The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!
6919 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: GuitarWorks
Sound is subjective, but overall I do like the sound. Sounds like a Bluegrass banjo. Nice balance, across the neck and up and down the neck. Nice "cluck' as someone described it. I am somewhat hearing challenged, so I might not be as perceptive to deficiencies that others may notice, but I like it. Different from my other two banjos, but good. IMHO
Sound Rating: 8
My part of the world is very much banjo challenged. Finding a banjo at all is a challenge, and when one does, it's usually of the type that's best left in the store. Store staff almost never play, or know anything at all about a banjo. If a banjo is found, it most always needs a total setup before being even playable, let alone sounding good. Therefore when I grabbed this one off the wall and found it to sound good, with almost perfect action (for me) I very nearly fell off the stool I was sitting on. Bridge placement was pretty much right on, head was tight at about G# , and it played good. This particular store is unusual, in that there is actually a very good 5 string player, who is also the store's instrument tech, hidden down in the basement. He may or may not have had a part in the setup, I didn't have time to check, but the setup was far better than one usually finds. This is something very unusual, hereabouts. I decided to buy it.
However, after getting it home a couple days later and finding time to dig into it a bit, a few things started to show up. I removed the resonator, just to check the tension on the j hooks. There were 2 that were loose, and 3 that were barely finger tight. Hmmmm. Then the mounting hardware for the resonator. One of the splined mounts fell out of the rim on the resonator. All were mounted cockeyed. The hole in the reso that the mount fell out of was drilled A) sloppily or too large, and too shallow. I fixed it. The rest stayed in place, but barely. Very sloppy workmanship here at the factory that in my opinion should have been caught by either Gold Tone in FL. or at the retail store. NOT. Apparently, the complete Gold Tone setup that every instrument goes through ( I just watched the video on You Tube) before being shipped to the retailer or customer either isn't as thorough as they would have you believe, or this one somehow slipped through the cracks. Then I went to try to raise the armrest a bit... it was right down on the rim, and discovered that the mounting screw was totally stripped, and wouldn't hold. Again, I fixed it with a screw I had, but of course it wasn't chromed like the original, and is a slot head.
So I don't know how to rate it. On the surface, it was great, and if I hadn't removed the resonator, or tried to move the armrest, I would have thought everything was ok fine. Seems like they care more about pretty, than careful. Maybe some of this is minor, and I have the capability to resolve the issues, and have done so on the things that have cropped up so far. But others may not have that ability, and would have to spend big $ to get it done 'professionally', which is sometimes not so much.
Setup Rating: 7
The banjo has what I assume is the usual quality of fit and finish, for a Gold Tone in this price range. I have not seen many of them, but if they're all like this one, the finish is nicely done. I haven't seen any obvious finish flaws or blemishes, but I have not taken it totally apart to really check.
Appearance Rating: 9
The banjo seems to be made of at least reasonable quality parts and woods. It feels solid and reliable, plays well and in tune, with a bit of bridge tweaking, and would serve anyone well in a performance situation. It may not be a pre war Granada but........
Reliability Rating: 8
I called the company to order a replacement for the stripped armrest screw. They will supply, but I had to pay $ 10 USD for shipping. Not great, but standard practice these days it seems. The were however very nice on the phone. I didn't bother to get into it with the other stuff.
Customer Service: 8
As I said above, I feel that the quality of parts is fine, especially at the price level. I feel that the overall fit and finish, from a distance at least is fine. But there are definitely quality control/assembly issues at the factory that should be dealt with, or more carefully monitored and corrected at the shop in Florida, before things ever get shipped to a dealer. Or maybe I just got a Monday am. or Friday aft. banjo, and the rest are fine? Overall, I still have to give it a 7.
Components Rating: 8
Overall Rating: 7
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