After playing for a year or more, students very often ask me what banjos I recommend they upgrade to. Some people will play their beginner models for many years (I did!), others seem to want to upgrade right away. I usually tell them they don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a good banjo, in many cases under $2000 is definitely feasible. My second banjo was a 1978 RB-250 that we paid around $700 for.
However, there are those that want to take the plunge, sometimes they have the following requirements:
1)New (used is not an option) 2)American-made 3)Under $3000.00
So, for them, I have designed this list. It provides a few American Made banjos under $3000. These are in no particular order; I provide the information about specs I was able to find. In general, I felt as manufacturers needed to make more detailed information available and easily accessible via their website.
- Bishline Cimmaron=$2295.00, American Made, Walnut with Burl Walnut Resonator, Ebony Fingerboard, 3-ply maple rim, hardshell case. I’ve had multiple students purchase this banjo and I must say I’m always impressed with the quality, setup, and sound of these instruments. I really like the satin finishes. They recently released the Harvest model that runs around $2795; it looks beautiful as well. http://www.bishlinebanjos.com/wp/models/cimarron/
- RK-M5, RK-M7=cost $2999, For years I’ve recommended students purchase the RK-35, which I still do recommend if your budget is under $1000. However for this list I wanted to use the upper end, American Made line for appropriate comparisons. Curly maple neck and resonator, 3 ply maple rim, Bell Brass Tonering, Rosewood Fretboard, 5-star planetary tuners, 27 3/8 scale length, stainless steel frets, hardshell case included. The M-7 is the Honduran mahogany version. http://www.recordingking.com/banjos/m5
- Hatfield Buckcreek=cost $2700.00, American Made, Mahogany Neck and Resonator, Gotoh Tuners, Hatfield Tone Ring, 3ply Jimmy Cox maple Rim, Rosewood or Ebony Fingerboard, Hardshell Case. There are hundreds of people singing the praises of these banjos in the online banjo community. I have two students with them and they really sing. http://www.hatfieldbanjos.com/buck-creek-model.asp
- Deering Golden Eagle II-cost $2819, American Made, 2010 Brass Tone ring, 3-ply maple rim, Planetary Banjo Tuners, Maple Neck stained dark mahogany, gloss finish, two-piece flange, comes with hardshell case, 26 1/4 scale length, weighs 10 pounds. https://www.deeringbanjos.com/collections/eagle-banjos/products/eagle-ii-5-string-banjo
- Huber Workhorse CM-3, MG-3-cost $2950. The MG-3 is mahogany neck and resonator, 844 tone ring, leaves & bow inlay; The CM-3 is the maple model https://huberbanjos.com/workhorse-series/
I must say there isn’t much to choose from with American-made banjos below the $3000 mark. A number of well-known makers offer no banjos at this price point. I think they are missing out on a lot of buyers; however, I do understand it may be tough to turn much of a profit with their overhead and setup.
Well, there you have it. Four American-Made Banjos under $3000. I won’t offer my opinion about what I like best. I will leave it up to you to go try them out and decide for yourselves.