first banjo and mandolin

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Hi there. Looking to buy my first banjo and/or mandolin. Any recommendations please?
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  • droflufdrofluf Frets: 97
    What's your budget?

    Can't help with banjo but for a mandolin I'd go for an A style (oval shaped) over F (with a scroll). Eastman and Kentucky have good entry level models as do Ashbury. If you buy from Amazon or a box shifter also factor in a setup; if anything more crucial on a mandolin than a guitar due to the shorter scale and floating bridge.
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  • VimFuegoVimFuego Frets: 8191
    also can't help with the banjo (though got a few mutes around the place) but mando's fall into two basic catagories, flat top and carved. Flat tops (like guitars basically) tend to be significantly cheaper and IME, produce a more open tone. Carved tops produce a more punchy, sweeter tone and seem louder. OFC, it's easier and cheaper to produce a good flat top, but carved will, all other things being equal, be a better long term instrument. That said, I have a fylde flat top and can't ever really see me upgrading it this side of a lottery win. 
    And yeah  set up is important. 

    I'm not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me.

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  • humbuckohumbucko Frets: 153
    Thanks both

    Budget is tbc depending on what the market is like but I guess I'd be looking at the equivalent of what a decent starter electric guitar costs (think the Yamahas). Whether that's £50 or £150 I don't particularly mind
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  • droflufdrofluf Frets: 97
    At the risk of sounding like an instrument snob a good rule of thumb is that you need to pay twice as much for a mandolin as you would for a guitar of equivalent quality.
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  • I recently bought an entry level "Alabama" brand 5 string banjo that was just a little over 150 pound sterling (Canadian $300.00) that is OK for learning on.  It seems in this part of the world that's the going rate for a new beginner banjo.  Pawn shops might have a better quality choice for the same money.  The first thing I learned though is banjos are LOUD.  So loud I don't play mine at home, instead I took a solid body electric I wasn't using and removed the top string, replaced the "A" string with a high "E" string and tuned to the standard 5 string tuning - G-D-G-B-D and practice unplugged on it.  Other than having the top string starting at the nut as opposed to the 5th fret it's great for stumbling through the basics without causing "banjo rage" among other members of the household.

    Turns out “you’re so beautiful when you’re sleeping” is only considered a compliment if she knows who you are.

    Dulcet Jones Creepy Music Blog    http://dulcetjones.blogspot.com/

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  • KittyfriskKittyfrisk Frets: 1170
    If you do decide to get a banjo, be prepared for a world of adjustments that will make setting up a Floyd Rose look like a doddle.
    I bought a 6 string banjo on a whim a while ago (don't ask why). Attempted to tension the skin, put it back in its case & its been there ever since...
    Mandolin on the other hand, lovely things.
    Just be careful not to get one with too narrow a nut width.
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  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 5619
    humbucko said:
    Hi there. Looking to buy my first banjo and/or mandolin. Any recommendations please?
    Yes - don’t buy a banjo.

    (Sorry, somebody had to ;) )
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 15858
    If you're anywhere near a Hobgoblin store, get yourself in there and talk to them.

    Sounds like you're not too sure what sort of instrument you want (banjo or mando), nor of your price range.

    Whatever you do, don't click here and go see the guy (like I did) because that can get quite expensive  :D
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  • BidleyBidley Frets: 2256
    drofluf said:
    At the risk of sounding like an instrument snob a good rule of thumb is that you need to pay twice as much for a mandolin as you would for a guitar of equivalent quality.
    This. You can get a guitar that plays well and sounds decent for under a ton, but mandos aren't there yet. Lower end stuff from Fender, Gretsch etc is largely dogshit and a nightmare to play. It's best to spend as much as you can, look for a used Kentucky or something.
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  • droflufdrofluf Frets: 97
    TTony said:
    If you're anywhere near a Hobgoblin store, get yourself in there and talk to them.

    Sounds like you're not too sure what sort of instrument you want (banjo or mando), nor of your price range.

    Whatever you do, don't click here and go see the guy (like I did) because that can get quite expensive  :D
    @TTony what did you end up buying? 

    It's worth looking at Hobgoblin as they also sometimes have second hand Hathways in stock. That's how I got mine, less than the cost of the Eastman I was considering and, to my ears at least, nice sounding.
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 596
    If you get a banjo be sure to get one with geared tuning pegs. The simple friction ones are impossible to keep in tune.

    If you want to make a banjo quieter, and you will, you can (a) remove the resonator dish at the back, and (b) stuff something soft behind the tension rod to damp the membrane.

    (I believe that is where the expression 'put a sock in it' comes from.)
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 15858
    @drofluf ;
    Bouzouki
    Bouzouki
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