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We've chosen to sell just a handful of brands of openback banjo, ranging from cheap banjos for beginners, through to enthusiasts' banjos and professional instruments, right up to superb handmade collectible banjos.

Right now we sell excellent openback instruments by Goldtone which we import from the USA, our own British-made Islander banjos, Crawford banjos handmade in Northern Ireland, and the unique Nechville banjos which are handmade in the USA.

Our cheapest openback is well under £300 but because we've chosen really good manufacturers, and because we do a proper professional set-up here in our own workshop, there is a vast amount of commonality between all of our instruments, right across the range.

With every one of our openback banjos you will find the following features.

1. Sound, tight, construction. Banjos rely on their being assembled with skill and care. Which is why we warn against anything that looks 'too cheap' and which doesn't come from a specialist shop. Everything we sell is well designed and constructed.

2. Accuracy of design, quality and placement of fittings. It really does matter how accurately the frets are spaced, how deep the grooves in the nut are cut, how smoothly the tuners turn. How high the strings sit above the fretboard. If these things are wrong the banjo will never sound good. With all of our banjos these things are right: we guarantee it.

3. Geared 5th string tuner. Some cheap banjos have friction tuners. With the exception of a couple of low cost travel banjos all of ours use geared 5th string tuners, which are much more accurate and reliable.

4. Neck stiffening. Either using a steel truss rod (such as you would find in an acoustic guitar) or with a carbon fibre stiffening rod, all of our openback banjos have neck stiffening. The exception in our range is the handmade Crawford Wildflower, the neck of which is 'quarter sawn' rock maple to give intrinsic stabilty.

5. A good quality tone ring. With the exception of the Crawford Wildflower which is designed to work without a tone ring (its wooden rim is also its tone ring in fact) all of our openback banjos have a tone ring either of brass or bronze. The tone ring designs vary from simple brass hoops on the lower cost banjos through to carefully designed and engineered 'white ladye' and 'tubaphone' style tone rings on higher end instruments. In every case though the tone ring adds to the richness of tone and the volume of the instrument.

6. Good quality maple bridge with ebony cap. A decent bridge is the beginning of the sound of a banjo. It's through the bridge that the energy from plucked strings passes to the skin. Always look for a good quality bridge.

7. Industry-standard quality banjo skin. The skin of a banjo is much like that of a drum and it's no coincidence that the vast majority of skins on our banjos are manufactured by Remo, world famous as the biggest maker of drum heads. Look for the Remo name or the name of a reputable banjo specialist maker.

8. Workshop set-up. Nothing leaves here without us setting it up for optimum performance and playing it ourselves. You won't find that in non-specialist stores.
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