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.
Where Purchased: Fret Mill Music
Year Purchased: 2001
Price Paid: 410 ($US)
Full range sound, a little bassy even until you add more tailpiece tension.
Sound Rating: 8
Setup was fine, but needed a bit more head tension, which is to be expected with a new head.
Setup Rating: 9
Satin finish natural maple with black neck binding, and double black binding on the resonator. Small snowflake position markers were very well done.
Appearance Rating: 8
Hardware seems well plated, finish hard to judge being satin. Construction quality is very good and dependable.
Reliability Rating: 8
Original banjo I received was damaged in transit, although very well packed. Gold Tone was very courteous and fast in making an exchange with me, although I was not reimbursed for the return shipping cost.
Customer Service: 9
The wood parts are very well cut, finished, and assembled. Binding and inlays were very good. The resonator is mounted by four T-plates that attach between the lugs and hook nuts. This works okay. Thumbscrews go thru these into threaded inserts in the resonator. These inserts are a press-in style which quickly work loose. I replaced mine with inserts which have the same size threaded hole but screw into the wood. (Cost me $2 and about an hour time to carefully install.) Or, you could epoxy the originals back in place as an easier fix. I wrote Gold Tone about this and hope they have used my suggestion of screw-in inserts. The lesser parts are a plain low crown tension hoop and guitar style closed tuners, but these work well. There are higher models that give you a notched hoop and planetary tuners (TS-250) or the better hoop and tuners plus a full flange (TS-250F). These also offer a lifetime warranty. Cripple Creek models are only 5 year warranted, but I don't forsee needing a warranty anyway.
Components Rating: 7
This is a very good banjo for the cost. It's well built, with good playability. It's a simple, no frills design; but what you do get is very good quality. It's apparent that Gold Tone takes pride in making the best quality instrument at any price level. This Cripple Creek model looks every bit as carefully made as the high end Gold Tones I've looked over. The resonator inserts working loose were my only kick, and this is a minor detail.
Overall Rating: 8
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