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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 Star  J.D. Crowe model  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Don Ridgway (see all reviews from this person) on 8/12/2014

Where Purchased: Band-mate/Saga outlet

Year Purchased: 1982
Price Paid: 1500 ($US)

Sound

Big, round, full, punchy, warm.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It was fine out of the case.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Beautiful matte gold hardware and figured maple with tobacco stain. Lovely instrument.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It's doing well after 32+ years...

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

No need to contact them till recently: I emailed requesting a replacement for a lost resonator screw. Got one promptly. Saga are good folks.

Customer Service: 10

Components

That should be "Are THERE weak or cheap parts..."
I found all the parts to be excellent.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Like others who have one of these early J.D. Crowe models, I'm besotted. I have an old Gibson flathead, and I somewhat prefer this one to that overall. Mine is #47, in the middle of that first batch of 80, and they were doing super work. (I also got one of the early Japanese-made Kentucky mandolins, also excellent.) Saga has over the years provided great traditional instruments at reasonable prices; my hat's off to them.

This could have been one of those sad "Why on earth did I sell that one?" stories. I did sell it, but told the fellow I should get first refusal if he were to sell it later on. He did, I did, I got it back, and I'm so relieved.

It's really a luxury to feel so good about your machine, you know?

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by GoldStar81 (see all reviews from this person) on 6/25/2004

Where Purchased: Music Man

Year Purchased: 1982
Price Paid: 1150 ($US)

Sound

Plenty of bottom, yet clear up the neck. Suitable for both melodic and Scruggs stuff. I like it better than the pre-war flathead I used to own. My opinion, but agreed with by several others.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Have messed with the setup over the years. Installed a Sullivan ring in it (like J.D. did to his when he endorsed 'em), but just went with a Huber ring a few years ago. That helped. A Snuffy Smith bridge and old Price tailpiece were added a while back. Some pros have suggested taking the head tension up a notch, but I think I get better tone (for my style of playing) by keeping it where it is. [Update: I recently went back to the original tailpiece and changed the setup a bit. Might re-install the original ring.]

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Very few flaws. Looks like J.D.'s Granada. Classic beauty. While the maple resonator wood is gorgeous, the neck wood isn't as nicely figured.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It's held up great over these 35 years. The wood looks like new. Tough polyurethane finish. The gold isn't bad. Still looks like J.D.'s Granada. Have had frets replaced, but that's about it. One tuner is starting to slip a bit.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

UPS cracked the flange during shipping to Huber and Saga couldn't get me a replacement. That's the only contact I've had with the company.

Customer Service: 8

Components

Real pearl tuning buttons. Original tailpiece was clunky. One heavy banjo. Except for the armrest, the gold has held up well over the years.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This has been my baby for over 35 years. Have had many offers to buy it, but it's a keeper. [Update: Got a Huber Lancaster 1/05. I still play and like the Gold Star, but the Huber is now my main ax.]

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by jbanjoist (see all reviews from this person) on 4/17/2003

Where Purchased: Mandolin Bros.

Year Purchased: 1987
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I was looking for a step up from the base model Gold Star and I lucked up on a good deal on this model. It is supposed to be an exact copy of the famous Gibson Granada even down to the tone ring composition.
Easy to play, full solid tone with good 4th string boom and good 1st and 5th string crack. Very balanced and rich sound. Installing a price tail piece and high end bridge helped but then again it didn't really need help. I like everything about it and have NO dislikes. It will never leave my hands......

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The setup was so-so when I received it. I go through a complete setup on whatever I get. I did make a new nut for this one. Really sounds great now and has sounded great for 16 years.

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

Beautiful instrument. Ebony fingerboard, hearts and flowers inlay, genuine , mother of pearl tuning buttons, nicely flamed maple neck and resonator, and shiny and matte finish gold plating like the Granada.
Top workmanship, parts fit perfectly.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hardware is great. Always dependable. Gold had worn some on the armrest but it's expected after 16 years. No finish problems at all.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Haven't had to deal witht he company but I think they are out of business now.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I replaced the presto style tailpeice for a Price I had gold plated. Replace the standard bridge.
Not bad parts , just my preference.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I recommend it wholeheartedly. It is worth twice + what I gave for it.
If it was stolen I'd cry! And hope the insurance would pay for something to replace it perfectly.
My favorite feature is the whole banjo. I never thought I'd get one as high end as this. It's my dream banjo.
I've not played another banjo yet that I would have rather had.

Overall Rating: 10

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