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How Do I Choose the Best Used Banjo?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 08 April 2014
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When shopping for a used banjo, do not purchase one sight unseen. You need to inspect the banjo carefully for signs of damage. If, however, you must buy a used banjo over the Internet, a money-back guarantee can offer you peace of mind. Depending upon the type of music you will be playing, you can choose from a four-, five-, or six-string model. The cost of replacement or repair to any major banjo parts should also be taken into consideration.

Do an overall inspection of a used banjo before making your decision. You need to inspect all strings for signs of wear or damage. While strings can be replaced at a minimal cost, other banjo parts such as metal frets or the tuner, can be expensive to have repaired or replaced. Also check for loose and rusty metal parts. While oxidation may not influence the sound quality, it can be unsightly.

Before you buy a used banjo, try it out to see how it plays. The banjo should feel comfortable in your hands and play smoothly. If the used banjo needs tuning, make sure the tuner turns smoothly and you achieve good results. The wood on the instrument should not show signs of being warped, as this could impact the overall sound quality.

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The weight of the banjo can be a factor as well. While you might feel comfortable with a banjo that is light, this generally could indicate a poorly constructed instrument. A quality-made banjo will feel substantial in the hand, generally weighing more than 7 pounds (3.2 kilograms).

It's best to buy a name-brand banjo, especially if you are buying a used model. For reliability, choose a manufacturer that is associated with musical instruments. Prior to making your selection, do some research on companies that manufacture banjos. Obtaining a warranty for your banjo is essential as well. If you purchase your used banjo from a music store, ask the associate for advice.

Decide whether you'd prefer your used banjo to be a four-, five- or six-string instrument. If you're interested in playing New Orleans style jazz music, you may prefer a four-string Dixieland model. A five-string banjo is more suitable for playing bluegrass or country music. A clawhammer banjo would be your best choice if you prefer to play without a pick.

If you're purchasing a used banjo for a beginner or a young child, refrain from spending a lot of money. You needn't buy a very expensive banjo for an inexperienced player, especially if he hasn't made a long-term commitment to play. Once he grasps the fundamentals of playing the banjo, he can acquire a more expensive model with better features.

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