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!
7071 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: Thin Man Music
Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 1050 ($US)
I am not a banjo pro. I am a folk leftover from the 50's and 60's. I've been playing (and will Keep) a Vega (Boston Made pre Martin) Long Neck (not the great Seeger Model) since about 1961. That model had no tone ring. I did a reasonably good job of crafting one from copper plumbing tubing. It still sounds good. When I saw that Gold Tone had a new long neck, I decided to take a chance. Friends have other Gold Tones, and I'm impressed with their value and quality. I am absolutely amazed at what Gold Tone has accomplished with this new model. Again, I'm not a real musician, and my evaluation needs to be viewed thru this prism. But honestly, this banjo has achieved the plunky sound I would've expected in a much higher priced piece. I had to wait over a month to get delivery, but it's here, and I'm glad I waited. I'll keep my Vega, which seems to be appreciating in value every year....but it's now relegated as a 'backup' banjo. Again, I'm amazed!
Sound Rating: 9
Set up was perfect. Only modifications I made was to put on a shubb 5th string capo, and a screw eye about at the 13th fret....I find attaching the strap there helps me balance the long neck better when I play. Gold Tone also includes a sheet on maintenance, and all the tools any owner could want. (maybe some the average owner like me shouldn't be allowed to have!)
Setup Rating: 10
It is a beautiful piece. An obvious cosmetic ripoff of the original Vega Pete Seeger long neck. I like the ebony fingerboard. The inlays are well done, and not perceptible to finger examination.
Appearance Rating: 10
I can't tell. The brackets are all contained in a steel ring that goes around the circumfrence of the banjo. They do not appear to be thru the rim, and I can't evaluate their durability. The finish is beautiful. I certainly would use it on one of my amateur gigs without a backup. But the Vega IS in the back seat of my car. I'll give it a 5, but no one should take that seriously. Quite honestly, I just don't know.
Reliability Rating: 5
I was impatient to get it, and actually emailed GoldTone several times to find out when they'd be able to ship it to the dealer. Surprisingly to me, Wayne Rogers responded to my annoying emails in a very friendly and supportive way.
Customer Service: 10
The tone ring, which is a copy of the famous 'tubaphone." I'm a little suspect about the brackets not being integrated thru the rim, but not willing to criticize. If they're stable it's a great idea. The tail piece is a lot simpler than on my Vega...I'm not sure if that's a strength or a weakness. It sure will be easier to change strings! Other than that, this seems to be a very well constucted instrument. Again, my rating is not based on long lasting info.
Components Rating: 7
For someone looking for a long neck to accompany singing. For someone wanting that 'good ol 'plumky' sound, I can't imagine a better banjo anywhere NEAR this price range.
If it was stolen, I'd replace it. Not yet in love. But a great friendship is growing! Need to get over the 'newness' factor before declaring. Well... I wish I'd asked about delay in delivery. But I must admit it was worth waiting for. I'm still so used to my Vega....just don't know if or when I want the GoldTone to be a total replacement. (at least emotionally!)
Overall Rating: 9
'WTB Kelley conversion ring' 17 min
'R C Allen banjo' 22 min
'Vega Folk Wonder' 1 hr
'10 inch tension hoop' 2 hrs