Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bought me a spare banjo

Auction tracking during J.R.'s quest for a spare banjo

I'm really happy with the banjo that the redhead got me for my birthday last June. It's an Oscar Schmidt OB5. It's a really good beginner banjo and I'll have to put in a lot of practice before my quality of play warrants a better banjo.

Nonetheless, I'd been wanting another banjo; a spare banjo. A banjo that I could leave at work so I could squeeze in a little practice in the morning and over the occasional lunch hour. One that I didn't care much about so I'd feel free to experiment on it a little.

So last month I set upon the task of finding a cheap spare banjo on eBay.

Here are the rules I set for myself:

  • I want another 5-string banjo, 22 fret banjo.
  • I'll spend no more than $100 for a banjo without a case or $125 for a banjo with a case. That amount includes cost and shipping, but not tax.
  • The banjo must be playable and not require repair.
  • I'll watch as many auctions as I need to, but I'll only cast a winning bid for one auction at a time. (I don't want to end up winning several auctions and having to purchase several banjos.)

Over the course of four days I followed auctions. There were dozens of banjos for sale on eBay during those four days, but only nine of them met my criteria. I watched as eight of those nine auctions exceeded my willing-to-pay price.

Here's the one that I won:

Bluegrass 5 String Acoustic Banjo MIJ by gravitygear
Sold for $116 ($81 + $35 S&H)

Basically, it's a no-name made-in-Japan banjo. It's got a resonator and no tone ring. The fifth string tuner isn't geared but the other four are. The fret board is straight; all the notes sound cleanly. It came with a case; albeit a rickety one.

It's not as nice as my Oscar Schmidt, but it's OK.

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