With certainty the Recording King Banjos are the best banjos that can be acquired for under $1000. And they have some models like the RKR85 Elite that are beyond exceptional and only a few hundred dollars more.
The Recording King Banjos come from the brilliant mind of Greg Rich. He came into Gibson in the late 1980’s to revive Gibson’s lost banjo excellence. He brought back some of the best models in Banjo history and is an exceptional designer. The Recording King banjos are designed to match what some of the best Gibson banjos in history are capable of. They have the pre war tone and are loud banjos. In fact I have known many players that have passed on a Gibson banjo for a Recording King.
These banjos produce the crisp and clear and also full tone that one would expect out of a pre war banjo but at a fraction of the price. You can buy an RKR35 banjo for $899 with a hardshell case that will stand up to many Gibson banjos that cost 2 or more times what the 35 will cost. It is truly amazing what is being done at Recording King and absolutely nobody is able to match their quality at the price.
The resonator pictured is off of a Brand New Recording King RKR85 Elite 5 string banjo. That is a gorgeous maple resonator that is of a grade that should be found on a considerably more expensive banjo. Exceptional