There are many outlets with banjos for sale. Many are for new banjos and frequently the discerning banjo enthusiast can find a used banjo at a very appealing “sale” price. But, just as in anything, “let the buyer beware.” When is a used banjo a “good deal” and when is a used banjo just buying someone else’s problems? Let me see if I can give you some tips on what to look for!
FIND A RESOURCE YOU CAN TRUST
Many stores will take in used banjos as a trade in for an upgrade for the existing owner. Some also take used banjos in “on consignment.” If these banjos are sold by a store that has a good reputation for customer service and also has a repair department, then your chances of making a sound investment (no pun intended), are a good one. This type of resource also gives you somewhere to go if you do find something that needs to be taken care of on the banjo. Because used banjos do not carry a warranty, you need to make sure you can have someone knowledgeable and reliable to help you in the future with your purchase.
ASK IF YOU CAN RETURN THE BANJO
Over the years I have heard many sad tales of folks who bought a banjo that was “advertised” as pristine, in great shape, like new….only to find that when they received it the seller had overstated the condition of the banjo. You should ask BEFORE you buy it if you can return it for a refund in case you don’t like the condition of the instrument. While pictures are a great resource, sad to say, they can be altered. Most buyers are honest, but you must protect your investment. Again, you must be a smart shopper.
KNOW WHAT FEATURES TO LOOK FOR
When buying a used banjo, you should know what features to look for. In other words, how “old” can you go back and still get the same features on a brand new banjo from a manufacturer.
Here is where buying a Deering Banjo Company is to your advantage. Because over the years we have done many advancements in our banjos, we keep track of the major changes. By simply calling our toll free number, you can talk with customer service to find out which of the banjos you are looking at are likely to carry the most recent advancements on them. For instance:
- New -06- tone ring alloy and shape - 2006
- New rim wood - 2008
- New inlay patterns - 2010
- New Eagle II Twenty-Ten tone ring - 2010
- New Goodtime Special Tone Ring - 2010
These are major changes in the instrument that have not only improved the sound of our banjos but also our aesthetics. By being aware of what features change the sound of the banjo and when they were made, you can determine which one is truly the best investment.
While eBay and Craigslist can offer some very enticing deals, it is only a good deal if the product is in good condition. If the neck has bending/bowing issues, you may have to buy a new neck. That alone with offset your “bargain” because new necks plus shipping plus labor will eat up the “discount” you received from that bargain priced banjo.
And if the finish is not in good shape, refinishing the banjo is a costly project. Not only do each of the parts have to be refinished, but you have to contend with labor and shipping again. All of this needs to be taken into account when buying a previously owned banjo.
USE ALL YOUR RESOURCES
I was speaking with a gentleman recently who was looking at 4 used Sierra banjos for sale. We quickly eliminated the older one because he had some more current used banjos to look at. But, by looking at the seller and the “story” he had to tell, it was better to buy the one at the reliable resource than the newer instrument and he was still able to get the features he wanted. This is an example of what I was talking about!
Buying used can be a good investment if you are careful and wise in your choices. You can get an instrument that has more features and greater depth of tone. All of this is to your advantage, as long as it really is a “good deal.”