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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.

Gold Tone  CC Carlin 12" Banjo Reviews

Submitted by plectrum guy (see all reviews from this person) on 9/30/2016

Where Purchased: Directly From Gold Tone

Year Purchased: 2016
Price Paid: 479.00 ($US)


I have just started clawhammer, and I love the bassier fuller tone of the 12" pot. The brass rod tone ring (head bearing) gives it a nice ring and sustain, along with the wood tone that most people looks for in clawhammer banjos.

Sound Rating: 8


I basically took the thing out of the box, tuned it, and played it.

Setup Rating: 10


It was very well finished. Wood is good quality plain maple. The neck is one piece of plain maple, with a curly maple peg head overlay. The overlay has a the name and a star silk screened in black to contrast with the maple overlay. The rosewood fingerboard is nice, and very dark, with perloid dot and star enlays. "Gold Tone" is engraved on the arm rest. The tail piece has sort of a shell look to it, and is a fixed no knot type.

Appearance Rating: 8


Right now, it is hard to tell how long the plating will last, since it is brand new. We shall see! I will say, that the metal parts would not be on par with American made or Canadian parts. However this banjo is from China, so it's exactly what I expected.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

I've had a couple of their instruments, and never had a problem, so I've never had to go to them. However, in dealing with them, they keep you apprised of you order, and give you what you ask for.

Customer Service: 10


The neck to me really stands out on it's look and feel. It's the best feeling neck on a banjo I've ever owned. The hooks seem a little whimpy, but they are doing their job at the present time. The tension hoop should be notched, period, with corresponding hooks.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

As I said, I am new to clawhammer, so I don't have a lot of experience with this type of banjo. However, I feel if you can't learn and excel on this banjo, you probably ought to just hang it up! As I said, the neck alone to me, sells this banjo. It seems a bit wider, and the string spacing allows you to get the end of your finger and side of your thumb in between the strings without getting tangled up in the one above or below. The tacks were spaced exactly perfect for the .011 string it came with. The frailing scoop is a very nice addition, and the tone really changes playing up there. It will take me some getting used to, to really get the good out of it. The fingerboard contrasts with the maple nicely. The 12" head makes the banjo looked balanced, like Bluegrass banjos do with their resonator. The 11" pots always look small in comparison to the necks. The Chinese will probably never surpass the good old USA for quality of components and craftsmanship, however, this banjo could be used on stage with no problem. As far as having an ocean full of abalone, exotic woods and wood grains, gold plating, etc., this banjo doesn't have it. What it is, is a very nice looking and very solid player, and I am thrilled to own it! I give it a 10 for what it's intended purpose is. It would cost you at least 2, and probably 3 times what I paid for it to get this banjo made state side. 

Overall Rating: 10

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