Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

top of the line Deerings vs. Greg Rich era Mastertones?

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Aug 11, 2020 - 6:46:17 PM
13245 posts since 10/30/2008

Is there anyone out there who plays a Deering Tenbrooks Saratoga Star or even a Silver or Golden Clipper? How does the sound/tone/playing-feel compare to a good quality post-1987 Gibson Mastertone of similar wood?

Can anyone comment on difference in tone/sound/feel of the "06" tone ring vs the "Swiss Bell" tone ring?

I'm familiar with an older Deering Golden Era and I thought it sounded very Gibson-like. That was in the 1990s.

Curious about the current top of the line models.


Edited by - The Old Timer on 08/11/2020 18:47:17

Aug 11, 2020 - 7:05:54 PM

1575 posts since 10/12/2011

I know Eric Gibson (The Gibson Brothers)plays a Tenbrooks. Go find some Gibson Brothers music and listen to his playing.

Aug 11, 2020 - 7:25:39 PM
likes this



1 posts since 5/14/2020

Hey Oldtimer,
I once owned an early Gibson rb250, it had a deep tone but not so good on the highs. I also wasn’t crazy about the really round and narrow neck. I bought a Saratoga Star, Tenbrooks 6 months ago. Big difference! Not only does it have a nice deep tone, the highs are incredibly bright. Best banjo I’ve every owned (and I’ve owned a few) The Deering Saratoga Star has my vote! (I have also owned an American Fender, which had a great, thin neck. Easy to play but still no comparison to the Saratoga. I hope this helps!

Aug 12, 2020 - 5:30:36 AM

1713 posts since 4/10/2005

The current "top-of-the-line" Deerings more comparable to reissue Gibsons are the Masterclone Golden Era and Golden Wreath with the deeper resonator, now made with the 06 tone rings and the newer so-called "violin-grade" rim. They are incredible IMHO. Pricey as well.

Deering's other "top-of-the-line" models are premium quality but not aimed to be a "Gibson Prewar-ish" sound.   That "Swiss bell" tone ring got a lot of hoopla but pretty sure there have been comments here and there to the effect that after a while Mr. Kruger himself was using the 06 rather than the "Swiss bell."   The Swiss is well . . . more like  a bell.  Singing, chimey sustain and clarity, like an angelic choir.  Some people love it.   Depends on if you're going for a "Prewar-ish" sound, which it's not.

Edited by - ceemonster on 08/12/2020 05:37:44

Aug 12, 2020 - 5:52 AM

1122 posts since 8/10/2009

I never had a Saratoga Star, but I did have the Jens Kruger with the Swiss ring. It was one of the most visually appealing banjos I have ever owned.

The Kruger had a much larger profiled neck. This led to longer sustain and a round, beautiful tone. It was bell-like, which makes sense considering the ring. However, I think the heavy neck and air chamber have as much to do with the sound. It was great in any slow and melodic situation, but kept up with bluegrass.

The banjo was not nearly as dry and nasal as my Gibson banjos. While I loved the Deering, my ears are conditioned to “like” that dry sound, so I eventually sold it. It was a very nice banjo.

I know your question is about “Rich Era” Gibson banjos. I had a Rich Scruggs Standard for a while... another very nice banjo. I also sold it in my eternal quest for dryness. But, it was more dry, Gibson sounding (worst description ever, I know)

Both are great banjos. But to my ears and hands, they were completely different animals.

Edited by - Smelly Old Gibby on 08/12/2020 05:53:12

Aug 12, 2020 - 7:26:32 AM

13245 posts since 10/30/2008

Thanks everyone for your comments. Next time I see Eric Gibson I'll ask to check out his banjo.

Just curious...

Aug 12, 2020 - 11:50:29 AM
Players Union Member



40 posts since 5/30/2016

If you are looking for more Saratoga sound. I am a huge fan of them.
Check out:
Hank, Patty and the Current

Bennett Sullivan

Bennett plays a variety of banjos, but he plays a Tenbrooks quite a bit.

I just realized. I think they are playing the non-kruger tone ring versions. And that is the sound I like, the 06 tone ring.

Edited by - mud400 on 08/12/2020 12:02:19

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories