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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: 'Gold Tone' Banjo Tone Ring

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Hot Club Man - Posted - 01/28/2019:  14:09:15

I bought--S/H-- a 'Gold Tone' open back 5 string banjo---just for practice purposes--to leave laying around the house to play 'whenever'. I know my way around banjos as have had many top makes in the past. The 'Gold Tone' not having the best of sounds I took off the small tone-ring to see what the metal was as I want to replace the tone-ring with a better quality one.
Upon taping the metal--what ever it was--sometimes a very quiet 'zing' but mostly a dull thud! Not the best! A grey colour appears to be coming through the gold colour--so am I correct in thinking that the tone-ring is not pure brass?
Am I correct in thinking that the word 'brass' can be made from mixtures of metals? Some formulas will give more 'ring' than others? I am thinking of having a tone-ring made to my specs--if I knew the best formula to make it from--any ideas out there?
Any guys out there in the UK who make good 'ringing ' tone-rings'?

Brian Murphy - Posted - 01/28/2019:  14:38:51

What model open back?  Does your tone ring look like any of these?

Helix - Posted - 01/28/2019:  20:13:05

You are not correct in thinking that it's not pure anything.

Just try emailing someone over here like R.G. Brown, at Gold Tone .  Better if you start there first. Look it up for yourself.

Ringing tone rings don't always equate with ringing sounds.

If you're using the tap tone, or knock note

There are other factors: How much money did you invest?

Brian Murphy and I want to know which model first. Sparkle with that?

Is the rim made of newspaper, or wood? What wood? The neck will be Maple, I suspect.

Open backs like Gold Tone are substantially better to start with than many low feature imports one might experience in your town.

Please let us know, I'm very curious to see you do the footwork.

The picture is of the sunset on your West coast, but the Sunrise on our East Coast.  Same sun.  Same friendly people

Try facing the sunrise on your East Coast, your banjo might sound better. 




Edited by - Helix on 01/28/2019 20:22:16

Hot Club Man - Posted - 01/29/2019:  02:13:45

Hi Guys--thanks for your replies. The model of the 'Gold Tone' is :CC-100R/P. See picture attached of my tone-ring. The tone-ring is 3/8" deep and 1/8" wide.

Probably the 'Gold Tone' tone ring model is B1175 8" (Where does the 8" come into this?) Retails at $26 on the 'Gold Tone' website. So for $26 I would not expect a great sound. Not being a wood expert I would not know the species of the wood.

But being a cheap banjo--with a few changes---could get a better sound.


Hawgfiddle65 - Posted - 01/29/2019:  04:30:02


Id say the tone ring is the brass tonering B1175 at $49 or similar- perhaps that may even be a more subsatantial one than that supplied with the CC banjos .Check with Goldtone , (the 8 inch one is rolled round section bar for a uke banjo.)Ive recently attached an old lady banjo neck to a CC Irish tenor pot which looks identical to yours . The tone ring is not substantial and the pot is laminated maple.

It wont have the mass to ring like a bell ,so the metallic zing is a good description .

I fitted mine with a 11 inch rennaissance head and Clifford essex nylons .Am quite happy with the sound. The banjo works at Faversham ,formerly Andybanjo used to do an upgrade tone ring with significantly more mass . There are a couple of brass tone rings on their site .This one looks to be the most sturdy, but is not the one they used to stock . Give them a call or drop them a line ,they have always been very helpful , You may have to do some rerouting to accomodate a differnt ring to compensate for thickness and height.

The CC model is an entry level instrument so I doubt you would ever get it to sound to that of a boutique instrument.


Brian Murphy - Posted - 01/29/2019:  05:08:09

What you posted is consistent with the one shown as stock on the site and what Jim mentions.  Its brass with apparently not a very good chrome plating job.  If the plating bothers you, tell Wayne Rogers at GoldTone.  He is an excellent guy.   JIm is also right that those types of rings are not going to sing out like a nice bell bronze cast full size tone ring.  But they do serve a functional purpose and bring focus to the tone that would be lacking if you just had the thin rim.

Not worth spending money to upgrade this banjo unless it has real meaning to you and you will always keep it.  I had one of these (when they sold the blems real cheap) and it was a very good banjo for its price range.  I lent it to a student and really enjoyed  having a lightweight instrument around for a couch banjo that you didn't have to worry about.  I ended up donating it to YAM program because I just had too many cases lying around.  Very playable with decent tone.  

Hawgfiddle65 - Posted - 01/29/2019:  06:05:14


Thinking about the marks/ coating on the tone ring. I would guess different formulations of brass have different proportions of copper and zinc , and maybe more resistant to oxidation .Could what you see be a development of greeny grey copper oxide (verdigris) maybe with white zinc oxide rather than any plating or coating. Oxides will lolk like they are raised above the base metal like a bloom.


Sandhills Hunter - Posted - 01/30/2019:  02:58:55

I have a CC100RP that I bought about 2 years ago. I upgraded the hooks and tension hoop and added a Prucha presto tailpiece. It sounds pretty good. It doesn't sound as nice as my '28 GB1 conversion but it has it's moments.

OldPappy - Posted - 01/30/2019:  05:33:52

My first banjo was a Gold Tone CC-50 which I upgraded the tone ring on, played it for a couple of years, then sold it for more than I paid for it, so it is not always true to say these banjos aren't worth an upgrade.

The CC-100 banjos are a bit better than the CC-50, and I believe actually have a real wood rim, where that CC-50 of mine had a rim that appeared to wood veneer over some kind of foam looking core which I discovered during the tone ring upgrade.

The upgrade I did was to cut small scallops in the rolled band tone ring the banjo came with, which I did with a Dremel and sanding drum. I sat a rolled round rod hoop I bought from Stewmac on top of that.

To keep the plane of the head the same I had to cut a 1/4" off the top of the rim, and a rabbet for the band, which is where I discovered it wasn't solid wood. At the time I did not have a lathe, or router, so I carefully cut the rim on a table saw, but I caution anyone attempting this that it is a risky operation on a table saw.

The end result was very good, and the banjo sounded a lot better than it deserved to sound.

Hot Club Man - Posted - 02/02/2019:  02:06:01

Thanks for all your info. I will try a new tone ring which I can get from 'andybanjo' here in the UK. (Rolled brass for £15) --worth a try--not worth spending more than that on this banjo--upgrade the hooks & nuts and a different tailpiece. As mentioned in my post this banjo is just for practice purposes and can be kept laying around the house--pick up whenever.

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