I'm new here. I've always loved the banjo. About 8 years ago now, I wandered into a music shop in Ottawa, Canada. In hindsight, the owner was a bit like the "Soup Sazi" in Seinfeld, in other words, YOU TOUCH YOU BUY. I touched, so I bought, but I never was able to learn it and eventually gave it to my landlord in exchange for one months rent.
Fast forward, april 2017. I decided to give it another shot. Bought a banjo. Learned how to play clawhammer by practising regularly (many hours per week)... My playing ability has become quite respectable over the past few months (although still a lot of progress needs to be made). This may sound a bit odd, but me learning to play the banjo has completely changed my perspective on the so-called cultural rift in the US (and to a larger extent, in North America).
During this time, I also discovered on YouTube the wonderful world of the fretless Minstrel banjo. Luckily for me, I came into a bit of money this past christmas and ordered myself a banjo from Don Gardner (it should be getting here in about two weeks). My decision was based on price and solid video demonstrations by Tim Twiss and Leonidas Jones on YouTube.
My family is in no way imbedded in Civil War history or anything (although John Brown did plan his raid on Harpers Ferry in a small church in my small hometown in southern Ontario, Canada), so for now, hopefully I don't come off as a sham, but my desire to learn stems from my love for the music.
I look forward to learning a lot on this forum and I look forward to diving into a brand new culture as well as indulging in the pleasures of the minstrel banjo.
I owned a prust first and then got a bell banjo. I have a bell sweeney and a bell boucher. The prust is nice but the Bell Sweeney is my go to banjo. His banjos sound great.
The Sweeney I got on eBay after confirming it was ready to ship and it arrived quickly. I purchased another banjo and a case from him directly and it took about 6 months to get em. He does lag sometimes and his communication could be better but he makes a great banjo.
So long as you use PayPal as regular purchase (not friends and family) or eBay or something you should have a layer of protection were the deal to go bad like Strum mentions.