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Thread: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

  1. #1

    Default Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    I am looking to purchase my first banjo-mandolin. Have been playing mando for about 2years. Want an affordable one to start on and can't find any reviews. Thoughts/reviews on the following would be great:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Rally-mandol...-/160675433345

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    "Rally" is apparently a brand of Daewon, major Korean musical instrument producer. They have an extensive line of banjo models, including three models of mandolin-banjos: DMB-1, DMB-2, DMB-8. The DMB-8 has a "full-size" 11-inch head, the other two models are smaller. From the eBay writeup, I gather the offering is for a DMB-1.

    I can find quite a few reviews of Rally guitars, not many of their banjos. For $150 for a DMB-1, I don't think you're risking much. If you search the Cafe you'll find some extensive discussions of mandolin-banjos, both vintage and modern. Some enjoy 'em, others find them raucous and annoying. You can find quite a few vintage mandolin-banjos for the same price you'll pay for the Rally, since many were built 60-80 years ago, but the instrument's no longer popular.

    Here's a link to the DMB-1 page on the Daewon website. Again, the price is pretty low, and the instrument appears serviceable, at least in terms of its construction. Doubt you'll find many who have purchased one and reviewed it on-line, though.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    It is a low end beginners banjo... We know that from the price. No tone ring and a completely enclosed back. Probably exactly what one might expect at that price new... However that does not mean it cannot be a good learner banjo to get started on, and if it works out you don't take to banjo, it is no big loss.

    However you must add roughly $100 (or more) to the price for a set-up from a luthier. Without a set-up you will have very sore fingers and it will not play correctly up the neck.... That is a fact of life on cheap instruments and that is how they sell them cheap.

    Used banjo-mandolins are inexpensive on eBay and you can often find one costing far less than the one you are considering. $200 will often get you a pretty good one plus shipping. But of course there is always some risk, especially if you are unable to do some work yourself...

    They occasionally come up on the Banjo Hangout site at reasonable price and condition. These folks usually know what they have and what it is worth and I think you can feel a little more confidence buying from them.. Also these will likely be properly set up for playing when you buy. Make sure you ask questions about set-up and condition before you buy. If there is the slightest suggestion of a bent neck, don't consider it.

    I don't think folks on this site or the Banjo Hangout will be particularly enthusiastic about this brand and its quality.
    Bart McNeil

  4. #4

    Default Re: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    Cool, thanks. Thats kind of what i figured. Do you know of any specific, inexpensive banjo mandolins that would make a better purchase? I can definitely spend more than that. More like $250-300. But most other new ones seem to cost way more. I am kind of cautious when it comes to buying used instruments that I can't put my hands on first. I had a bad experience once with a mandolin that I bought used off the net. Also, I feel like open backs sound a bit better, so my question is open back vs. closed? What should I be looking for in a banjo mandolin?


    Quote Originally Posted by bmac View Post
    It is a low end beginners banjo... We know that from the price. No tone ring and a completely enclosed back. Probably exactly what one might expect at that price new... However that does not mean it cannot be a good learner banjo to get started on, and if it works out you don't take to banjo, it is no big loss.

    However you must add roughly $100 (or more) to the price for a set-up from a luthier. Without a set-up you will have very sore fingers and it will not play correctly up the neck.... That is a fact of life on cheap instruments and that is how they sell them cheap.

    Used banjo-mandolins are inexpensive on eBay and you can often find one costing far less than the one you are considering. $200 will often get you a pretty good one plus shipping. But of course there is always some risk, especially if you are unable to do some work yourself...

    They occasionally come up on the Banjo Hangout site at reasonable price and condition. These folks usually know what they have and what it is worth and I think you can feel a little more confidence buying from them.. Also these will likely be properly set up for playing when you buy. Make sure you ask questions about set-up and condition before you buy. If there is the slightest suggestion of a bent neck, don't consider it.

    I don't think folks on this site or the Banjo Hangout will be particularly enthusiastic about this brand and its quality.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    It's important to know whether a particular instrument is actually closed-back. Many look like that but have 'plate resonators' which are circular backs separated from the rim by spacers. There's a gap that lets the sound out. They have less projection than a true resonator back (where the sound is directed forward), but more projection than other deigns including the open back. The plate resonator is held on by screws, so you can make it an open back if you want. You just have to make sure this one has a plate resonator. It looks like it does, but ask about it.

    I don't know of any new instruments in your price range, plus there's set up to consider as Bart mentioned. So when all is said and done this one falls neatly within your range. This particular instrument may not be the cream of the crop, but it could be a good way to get your feet wet with little risk. You can't expect perfection for $150, but if you've never played a banjo-mandolin before you might not want to risk big money. A lot of folks (including me) have bought them only to find very little use for them.

    Looking at Banjo Hangout is a good idea too. Like yourself, I'm not a big fan of buying used, but the Hangout is at lot like the Cafe: A lot of knowledgeable people who generally sell pretty decent stuff. Much better than eBay.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    The folks on this site and the mandolin cafe usually know a lot about the instrument they are selling.... and are often realistic about the instruments value. Not necessarily true on eBay

    I understand your concerns about buying new... and I don't think you need to buy new to get a quality instrument. As suggested above,,, some people buy a banjo-mandolin and are disappointed by its limitations. But there are some features sound wise which make it quite suitable for some musical styles. If you are at all interested in ragtime google the Rag Time Skedaddlers. Terrific stuff. they just put out a second album.
    Bart McNeil

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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by bmac View Post
    The folks on this site and the mandolin cafe...
    Don't worry buddy, we know what you meant!

    I think you've made a good point. While a lot of people find the mandolin-banjo limited, there are places where it fits perfectly. The Ragtime Skedaddlers are an excellent example and an excellent band. Banjolins aren't necessarily well loved in Bluegrass or Irish, so that was the intent of my warning. But if the OP is into Ragtime or Americana there's a lot to say for them. One good thing: They almost never need a pickup!
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    Registered User Jimdalf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim2723 View Post
    Banjolins aren't necessarily well loved in Bluegrass or Irish, so that was the intent of my warning.
    I may be misreading you but Banjolins have four strings (where I come from at least), unlike the 8 stringed mandolin banjo so they aren't quite the same thing, I apologise for the pedanticism. More on topic.. if what I hear is true, entry level Rally banjos are good value for money.

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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    Hi Jim! Yes, it's one of those things that varies from place to place. Banjolin is a fairly common - if not universally accurate - term on this side of The Pond for the eight-string mandolin/banjo hybrid, even though four-string versions are somewhat known here . I used the alternate term with the intent of better writing style so as not to use the same word twice. Sorry for that. You are quite correct. The four-string version (with gut strings here) is sometimes called the banjolele, a banjo/ukulele hybrid. One of my personal favorites. Consider how the names of the various size mandolins change.

    It's all delightfully confusing. There is, for instance, and eight-string ukulele called a Taro Patch. If one were to add a banjo resonator we might have a Taro Patch banjo/ukulele. There are, of course, versions of the banjo that use gut strings. Tune that gut-strung Taro Patch banjo/ukulele like a mandolin with steel strings and you're back to a banjo-mandolin, or a mandolin-banjo, or even perhaps a banjolin. All quite delightfully confusing!

    I do agree that this Rally instrument looks to be a good starter for a reasonable price. If I were to try the instrument again I'd surely look at these. (Although God only knows how I'd tune it or what I'd call it!)
    Last edited by Tim2723; Jun-11-2012 at 1:31pm.
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    Registered User Jimdalf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    Honestly I've only ever seen one instrument described as a banjolin and the diameter of the pot was much larger than any banjolele I've seen, but at that scale length I suppose it would only require a new nut to make it a uke - I spoke to a guy who used to play one in a banjo orchestra and he said they are sometimes called "melody banjos," definite oxymoron if ever I heard one!
    Would an eight string tenor uke strung GDAE be a mandolinetto? assuming the strings didn't tear the bridge off.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    This Gold Tone MB-850+ is one of the few quality new mando-banjos (as Gold Tone calls them) on the market today. Specs here.

    I have not personally played one, but Gold Tone instruments generally get good reviews.
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    Default Re: Anyone know anything about this banjolin?

    Now see?, when you say melody banjo a particular instrument comes to my mind. A tenor uke as a mandolinetto? Not sure, I but would think you'd start with a smaller one. The bridge probably wouldn't survive, but I think I get the idea.

    Gold Tone also makes a banjolele with a relatively huge pot. It's a soprano scale with (I think) and eight-inch rim plus a full resonator. Bizarrely out of proportion to my eye.

    But I think we're off the topic.
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