Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

2806
Banjo Lovers Online


Banjo Reviews

Review Categories

Most Recent

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  GF-100FE  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by Chris Herring (see all reviews from this person) on 4/7/2017

Where Purchased: Transaction on Banjo Hangout

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 1100 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Good sound throughout the range of the neck. Lighter weight strings seem to be the best fit from a sound perspective. Ive compared the sound to many and it holds it's own in a jam setting, not quite the voume of a few, but equal to some, of the Gibsons I played with but close.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

A setup had recently been performed by a luthier when I got it, therefore it was set up great with excellent action. I can't speak for how it was set up from the factory.
The banjo seems to respond better with light strings, mediums caused a distinct loss in tone that was noted by myself and a few regulars I play with. The professional set up included a bridge change to a Snuffy Smith and it very likely makes a nice improvement as well.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Great looking banjo, the wood is flawless, the armrest has a bit of rough feel at the lower curve, the flange has some imperfections that you only notice if you are studying the banjo well. Casual observers don't notice.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

The armrest is tarnished after 2 years of playing, despite being wiped after each use. The wood and finish still look great. The tuners (Gotoh) look good and function well.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Did not deal with SAGA. Which is good, if I had to contact them this likely would have been a negative review as something would have been wrong.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I'm really happy with the wood appearance, the GOTOH tuner performance, and the sound (it was professionally set up) of the banjo.
The armrest and flange have some slight imperfections which casual observers likely do not see. They don't affect the sound so no big deal for me.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

The banjo is a 2013 model - I'd choose this banjo again; after 2 years I'm a happy customer. It has weaknesses (armrest/flange) but nothing that is detrimental. It's a darn good sounding banjo and looks good to boot. I receive compliments from other banjo players who play it and see it. I believe it's a quality banjo and I also think having it properly set up brought out it's true potential.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Hudson (see all reviews from this person) on 8/7/2013

Where Purchased: Banjoteacher.com

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 1449.00 ($US)

Sound

Perfect for 3 finger.Professional sound.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Good the way it is

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

good flying eagle copy.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Just got but looks very well made

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Banjoteacher.com is first class all the way.You get the best deal plus extras.Ross Nickerson is great to do business with.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Very happy with it.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by BC (see all reviews from this person) on 10/7/2011

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

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

Sound

Perfect banjo for Scruggs Style. Built identical to Gibsons I have had in the past, better than some. Not quite as much volume, but enough. Good low end growl and pop up the neck. This banjo sounds as good as most Gibsons and better than a lot of them.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Banjo was set up by Janet Davis (Tom). I had them change out the original tailpiece to a Presto, install a Snuffy Smith bridge and add Keith tuners on the second and third strings. I re-adusted the cordiantor rods and tightend the head a little more after I played it a bit. Volume got a little better and sound improved. Overall it was set up well and sounded good right out of the box.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The banjo has no noticable flaws, wood is excellent and shows good, consistant grain and coloring. and the FE inlay work is excellent as well. Stock tuners perform well enough. Banjo stays in tune nearly all the time with only minor tuning required from time to time.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware looks great with no visible flaws other than the arm rest. The arm rest does not appear to be heavy duty and tarnishes very easily. Have to constanty polish it. Will probably change it out in the near future. I cannot speak of the original tailpiece as I had it changed to a Presto before I received it. This banjo,as most new banjos, sound better and better with more playing. I feel it is well made and will last for years, with the upgrades.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Janet Davis is excellent to deal with. I highly recommend her.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Arm rest is weak and tarnishes easily. Everthing else is top quality. Originally thought I would probably have to change out the tone ring but there is absoutely nothing wrong with the stock ring. Sounds great.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This is an excellent banjo espically in its price range. Compares easily to high end banjos costing over twice as much.
With some minor upgrades it is a professional quality instrument. I would recommend this banjo for anybody from beginners to professionals with the upgrades. I would not hesitate to buy another one in the future.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by lexo (see all reviews from this person) on 2/2/2011

Where Purchased: US

Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The banjo has a full, deep and bright sound with the sign of "pre-war" hollow and flat sound. I like it. I flatter it sounds better then my Derring and Gibson banjos.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I purchased it used. It came with non-original Waverly tailpiece and bridge of unknown brand. I put Snuffy Smith III bridge on it. Maybe I will change tailpiece for Presto in the future. The action was set well.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

Made in China. Wood parts are great but metal parts are second class. The flange is bent slightly and there are a lot of nickel plating defects. It seems the tone ring does not fit to the rim precisely (there is a chink between the ring and the inner side of the rim).

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Hardware although not best looking is in a good shape and I believe it will last for many years.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Tuners are cheap-john. Better to replace them with better quality ones.
I want to change Waverly tailpiece for Presto and improve ring to rim
contact.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

Besides all imperfections this banjo sounds great. I recommend it to everyone. For the money barely to find a better banjo.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by revellfa (see all reviews from this person) on 12/30/2010

Where Purchased: Private Party

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 650 (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Nice mellow, mahogany tone. Not what you would call loud. Don't even think of comparing it to a Gibson.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

The action was a bit high when I got this banjo. The tailpiece had raised up and looked like it was ready to crack in half which it later did.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

Beautiful, classic appearance. Nice grain on the wood, nice finish.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

A wonderful banjo for the price but not as sturdy as the older Gold Stars. The cheap Presto tailpiece did eventually crack in half and had to be replaced.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

Never dealt with Saga.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

As we know this is the weakness of the modern Gold Stars. The tuners are bad, but not as bad as some of the others that I have seen on the Gold Stars.
The tailpiece was absolute, flimsy, weak junk. When I got this banjo the tailpiece had "given" and was almost as high as the bridge. I tried to adjust it by bending it a little bit and it broke in my hands. I was amazed to see just how cheap and thin it really was. I replaced it with a modern Kershner and the difference was astounding.
Other than those two things, the components are fine.
Again, these are not reproductions of the older Gold Stars which were heavy and sturdy. The modern Gold Stars are lighter and do not have the long-skirt tone ring.

Components Rating: 4

Overall Comments

I bought this banjo to resell which I have now done. Having owned a 1981 Gold Star GF-100 FE I wanted to see what I could do with a modern Gold Star.
Overall the older Gold Stars are much better in every way (except for price!)
This is a decent banjo and I don't know where you would get more for your money. However I don't see any difference (other than the concentric rings on the resonator and choice of inlay pattern) between the GF-85 and the GF-100. So as we always say, "if this one were stolen..." I would find a good deal on a used GF-85 as I believe sound wise and structurally they are of the same mold. Better yet, I would seek out an old Gold Star and really be in business.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by lespik (see all reviews from this person) on 1/11/2010

Where Purchased: online/rockstarsupply

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: $1100 ($US)

Sound

I am really enjoying this new banjo. After I had it set up it really rings out. I still haven't put the new strings and bridge on yet, but I can't wait to hear it !

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

The banjo wasn't set up bad. The head was a little to tight. I also had the tailpiece raised up some. The strings/bridge are on the way out as well.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

This seems to be a pretty slick banjo. The wood and finish all look pretty good. I see no real flaws in the hardware either. There is a slight bit of distance between the flange and the resonator right at the neck joint. Everyone I have shown it to loves it

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I haven't had it that long, but nothing seems out of the ordinary. Tuners seem to be alright I suppose. Tail piece seems pretty cheap but alright for now.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

I haven't had any dealings with saga/goldstar

Customer Service: 10

Components

The stock bridge is pretty cheap, and the strings needed to be changed in my mind, but thats pretty much standard.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I really like this gold star. It has plenty of volume and tone for my current skills. I would buy another one if I got rid of this one. If you can't find that mastertone money, save a few bucks and get one of these.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by banjodave93 (see all reviews from this person) on 1/3/2009

Where Purchased: Hometown Music Whitesburg,ky

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 1300 ($US)

Sound

Its one awsome sounding banjo. I love it and wouldnt trade it for the world.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Yes. Right out of the box it was at the proper head tension

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Yes. I love the flying eagle. Classic Banjo look.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It looked just fine when i got it. couldnt ask for more

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

never had to call them,but im sure they are easy to deal with

Customer Service: 10

Components

Presto tail peice,Scorpion bridge,remo head. AHHHH awsome!

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

i love it and would recommend it to any level player. Even PROFESSIONAL

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by banjojason88 (see all reviews from this person) on 11/19/2008

Where Purchased: Local Music Store

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 1100 ($US)

Sound

Very nice sound. Bright and clear. For what you pay the tone of the banjo is excellent.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

As with most new banjos, mine was not set-up. I had a guy snug the neck, tightening the head and i changed the bridge and the sound really came out.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

The banjo looks just like a Gibson RB-75, minus the word Mastertone in pearl block.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Very reliable, however I did change all the turners on the banjo. The hardware has shown no sign of aging.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I have not had a reason to contact Customer Service.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The turners (5-Star) that came on it where not very good and the bridge was terrible. But other than those everything else is excellent.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I would recommend this banjo. If you are just staring out, experienced and need a somewhat cheep reliable banjo you can not go wrong with a Gold Star.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by Edthebanjo (see all reviews from this person) on 6/9/2008

Where Purchased: Andy Perkins Traditional Instruments

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: £720 (£UK) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

It suits my Scruggs style perfectly, and i can barely fault the sound. It is loud enough to ring out in a jam, but not to loud to scare the other players off.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Perfect set up. I use a 5 star head (no frosting)

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Great appearance, looks beautiful. No Fault.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Not had it for long, but its hopefully goingto be a banjo for a lifetime.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Great service, as soon as we arrived, we were offered a cup of tea, and I was taken to a room where he had laid out 9 banjos that he thought were good for me.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Like it all, it seems good enough, however i may change some peices in the future

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Better that alot of gibsons and stellings i have played. Got it for a bargain price, it should be worth at least twice the price. If it was stolen, would not hesitate to buy a new one.

Overall Rating: 10

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

Where Purchased: I Don't Remember

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

Sound

This banjo has a rich ringy tone that I wanted in a banjo. Me and my dad used to own a '93 RB-3 that had the exact tone and after my dad sold it I had always wanted to buy another RB-3 for the tone, but this banjo has what me and my dad wanted.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was setup very well when my dad first got it.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I love the classic Don Reno styling.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I would rely on this banjo for recording purposes only.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Nothing needs to be upgraded.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Me and my dad both really love this banjo. This is as close to a Don Reno model as you can get. I think we will enjoy this banjo for years to come.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by 72chevy (see all reviews from this person) on 11/14/2007

Where Purchased: here

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

Sound

It's all in the setup. I've tinkered plenty with this banjo and take alot of notes. All in all I can get a good sound from it. My sound taste changes from time to time so I'll tweek the setup and make notes.

Sound Rating: 6

Setup

Setup was good when I got it. I changed head, and strings, and raised action a tad.

Setup Rating: 6

Appearance

Nice Vintage Look

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Above average

Reliability Rating: 6

Customer Service

na

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Above average

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

I would recommend this highly to any beginner, Intermediate player, and even expert (for a knock around). Being that I bought it used, I feel I'm getting tremedous value from it.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by Ger (see all reviews from this person) on 7/2/2007

Where Purchased: Wim v.d. Weg

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1400 (euro's) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The Gold Star 100 FE has a warm but bright, bit sparkling tone with good balance.
It suits the bluegrass style I like to play very much and can be easily played at low volume and higher volume without really changing it's character thus making it an ideal instrument for the use at home or in a band.


Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The banjo was set up perfectly, had a good overall sound and intonation on the entire fretboard making it a real challenge to play and
use the whole instrument

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

This beauty just screams to be played at, it's a joy to handle her.
The woodwork is absolutely gorgious, the inlaywork almost perfect, metalwork shows some minor flaws, the armrest could be better

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

The finish on the armrest could be better, it's important to wipe it off
after use.
The rest of the harware seems oke

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

I don't have experience with it, but Wim v.d. Weg, the dealer where I bought the Gold Star is is my reliable warranty

Customer Service: 10

Components

The tuners are okay, the banjo keeps in tune extremely well, once tuned
it seems to stay in tune forever even under different circumstances
The Presto tail piece seems to be little light but works fine till now

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I've compared it to several other banjo,s but this was love at first sight
and still is. I guess I will never need another one besides an open back
banjo for other style of music
It clearly has a certain flair and attractivness over it challenging you just
to play and make music
If it was stolen I would immediately buy another, I would certainly recommend it to anyone.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Paul Bock (see all reviews from this person) on 4/7/2007

Where Purchased: Janet Davis Music

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 1295 ($US)

Sound

This banjo fits my Bluegrass style perfectly. Superb tone, depth and responsiveness across the entire fingerboard. It is "string sensitive" in that different strings will alter the sound quite perceptibly to the experienced ear. Lighter strings, especially on the 2nd & 3rd, seem to sound best. The tone as set up is that deep, solid, slightly "hollow" Bluegrass tone that I love, but this banjo responds well to "tweaking" to change the sound characteristics to suit the player; i.e., different bridge, strings, tailpiece, head tension, etc.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Setup by Jim Davis at JDMC and he did an superb job. I have made no changes other than experimenting with a couple of different sizes of strings. The "playability" is really superior, it feels great all the way up the fingerboard.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Gold Star has really made progress in appearance since I bought my 2004 GF85. The finish is flawless and the metal parts are smooth, polished, and beautifully plated with no sign of "machining flaws" as was true of earlier production banjos. This banjo now compares favorably in both appearance & sound/playability to banjos costing 2 or 3 times as much. The new Golden Gate case is very impressive, well-made and solid.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The tuners have apparently been improved and feel smooth with no jerks, skips or slips. I intalled Keith tuners on 2 & 3 but left the original tuners on 1, 4 & 5 and have not seen any problems. Only time will tell how the overall reliability fares, so even though I see no potential issues I'll be conservative and give it a 9.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

No experience with Saga customner service, but Janet Davis Music is absolutely top-notch..

Customer Service: 10

Components

I can't find anything on the banjo that isn't first-rate. Some people feel that the Presto-style tailpiece is poor but truthfully I can't find anything really wrong with it. As stated above, the tuners seem of very good quality and work fine.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I love this banjo! I would recommend it without reservation to anyone, including performing professionals, who are looking for a quality Bluegrass banjo with that solid, deep flathead sound that is so popular. I perform semi-professionally and this banjo is now my "main axe." If it was stolen I'd buy another one just like it in a heartbeat.

Overall, I would rate the sound as a slight improvement over my 2004 GF85, the playability about the same, and the appearance as definitely superior.

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by curtiseller (see all reviews from this person) on 1/24/2007

Where Purchased: Earle's Pick & Strum

Year Purchased: 1984
Price Paid: Don't Remember (bought USED) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I inherited this banjo from my father and have been using it on the road and it the studio for the past 8 years. It sounds and plays wonderfully. When I got it, it was set up for bluegrass playing....real bright and powerful. I raised the action a little and added a Sosbee bridge and and straight-pull tailpiece. This revealed a darker and warmer tone that has been perfect for my style. It sounds better than most Mastertones I've played.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

It was set up for playing fast and loud when I got it. I was surprised how good it sounded when I made the changes. It seems to have a lot more versatility than I would have expected.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

The finish and woodgrain on this instrument are great. It's basically a copy of the Gibson Flying Eagle inlay pattern. There are two concentric rings inlaid on the back of the resonator which is a nice touch. It really beautiful.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I've dragged it around on tour all over the US and Europe for nearly a decade and I've never had any trouble. The only trouble I've had is that a slight twist has developed in the neck, which makes tuning a little tricky.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

I'd recommend this banjo to anybody....especially bluegrass players. It sounds and plays great. My only complaint is the weight....it's extremely heavy (even for a Mastertone). That's what finally led me to buying an open back.

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by maverick (see all reviews from this person) on 5/16/2006

Where Purchased: hangout

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 800 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

I have had many banjos as I trade around alot... This little beauty can hold its own with anything out there. I actually think it sounds better than a couple of hubers I have had.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Banjo came perfectly setup from the guy I purchased it from. No setup needed at all... Came with Sosebee bridge...

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I really haven't found a flaw on it yet.. The mahagony is perfect and the fit and finish is top quality and the tuners are much better than the GF-85's I had last year.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

It's a banjo that will hold its own in the $3000

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

havent dealt with SAGA

Customer Service: 9

Components

Great Neck and inlay work.. top notch tong rings also!

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

For $800 bucks that I paid for it. There is no doubt the best banjo for the money on the market..

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by hibby (see all reviews from this person) on 1/14/2006

Where Purchased: ebay

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The sound is great out of the box. It has lovely clear bell tones. There are sharp contrasts easily obtained by playing in different areas from the bridge. I am particularly impressed with the lovely bass tones and it holds the sound moving up the neck. I am slightly concerned that the tones might be lost during gigs and slightly overpowered by the guitars however I will remedy that if required.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The setup was okay however I am about to have the instrument proffessionally tweaked. The action seems slightly high at the moment but not too brutal. I spoke to a U.K. supplier prior to the arrival of the banjo and he was slightly irritated that I had imported the instrument. He warned me that the instrument would be vitrually unplayable in its arrival state. He changes the tuners, head, bridge and tailpiece before selling the instruments on. I would have to disagree with him. I would have been happy to gig with this instrument straight out of the box.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

No complaints with the looks. There are a couple of blemishes on the inlays although nothing too nasty. The over all quality is well up to standard for a high quality instrument.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

It is early in th day yet. I am totally confident in the instrument. I am already using it in gigs withou a backup.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I am fairly happy at present however I will keep an eye on the tuners. I will pobably change to another bridge. Nothing to major.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I would certainly recommend this banjo. For people in the U.K. I have seen this model on offer with upgrades for just a touch under a thousand pounds from leading U.K. retailers. Including import duty and taxes my model cost me just over seven hundred pounds in its factory condition. It all depends on what you are looking for. I am delighted with my deal and I am not making any major changes to my Gold Star. A local banjo dealer will cost you a bit more but you may feel that it is worth paying that bit extra to have your instrument adjusted and upgraded by a pro. You also have the luxury of a local contact if things go wrong. Either way you are on a good deal with this instrument.
If the banjo was stolen I would replace it immediately. The ibanjo is several classes above my old backup banjo and that is fairly reflected in the price difference. I love the sound and the clear rich tones. I will always aspire to be good enough to allow myself to buy a Stelling however for now this instrument is ideal .

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by Tim Mullins (see all reviews from this person) on 6/19/2005

Where Purchased: EF Productions

Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: 1085 ($US)

Sound

Great sound! The sound is the best feature of this banjo. Right out of the box it sounded good, deep, throaty, with crack and pop. And loud, louder than my TB-2 conversion with Huber ring. And that was before any setup. I then stripped it down, took the adjustment screw out of the “presto” and put on light strings, my preference. I left on the 5/8” bridge it came with and tightened the head to where I like it and added fifth string spikes. I then took it to a friend of mine, a professional musician and producer who plays all stringed instruments, including banjo. I told him I had a new banjo and that I wanted his opinion, but that I didn’t want him to see it so it wouldn’t color his expectations. I had him turn his back and picked it a little. He said “Well, that’s your old banjo, isn’t it?” After we both played it a while we agreed it a very good sounding banjo and a stageworthy instrument. Later, I put on a Snuffy Smith 11/16” bridge. It got even better. It rocks! It sounds good capoed, too. Here's a sound clip: http://www.judithgeiger.com/banjo/mp3/GF100FE.mp3

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

It was very nearly in tune right out of the box. The tailpiece was adjusted way down, but other than that it was playable as is. The frets are well finished, no sharp ends, no buzzes. The head tension was good. It sounded good with the medium strings it came with. The bridge was set correctly and the intonation, relief and action were good. The first string stuck in the nut slot and the nut had glue? on it. Both the nut and the fifth string nut had sharp edges. I cleaned these up and filed them smooth.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Nice finish on the wood with good curb appeal. The stain is a little lighter than I prefer, but nicely done. The neck is one piece, except for a 1/4” wide strip visible on the back of only one side of the peghead! On the resonator there is a noticible flaw in the finish where there is a dent in the purfling rings. The inlays in the ebony fingerboard and peghead overlay were neat and tight. Small asymmetries in the inlays make me think they are hand cut. I had expected laser-cut. It has the bell-shaped truss rod cover, which I like a lot more than the one on the GF-85s. The pearlescent tuner buttons have visible seams and look kind of cheap. Even my wife remarked on them. The resonator had an area of stain inside. There are slight imperfections in the flange plating. It came with a very nice looking case.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

It looks durable. Ask me in a year.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

I haven’t tried to use it yet. I understand that warranty issues are handled through the seller, who was professional in my dealings with him, except for his "no return" policy. The banjo didn’t come with any warranty papers, so I’m not sure what is covered or excluded. Inside the banjo the label says “Gold Star banjos are guaranteed to the original purchaser without time limit under the terms of our warranty.” UPDATE 9/11/05: I emailed EF Productions regarding a cracked tuner button 30 days ago and have gotten no response.

Customer Service: 1

Components

First, the 9.5 lb. case is very nice. It was marked with a tag, Golden Gate CD-1530. It is not to be confused with the CP-1530 Deluxe ABS molded case or the CV-1530 Vintage plywood one. I’m not sure what it is made of. It is covered with a black pebbled leatherette covering and nicely finished. The top and sides flex somewhat, yet were strong enough that I could stand on the top and sit on the side without any damage. The top is molded into an arch. It has five brass-colored latches, one locking, and comes with two keys. It has feet on the bottom, side and the butt. The inside is lined with dark green plush velvety material and nice padding that fits the banjo very well. The top has an extra ring of padding above the tension hoop to hold the banjo securely without putting pressure on the bridge. A very nice feature is the two ramps of plush-covered foam held in place by Velcro to support the peghead. They are somewhat adjustable by repositioning them forward or back. There is a very roomy storage pocket. Inside were the lug nut wrench and an allen wrench for the truss rod. It has a comfortable handle that balances very well from front to back, but the loaded case hangs slightly sideways toward your leg at the bottom.

The resonator is well constructed, smoothly finished and lays flat. The sides are 1/8" deeper than on my TB-2. It makes a nice pop when tapped.

The bottom edges of the rim are not rounded off and there is one place that you can feel the joint between the laminations. The rim and tone ring are both marked “28.” The 20-hole ring easily slips on and off and is well fit to the rim. The ring has some casting flaws up in the inside groove. The outside of the sloping face is machined somewhat unevenly and shows plating imperfections. It rang brightly when struck, as did the tension hoop. The large coordinator rod nut was frozen on the rod. When I got them apart I oiled the threads and they went together smoothly. It came with a Remo head. The tailpiece and armrest are lighter and thinner than the originals. Overall the banjo weighs 11.5 lbs., 1/2 lb. more than my TB-2 conversion.

The neck is well constructed, with medium frets with the ends finished over the binding. The neck is thicker and wider than I am used to, but playable, even with my small hands. The tuners seem adequate. The neck starts to thicken slightly at the first fret below the volute. Somehow, Inspector #42 did not notice that it has an extra side dot at the 21st fret! Of course, this makes mine a one-of-a-kind custom job and more valuable.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

All in all this is a very good sounding, good playing banjo with a very nice case. I bought it as a backup, but think it would be a suitable instrument for any intermediate or even a professional player. I’m not ready to retire my TB-2, but if this one had a little slimmer neck, it would be a keeper. And you would have to spend a LOT more to get one that sounded any better.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by R985wasp (see all reviews from this person) on 1/13/2004

Where Purchased: Local Dealer

Year Purchased: 1984
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

I've owned / own several different high end banjos, and every time I pick this thing up it amazes me how good it sounds. It is extremely loud and almost has a biting/cutting tone to it. The fourth string really has the boom that eveyone seems to crave and the sound is pretty uniform all across the instrument. I can say that is doesn't have quite the

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

I do all my own set-ups, so this really isn't applicable. However, the banjo holds set-up well and (what I can remember) it played really well right when I got it. I've installed a Snuffy Smith bridge 11/16, Kerschner tailpiece, spikes etc.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Wood and finish have held up great. Still looks new. My neck has developed a slight twist in it, but so far it hasn't affected the playabaility. I have always taken care of my instruments (wiping them down, polishing etc) but over the last couple of years the nickel finish has started to tarnish. However, I kind of like the look. It gives it that

Appearance Rating:

Reliability

See above for the insterument condition. This is my

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

See above.

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

This was my first banjo I bought when I started to learn to play. I couldn't afford an old pre-war Gibson, and the newer Gibson's were crap, so this banjo seemed to fit the bill. Little did I know (20 years later) that this banjo would actually surpass Gibson banjos in many ways. It has the tone of any $2500+ banjo on the market, the workmanship is top notch, the playability is great and it's been my

Overall Rating: 10

Submitted by Unknown on 12/9/2003

Where Purchased: Steve Austin Music

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 1000 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This banjo is great. It sounds just like a Gibson if not better.
The sound is perfect. Plenty of highs and lows. Great sustain!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The setup was good considering it sat in someones closet since 1978. I still think i will take her in and have it looked over.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

It looks good to me and that is what matters. Inlay is great hearts & flowers. The banjo was perfect. It was never played. Super tight wood grain.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Great hardware. Keith tuners on 2nd and 4th. 5th string capo. I'll probally take it off and put on some spikes. Strong finish. Feels very stout.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have not dealt with company. They just started making the Gold Star this year. It was reintroduced at the 2003 IBMA Awards.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Keith tuners are great. The other tuners seem a little rough. They might just need to be cleaned. Presto tail piece: Love it. Compensated bridge: I don't know much about them.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This is my 3rd banjo. I thought I would miss my deering but I don't. I have played and heard many banjos And the Gold Star is at the top with a Few others. This is a 1978 model. I don't know if the new models are as good, but if you find an old one do not pass it up! From my understanding this banjo was made to be a replica of a pre-war Gibson. The demand was there because Gibson was making low quality banjos in the 70's. Liberty was another that made great replicas. Many banjo Guru's recommended me to buy it. Even the Great Cooper Manus!

Overall Rating: 10

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.15625