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Help me refine a bluegrass banjo shortlist!

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Jul 7, 2020 - 11:45:08 AM
613 posts since 8/9/2008

Hi all. Quick question:

A guitar player friend has £1000 (absolute max) to spend on a bluegrass banjo and has narrowed down to:
Goodtime Special
RK 35
Gold Tone OB 150

Good choices all round. I would say the Gold Tone or the RK based on spec but haven’t played either.
We’ve talked 2nd hand but the UK market is pretty quiet.

Any thoughts on these ‘jos?

Jul 7, 2020 - 12:03:17 PM
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13122 posts since 10/30/2008

An RK 35 is a LOT more banjo than a Goodtime Special!

I don't know Gold Tones, personally, but I just looked at an advert for one.  NO TONE RING, just a tone hoop.  Through bolt shoes for the tension hooks.   For bluegrass, the RK 35 has it all over the them both. No question.

Edited by - The Old Timer on 07/07/2020 12:07:41

Jul 7, 2020 - 12:20:11 PM
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1213 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer


I don't know Gold Tones, personally, but I just looked at an advert for one.  NO TONE RING, just a tone hoop. 


The OB150 should come with a proper brass flathead tone ring. The BG-150 has the rolled brass ring.

As to actually buying the Recording King or Gold Tone the only real option is Thomann which means some amount of setup will be needed. The RK35 is cheaper and is the obvious choice.

Almost forgot. Moloneys in Ireland 939 euros basic setup and at least it will have been checked over.

https://www.moloneymusic.com/Products/Banjos_and_Ukeleles/5_String_Banjos_#nav20BanjosandUkeleles

Edited by - GrahamHawker on 07/07/2020 12:24:53

Jul 7, 2020 - 12:24:34 PM

10958 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

An RK 35 is a LOT more banjo than a Goodtime Special!

I don't know Gold Tones, personally, but I just looked at an advert for one.  NO TONE RING, just a tone hoop.  


Dick: You're describing the BG-150, not the OB-150.

The OB-150 is a great economy priced bluegrass banjo that competes dirtly with the RK-35/36.  It features a sand-cast bell metal tone ring and 3-ply rim and pre-war style 1-piece flange.  It was the first Gold Tone to have a Gibson-style peghead instead of the unartful Gold Tone peghead.

See the specs. It's a worthy competitor.

daytripper:

Between RK-35 and OB-150, choose whichever has looks that appeal to you more or whichever is available. Obviously, if you get to play before you buy, then choose the one that sounds and feels the best.

The Goodtime does not compare and should not be in consideration here. It wins against some other banjos, but the ones you named.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 07/07/2020 12:29:43

Jul 7, 2020 - 12:27:09 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23805 posts since 6/25/2005

I have an RK-35 for the rare occasions I play bluegrass. It is professional-level banjo, The Gold Tone falls well short of that.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 07/07/2020 12:28:02

Jul 7, 2020 - 12:29:57 PM
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2188 posts since 5/2/2012

I have an OB150 and it is, as has been stated, a worthy competetor to the RK-35. Not having played an RK, I wouldn't be able to compare the 2, but if you choose the GT I think you will be happy with your choice.

Jul 7, 2020 - 1:04:43 PM

1213 posts since 2/4/2013

Other options. A Sully on ebay.

ebay.co.uk/itm/Sullys-5-string...wJD1fA7kJ

A second hand Goldtone OB250 at Hobgoblin (Leeds shop) for £900.

Edited by - GrahamHawker on 07/07/2020 13:05:13

Jul 7, 2020 - 1:49:36 PM

13122 posts since 10/30/2008

Thanks Ken and Graham, I just saw the "150" and figured it was the same thing. I really don't know Gold Tones!

Jul 7, 2020 - 2:40:22 PM

Emiel

Austria

9508 posts since 1/22/2003

I don't know the Gold Tone OB 150 other than from the internet. Many comments are favorable.

I do own a RK-35. It's a pleasure to play, always. A high quality Mastertone-type banjo. It came from Thomann; the only setup needed was: raise the tailpiece just a little bit, put on a better bridge and keep the head tight. The Taiwan Remo that comes with the banjo is perfect for this banjo.

Jul 8, 2020 - 6:18:22 AM

hoodoo

Canada

726 posts since 10/6/2017
Online Now

I can't speak for the other choices, but I have a Goodtime Special and I really love playing it.

Jul 9, 2020 - 12:26:22 AM

450 posts since 2/5/2014

I had a Goodtime Special banjo to travel with. Personally I disliked the feel of the neck. Unlike the other two banjos mentioned here, there isn’t a fretboard on the Goodtime. Although the neck is smooth, my fingers didn’t slide as easily as on other banjos I owned.

Jul 10, 2020 - 3:14:44 PM

613 posts since 8/9/2008

Thanks for the help - she plumped for the RK35 - a popular choice it seems..!

Jul 10, 2020 - 3:24:04 PM

613 posts since 8/9/2008

While I’m here - any ideas what the first tune the guy plays is in this RK35 demo vid (and where I could find the tab)??
Thanks!

 Marc

Jul 11, 2020 - 6:18:12 AM

2188 posts since 5/2/2012

My depth of knowledge of BG songs isn't deep enough for me to recollect the title of that tune. BTW, the player is Jim Pankey, who has some videos for beginner players. Check out this thread JPankey and this one Backup

Jul 12, 2020 - 7:49:43 AM

Emiel

Austria

9508 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by thisoldman

My depth of knowledge of BG songs isn't deep enough for me to recollect the title of that tune. BTW, the player is Jim Pankey, who has some videos for beginner players. Check out this thread JPankey and this one Backup


I think the tune is Turkey in the Straw.

Jul 12, 2020 - 9:54:33 AM
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2188 posts since 5/2/2012

Emiel Thanks for rescuing me. I knew that tune sounded familiar, I just couldn't pull the title out of my brain.

daytripper Jim Pankey has a website where books of tabs are available, but I didn't see Turkey in the Straw in the list of tunes. If you go to the "Learn" tab on the upper left side of this page, open it up and type in "turkey in the straw" in the search tabs box,  you will find several versions of the tune.  Jim's version has a melodic style opening, and the tab by Corcoran might be close to what Jim is playing.  You will need to download the (free) software program Tabledit to see (and hear) the arrangement.  Good luck...

Edited by - thisoldman on 07/12/2020 09:59:09

Jul 13, 2020 - 2:31:59 PM

613 posts since 8/9/2008

Great stuff, thanks all.

Jul 14, 2020 - 11:11:46 AM

63 posts since 10/30/2015

The RK and the Gold Tone are both good banjos for the money. I've played both. Not much difference between them. Go with whatever he like the looks of best

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