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.
Where Purchased: BHO Classifieds
Year Purchased: 2011
Price Paid: ($US) (bought USED)
This banjo has an excellent tonal range up and down, from low to high ends. Its volume is excellent, and it has that rolled brass hoop funky sound that, to me, is so great for clawhammer.
Sound Rating: 7
This was already setup by the previous owner. I'll probably raise the action, since that's my preference. I'll probably try a Fyberskin head sometime down the road if I get so inspired.
Setup Rating: 6
This banjo definitely exceeds expectations given its price point. In terrific condition, with very attractive stain on the wood and a classic look.
Appearance Rating: 7
The hardware seems OK enough, and while there is better hardware around I think it was an appropriate choice for this instrument.
Reliability Rating: 5
N / A
Customer Service: not rated
Components Rating: not rated
I have to say that this banjo gets an overall rating of '10'. I don't really think there is anything at this price point that gets you so much banjo for the admission fee! After studying things I figured this was the best starter banjo for clawhammer given the price, and having it my hands I'd say that's so.
Fantastic job by Gold Tone!
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Hangout classifieds
Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 350 ($US) (bought USED)
Its a 12" with a brass rim. It has a very nice thunky bass. Exactly what I wanted.
Sound Rating: 9
The setup was quite playable with no buzzes or rattles. All factory settings can use tweaking though, and I tightened the truss rod and did minor filiing of the nut slots.
Setup Rating: 8
I wanted a spartan appearance and this has it. On inspection, though, this banjo is well constructed for its price. Fit and finish are very good.
Appearance Rating: 9
Yes the hardware is good. I like the little guitar tuners although they don't look like what you find on an expensive banjo. The gearing is higher and its actually easier to make small adjustments.
Reliability Rating: 9
The owner answers the phone, from what I've read on the forum
Customer Service: 9
Its a bare bones model, but the standard components are solid
Components Rating: 9
I wanted an inexpensive open-back banjo that has a scooped fingerboard and didn't look like a toy (goodtime?). This came up on the classifieds at the right moment and I jumped on it having had a good experience with my ob250+. I'm very impressed with the quality, playability, and sound for the price of this BC120.
Overall Rating: 10
Where Purchased: Dusty Strings--Seattle, WA
Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 535 ($US)
Quick disclaimer: I don't own this banjo, but I had the chance to play it today at a local music store.
With a 12" pot, the BC-120 had a noticeably louder volume and depth than the CC-OT. The BC-120 has a brass tone ring, so the higher notes are bright. Overall, it's a lovely sounding banjo!
I also played a BC-350. Although the BC-120 is supposed to be a stripped down version of the 350, the 350 sounded mellower and fuller--i.e. the 350 is a better sounding banjo.
Sound Rating: 8
The set up seems pretty solid. The action along with the scoop makes this a great clawhammer banjo.
Setup Rating: 9
This is meant to be an economical version of the BC-350.
When I spoke with dealers earlier this summer (who contacted Gold Tone on my behalf for additional information), I was told that this banjo would have a (faux) dowel stick and planetary tuners. It has neither. Instead, the BC-120 uses the same cheap guitar tuners that are on the CC-OT. There are dual coordinating rods instead of a dowel stick. The hooks and nuts are the same low quality, cheapo hooks & nuts that are on the CC-OT. Essentially, this banjo is an exact copy of the CC-OT, with only a 12" pot, a better arm rest, and an extra coordinating rod separating the two.
Like the CC-OT, there are side dots and inlaid fret markers, with an inlaid star on the fifth fret. The star on the headstock is painted on, much like the CC-OT's
Running my hand down the sides of the neck, I could feel a few spots where the fret wire had not been fully sanded down. Not dangerously sharp--but definitely noticeable.
On a positive note, the dark brown stain is attractive. The satin finish feels much better than the high gloss finish of the BC-350. And the arm-rest is much more solid than the CC-OT's. It comes with a nice sounding Renaissance head.
Appearance Rating: 5
See above. This would make a good secondary banjo (office, road trips, etc.). If I played regularly or for a living, I wouldn't choose this as a main banjo. The cheap hardware probably wouldn't hold up.
Reliability Rating: 3
I've e-mailed Gold Tone several times about my CC-OT and with questions about the BC-120. Each time, I've received a prompt reply, usually from Wayne himself.
I have not had to deal with Gold Tone for repairs / replacements. I've heard excellent things about their customer service though.
Customer Service: 9
I don't know if it would be worth it to upgrade the tuners, the hooks, the tension hoop, and the nuts. By the time you paid for the banjo and replaced all of these parts, you would have spent as much as you would for a nicer banjo (i.e. an Enoch Tradesman).
Components Rating: 3
I want to start by saying that I really wanted to like this banjo. At this price range, I knew some compromise had to be made. However, the final product differs sharply from Gold Tone's initial description.
So, if you are desperate to get your hands on a 12" pot clawhammer banjo, but your budget is limited, then the BC-120 might be a good option.
If you can save a little more, I would advise looking at other models.
Again, I really wanted to like this banjo, but feel that Gold Tone made too many compromises in "stripping down" its BC-350.
Overall Rating: 7
'Custom Fretboard Size?' 21 min
'John Prine -- Long Monday' 24 min
'John Prine has died' 31 min
'John Prine' 1 hr
'Super Moon' 1 hr