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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.

Gold Tone  Plucky Banjo Reviews

Submitted by PluckyPlicker (see all reviews from this person) on 11/22/2010

Where Purchased: Trade

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: Traded (Peewee Gibson) (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Bright
If I ever get this thing in tune, I will love it.

Sound Rating: 3

Setup

Not at all.
I'm going to need to replace everything on this little thing. But I think it will be worth it.
Nut, Head, tuners have to go

Setup Rating: 2

Appearance

Great looking little thing. Will look better with a nice skin replacement head.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

The Tuners on this thing make me think that it was designed to hang on the wall...not to play... or to give to my kid to try and destroy. It's tough...probably designed so children can pretend to play.

Reliability Rating: 5

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Can'g get it in tune.. Tried C tuning. I'm thinking I will go with heavier guaged strings and try to tune in G. Maybe I'm too picky but or too unfamiliar with banjos, but if it can't stay in tune for 5 minutes it can be very irritating.

Components Rating: 3

Overall Comments

I can't wait to have a professional set this thing up. First thing that has to go is the tuning knobs.

Overall Rating: 5

Submitted by ebenami (see all reviews from this person) on 11/3/2010

Where Purchased: gift

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Everything depends on setup. Out of the box, it was awful. I put some foam under the head and put on a heavy weight moon bridge with medium strings, and now it's tone is reasonable if a bit tinny.

Sound Rating: 4

Setup

It needed a major setup. I replaced the 5th string friction peg with a geared peg (1/2 hour easy change) just to make the instrument tunable.
I put on a 1/2" heavy moon bridge to bring down the action and emphasize lower tones. This also reduces sharping when you fret hard. Bridge placement is critical. I measured and then used a good tuner to fine adjust the bridge position for a clean 12th fret intonation.
I've muffled the head a bit with AC foam, but I will probably go to something fancier. I haven't made my my final string choice, but Martin Vega medium-weights (.010 for 1st & 5th) seem okay.
I may eventually take down the fret height a bit, but that seems like major work. I also think the nut is a bit cheesy.

Setup Rating: 1

Appearance

It's a bit silly looking and frankly crude. Ramblin' Jack Elliot signed the head "Travel Hard, Play Easy." and that means the world to me.

Appearance Rating: 3

Reliability

This is a great banjo to toss in your car or on your back, and take to the park or the beach. I wouldn't subject any quality banjo to the conditions this one endures.

Reliability Rating: 5

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

5th string friction peg should be replaced by a geared peg. Bridge must be replaced with better.

Components Rating: 5

Overall Comments

This should not be your first banjo or your main banjo. It serves a particular purpose well. It's cheap, it's light, it's small, and you can take it anywhere. It fits in my duffel or suitcase and tolerates airline travel and all the banging around I can hand out.

The sound isn't great, but improves much with easy mods (5th string tuner, bridge) and setup (bridge placement, strings). I frequently put on a mute for the sake of those in the next room or asleep.

Buy this banjo if you want an instrument you can use/abuse by practicing/playing almost anywhere. You may not like it, but you'll love it.

Warning: do not play this instrument while driving or operating heavy machinery.

A year after writing my initial review, I still own and use the banjo frequently. It keeps me from screaming in terror while a passenger in my wife's car. I have also heard a friend who is a top-level two-finger / three-finger old-time player play it in the car. He made it sing. I was in awe. I guess it's not the banjo that makes the music.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by 10gauge (see all reviews from this person) on 4/29/2009

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 250 ($US)

Sound

The sound is warm and pleasant when all is well. I bought it to take on banjo adventures, but use it to practice while sitting in my (parked) car since the neck doesn't hit the windshield. I often have to re-tune and it never sounds quite perfectly in tune like my full size banjo and a compensated bridge from a full size banjo doesn't compensate correctly for the scale size of this banjo. I like the sound well enough to play it often, but sometimes it can get just a bit frustrating. If this banjo were for a kid it would be a struggle for them.

Sound Rating: 6

Setup

The action was set up fine. It has a nice low action. The bridge was in the wrong place and I was very out of tune, probably from shipping? Other than moving the bridge for correct intonation, I haven't made any modifications to it at all.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

I saw pictures of the banjo before I bought it and so wasn't surprised by the way it looked. The head has a bar on it that routes the strings down so that the head stock can be flat intstead of angled, the flat head stock gives it a sort of goofy look and the bar looks out of place too. Also, since it's so small you look a little goofy playing it. It's all wood which I like and there is some figuring on the fret board from a knot that I like. The finish has some stress cracks near the hardware from the tail piece and also where the ply comes together on the inside of the rim.

Appearance Rating: 6

Reliability

This thing is a tank. I have not been very nice to it and it takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. It comes with a tool that has a phillips and a wrench for the head.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I got it from Janet Davis and originally they wanted to charge me a shipping fee for a whole banjo, but when I asked them to reduce that due to size and weight they worked with me. I haven't asked them to do anything with anything else about this 'jo.

Customer Service: 8

Components

This banjo is good at being what it is a travel banjo for practicing when you can't or don't want to lug around your big banjo. The friction fifth could be upgraded I suppose, but wouldn't really expect it to be nor would I expect Gold Tone to change anything else on this banjo. My biggest complaint on my banjo is that the 16th fret is a little bigger than the 15th so I get the same note on the 15th and 16th frets and have to work around it by finding the note somewhere else on the fret board.

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

I have gotten a lot of hours and fun out of this banjo and it's good enough to keep me playing it. I love singing in the key of C which is what this banjo is tuned to. I didn't even notice it when I took it backpacking and it's a little easier on the wifes ears since it's quieter, so if I just have to play when she's home I'll sometimes play the plucky to give her a little relief. I'll also take this one along if I ever go on a business trip. I'll be able to play it in a hotel quietly without pissing everyone off, though it's loud enough for me to hear and enjoy. If I was to buy this banjo again I probably would since it's such a good fit for me. As for a recommendation I can't give a strong go ahead because of some of the negatives, but if you read my whole review I don't think you'll be surprised by anything concerning this banjo.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by pinenut (see all reviews from this person) on 2/2/2008

Where Purchased: janetdavismusic.com

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

Sound

undecided

Sound Rating: not rated

Setup

working on it

Setup Rating: not rated

Appearance

ok

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

working on it

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Gold Tone

Customer Service: 7

Components

moved 5th string tuner to the head(existing friction tuner removed and plugged) used guitar style from a goodtime. big improvement

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

ONE POUND FOUR OUNCES This is the best option I've seen for a trail-worthy instrument. Some improvements and changes need to be made for reliable playability. So far so good. I give it a thumb-up.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by Springman (see all reviews from this person) on 9/3/2007

Where Purchased: Banjo.com

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 169 ($US)

Sound

Sound variation is great, depending on use of picks. Sound quality is best with medium strings.

Sound Rating: 6

Setup

The banjo is very easy to "play with" or adjust and there is little risk as the banjo is relatively inexpensive.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

This is a bare bones banjo, finish is relatively good, especially for a unit less than $200. My only complaint would be the string tension bar on the banjo head (very small wood screws that I worry will wear our with too many adjustments).

Appearance Rating: 6

Reliability

I use this banjo almost daily. It is great for practicing rolls. Additionally, this is perfect for a working person who travels. Lightweight, small, and closely replicates "standard" banjo action.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

Very helpful. I purchased at banjo.com, who is especially responsive.

Customer Service: 8

Components

Good banjo for price.

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

The Plucky is an excellent choice as a travel banjo or for practice. I would not perform a gig, but that is not the purpose of the banjo. Perhaps my favorite feature is I can play it anywhere, even in the car.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by MatthewVanitas (see all reviews from this person) on 6/26/2007

Where Purchased: South Austin Music

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 175 ($US)

Sound

Really pretty impressive for a 8" pot. Perhaps a little shrill further up on the highest string, but not at all ukulele-like as one might expect.

I've been using it mainly for OT/clawhammer styles, and it sound good for both bouncy dance tunes and darker murder ballads (albeit in a more eerie and less dreary way)

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

Action height was good. Bridge took a fair bit of tweaking to get the intonation set, due to the very short scale length. As the other review mentions, if you press down really firmly to fret, you bend the note slightly, again due to short scale length sensitivity, etc.

Even after adjusting the bridge, I'm not totally thrilled with the intonation, as I still get some minor "off" notes. However, I've let other (more experienced) banjo players try the Plucky, and they didn't feel it was too off-pitch. Apparently I'm just spoiled by fretless banjo intonation. I will be de-fretting this banjo though, so that solves the issue for me.

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

Fit and finish are quite good for an inexpensive banjo, no real complaints at all. No burrs or roughness.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Tuners seem a little cheap, but ring and brackets seem pretty solid. One screw on the tailpiece came a little loose, will Loc-Tite it if it happens again.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

Emailed Sunday night asking about fretless versions, had a reply in my inbox Monday morning stating that filed-frets are an option from the factory. Each email I sent had a reply in under 24hrs. Really impressed!

Customer Service: 9

Components

Tuners, both headstock and 5th, are not so great. I find myself retuning this instrument more than any of my other string instruments. Definitely the weakest link in this piece.

Components Rating: 4

Overall Comments

Overall, I'm extremely pleased. The banjo is sturdy, compact, good tone/volume, and the price is outstanding. It's hands-down unbeatable in fulfilling the knockaround backpacker banjo niche.

I've taken this banjo to backpacker hostels and outdoor festivals, and everyone wants to try it! It's a fun change of pace, and ideal for travel. Its key weakness is low-quality tuners, but those can be replaced by anyone with basic mechanical skills.

I plan to upgrade the tuners on mine, defret and copperclad, and use it as my main travel/backpacking instrument.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by kaitlyn (see all reviews from this person) on 4/8/2007

Where Purchased:

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 190 (canadian) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Surprisingly bright and loud, but totally out of tune the farther up the neck you go. Also the pitch changes significantly depending how you hold it. I'm a beginner so I don't know much about it, but I would say the 5th string isn't geared and makes it almost impossible to tune, and the other tuning keys seem to have something wrong with them too (maybe it's the strings, I haven't tried replacing them yet).

Sound Rating: 5

Setup

The people at Gold Tone recommended I play around with the position of the bridge to try to improve the tone up the neck but I have yet to do that. Action is good, easy to play.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

Very pretty for a tiny banjo, nice satiny finish, no frills but still a nice banjo.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I don't think I would play this with others around, or try to sing to it as the pitch goes out so often it's a little embarrassing. But it's great for traveling and backpacking as it weighs almost nothing, and it's still fun to play.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

They responded to my email about the pitch problems right away and were very friendly about it. We don't have a Gold Tone dealer in my area so I couldn't comment on that.

Customer Service: 9

Components

I would say definitely the 5th string tuner and maybe all the rest of them too need to be looked at, the tailpiece is good and solid, probably change the strings right after you buy it.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

I think it's a little overpriced, I don't know if I'd replace it if it was stolen, it depends if I can figure out the tuning and make it sound a little better. But it's a fun thing to have around and it definitely attracts a lot of attention for being so tiny and cute. But it's perfect for backpacking so that alone makes it very attractive. And you can play this thing anywhere, airports, bus stations, in the car. So, more for fun than for serious playing.

Overall Rating: 8

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