About 10 years ago I got the itch to try banjo. As you mention, I also thought learning Scruggs style banjo might be helpful to me in my Travis picking on guitar, and as it turned out it was. Learning those Scruggs style three-finger rolls made me a lot more disciplined and accurate as a Travis style guitar picker. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning process with banjo and its related benefits as a guitar player, but I realized after several years that I was never going to be able to attain the speed and accuracy on the banjo that would allow me to become a real bluegrass player, and since Scruggs style picking is pretty much an exclusively bluegrass genre specialty I stopped playing banjo. I don't regret the time I put in because of the beneficial results in my guitar playing, but I should have also spent some time learning clawhammer style which is more applicable to my singer/songwriter performance style. I still have the banjo so maybe I'll end up doing that eventually.Thanks my friends. I too hope that playing bluegrass banjo will make me a better finger picker on my acoustic guitars. The Scruggs banjo style looks to have a lot in common with Travis style picking on the guitar.
It's just a vision I've had of myself one day retired and sitting out on the covered porch with a banjo in my hands and the great grand kids joining in singing and dancing. When I was 4 or 5 my family used to spend a lot of time doing that with a couple of my parents friends. It was always Frank on pedal steel, Henry on banjo and Clarence on guitar. Maybe I want to go back as the old adult this time. It just feels so down home cool. I'll check out Banjo Hangout too. I think I've already been there when cruising banjo sites but didn't know it was such a well thought of site for information. I'm thinking TDPRI for banjo players?
Be aware the banjo jokes....I've always wanted to add a banjo to the instruments I play and, having just passed my 67th birthday, started thinking if I'm ever going to do this I'd better get it done. I've been researching everything I can about banjo brands, models, dealers, lessons, maintenance, etc. Because I don't have the time it took to climb through the build quality from beginner to professional of the banjo like I did with guitars, keyboards, etc. I've decided a good middle tier model would be the way to go. One banjo. Bought new. Never needing to be upgraded. So ..... I'm interested in the 5 string resonator "bluegrass" banjo.
I fell in love with this instrument way back in the early '60s when "The Dillards", a Missouri ozark band, accepted the role of "The Darling" family on the Andy Griffith Show. Doug Dillard played the banjo and impressed the heck out of me. Over time I got into Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, Pete Seeger, Roy Clark, Carl Jackson, (check out Carls banjo playing when he teamed with Glen Campbell to do "Dueling Banjos"), Tony Trischka and Steve Martin.I've been a follower / listener for a long time.
I've pretty much narrowed it down to the brands Gold Tone, Deering, Recording King and Gold Star. A lot of guitar brands also make banjos but I figured since the banjo wasn't their primary focus and banjos being so different of a build that I would stick with brands that made the banjo their #1 product. I've found a handful of dealers on the internet and have had discussions with three of them. I've played a number of banjos in local stores but most of those are pretty low tier. Ibanez, Oscar Schmidt, Epiphone, Fender, Deerings "Good time" range, etc. Out of those the Deerings are the best of the lot in my opinion. In the middle range I've played a couple of Gold Tone and Recording King. They are definitely a step up and probably something I'll end up purchasing if I go through with this plan. I found a couple of middle tier Deerings but, in Deerings world, middle tier starts in the low to mid $2000 range. When I ask about "pro" level banjos all of the online dealers use the Deering Sierra line as the starting point. They run in the upper $2000 to lower $3000 range. They're supposed to be the most popular of the professional banjos too. Still ...... that's pretty pricey. Then again, you'd probably be surprised that the majority of the professional tier "production banjos, (not custom or boutique), range between the mid $3000s to lower $7000s. I think production banjo makers and production truck makers might be in cahoots.
Anyway ..... any thoughts or advice would be appreciated. I'm sure there's got to be a nest of banjo players embedded in a Telecaster forum. Maybe in a tavern backroom, church basement or horse barn?
While Richelieu was more known for their tenor banjos, they had a second hand five string resonator at a decent price that I bought.
All my Banjo's are ancient, newest one is a '64 ODE so i can't help with the new brands but i can say, do it! Its a ton of fun (literally a ton) if you're gonna by a reso!