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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- CC50TR Banjo Reviews

Submitted by stanger (see all reviews from this person) on 12/6/2007

Where Purchased: Angie's Banjos

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 250 ($US)

Sound

The CC50TR has an 11" head with a spun brass bead tone ring. It's an openbacked banjo. It is a A scale banjo with a twist; the scale is the same as other Gold Tones, but the TR is missing the 1st and 2nd frets of a regular length neck and only has 20 frets. The scale is actually as if there was a permanent capo on the 2nd fret. With the supplied medium guage strings, the sound is remarkably good and deep when tuned to G, and brithens up when tuned to A. The volume is quite good, and it sounds good played in either clawhammer or 3-finger style.
The tone is not complex, but is very pleasing. It is designed to be a lightweight traveller, and fills it's purpose very well. Much more tone and volume than expected.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

One of the most pleasing aspects was the setup details. On Oriental banjos of this price, I expected to have to do some work on the nut, as they almost all have problems there. The nut on this banjo was very well fit, the correct height and shape, and very nicely notched with proper string spacing. The new head is a little loose, but came with enough tension to sound good. All I had to do was raise the tailpiece, which was cranked all the way down to the head surface and tune it up. The stock medium gauge strings keep the banjo's feel from being too sloppy when tuned to G, and still feel good when tuned to A. This was a good factory setup all around.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

I didn't expect a fancy banjo, and I got what I expected. The finish is a nice matte. The color is good, with some sunbursting on peghead and heel. The rim is the same finish, darkened to the same shade as the dark part of the burst. All is very clean. Just a decal on the peghead and pearl dots in the board. This banjo was highly CNC cut, and is clean throughout, with good parts fit. No flaws in the plating. The board is bound with black, probably because the fingerboard may be thin and laminated. Even if the fingerboard is thin, the wood is quite hard- it's not rosewood, but probably is a Chinese hardwood that's the same hardness. Looks simple but nice.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

The hardware looks pretty good overall. A nice surprise was the tension hoop- on similar banjos, the hoop is usually short in height and made from thin unplated sheet steel. This one may be steel, but it's as heavy as most brass hoops, rounded on top and nicely plated. It is as short as the others, but much sturdier. The sidewinder tuners are the same as are used on the Goodtime, but with box covers over the gears and larger imitation pearl knobs. They're cheap, but I've seen lots of them and they are quite durable. The 5th string geared tuner looks Chinese, and these have been variable. This one works smoothly right now, but it may lock up in the future as some I've seen have done. I hope not, but it's too soon to know yet.

The finish is good, and probably a catalyzed polyester. Should last as long as the banjo. The tailpiece is one of Gold Tone's Price style- lighter than the ones Price makes, but looks like it's durable. It's well assembled and the tension screw worked smoothly.

The fret work is excellent. Very well set, well levelled, and nicely shaped on the edges.

I'm not crazy about the brackets- they are the ones typically found in the price range, but these look pretty good. It may need a better set in the future, or not... They seem sturdy enough, and I've seen lots of older banjos with 'em. The rest of the hardware looks good to above average for the price range.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

First time I ever bought a Gold Tone, although I've played a couple of their higher priced banjos. I liked them, and though this one would be as good. Angie was very responsive- she promptly answered all my questions, and the banjo came with a standard padded gig bag and free shipping as part of the deal. It was drop shipped to me straight from the factory and arrived with no damage promptly. Both Angie and Gold Tone provided tracking numbers and an accurate arrival date. So far, customer service is as good as it gets, and I'm very satisfied.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The banjo is good all around, but the tone ring quality, fit and rim finish are excellent. The bridge was also a nice surprise- well shaped and substantially wide and heavy, unlike most stock Oriental bridges. It's very good- the best I've seen at this price. While none of the parts are the best available, none are the worst available, either. The hoop is an excellent upgrade compared to most of the competition, and everything is nicely fitted.
The neck shape is excellent- very comfortable and fairly deep. This is a very good banjo for the money, and other than the brackets, is as good as can be found for the price.

The shoes are fine, but hardware looks a little light. If not for the brackets and shoe hardware, I would have given this one a 9. It really is a solid 8 3/4 in component quality.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

This is a super little lightweight traveller. It's a lot of fun and very easy to play. It would be an excellent child's banjo with light gauge strings, as the short neck is perfect for small fingers. The 11" head gives the banjo a nice full tone, unlike the smaller heads found on other similar banjos. It is a very good banjo for a second banjo, tuned to A for old-time players, and sounds as good in G as in A.

It's small enough to carry on an airplane, and loud enough to use in most small jams. I bought this for my daughter, but I'm thinking of buying another for me. All my others are very expensive vintage and top-end hot rods, but this little outfit has a lot of charm and appeal, and is a good alternative banjo for just packing around on trips or other travelling. It's very easy and comfortable to play, and is a good alternative to capoing on the 2nd fret for playing fiddle tunes. It would be easy to stash in a camper or trailer, and has a lot of modest charm. The peghead is possibly a little large, but it's acceptable to me. Overall, I expected less, and got a lot more. I'm very pleased.

Overall Rating: 9

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