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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!

6628 reviews in the archive.

Gold Tone  Banjola  Banjo Reviews

Submitted by kmangelos (see all reviews from this person) on 3/9/2012

Where Purchased: eBay

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 444 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

It sounds like a muted banjo to my ears

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Action was good, a little too low on the 1st and 5th strings in the higher registers. This is probably a fret leveling issue that I'll fix when I get a chance. Neck is straight with the appropriate truss rod tension

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Pretty basic construction, but overall for the price it has excellent workmanship.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Tuners are inexpensive type, I may swap them out for Schallers or 5-Star when I get a chance. The 1-4 string tuners seem a bit rough when turning.
Finish is good

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Never had to deal with Gold Tone, but I own a couple of other instruments (reso's) that they manufacture and they are very good, nicely made for the price.

Customer Service: 9

Components

Nothing that I can think of

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

Excellent instrument for the price, if you're looking for something that is lighter than a banjo and that has that ringy, muted banjo sound this is the instrument for you

Overall Rating: 9

Submitted by brundecarli (see all reviews from this person) on 7/15/2008

Where Purchased: BANJOSTORE.NET

Year Purchased: 2008
Price Paid: 533 (EURO) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The sound is very sweet and rich. The banjo sound is very different.
The sound is ok for Celtic.I play Scruggs and the banjola is nice.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

No changes setup. Ok for play immediately.
Gold Tone OK for setup

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

The originally appearance and the sound is that you pay.
The chineese wood is ok and looks great.
Finish wonderful and the inlays are nice.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

It's light and the shape is dubble a mandolin.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

Banjostore is ok and Gold Tone setup is Ok for all.

Customer Service: 8

Components

I think that banjola is a little bit expensive.
Typical banjo tuners.Takes regular banjo strings.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

Banjola is ok for a second instrument, for originally sound. It's not like a banjo.
I suggest the model with pickup, because the sound is not loud.

Overall Rating: 8

Submitted by eagleisland (see all reviews from this person) on 4/24/2007

Where Purchased: Buckdancer's Choice, Portland maine

Year Purchased: 2007
Price Paid: 600 ($US)

Sound

I love the sound of this instrument. It is very soft and very gentle with a lot of sustain. The best word I can give to describe it is "delicate." It's lovely for melodic and Celtic-style stuff. Doesn't handle bluegrass worth a damn, but it's really not intended to. One can certainly PRACTICE bluegrass on it, however. It does NOT sound like a banjo - it sounds like a banjola, and as such is unique. I suspect the sound will become fuller as it ages and gets played.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

There's not a lot of setup you can do with these. Mine developed a nasty third-string buzz within a week of purchase. It required both a truss rod adjustment and some fret dressing to solve this. It is not an expensive instrument, so I suppose some (ahem) lack in quality control should be expected.

Setup Rating: 5

Appearance

I find the appearance of the instrument quite tasteful; the scrolled peghead is appealing and the inlays are pretty. No exterior finish flaws noted, although inside it's pretty obvious that the bracing didn't see much sandpaper during cutting and assembly.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

See below, components

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Have not dealt directly with Gold Tone. The store where I bought it is staffed with knowledgeable people who give a damn. They addressed the buzz issue graciously and promptly, with no charge.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The hardware is cheap. The tuners are adequate. The tailpiece is almost a joke - stamped metal, and obviously designed as a one-size-fits-all approach to tailpieces for a variety of different inexpensive instruments. Hard to explain unless you see one for yourself. Then again, I think it's adequate for the instrument and what I plan to do with it. The woods used appear to be of very good quality.

Components Rating: 5

Overall Comments

I purchased this primarily for the sound and the fact that it's very light. I travel a fair amount on business and this will be the instrument I take with me from now on - it weighs a fraction of what a banjo weighs. In its gig bag, it should fit in overhead bins easily - even on the smaller regional jets. I think the instrument offers good value for money, overall. One note: because of the lightness of the pot, these instruments are neck heavy. You WILL need a strap; playing one for the first time you'll be surprised how much energy gets used simply holding up the neck, which is awkward. Strap it and your left hand won't be fighting itself between fingering and support. One more note: if you have family members who are not entranced with the loudness and punch of a banjo (like I do) give one of these serious consideration. The sound of the banjola is appealing to all - bonus points for the fact that you can play it late at night, after everyone else has gone to bed.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by Unknown on 5/16/2003

Where Purchased: Folk of the Wood

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: 490 historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

The sound generated is much like you hear on crosspicking guitar. A harplike effect if you will. Banjo tunes take on a pleasing new character , melodic tunes like

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Set up well. Not subject to mechanical tinkering like a banjo.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Mostly wood like a mandolin. Very nice finish. See Gold Tone site for wood type. Simple dot inlays, a star at the 5th fret.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The banjola should last as is as long as it recieves kid glove treatment as it's built like a mandolin but twice the size. Fragile.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Gold Tone and Folk of the Wood both warrent well. Purchase and delivery from Folk went very well; no dealers website prepares the buyer as well as Folk of the Wood with their photo layouts and audio demos.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Typical banjo tuners mounted on Stratocaster style head. You must turn them the opposite way than usual. Mandolin style tailpiece. Takes regular banjo strings.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I still cringe a little at the price, which was still lower than retail. At least for now, it's an enjoyable novelty but you could get a fairly good guitar for this kind of money. Solo instrument unless amplified; low volume. sound (tone) quality suffers if you start digging in with the picks.

Overall Rating: 7

Submitted by Unknown on 1/15/2003

Where Purchased: Sylvan Music (Santa Cruz)

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Playing both Banjo and Guitar (mostly Travis picking) the Banjola gives all those banjo tunes a rich, sustaining sound. Improvising creates some wonderful tunes.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It came fully setup. Tuned and played.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Has a spruce top and Mahogany sides and back. It's very light and easily taken anywhere with a gig bag

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The finish is good and shines up well

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

The salesperson didn't even know what it was called, though I know the store is reliable and credable. It's not the most popular instrument.

Customer Service: 9

Components

All parts seem well manufactured. This instrument feels very solid.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I'm reviewing this here because I wanted to call some attention to this instrument. There is no banjo sound to this other than the songs that you play now sounding like you are playing them on the guitar. Janet Davis's web site has a John Hardy sound clip. It's under Gold Tone banjo's

Overall Rating: 10

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