I'm currently giving lessons to Pete Thatcher (member) who owns a steel strung Deering. Having tried a couple of my nylon strung vintage banjos, he asked me to convert it to nylon strings which ties in nicely to the previous post by Dante. I made a Weaver style bridge from maple to replace the existing tail piece. This made the attaching of the nylon strings easier. I also made a replacement maple bridge approx 1 mm higher to accommodate the thicker strings and stop any fret buzzing.(I used Clifford Essex heavies). I finished off by making a new maple arm rest.

The result was better than I could have expected, it is equally as good and in some instances better than some of my vintage banjos, producing a good tone with plenty of volume and something I would recommend to anyone who has problems obtaining a suitable classic banjo. A picture of the finished work is attached...Steve.

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I have found that this model of banjo sounds better than it looks. This includes its original steel string setup.. It's true that it is hard to fall in love with a banjo with no fingerboard and an Ikea-like design. And why did Deering decide on an ugly peghead? Something nicer looking would not have to be more expensive to produce. But as a tool for making music it's more than adequate for pretty much anything but bluegrass.

Hi Jody, the main drawback I found with this model was the short scale fret board. It didn't fit well with my size 12 hands and I found it a little uncomfortable. I agree with your comment regarding the peghead and pegs...Steve.
Jody Stecher said:

I have found that this model of banjo sounds better than it looks. This includes its original steel string setup.. It's true that it is hard to fall in love with a banjo with no fingerboard and an Ikea-like design. And why did Deering decide on an ugly peghead? Something nicer looking would not have to be more expensive to produce. But as a tool for making music it's more than adequate for pretty much anything but bluegrass.

The Deering Goodtime has no fretboard. But maybe what you meant was "the small dimensions of the neck". I agree with that. It's not comfortable. Maybe it saves Deering some money in wood (?).  I had doubts about the scale being short so I did some research. I made some discoveries. Deering has changed the peghead design from the impressionistic rice paddle to a stylized fiddle shape. Much nicer. And the tuners are better than the old ones too.  The neck is still very slim and narrow. I don't see this as an advantage for beginners. I started banjo as a child with my child-size hands and had no trouble playing full sized banjo necks.  Same for normal guitar necks at age 11. The Deering Goodtime has a 26 1/4 inch scale. That's pretty normal, not short. 
Steve Harrison said:

Hi Jody, the main drawback I found with this model was the short scale fret board.

Hi Jody..I've measured Pete's banjo and the scale length is 22 7/8 inches, nearly 4 inches shorter than most of my other banjos and it has only 19 frets...Steve.


Jody Stecher said:

The Deering Goodtime has no fretboard. But maybe what you meant was "the small dimensions of the neck". I agree with that. It's not comfortable. Maybe it saves Deering some money in wood (?).  I had doubts about the scale being short so I did some research. I made some discoveries. Deering has changed the peghead design from the impressionistic rice paddle to a stylized fiddle shape. Much nicer. And the tuners are better than the old ones too.  The neck is still very slim and narrow. I don't see this as an advantage for beginners. I started banjo as a child with my child-size hands and had no trouble playing full sized banjo necks.  Same for normal guitar necks at age 11. The Deering Goodtime has a 26 1/4 inch scale. That's pretty normal, not short. 
Steve Harrison said:

Hi Jody, the main drawback I found with this model was the short scale fret board.

Oh! That's not a standard Goodtime. I've played a lot of the standard kind, with 22 frets and 26 1/4 scale.  Pete's banjo must be the discontinued "Parlor" model.  Odd name because it is described as being good for travel and for kids.  Here's a link to the page about this  model on the Deering website:

https://www.deeringbanjos.com/products/goodtime-parlor-banjo



Steve Harrison said:

Hi Jody..I've measured Pete's banjo and the scale length is 22 7/8 inches, nearly 4 inches shorter than most of my other banjos and it has only 19 frets...Steve.


Jody Stecher said:

The Deering Goodtime has no fretboard. But maybe what you meant was "the small dimensions of the neck". I agree with that. It's not comfortable. Maybe it saves Deering some money in wood (?).  I had doubts about the scale being short so I did some research. I made some discoveries. Deering has changed the peghead design from the impressionistic rice paddle to a stylized fiddle shape. Much nicer. And the tuners are better than the old ones too.  The neck is still very slim and narrow. I don't see this as an advantage for beginners. I started banjo as a child with my child-size hands and had no trouble playing full sized banjo necks.  Same for normal guitar necks at age 11. The Deering Goodtime has a 26 1/4 inch scale. That's pretty normal, not short. 
Steve Harrison said:

Hi Jody, the main drawback I found with this model was the short scale fret board.

Hi Jody, It looks like Deering have been dumping their unwanted banjo stock on the UK! I think this illustrates the dangers of someone with limited knowledge of banjos buying without seeking advice. As it happens, it suits Pete and that's the important thing....Steve

Jody Stecher said:

Oh! That's not a standard Goodtime. I've played a lot of the standard kind, with 22 frets and 26 1/4 scale.  Pete's banjo must be the discontinued "Parlor" model.  Odd name because it is described as being good for travel and for kids.  Here's a link to the page about this  model on the Deering website:

https://www.deerinbuyinggbanjos.com/products/goodtime-parlor-banjo



Steve Harrison said:

Hi Jody..I've measured Pete's banjo and the scale length is 22 7/8 inches, nearly 4 inches shorter than most of my other banjos and it has only 19 frets...Steve.


Jody Stecher said:

The Deering Goodtime has no fretboard. But maybe what you meant was "the small dimensions of the neck". I agree with that. It's not comfortable. Maybe it saves Deering some money in wood (?).  I had doubts about the scale being short so I did some research. I made some discoveries. Deering has changed the peghead design from the impressionistic rice paddle to a stylized fiddle shape. Much nicer. And the tuners are better than the old ones too.  The neck is still very slim and narrow. I don't see this as an advantage for beginners. I started banjo as a child with my child-size hands and had no trouble playing full sized banjo necks.  Same for normal guitar necks at age 11. The Deering Goodtime has a 26 1/4 inch scale. That's pretty normal, not short. 
Steve Harrison said:

Hi Jody, the main drawback I found with this model was the short scale fret board.

I'm glad you were able to work it out Steve!  Cool looking bridge too!!

I have had very limited experience with Goodtime banjos, in fact, I've only ever played one that I can remember and my wife owns it.  Her's needs a 3/4" high bridge (I have found that most banjos built with the back angle neck need that or higher to prevent buzzing).

It sounds fine, nice and loud too.  We kept the orignial tailpiece on it which works fine.   

I don't work for Deering, but It seems to me that if they had paid attention to current trends, they could have made some slight changes to their goodtimes with no cost added and perhaps even some savings.  These changes would be very appealing to old time players. 

1) Scrap the Gumby peghead (and also whatever they are using now) and duplicate a Buckbee/Dobson paddle head with the slight rounded top.  Leave it blank.

2) Change the heel from what they use now to the Buckbee style.

3) Stop putting plastic position markers on the fingerboard and use nothing.  Anything they use, plastic dots or CNC wood inlays, look cheap.  Just don't put any in.  Instead use side dots.

4) Offer a version with a dowel rod.

There, I have just done their research for them, saved them money, and potentially increased their sales.  Their entry level banjo is now cool and while the same in construction, is no longer just an entry level looking banjo.   The 12" with a smooth fingerboard and dowel would even make a nice early style "tub" banjo. 

I understand that the goodtime is supposed to be an introduction to bluegrass and they could still offer that with a resonator.  But with little effort and a week or two of product design their entry level banjo could be very cool. 

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