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#277768 - 01/02/15 03:00 PM [Off-Topic] Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime
Joe V Offline
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Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 1020
Loc: NYC
Hi all,

...this a narrow question - since I was shopping on Craigslist for banjos and came across a Deering Sierra listed at $1300. I've always felt it important to at least buy a midrange used instrument rather than a 'beginner', and I've read that many people put Deering right at the top of companies to buy good banjos from.

Of course, I was hoping not to pay more than about $500 for a good used banjo, but the only good one right now on CL is the Deering Sierra at $1300.

I had also narrowed down from reading banjo websites to a Recording King or Deering, but the one I liked - the RK-35 (at least from reading reviews) $800 new, is rarely listed at ~500+.

I've read that the Deering "GoodTime" banjo available at about $400 'feels' really good; it doesn't look nearly as "cool" to me as the RK35, or of course the Sierra.

Any inputs from you guys greatly appreciated.

But finally my concrete question - when you buy a Deering "good time" banjo (list ~$400) vs. say a "Sierra" (list ~2000) - what exactly are you paying the extra for ?

Is it the parts themselves where materials are more expensive a big part of it, or is there substantially more workmanship involved and that's where the extra $$$ goes ?

I guess the question applies to guitars also, but maybe in a slightly different way - banjo is a different set of materials with the skin and all....almost like a snare drum pad with strings on top : )

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#277776 - 01/02/15 03:36 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
JohnJohnJohn Offline
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Before I bought my Deering Goodtime I did extensive research online and I went to every music store around and played a whole bunch of banjos. I played cheap ones with missing strings at Guitar Center and banjos costing several thousand from my local old time music store. I would always try to either take a banjo player with me or find someone at the store who played and get their opinion.

At the end of the day I chose the Goodtime and would have chosen it over other models even if it had cost 2-3 times as much! The fact that it was around $400 was just a wonderful bonus! At first I was a little put off by the simple look of the Goodtime. But after hearing it and feeling it in my hands it was easy to go with it instead of the fancier models. And now I just love the simple way it looks with the light-colored wood!

Oh, and I got The Crow edition which cost just a little more but is kinda cool! But, had they offered the Zombie Killer when I bought mine I would have been tempted to get that model! http://www.deeringbanjos.com/products/goodtime-zombie-killer-5-string-banjo

http://youtu.be/ZRhwrFWnoLQ

http://goodtimebanjos.com/

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#277786 - 01/02/15 04:25 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
Joe V Offline
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Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 1020
Loc: NYC
well, that's awfully helpful John. Comments from the thoughtful and experienced serious musicians on this sight are always weighted heavily by me. In NYC, very hard to find a good selection of quality banjos to trial. Best place we have is Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island - quite a hike for me.

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#277788 - 01/02/15 04:29 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
Kemmrich Offline
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Registered: 02/27/07
Posts: 1815
I have heard nothing but good things about the Deering goodtime banjo. Obviously the Sierra has a resonator backing for volume while the Goodtime banjo does not (and the Sierra must be higher quality across the board).

I think that $400 is the max you would want to spend on a first banjo -- and the Goodtime banjo does seem to be more than acceptable on the quality side.
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#277792 - 01/02/15 04:46 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
Joe V Offline
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Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 1020
Loc: NYC
John - curious to know how you felt about the open back vs. closed (that's resonator, right ? - no other types).

I've read that open back have higher action - is that true ?

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#277801 - 01/02/15 05:08 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
KeithS Online   content
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Registered: 06/09/03
Posts: 900
Loc: Mobile, Alabama
Joe,

Open back banjos are typically chosen by folks who play claw hammer style. Many CH banjo players consider it easier to play with a higher action. Banjo players are always trying different bridges and bridge heights.
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#277803 - 01/02/15 05:18 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
Joe V Offline
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Loc: NYC
For guitar players that are comfortable using fingers on a nylon string, is the attache much different on a banjo ?

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#277804 - 01/02/15 05:23 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
KeithS Online   content
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I'll also add that Greg Deering makes great banjos. I had him make a Golden Era for me almost 30 years ago with a beautiful tiger stripe maple neck. It's a good looking and great sounding banjo. With the Goodtime series you are giving up looks and getting a gigbag instead of a hardshell case. Deering considers the Goodtime to be and entry level banjo and the Sierra a low end professional model. I've never known Deering to sacrifice sound or playability to make a cheaper banjo.
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#277852 - 01/02/15 11:51 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
JohnJohnJohn Offline
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Registered: 06/25/12
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Originally Posted By: Joe V
John - curious to know how you felt about the open back vs. closed (that's resonator, right ? - no other types).


In the beginning I was hoping to find a nice banjo with an easily removable resonator so I would have that option but ended up just getting the open back Goodtime because the thing still projects a lot of sound! And OMG it is light as a feather wheras many of the resos I have picked up are heavy and cumbersome.

but if you prefer the resonator try the Goodtime Two! Still great value and now you have the resonator!

Quote:
I've read that open back have higher action - is that true ?

not sure about the action difference Joe but the action on my Goodtime is really nice and plays well all the way up the neck and never have any fret buzzing.

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#277853 - 01/02/15 11:52 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Kemmrich]
JohnJohnJohn Offline
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Registered: 06/25/12
Posts: 2224
Originally Posted By: Kemmrich
I have heard nothing but good things about the Deering goodtime banjo. Obviously the Sierra has a resonator backing for volume while the Goodtime banjo does not (and the Sierra must be higher quality across the board).

I think that $400 is the max you would want to spend on a first banjo -- and the Goodtime banjo does seem to be more than acceptable on the quality side.

Kevin, you can get the Goodtime Two which adds the reso for about $150 more.

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#277854 - 01/02/15 11:53 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
JohnJohnJohn Offline
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Registered: 06/25/12
Posts: 2224
Originally Posted By: Joe V
For guitar players that are comfortable using fingers on a nylon string, is the attache much different on a banjo ?

Didn't understand the question (attache?) but I can tell you I play clawhammer and also fingerpick without picks and it sounds great!

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#277874 - 01/03/15 04:55 AM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
Joe V Offline
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Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 1020
Loc: NYC
Ah - I meant to write is the "attack" - the way you pluck the string with your fingers, different on the banjo.

I actually enjoy practicing quietly (e.g. without too much volume), so my 'cheap' yamaha nylon-string, which isn't the greatest for playing live acoustic without amplification, is excellent for practice.

It sounds like the banjo might actually be 'annonyingly' loud for me during practice - maybe without the resonator is the way to go.

Is it a simple matter of putting a resonator on and off manually ? or is it something that needs to be semi-permanently to permanently affixed ?

Thanks all for your great comments. I've learned so much and discovered so many great resources from all of you over the years.

Regards,
Joe V.

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#277878 - 01/03/15 05:58 AM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
bobcflatpicker Offline
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Registered: 10/27/07
Posts: 3357
Loc: WV, USA
Quote:
I actually enjoy practicing quietly (e.g. without too much volume), so my 'cheap' yamaha nylon-string, which isn't the greatest for playing live acoustic without amplification, is excellent for practice.

It sounds like the banjo might actually be 'annonyingly' loud for me during practice - maybe without the resonator is the way to go.


Considering the above, I would recommend getting an open back. Even quiet banjos are louder than most people like.

Quote:
Is it a simple matter of putting a resonator on and off manually ? or is it something that needs to be semi-permanently to permanently affixed ?


The resonator is usually easily removed with a few thumb screws, but having a resonator also means there has to be a flange around the banjo. After you remove the resonator the flange will dig into your leg if you play sitting down and it will poke you in the chest while standing up. Whether you play sitting or standing you’ll need to use a strap so you can hang onto the thing.

Deering does make good banjos. You may want to consider moving up to the Goodtime Classic open back banjo. It cost a couple of hundred more, $689.00, but it is a step up in quality and you get away from that blonde look. It would also be easier to sell if you ever want get rid of it.

http://www.deeringbanjos.com/products/classic-goodtime-5-string-banjo
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#277932 - 01/03/15 09:55 AM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
Joe V Offline
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Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 1020
Loc: NYC
No tricks to practicing at a lower volume ? How about a cloth on the skin, or something like that.

Also - anything in particular to look for when evaluating a used, high-quality intrument like the Sierra ?

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#277935 - 01/03/15 10:15 AM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
bobcflatpicker Offline
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#277983 - 01/03/15 01:01 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: bobcflatpicker]
KeithS Online   content
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Posts: 900
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When I'm playing the banjo and want to keep the volume down, one of those spring loaded wooden clothes pins clipped on each end of the bridge mutes the hell out of it.
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#277986 - 01/03/15 01:06 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
JohnJohnJohn Offline
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Registered: 06/25/12
Posts: 2224
Originally Posted By: Joe V
No tricks to practicing at a lower volume ? How about a cloth on the skin, or something like that.

Also - anything in particular to look for when evaluating a used, high-quality intrument like the Sierra ?

for an open back you can stuff an old flannel shirt inside it! I play might softly all the time cause I too have folks around who are not the biggest banjo fans around!

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#278025 - 01/03/15 04:35 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: Joe V]
bobcflatpicker Offline
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Registered: 10/27/07
Posts: 3357
Loc: WV, USA
Joe,

Quote:
But finally my concrete question - when you buy a Deering "good time" banjo (list ~$400) vs. say a "Sierra" (list ~2000) - what exactly are you paying the extra for ?

Is it the parts themselves where materials are more expensive a big part of it, or is there substantially more workmanship involved and that's where the extra $$$ goes ?


For any stringed instrument, the difference between a beginner model and professional model lies in a whole host of things. The primary ones are the quality of the workmanship, the quality of the components, the sound, the feel and playability.

Each of those things can be broken down into a list of minute details, most of which can only be discerned by a skilled player. If you never make it above beginner or intermediate skill level, you won’t be able to appreciate all the differences between a high quality entry level instrument and a professional grade instrument. Just don't buy a cheap instrumenet if you actually want to learn to play it.

If you google “banjo mute” you’ll see there are dozens of varieties. I’ve used socks, tee shirts, dish rags, etc. Whatever you use, a muted banjo sounds like a muted banjo. It’s not just quieter, it loses the character of the instrument.

Open back banjos are quieter, more mellow sounding and much lighter. Resonator banjos are louder, brighter and much heavier.

Only you can decide what you want and how much you want to spend. There’s no advice from anyone else that will answer either of those questions.


Edited by bobcflatpicker (01/03/15 05:14 PM)
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#278050 - 01/03/15 07:55 PM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: bobcflatpicker]
flatfoot Offline
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Registered: 06/15/00
Posts: 2185
Loc: Sacramento CA
Everything Deering makes is good quality in every respect. If you can get your hands on a Goodtime and a more expensive model you would quickly see where they were able to keep the price low. The economies used in the Goodtime do not compromise sound, playability or durability.

The Sierra is an excellent instrument for bluegrass. I have found it too strident for the vocal accompaniment and melodic soloing that I do.


Edited by flatfoot (01/03/15 07:57 PM)
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#278120 - 01/04/15 07:57 AM [Off-Topic] Re: Question about price of Deering Banjos - and what 'more' you get with the Sierra vs the Goodtime [Re: flatfoot]
Joe V Offline
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Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 1020
Loc: NYC
I was almost ready to pull the trigger, withdrew the chase from the bank - then my wife reminded me of the many instruments I have recently purchased that I haven't played yet...(roland drums, a nice mandolin)...and I felt guilty shelling out a grand plus on another that will probably go largely unplayed for many years.

Anyone know a good psychologist ? I think she may be on to something.

...and then proceeded to look at the less expensive goodtime models.

Sometimes I like to tell her about the cost of the instruments I'm buying because I feel our finances are collectively shared, and other times, I think it better to keep it a secret. But I can't deny her accuracy in pointing out the many unplayed instruments I own lol

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