As I have said, the pickups and wiring currently on my electric banjo are what came with the imported Stratocaster clone we used for the body.
The electronics work, but they do have issues. That means some replacements and upgrades.
Swapping parts on a Strat is not technically complicated. Navigating the nonsense surrounding pickups and wiring, on the other hand, is difficult on a level equal to performing a self-appendectomy on a roller coaster.
Lazy music students talk too much. They daydream and scheme instead of practicing. Because of this, performers and gear often attain a pointless cult following. Brand names can run up the prices on upgrades without actually improving the functionality of the instrument.
So, I set a challenge for myself to find a way to replace and improve the heart of my electric banjo for less than $200.
Hey, I know my electric rig looks expensive. The truth is, between the banjo and the amp, I have invested less than the price of a mid-range student banjo. If I was looking for parts on something bespoke, I would set close to the same budget. You’ll understand why shortly.
For pickups, I’m looking at the Bootstrap ’54 Vintage Sparkle Set with a Tone Man wiring harness. Factor in the cost of having the work done, and I’ll be under the budget I set—with the nice touch of hand wound pickups. I may add a baseplate to the bridge pickup, just because I have played old guitars with that feature in the past and liked the results.
So, if you are interested in electric banjos, it is possible to assemble great gear without breaking the bank. The pickups and wiring I chose for my instrument may not be what you are looking for. There are plenty of other options out there.
Fancy wiring, adding acoustic elements, more pickups, tremolos, trick tuners, and most of the other stuff you can bolt onto a guitar will not make you or your instrument perform any better.
I have some different upgrades in mind for the acoustic electric. I also have that EMG acoustic pickup on my desk. Lots of stuff coming. All banjos will be electrified!