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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!

6773 reviews in the archive.

Gold Tone: Banjola

Submitted by kmangelos 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

Picks: Showcase 41 Fingerpicks

Submitted by kmangelos on 9/13/2011

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

Overall Comments

Excellent pick, well made - I use them exclusively now after using old nationals for several years

Overall Rating: 10

Picks: pro pik good grip

Submitted by kmangelos on 9/13/2011

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

Overall Comments

I've been using the delrin tip picks for several months now after using celluloid thumb picks (Golden Gates and Nationals) for many years and really like them because I can bend the metal band using a ring sizer to a perfect fit. I will never go back to using conventional thumb picks. These are great

Overall Rating: 10

Picks: Blue Chip Thumb Pick

Submitted by kmangelos on 12/5/2010

Where Purchased: From website

Overall Comments

I recently purchased the JD large model banjo pick and have to say, out of the package, it is the best most comfortable thumb pick I've ever used. I put it on and played a gig that evening for about 4 hours and have to say that it performed well all night. I've never been able to do that with any other brand of thumb pick. Great tone, loud and consistent. And the fit and comfort of it is outstanding.

Overall Rating: 10

Other: Gold Tone Banjo Mute

Submitted by kmangelos on 10/18/2010

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

Overall Comments

Mute works pretty well, you have to be careful putting it on and make sure it is sized properly. Simplest way to size it is to insert the shaft of a small/medium sized screwdriver all the way and then bend/shape the mute around that. That will size it just so it fits on the bridge but it is not too tight that you end up pushing the bridge sideways.

Overall Rating: 7

Picks: Schatten BJ02 Pickup

Submitted by kmangelos on 10/18/2010

Where Purchased: Blue Star Music

Overall Comments

Excellent pickup, very easy to install. I prefer the simple "player" series model as it is easy to install or repair. The pickup has enough signal to run direct to a board that has built-in mic-pre's but is easier to control when run through a direct box.

Overall Rating: 10

Digital Tuners: Fishman G-II Acoustic Instrument Preamp

Submitted by kmangelos on 10/18/2010

Where Purchased: Blue Star Music

Overall Comments

Excellent direct box, simple and easy to adjust. Quiet and has great sound and control over volume. Easy to install battery and belt clip.

Overall Rating: 10

Drum Dials: Drum Dial

Submitted by kmangelos on 10/18/2010

Where Purchased: Janet Davis

Overall Comments

Tried tap tuning and using torque wrench only and was never able to get a consistent tension until using the dial. Works great and is very reproducible when changing heads.

Overall Rating: 10

Deering: Maple Blossom

Submitted by kmangelos on 8/20/2010

Where Purchased: eBay

Year Purchased: 2006
Price Paid: 1599 ($US)

Sound

Great sounding banjo, tended to be a little "ringy" so I lined resonator with felt and that toned down the overtones a little more, but still a great sounding banjo, very loud

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Did not have the usual 5/8 bridge on it as Deering claims, someone had set it up with a 11/16 large volume bridge, so swapped it out for a 5/8" Sullivan old growth and reset the action, but was easy to reset everything. Have been able to get the action at 22nd fret down to about 3/16"

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Excellent finish, no flaws, except a very tiny hairline crack where the 5th string peg was tapped in, but doesn't affect playing, was able to weep some CA glue into the crack and no worries.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Hall hardware is typical Deering quality

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The couple of times I've dealt with them they've been okay, they sure don't seem to keep very good records of their dealings with customers as it took me almost a year to get the warranty paperwork straightened out on my banjo.

Customer Service: 5

Components

For the most part most of the parts are excellent. I would suggest they upgrade their tuning pegs, the ones that Deering use on this banjo could be better.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

Excellent banjo, would purchase another one if this one was lost or stolen. I like the Deering sound.

Overall Rating: 9

Epiphone: MB-250

Submitted by kmangelos on 8/12/2010

Where Purchased: eBay auction

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 485 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Has good full and bright sound. Did have to set it up a bit when I received it but overall sounds pretty good

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Setup was okay from the guy I bought it from but tailpiece was wrenched down all the way and I loosened it a bit so it's only about 1/4" off the head. That seemed to open it up a bit. Also needed to set the intonation on the bridge a little. Came with a Snuffy Smith #2 5/8" which sounds good. I may replace it with a Grover of a Snuffy #1 but it's okay.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Finish is perfect for a used banjo

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Only complaint on the hardware is the armrest had a bit of a sharp edge on the upper edge, causing me to scratch the inside of my forearm on it slightly when playing. I just took a small jewelers file and filed the sharp edge down a bit and all is well, though I did have to take a bit of the plating off that edge but it's hardly noticeable.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Never had to deal with Gibson/Epiphone.

Customer Service: not rated

Components

I think the tail piece is a bit weak and I plan on replacing it with a Presto and see my previous note on the armrest which had some sharp edge to it on the upper leading edge. But for a $500 banjo what do you expect.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Good banjo for starting out. I bought it to rent/loan to my students and I'll use it as a road banjo when I travel. Great for students or as a traveler.

Overall Rating: 9

Mutes: Mike's Banjo Mute

Submitted by kmangelos on 8/6/2010

Where Purchased: from Mike's website

Overall Comments

After having a bit of difficulty getting it on my Maple Blossom, I contacted Mike and he responded quickly with good advice. I'm very pleased with the mute. It is a little difficult to get on an 11/16 bridge but it works really well with 5/8" bridges. Very nice design and the sound is great.

Overall Rating: 10

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