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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!

6918 reviews in the archive.

Deering  Golden Era  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by ulaanbaanjo (see all reviews from this person) on 12/27/2015

Where Purchased: The Music Emporium, Lexington, MA

Year Purchased: 2001
Price Paid: 2300 ($US)

Sound

Oh what a sound - it's rich, with plenty of body, but somehow light and clear too. Cuts over the sound of other instruments without drowning them out. Loud without being noisy. Rings like silver

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I think it was set up fine. I've never messed about with the head or adjusted the action. I switched out the tuners and the bridge and in both cases switched back as I prefered them as they were bought.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Beautiful instrument and finsish. One issue which I only noticed a few months after buying it was that the resonator was warped, which might have happened as a result of it being kept flat in a glass case in the store? See below

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

It's lasted pretty well over 15 years of sometimes very casual care by myself. The fret wires have needed replacing on a number of frets for a while, don't think that is any different from any other instrument. If I ever get around to giving it a clean, I suspect it might look as good as new.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

So I got in touch with both Deering and the Music Emporium about two issues - there was no arm rest with the instrument when I bought it and I wasn't aware that it should have had one for a while - The Music Emporium didn't know how that had happened, and eventually found me a cheap one that didn't fit properly. I also contacted both the Music Emporium and Deering about the warped resonator. Deering's response was basically to send the instrument in and they would see what they could do. I decided against this because of the inconvenience of shipping the banjo to California, and also partly from superstitious dread that perhaps the warped resonator was giving the instrument's voice some particular quality that I would miss if it was fixed/replaced - so I let the matter drop. I've no doubt that Deering would have done their best to see me right if I'd pursued it.

Customer Service: 9

Components

It's a real high quality instrument. Maybe the tailpiece cover is a little loose - I usually have to adjust it to reduce a rattle, think I took it off and bent it a bit tighter once. I switched to D-tuners and quickly switched back - I found I really missed the original (5 Star brand) tuners, which have a smooth action and hold a tuning very well.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I originally tried out this banjo when I was trying to decide between two secondhand banjos - one for $500 and one for $800. I wanted to get an idea of scale by trying a higher end instrument - to see if the £800 banjo was really $300 better than the other. I fell in love with the sound of this one immediately - I can still feel the thrill and wonder of that moment! - and knew I had to have it. By coincidence I had exactly $2300 savings in my account, so emptied it and walked out of the Music Emporium the proud owner of a Deering Golden Era. It was easily the best single decision I have ever made in my banjo-playing career. Having an instrument of this quality made me redouble my efforts as a player, and I've never had cause to regret the decision. It proved to be a solid financial investment too - within two years I'd made back much more than the cost of buying it through playing and teaching, and I suspect that would not have happened with a cheaper banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Jimsong56 (see all reviews from this person) on 11/7/2011

Where Purchased: Bucks County Folk Music

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 3200 ($US)

Sound

Was initially interested in the Maple Blossom, but after some discussion with Karl Dietrichs and my desire for the fuller bass sound, we settled on the GE with it's deeper resonator.

With only a modification in the use of picks, I am able to go from a volume of 10 to max out at 11 - Oh what fun that is.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

All set up was done to my specifications and desired sound.
Was able to get 3 railroad spikes installed at the outset so as not to have to worry about it later. Bucks County Folk Music Shop did an outstanding job.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

What could be said about the maple and finishes. Looks beautiful BUT sounds even more beautiful No flaws in either the inlays, fret work or woodwork. As wonderful as is expected at this price.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hardware is substantial. Finishes are well presented. It is a dependable machine and I would not be concerned about needing a back up machine for my efforts.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Life time warranty for original owner. Will I ever need it, maybe, knowing that Deering stands behind its work is a comfort. I maintain an annual service agreement with my luthier, at least for the first year, for all the "little things" that are not warranty issues.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Tuning pegs are top notch. Since I have only had my GE since August, 2011, I have not had to replace either a bridge or the strings, but I am sure that the change in weather as we enter the winter months here in the Mid-Atlantic may require some "tweaking" But no parts are weak or cheap.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Overall, I am very satisfied with my investment. Like any GOOD instrument , she takes time to warm up on some days, but she is hard to put down, that is for sure.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Jeff Whittington (see all reviews from this person) on 12/12/2010

Where Purchased: private sale

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: $$$ ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Just a great tone, wonderful bass and clear highs.
Great Playability !!

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

This banjo was purchased new by a non-banjo player in 2005 and was a 2002 floor model. not touched since it left Deering.
I tightened the head and off we went,,Great

Setup Rating: 1

Appearance

impeccable finish and look----pristine

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Very top quality parts- quality without question

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Deering is customer focused- I have not talked with them on this banjo but from previous dealing,,,
THEY REALLY CARE ABOUT THEIR CUSTOMERS !!!
Just give them a call, you'll see

Customer Service: 10

Components

inlays and finish are great,,makes me want to play and play.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This banjo is a testimony to the quality of the Deering company. I don't think they claim to do the impossible,, just the things that other companies find difficult.
Well done Deering Banjo Company !!

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by stevedi (see all reviews from this person) on 3/2/2009

Where Purchased: Meadowwood Music

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 3400 ($US)

Sound

I was looking for a banjo with a warm tone and a rich bottom end. The Golden Era delivered both. It has an awesome ringing bluegrass sound.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Meadowwood did a great job of setting up the banjo. Everything was adjusted perfectly.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This is a beautiful banjo. The traditional heart and flowers inlays are done in mother of pearl on the fingerboard and headstock. The curly maple is stained a warm brown color with a sunburst effect on the resonator. There are no flaws that I can discern.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This banjo feels like it will last a lifetime.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Deering offers a lifetime warranty. I haven't had a need to contact them.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The tuners are very responsive and will stand the test of time. The tailpiece seems a little touchy and could probably be bumped out of position easily. Otherwise, everything feels very solidly built.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This was an expensive instrument, but I got what I paid for. If this banjo were stolen, I would not hesitate to replace it with another Golden Era. I compared this to my beloved Goodtime II Special. The bronze tone ring gives the Golden Ear a much superior sound and presence. I played a John Hartford model with the grenadillo ring at the shop, and I preferred the Golden Era due to the brighter, warmer tone.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Grey Dog (see all reviews from this person) on 6/29/2008

Where Purchased: http://www.banjoshop.com/

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Unbelievable depth of sound, it sounds and feels like it rings out for a good bit longer than most other I've played.

Suits me beautifully for Scrugg's Style, but others have grabbed it with varying playing styles and they all seemed to enjoy it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Al Worthen at http://www.banjoshop.com/ set this banjo up perfectly. He gives them all an immense amount of attention, and I never hesitate to go back to his shop (which is many many miles) for any of my concerns and purchases.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It's a work of art to me.
There are enough vibrant tiger stripes from the maple on the back to warrant the name "Hobbes"

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It's been two years of hard playing with no issues whatsoever.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

As mentioned above, Al is worth going to no matter where you are.

Customer Service: 10

Components

We upgraded the bridge to a Snuffy, but even that was an optional adventure.

Unlike most other Deerings, this one has a very full neck. I have larger hands, so that appeals to me. I generally dislike the extra room of the typical Deering slender neck design.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I have trouble finding a second/backup banjo, since this one sets the standards so high......

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Greg Connor (see all reviews from this person) on 2/14/2008

Where Purchased: Member of Banjo Hangout

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: ($US)

Sound

This banjo has a great ringing tone. It's one of those banjos that you just want to keep playing just so you can hear it ring.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I bought it used. Set up is a subjective thing. I have gone through the setup twice now since I got it last August. It was pretty good after the first time, but it's even better now.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

My Golden Era is Gold Plated, with plenty of inlay and beautiful rich finish. It's a real work of art.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Well built and has a warm and rich finish.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have called Deering to ask a couple of general questions, but have never had a problem that I needed help with. Deering seems very approachable.

Customer Service: 10

Components

All parts on my Golden Era are standard with the exception of the 5th String Capo. All parts are good quality.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Just like everything of quality, this Golden Era is costly if you bought it new. In fact even the used price was substantial, but I doubt that it will ever decrease in value.

The quality that I have found in this banjo makes me think that I would not hesitate to buy another Deering.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by banjoboy95 (see all reviews from this person) on 1/13/2008

Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This has a more of a warm Granada tone than a ringy tone like I like it.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The banjo was setup perfect when my dad first got it.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This looks exactly like the Gibson Earl Scruggs Standard banjo with really nice classic pre-war styling.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I would rely on this banjo sometimes

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Nothing needs to be upgraded.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is an okay banjo. I wouldn't prefer it as much as the Gold Star GF-100FE that me and my dad own. My dad is thinking about selling the Golden Era very soon.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by banjoeddie (see all reviews from this person) on 9/4/2007

Where Purchased: Bluegrass Parlor

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Click on this link to hear my comparison.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=XkEiRRCU1A4

Sound Rating: not rated

Setup

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

Overall Rating: not rated

Submitted by Diego (see all reviews from this person) on 7/15/2006

Where Purchased: Deering Shop

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I purchased by GE at the Deering shop. It is an amazing professional banjo. Bright sparking crack and incredible sustain. I don't know about prewar sound (everything is so prewar these days) what I do know is that of my 7 banjos this one sounds so right and feels sooo good on my fingers that I favor it. I've tried most brands and own several but this is my babe.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I am a tinkerer so set up is a non issue.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This beaut is a maple banjo with a very striped neck. Hearts and flowers with custom work done on the first fret. No flaws or issues with my instrument. Perfect workmanship.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Everything is high end and built to last a lifetime. My son already knows that this is his banjo (and he's 2).

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Deering Cust. Service is the best bar none. Give this a try; Give them a call and ask them a tech question on any banjo (regardless of the label). They will bend over backwards to help you out and will not downplay the instrument you are playing. That's a class act.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Standouts are the neck of course (Deering necks are famous in the banjo community) as well as the finish. Weak areas...I would like to see an improvement in their tuners. I'm not a big fan of Gotohs. I wish they would work out a contract with Bill Keith and buy his tuners which are the best out there.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

This is the banjo to get if you want an amazing bluegrass dominating instrument. Tried the Hubers and the rest and the Deerings are #1. If it was stolen I would buy another in a jiffy. Great, GREAT instrument!

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Unknown on 1/11/2004

Where Purchased: www.music123.com

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 2400 ($US)

Sound

Had a nice full, crisp sound right out of the box. Notes ring very clear in the lower part of the neck, which was a weakness of my Deering Sierra model.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Unfortunately the banjo was not set up very well out of the box. The bridge was about half an inch out of place, and was also rather thin. I replaced it with a Huber 5/8 Crowe Spacing bridge. The head was also very loose. Instead of being around a G# or A, it was as low as an F#. I had 5th string spikes put in by Mike Munford, and he did some tweaking and afterwards it sounded better and was actually easier to play.

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

Very pretty Hearts and Flowers inlay with a beutiful sunburst finish on the resonater. Just enough inlay to be attractive without being too fancy. Only complaint is there is no inlay between the nut and the third fret. The gap in inlay looks kind of funny.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Haven't had the banjo long enough to determine the reliability. Looks and feels solid and built well. My first banjo was a Deering Sierra, which has been very reliable. I had faith enough to buy another Deering banjo when I was ready to upgrade.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Haven't had to deal with the company with says a lot about reliability. They do send me a newsletter which is nice.

Customer Service: 9

Components

Everything seems to be of very high quality.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would highly recommend this banjo to anyone who plays traditional bluegrass. It has a great crisp sound. I've been shopping around for the last few months for a banjo because I was ready to upgrade from my Deering Sierra. Initially wanting a Gibson Earl Scruggs model, while shopping around I realized that the main difference between this banjo and the Gibson Earl Scruggs was the name on the peghead and that the Gibson was almost 1000 dollars more. After the adjustments made to the banjo I am 100% happy with the sound and feel of it. It is easy to play and has the great bluegrass sound I was looking for. If I could change anything it would be that Deering setup the banjo better before shipping, and to put one more inlay between the nut and first fret.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Unknown on 4/12/2003

Where Purchased: Ebay

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 2000 ($US)

Sound

Before I purchased this banjo I had a chance to play a Golden Era along
side three other high end banjos.This had the best sound of them all.
Amazing sustain that trails off very evenly.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Beautifully setup, light strings, snuffy smith 5/8 bridge,
very easy to play

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Curly maple neck and resonator, dark ebony fingerboard, mother of pearl inlay. Not to plain, not to ornate.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Fit and finish are excellent.
My teacher has the same model only ten years older and his still looks almost new.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Installed 5th string spikes the day I got it.The guy said it was the hardest
ebony he's ever drilled into.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

This is the third banjo I've owned and probably the last. My first banjo cost $150, my second $600. There's definitely a difference in a banjo of this price range. I can't imagine ever wanting to upgrade to something else, it's something I'll leave to my son or daughter one day.
What would I do if it were stolen? Well, after I stopped crying, I'd form a posse and go after the dirty rotten @#*&%

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 2/15/2002

Where Purchased: Dan's Pick-a-Way

Year Purchased: 1991
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I play traditional bluegrass and this banjo fits well.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Yes it was setup when I purchased it. The action was set well.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Curley maple. Hearts and arrows.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Yes the hardware and finish will last.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

Overall Rating: not rated

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