I bought this Banjo as I wanted to experiment with Banjo sounds with the group I play with but actually can't play a 4 or 5 string. If you are considering trying this yourself, just go for it, you won't regret it! The 6 string Banjo has been a revelation to me as I can get great Banjo sounds without the learning curve of learning new scales and chords etc. I'm finding that playing little licks and fills on this instrument really lifts our music. C&W, Irish and even Blues sound great on it I have people come up to me all the time after gigs now telling me what a good Banjo player I am! (Actually I'm just a very average guitar player but I don't tell them that) This is just an aside about 6 string Banjos in general. They are great fun to experiment with. Don't think about it, do it.
As regards this particular model, I actually did a lot of research before buying this one as I thought it might be something that may be a whim purchase and something that I may wish to sell on afterwards. I didn't want to spend big money on something I mightn't actually like but didn't want to just buy the cheapest one because often, you do get what you pay for! ( inferior machine heads and hardware etc that have to be replaced afterwards) This one, I thought, was going to be a good compromise between the two but actually, it has turned out to be an excellent instrument that can hold it's own with much more expensive ones. I feel that I may have found a really good secret bargain in this instrument.
If you do a bit of internet research you may or may not agree that this looks an awful lot like a Gewa Tennessee Premium 6 string Banjo? That Banjo is at least double the price of this one and in my opinion I reckon they are virtually identical, barring the name on the headstock.
I have bought a few Harley Benton instruments over the years and in common with those, this has a few cosmetic blemishes. In general, the finish is really good though with nice inlays etc. The basic build and construction is very good indeed.
The hardware I have found to be faultless. Solid tuners, Nut and Bridge cut properly. The projection is great with no buzzes or rattles and it took just a couple of tweaks to set it up perfectly. It even arrived in tune! (Thomann are outstanding when it comes to the likes of this, in my opinion.)
Since buying it, I have installed a Shadow Piezo pickup for putting it through the mixer and I swear, I bring this instrument to every single gig I play now.
I can't comment on the HBJ-26 as I haven't played one. I actually was considering buying that instead but I will tell you this much, I don't for a second regret buying this Banjo and I highly recommend it. I'm glad I sent a little extra buying this one. I am very happy with it and I hope this helps you.
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