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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  Cripple Creek CC-50 Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Yozhik (see all reviews from this person) on 2/23/2013

Where Purchased: Family Loaner

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

When set up right, this is a nice plunky open-back banjo perfect for playing wherever and whenever you feel like it.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

I originally borrowed this instrument from my brother to learn on. It had a good mellow sound to it at first, but it was noticeably quieter than other banjos, among other faults. Over time I realized that this was due to a warped original tailpiece. Based on the recommendations on here, I replaced that with a Kershner tailpiece from StewMac. As to the difference that made, to quote the incomparable Keanu Reeves, "Whoa!"

Suddenly it had tone with great body, it was loud (well, for an open-back w/o a tone ring), and it could even now sustain notes for all those fun slides, hammer-ons, etc. The instrument is now a real pleasure to play with. I'm sure that the original tailpiece is fine by itself, but after awhile if you really want to make this banjo shine I'd strongly recommend picking up a Kershner and giving it a try.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

For a cheap banjo, the wood construction is quite nice. The deep polish looks nice. The fretboard is simple good looking layout. It could have fancier plastics and nicer chrome finishes, but it's good enough for the price.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

I think if there's a fault with this banjo (keeping in mind that it's very affordable and mine is an older used model), it's that the metal parts aren't exactly designed to last forever and ever. The good thing though is that I feel the wood construction and such are built nice enough that it's worth doing if after a few years some metal fatigue takes out the tailpiece or whatnot.

Also, while I'm sure one could go buy a more expensive beginner banjo with better-quality metal bits, I think this is the better option if you're going to want to buy bridges and tailpieces to tinker with anyhow (which by the way, is something I highly recommend giving a try - it's a lot of fun to bring out different sounds in an instrument just by swapping parts).

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Great wood construction for the price. The straightline tailpiece is probably something worth replacing with at some point, but I'm sure the original is good for any initial purchaser.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

Even though my instrument isn't fresh off the rack, for little more than $35 I was really able to make it sing again. I certainly have no hesitation recommending this instrument as a great beginner banjo, especially given its affordability. Moreover, I think it's great for keeping around the house even after you may buy another banjo. It's light and easy to carry anywhere, loud enough but not too loud (perfect for that 2am solo jam session when your neighbors are asleep), and you can take it places you wouldn't dare take your more expensive instruments.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Corkhill Cobbler (see all reviews from this person) on 2/23/2013

Where Purchased: Music City, Vestal, NY

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 289 ($US)

Sound

Great sound and Feel for the price. Using it for learning frailing/clawhammer. It Came with light strings that had a good feel for learning but I put on a set of mediums and this now has a better feel for me now. Banjo seems to respond great to learning the basic chords not sure how good it is beyond that. This was purchased just a few miles from my house and I read alot of great reviews on Gold tone.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Set up nice and stays in tune. Its a nice looking beginner banjo for the money paid. No defects and I'm still amazed at what you get for under $300 Made in China sticker on it, but look at some of the prices for others.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

A very nice looking instrument with dark tone wood . I plan on keeping this even if I upgrade someday as it will always be a great back up or for taking on trips or just lugging it anywhere without much worry.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I have been Bum Ditty ing for only 3 weeks and it has held up I great.
IT feels to have good enough parts to last for a while. I'm very happy with the purchase.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Too early to rate.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Came with a nice bag and some tools.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

Very good for what I can do as a beginner. I can sit anywhere with it and practice. Its the First one I ever purchased so I dont really know how good an entry level banjo can get. Considered a Deering goodtime but this was in the right spot at the right time.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by lafrohman (see all reviews from this person) on 3/17/2012

Where Purchased: Melodee Music, Leesburg VA

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: 220.00 ($US)

Sound

I was a total beginner when I purchased the banjo. I'm learning Scruggs style from Janet Davis' "You Can Teach Yourself the Banjo" book while also teaching myself how to play 2 finger thumb lead with the help of tab posted on on http://2ftlbanjer.wordpress.com/. I thought I'd be teaching myself to play clawhammer, thus the reason why I chose an openback rather than a resonator style. However, I find the styles I'm learning easier to teach myself to play. I think the banjo sounds fantastic for what I'm doing. Since I didn't know anything about banjos I considered getting a cheaper model from Guitar Center. I'm glad I didn't. I recently went by Guitar Center to fool around on an Epiphone to see what the difference would be. It didn't seem to be as sturdy as the Gold Tone and I didn't like the neck. I think the Gold Tone has a much better sound. I'm rating the sound pretty high because I think if you're looking for an entry level banjo this is a solid choice and worth the extra $50 or $75 to pay to avoid getting a much lesser instrument.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The fellow who set up my banjo didn't know how to tune it or how to tighten the head. No worries. I bought a Snark tuner and tuned it correct. I read up on BHO how to tighten the head and did so without breaking anything. The action is a little high up the neck which is probably ideal for old time playing which is what most openback players go for. As for staying in tune I have had no problems. I live in DC so the weather fluctuates a fair bit in terms of the humidity. I notice that with swings in the temperature I'll need to adjust the tuning a bit. However, it stays in tune throughout playing. The guitar tuners do a fine job. The geared 5th string tuner is great. I didn't want to fool with a friction peg.

Setup Rating: 4

Appearance

The banjo came with no appearance flaws. I think it's a handsome instrument. Nothing fancy. I haven't gotten any calls to play the Kennedy Center yet. I guess if I do I'll worry about silly things like how photogenic my axe is.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The instrument seems quit study to me. I've had it now for six months and have had no issues with anything that could be attributed to manufacturing defects or low quality materials.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I haven't had a reason to deal with Gold Tone directly. The banjo comes with a warranty. I'm voting 10 only because I can't choose n/a.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I've ordered a new bridge (one from Bart Veerman, http://banjobridge.com/ who seems to be highly rated by BHO members) and I'm looking forward to hearing how it changes the sound. I don't think my banjo sounds bad but I think the bridge seems to be a bit weak. I think it sags a bit in the middle. I noticed that the third string sounded a bit dead to me and then noticed that the bridge seemed to dip a bit in the middle. No worries. From what I've read on BHO, the bridges that come with banjos are not usually high quality anyway. Other than that, I've got no complaints. The instrument itself seems to be well made.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I'm totally in love with my Gold Tone. Six months after purchase and playing it nearly daily for that period I'm convinced I made a solid choice in an entry level banjo.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by SedatedGodzilla (see all reviews from this person) on 8/28/2010

Where Purchased: Mandolin Brothers

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 200 ($US)

Sound

This is my first banjo. It has a clean, bright sound, and is not too loud.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

Simple and clean-looking.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island gave me an outstanding deal. I highly recommend them!

Customer Service: 10

Components

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

The Gold Tone CC-50 was the best beginner banjo I was able to find. It is inexpensive and really sturdy. I am totally satisfied with it.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by SPLogDog (see all reviews from this person) on 11/29/2009

Where Purchased: Old Town School of Folk

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 270 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Great sound, I like the sound better then the Deering of similar price. A little plunky, brighter when you wail on it. It's pretty loud for a banjo without a tone ring. I have low action, 1/2" bridge, Remo top frosted head. The head is tightened down quite a bit, and the tailpiece is as low as it can go. This can be heard on the music section of my homepage.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

The banjo was set up very well, I have made very little changes. I fiddled around with the head tension, bridge position, and strings. It has a stock bridge, guitar style tuners, Remo top frosted head, and D Addario medium light tension strings.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

There is a dark brown finish, which leaves the grain visible. The peghead is simple, as is the inlay. Overall, a very nice, spartan banjo.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

The whole thing seems very sturdy, this would make an excellent camping banjo. I've done a bit of camping with it and can't see any damage or wear. I've had this banjo for 11 months, and I've played quite a bit on it. During the summer I played a minimum of 2 or 3 hours a night for 2 or 3 months, so its had some good rigorous testing.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Old Town was very nice to work with, they didn't try and pressure me into more then I wanted to spend. They worked with me to find an option that would work with me, and were willing to throw in a few extras. They also didn't hover over me like some salesmen tend to do.

Customer Service: 9

Components

The strings that came with it were store brand cheapo's, the tuners are guitar style. The tuners are very reliable, they tune easily and quickly. Some might want to upgrade to planetary, but the guitar style used work great. The Remo head is a pretty standard head, I've worn through the frosting. This doesn't require replacement, but others might like to keep it looking sparkly new. There hasn't been any damage to the other components.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

A great sounding banjo for the price, sturdy, reliable, and fun to play. This is a great banjo for a beginner, and is made well enough to last.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by tmanthebanjoist (see all reviews from this person) on 12/24/2008

Where Purchased: South Austin Music

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 279 ($US)

Sound

The Gold Tone CC-50 Banjo has a very rich/full sound overall. It soars past the Epiphone banjo I was renting earlier (the epiphone had a resonator) in sound quality. It has a wide variety of sounds along with its already rich/full sound quality. I loved this banjo because it was light and small, portable and full of sound. It is a little hard tuning it, but maybe because I'm new at tuning. But I have nothing against this banjo!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The clerk at South Austin Music tuned the banjo and sold me a tuner. I have tuned it before I start playing. Again, It is a little hard tuning it, but maybe because I'm new at tuning.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It is a wonderful sight. A fine maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard, chrome plating, a straight-line tailpiece. I had no customizing done to it. I haven't seen any appearance flaws, but I've only had this for a couple of weeks.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It seems very reliable because it seems sturdy and well-made. I probably won't use it but a year or two, but I am assured it will last well past the time I stop using it a lot (I will keep the banjo, but I will upgrade).

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have not dealt with the company, and I don't think I will ever when I am using it a lot.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Picks are good along with the tuner and strap. All of these are in great shape. The tuner is a Barcus-Berry and it is a great tuner for about $35-$40.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I would recommend this banjo. It was a great bang for my buck. I would probably get this banjo again if it was stolen not unless I felt like I wanted to upgrade. I LOVE THIS BANJO! I love the sound and (it doesn't really matter but what the heck) there is an engraving at the arm rest. I have no regrets in buying this banjo! This banjo definitely outshines the Epiphone banjo I was renting.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by gkuchan (see all reviews from this person) on 1/23/2008

Where Purchased: Different Strummer

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

A little flat, and muddy. not a lot to it

Sound Rating: 5

Setup

Set up perfectly, but just not a lot you can do with it

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Not a bad looking banjo, but fairly generic

Appearance Rating: 5

Reliability

This was a rental and had seen a good amount of action and it seems to have held up rather well

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

n/a

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Not a lot to it

Components Rating: 5

Overall Comments

Great rental Banjo to get you started, but save your money and go a step or two up to get yourself something you won't outgrow so quickly.

Overall Rating: 5

Submitted by mtracy (see all reviews from this person) on 7/20/2007

Where Purchased: playbetterbluegrass.com

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 189 ($US)

Sound

Sounds good to me. I like the open-back sound. I just got the banjo, so have touched nothing in terms of setup.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

I just a beginner, but from what I have heard and read, the banjo was setup properly.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

I really like the looks of this banjo. It looks "old-timey". I looked at the CC-100 with the clear finish, but actually prefer the stained finish on the CC-50.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

It appears to be built very well, with the pieces fitting together nicely. It is very sparse on details, but what is there looks good and strong.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Tim at playbetterbluegrass.com was great. My banjo was actually backordered, and I called to cancel my order. The nice lady who took the call got me on the phone with Tim, the owner, and he said he would call Gold Tone to see about delivery dates. He promptly called me back to update me on the shipping. Because he called, and kept the order, and am glad I did.

Customer Service: 9

Components

The tailpiece looks very solid, like a nice piece of machinery. The holddowns also look very nice to me. The tuners are guitar tuners so stick out to the side. I think the planetary tuners look nicer on a banjo. It does have a smal brass tone ring, which makes it sound better than other low cost banjo I played around with.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

As a first banjo, I don't think you can beat the CC-50. I have seen other low cost banjos, and they seemed a bit flimsier than this banjo. I think I made a good choice

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by TheStonesRiver (see all reviews from this person) on 6/28/2007

Where Purchased: Nashville Used Music

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 150 ($US)

Sound

This is my first banjo, so it has been what I learn on, so I've tried out Seeger, Scruggs, Blues, Spanish stuff too, and it's all sounded good. Pretty good for bluegrass for an open-back, bright sound for sure, not so loud, but nice quality for a cheap banjo.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

Definately change the strings, setup strings are quite dull on this one, I've put Martins on it, some scruggs sig strings too, but change of strings makes a big difference. I've tightened the head a bit, not too much, it was in good shape. Because its open-back its easy to pull a Seeger practicing technique of tossing a shirt in at night if you dont want to wake everyone up. Also, note that tuners get loose after a years use, but again, its a cheap buy for a bright sound.

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

Its maple all around, dark stain, redish-look, its a pretty open-back, i'm fond of it, since it's been my brain-trust of getting the hang of the banjo, its pretty.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

The pegs make me wonder how long this will go on, never broke a string on it after a year, but I do change them once a month or so. Finish holds up fine, its sturdy for a cheap buy.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The fifth string peg is geared and good, the rest might need to be replaced after a couple years. Fret board is nice and well spaced, and head is average.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

Its cheap, if you're looking for a camping to-go banjo, its a good one. Its also good for a beginner banjo, can take a beating, and holds up really nicely, I love mine. I haven't gotten a new one yet, so can't compare it, but for a first banjo, its good, works well with someone trying to find out their own style.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by Unknown on 6/22/2004

Where Purchased: eBay

Year Purchased: 2004
Price Paid: 129 ($US)

Sound

A thin sound, due largely to lack of mass plus no resonator. However, it is very adequate and, considering the price, quite acceptable.

Sound Rating: 6

Setup

Set up was OK; had to tighten the head. The strings that come on the banjo are not-so-hot; should be changed out. Action is extremely good.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

A very simple banjo (hey, it's $129) , but an attractive neck and peg head. Remo head Open-back; no resonator.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

This is intended to be my traveling/camping banjo, and I haven't had it long enough to judge its reliability. It appears very well made and I expect it will hold up well.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

N/A. Bought it through an eBayer for $129, about half the asking price at retail outlets.

Customer Service: 5

Components

The neck and fingerboard are very good - straight, perfectly fret positions. Plays cleanbly at all positions, produces nice chimes all over fingerboard. The rim appears a little weak. Bracket and tailpiece hardware are not first-clas (but, hey, it's a $129 banjo).

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

For the price - even at full cost - an excellent beginner's and/or travel banjo. Wouldn't work for performing - too quiet. I am very impressed with the accuracy of the frets and the playability. Definitely recommended for an inexpensive instrument.

Overall Rating: 7

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