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!
6950 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: BanjoTeacher.com
Year Purchased: 2019
Price Paid: $952. ($US)
I am returning to the banjo after a 6 year absence. I have owned decent banjos in the past. A Bishline custom and a few Deering models. So I have an idea what I wanted in sound. Now sound is subjective and everyone is looking for something different. So I'm not knocking another banjo brand. I like this OB-150 better than a Deering Sierra I owned in 2005 but not as much as the Bishline. The Sierra rang too high pitch for my ears. This OB-150 is easier on the ears, has a good low end and seems balanced. I'd say it has a fuller sound. The Bishline got all 10 ratings in my review. It also cost quite a bit more than this banjo. I think a 9 sound rating is excellent for an under $1000 banjo.
Sound Rating: 9
The setup was perfect. I've since tightened the head as all new banjos settle in after a few weeks of playing them.
Update after 4 months...... I've adjusted both the coordinator rods and the truss rod to get a perfect low action without buzzing. Also changed the gauge of the strings. The originals were 11-24s, I now have DAddario EJ61s which are 10-23s. They feel better and sound crisper than the Gold Tone brand strings which are expensive for what they are.
Setup Rating: 10
The 10 rating is for how clean the banjo arrived. The hardware shining and spotless clean. As far as looks of this banjo, I like the simple gloss finish. Others may not.
Appearance Rating: 10
Time will tell. But I am not worried. Everything seems solid.
Reliability Rating: 9
Ross Nickerson from BanjoTeacher.com was a pleasure to do business with. We had a long conversation on the phone. We discussed different model of banjo.He gave me some very useful playing advise as well as set up and maintenance advise.
Customer Service: 10
I am happy with all the components except the planetary tuners. The banjo stays in tune very well with the stock tuners. My opinion is they aren't as smooth as other banjos I have owned. I may be changing them in the future.
Update after 4 months....... I still think the tuners are a bit stiff but they keep the banjo in tune for long periods. I'd say they function very well.
Components Rating: 8
I wanted to get back to picking without spending $3000. This banjo pleasantly surprises me what you can get for $1000. I am happy and don't feel the need to upgrade any time soon. I would play this anywhere.
Update after 4 months....... I am still happy with this purchase. It seems the sound has improved with time.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Dean Johnson's Music on reverb.com
Year Purchased: 2017
Price Paid: $799.00 ($US)
This banjo suits my style well. This banjo has a resonator since I mostly play bluegrass music.
I use a condenser mic and whatever PA with phantom power on a dry channel. this banjo has no pickups installed. My own personal PA is a Fender Passport Conference and I use a variety of mics but no effects.
The sound from this banjo is bright and it is loud. There are sweet spots to be had all over the place on this banjo. Playing from the bridge to the neck you are sure to find a sweet spot you like. This banjo is a tone monster.
You will be able to pull a lot of classic bluegrass tones from this banjo. Versatility in tone is one quality this banjo has.
LIKES: Everything about this banjo I like. I will usually take a new instrument and tweak it to my liking but in the 2 months I have owned and played this banjo. I only added 2 capo spikes and buffed the neck with steel wool. I like the Zero Glide nut and the Terminator tail piece.This banjo has an entry level price for a pro grade banjo with a pre war look. I like everything about this banjo.
Sound Rating: 10
SET UP: perfect and ready to play out of the box. Came with 5th string capo spikes at frets 7, 9 & 10
CHANGES MADE: I added 2 spikes at frets 8 and 12. Buffed neck with 0000 steel wool to make neck smother.Nothing else has to be done to this banjo. I may add a set of Cheat A Keys so I can play those Earl Scruggs tunes that use cam tuners.
Setup Rating: 10
Is it easy on the eyes? YES. This banjo looks like a pre war Gibson. It is a copy of Earl Scruggs banjo that he used to record Foggy Mountain Breakdown in 1949. Very traditional look.
What type of wood: Maple neck, rim & resonator. Fingerboard: Ovangkol, Bridge: Maple with Ebony Cap
Vintage Pearloid Inlay. Finish is Satin Vintage Mahogany.
No flaws. More specs at https://goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldtone/instruments/ob-150
Appearance Rating: 10
This is a rock solid banjo. Hardware is strong and well plated. Finish will age well and play in well.
I have used this banjo in a few gigs already and for a lot of rehearsals it has been played every day since I had it.This banjo holds its tune well.First banjo that has been the best buy i made where a banjo is concerned. Very well done by the good folks at Gold Tone. I play this banjo every day because it sounds and feels so good. It is my new best friend.
Reliability Rating: 10
I dealt with the seller and had a great experience. I also dealt with Gold Tome Music Group online and on the phone and they are amazing people too.
No repairs were required but if any should be required I will be the one to make those repairs.
The OB-150 is professionally set up in our Florida shop and comes with TRANSFERRABLE lifetime warranty.
Customer Service: 10
STAND OUT PARTS. Zero Glide Nut. Zero Glide makes a great nut. This banjo comes with this nut. I own other instruments that will be upgraded with a Zero Glide Nut. It is a must have on all fretted instruments.
Zero Glide made a believer out of me for the tone and ease of setup and the strings will not bind as they do in a traditional nut that is a plus.
TERMINATOR tailpiece is a lot wider than the traditional tail piece and this evenly distributes the string tension across the bridge. This is a much improved set up in my opinion. No upgrades are required. I am forever making mods to other instruments as far as upgrades and tweaking the instrument. This is the first instrument that I have done nothing to other than add 2 capo spikes and buff the neck. This banjo needs nothing else.
Components Rating: 10
From my point of view with this banjo, I am giving it a lot of 10's for ratings. I love this banjo for what it is. I have played banjo since 1984. I have played music since 1968. This is the first entry level priced banjo that I have ever been around that has this much quality to it. I have played a few mega dollar high quality pro grade banjos and some pre war banjos that cost as much as a house. My criteria for choosing this banjo comes from a big list of wants and needs. I needed a new banjo to upgrade from because the old one was in need of a few upgrades and repairs. I needed it to be highly affordable. I needed it to look traditional and play traditional. I needed it to have pro grade specs like dual coordinator rods, cast brass tone ring, good flange. I wanted a satin finish and good inlays. I needed a great tone. Basically I wanted Earl Scruggs banjo but that was impossible to get. So was getting a Pre war Gibson with my budget. Gold Tone came out with this model at the right time with the right price. This banjo comes with a case so even better. I ordered a Gold Tone strap because I needed one and the seller sold them. I was impressed with the care of packaging for delivery too. Everything about this banjo turned out to be a great product at a great price with a great shopping experience, Great company as well as the seller. An experience like mine does not happen very often so I show gratitude and praise when it is due. For once in my life something actually impressed me 100%
Overall Rating: 10
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