anyones interested in a trade I've got a Taylor twelve string 355 that I never play. It's in pretty good shape, though there's a small expansion crack (damn New England winters) near the bridge. I'd be glad to send anyone a photo. Mostly I'm curious about what are your favorite open backed banjos. Thanks in advance.

John Fitz


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Jan 04 - 01:08 PM

Ramsey! Ramsey! Ramsey! (Or, more formally, Chanterelle, but almost nobody calls them that.)

Mike Ramsey built mine for me in late '98-early '99. It's what's referred to as the Ramsey Special model. It's maple, 11 inch, ebony fingerboard, bubinga trim, and a thicker than normal pot wall, by request. It cost $850 at that time, and I suppose a new one today would be something like $1,000--if you were willing to wait through the LONG, LONG waiting list. Mike and his wife are the only "employees" of Chanterelle, and build everything themselves. Not the heads, strings, or tuners, of course, and maybe not the brackets. He told me that in 1998 they had built 175 banjos.   Actually, I understand that he does everything himself except the MOP inlay, which his wife, Patty, does. He then does the MOP engraving.

I've had many, many unsolicited compliments on both the tone and the physical beauty of mine, and I can't recommend Mike's banjos enough. And there are a lot of people who would agree with me.

Because he does make a lot of them, there are a number of used Ramsey's that show up from time to time. Look around.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: kendall
Date: 25 Jan 04 - 02:24 PM

I like my Fairbanks Vega. It's around 100 years old, and it was given to me by the late Tom Rowe.
Try E Bay, they had one of these a while back, $2800.00


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 25 Jan 04 - 05:19 PM

What Uncle Dave said.


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: BanjoRay
Date: 25 Jan 04 - 07:11 PM

Some of the finest modern open back banjos are made by any of the following:
Kevin Enoch (at least a 4 year waiting list for a new one)
Mike Ramsey (Chanterelle)
Bob Flesher
Lo Gordon (Cedar Mountain banjos) - I've got one - sounds great.

I've played a few examples of all of these - they're fine banjos.

No two banjos sound exactly the same, even when they're made by the same guy - you've got to play a few, then the one that really suits you will climb in through your ears, grab you by the wallet and not let go - you have been warned. Good luck.
Ray


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Jan 04 - 07:37 PM

I dont play banjo well enough to warrant a really good (expensive) one
and am quite happy with my Cheapo Korean Mastertone copy and a mid twentyies Dallas which cost me fifty quid and a new head.


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 25 Jan 04 - 08:07 PM

I have a Bart Reiter which I bought maybe ten years ago... a wonderful banjo. Don't know if they still make them.. a small company..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 25 Jan 04 - 09:40 PM

John if you are in Litchfield county in connecticut and want to hear a ransey stop at my Pottery shop . I am on the tr 202 near the intersection of 341 just in Washington . Home phone 860/567/2195 All the best , Guy


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 25 Jan 04 - 10:24 PM

I really enjoy my Vega (Pete Seeger style) with the extra long neck. The main reason is that my voice is lower than average making it difficult to do many songs in the key of "G". There is also the some very nice sounds when using the clawhammer style in the lower tuning.
The best $250 I've ever spent.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: kendall
Date: 25 Jan 04 - 11:05 PM

I had a long neck years ago, wish I had it now.


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Jan 04 - 09:11 AM

John-

"Bart Reiter" banjos are excellent and are currently available from Elderly Instruments in Lansing, MI. Most models are based on the old Vega Whyte Lady and start about $900. Check their website.

My personal favorites are vintage S.S. Stewart banjos from the 1890's, the Model B or C's. You can still purchase "bargains" on e-Bay for less than $1000 but you have to know what you're bidding on. Check the Mugwumps Website for background information on Stewart banjos. I favor the heavier Orchestra model. I have a unique Special Thoroughbred Model B which I am planning to place of e-Bay soon. I'd expect to sell it for $1500; it's entirely refurbished and if you're seriously interested I can send you clear JPG images.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble
e-mail:ipbar@gwi.net


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: GUEST,Chip Arnold
Date: 26 Jan 04 - 03:15 PM

A link to Cedar Mountain Banjos: http://www.cedarmtnbanjos.com/

If you want a woody Lo Gordon's beautiful creations are a fine way to go. "Playable art".

Chip


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: johnfitz.com
Date: 26 Jan 04 - 03:31 PM

What about a kit banjo? I work as a woodshop teacher and am a decent woodworker--though with no experience building an instrument. Has anyone gone that route with success? If so who are the reputable kit makers? Thanks, this has truly whetted my appetite for a better banjo than the clunker on my wall now.

John Fitz


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: GUEST,Chip A.
Date: 26 Jan 04 - 04:20 PM

Check out the Stewart Macdonald kit banjo. I saw a recently completed one the other night. A decent banjo.

Chip


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 26 Jan 04 - 08:37 PM

Yes, Bart Reiter is still making them, but I'm told that age is creeping up on him, and he no longer does fancy MOP work; just (relatively) plain banjos. Still great quality, though, by all reports.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: bigchuck
Date: 26 Jan 04 - 09:39 PM

I've become very fond of my Wildwood open-back, although you don't see
many used examples.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: DonMeixner
Date: 27 Jan 04 - 12:12 AM

I have a Longneck 5 Ode open back. Very plain, very well made. I leave it in G and never retune for different keys. I just add another capo to keep the finger patterns as I move around the neck.
Bst $250.00 I ever spent, but I woould trade for a regular length 5 of equal quality. The Long neck is too hard to use in bars in an active band.

I strongly recommend the Shubb sliding 5th string capo. $ 30.00 very well spent. The hardest part of the longneck experience is finding acceptable strings. Vega Long scale was perfect. They quit making them for some reason and every other set I have tried are awful with one exception. The Addamas five string mediums with loop ends. They more cloesely resemble the Vega gauge mix nd they keep the sound for some time, but they die all at once.

I bought a dozen sets of Deering strings and found them to be utterly useless, the opposite in quality of their banjos. The strings would break with no reason, often 3 a nite. The Addamas hae lasted for months while the Deering lasted for hours. The plus side of that purchase is I can restring my old Dennis Darogi dulcimer for the rest of my life with what is left over.

Don


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: johnfitz.com
Date: 28 Jan 04 - 07:38 AM

Fun stuff. I found an old banjo in the basement and took it to the shop yeterday. It fixed up pretty good. I got some new strings and a book on clawhammer banjo and then annoyed my children for the rest of the evening. Thanks for all the info. This has only picqued my interest in getting a nicer instrument. My strings are very high off the fretboard. Is this normal?


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Jan 04 - 09:09 AM

Strings should generally be as low as possible without buzzing when you make chords. There are several possibilities for adjustments. The simplest would to lower the bridge on the banjo head; either get a new one that isn't as high or sand down the one you have. Or the andgle of the neck may need to be adjusted, probably a shop job; I'm assuming the neck is straight.

Good luck,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: BanjoRay
Date: 28 Jan 04 - 10:46 AM

If you're playing clawhammer, and you want to get the Round Peak "over the neck" sound, you don't need the strings that close to the neck. I think my action at the top fret is around 1/4 inch. Bluegrassers tend to go for low actions, old timers tend not to, within reason. There are always exceptions to this - of course.
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: open backed banjos
From: GUEST,banjoman
Date: 28 Jan 04 - 11:32 AM

I have been playing a Gold Tone open back which was made up from a kit for quite a long time now - its pretty good and mikes up well in the band.
I bought myself a??? th birthday present in December - a Gold Tone WHyte Lady with a long neck - what a banjo - although its takes a bit of getting used to.
Best advice is to try as many banjos as you can and settle for the one that you feel comfortable with -both price and playing.

Lots of good tunes played on an old banjo & my 1926 Windsor, despite its worn out look can still rattle along.
Good luck - keep picking


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