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Deering Goodtime Americana vs Gold Tone Cripple Creek Bob Carlin

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Jun 18, 2024 - 5:49:52 PM
6 posts since 10/19/2022

I'm a clawhammer player. I've been playing for a couple years, and would probably consider myself an advanced beginner. I'm looking to upgrade my banjo (from an Epiphone MB-100) to either a:

1) Deering Goodtime Americana
2) Gold Tone Cripple Creek Bob Carlin

Both have 12" pots with renaissance heads, and scooped necks (either available or standard).

Any thoughts on comparing contrasting the two? Strengths and weaknesses? One difference I'm aware of is the Gold Tone has a rolled brass tone ring, while the Deering does not.

Thanks in advance.

Jun 18, 2024 - 7:14:59 PM
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KCJones

USA

3111 posts since 8/30/2012

Neck profile and feel is something that cannot be described on a spec sheet. The neck profile of the two banjos is significantly different. You should get the one you're most comfortable playing.

My opinion is that the Goodtime has one of the most comfortable easy playing necks on the market, at any price point. But your opinion is more important than anyone else's.

Edited by - KCJones on 06/18/2024 19:16:24

Jun 18, 2024 - 7:27:17 PM

11 posts since 4/29/2023

I've played both...owned the Gold Tone. Hands down the Gold Tone, you won't regret it.

Jun 18, 2024 - 8:09:08 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

28085 posts since 6/25/2005

Agree on the Gold Tone.

Jun 19, 2024 - 3:10:50 AM

10 posts since 6/19/2024

While the Gold Tone is certainly a solid instrument, I strongly recommend trying one out in a shop before committing.

The neck is absolutely enormous compared to your current banjo.

I had the Bob Carlin for a while and some people who tried it found it borderline unplayable.

It's also going to be significantly heavier and bulkier than what you're used to.

Jun 19, 2024 - 4:13:50 AM

3084 posts since 2/4/2013

Deering has a good rim. Goldtone wins in all other ways. Get an AC12 instead.

Jun 19, 2024 - 4:31:52 AM

10 posts since 6/19/2024

quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker

Deering has a good rim. Goldtone wins in all other ways. Get an AC12 instead.


Why would you recommend the ac12 over the carlin...?

Jun 19, 2024 - 5:02:37 AM

3084 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by DerekGoodman
quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker

Deering has a good rim. Goldtone wins in all other ways. Get an AC12 instead.


Why would you recommend the ac12 over the carlin...?


Because for the price it sounds really good and the limited gains from spending quite a few hundred currency units more for one of these two doesn't make sense to me. The money can be saved and then if the future you can get something without the compromises of these banjos.

Jun 19, 2024 - 5:10:06 AM

10 posts since 6/19/2024

quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker
quote:
Originally posted by DerekGoodman
quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker

Deering has a good rim. Goldtone wins in all other ways. Get an AC12 instead.


Why would you recommend the ac12 over the carlin...?


Because for the price it sounds really good and the limited gains from spending quite a few hundred currency units more for one of these two doesn't make sense to me. The money can be saved and then if the future you can get something without the compromises of these banjos.


Have you played both the Carlin and AC12? I've wondered how the necks compare but struggled to find anyone with first hand experience. I've only played the Carlin

Jun 19, 2024 - 5:48:27 AM
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KCJones

USA

3111 posts since 8/30/2012

quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker

Deering has a good rim. Goldtone wins in all other ways. Get an AC12 instead.


In what world does the Gold Tone win over the Deering in neck profile/comfort/finish?

Gold Tone finish is that standard super-thick glossy poly you see on most PacRim banjos. The dimensions are also enormous all around compared to the slender comfort profile of the Deering. 

The only thing the Gold Tone arguably has over the Goodtime is the planetary tuners and the tone hoop. And even then, the guitar tuners vs planetary is a style thing and Goodtime guitar tuners work better than most low end planetary tuners. And the the entire pot assembly of the GT is low quality plywood, even with a tone hoop it still sounds worse than the 3-ply maple rim you get on a Goodtime.

Nearly all aspects of CC-Carlin are a downgrade over the Goodtime Americana.  Honestly I'm struggling to find even one thing that is better on it. I've played both of them and the CC-Carlin neck is an absolute baseball bat, even bigger than most GT necks which are all pretty big. 

Edited by - KCJones on 06/19/2024 05:54:41

Jun 19, 2024 - 7:20:24 AM

3084 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by DerekGoodman

Have you played both the Carlin and AC12? I've wondered how the necks compare but struggled to find anyone with first hand experience. I've only played the Carlin


I have the AC12 but haven't played the CC-Carlin. My guess is that the necks might be almost the same. The AC12 does have a zero fret.

Jun 19, 2024 - 8:46:57 AM

172 posts since 11/30/2021

I will put another vote in for the Deering. You can't go wrong with their standard neck profile. There's nothing worse to my own playing than a giant chunky neck, but that's just me. I purchased an Americana for my wife just recently, as she's learning clawhammer. I'm impressed with it. It's light and comfortable but still has plenty of volume even with no tone hoop.

Jun 19, 2024 - 9:15:31 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

17571 posts since 8/30/2006

"The only thing the Gold Tone arguably has over the Goodtime is the planetary tuners and the tone hoop."  
 

Gold Tone and Recording King AND Deering ALL use one piece necks with built up or stacked heels and grafted pegheads

and they all reserve quantities of Maple

the Carlin has a wider neck, maybe that's what's causing someone's consistent grunting

It's about features provided or not by the manufacturer

the Gold Tones are full feature sets of hardware

the Deerings are not

these banjos compete in different ways.  

You only asked about the two brands

take a look at the used offerings here on the hangout

i jam with all the other brands,  I know voices and effort to produce enjoyable music. I also volunteer weekly at an acoustic showcase.

i haven't seen a Goodtime nor cosmetically offered higher price point

All of these banjos can be set up loud or slinky

your ears matter

 it's your banjo

Edited by - Helix on 06/19/2024 09:17:17

Jun 19, 2024 - 9:17:55 AM
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KCJones

USA

3111 posts since 8/30/2012

quote:
Originally posted by GrahamHawker
quote:
Originally posted by DerekGoodman

Have you played both the Carlin and AC12? I've wondered how the necks compare but struggled to find anyone with first hand experience. I've only played the Carlin


I have the AC12 but haven't played the CC-Carlin. My guess is that the necks might be almost the same. The AC12 does have a zero fret.


Thank you for admitting that you're just guessing. To be clear: it's a different neck with a different profile and a different finish. Why give such input when you've never even touched a CC-Carlin? I just don't understand the motivation.

Also a zero fret is a telltale sign of a poorly constructed fretboard. It's a crutch to fix bad design. Notice how they're only ever used on low end banjos. 


@Helix: More hooks don't make a banjo better. I think we all knew that 100 years ago with the low end banjos with comically "over-hooked" heads. Truss rods don't make a banjo better, just ask SS Stewart. A rolled brass tone hoop does little to improve the poor tone of a cheap plywood rim that's mostly glue. 

You know what actually does make a banjo better? A nice slender neck, good intonation, and a hard maple rim. Only one of the banjos in question provides that. 

Edited by - KCJones on 06/19/2024 09:25:08

Jun 19, 2024 - 9:29:36 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

17571 posts since 8/30/2006

Thank you for admitting that you're just guessing. To be clear: it's a different neck with a different profile and a different finish. Why give such input when you've never even touched a CC-Carlin? I just don't understand the motivation.

Also a zero fret is a telltale sign of a poorly constructed fretboard. It's a crutch to fix bad design. Notice how they're only ever used on low end banjos.

 

Gold Tone is the only one who embeds the nut down into the neck instead of just gluing up a fingerboard with the nut glued on to be glued down flat

then the zero fret came along

I don't agree with your opinions expressed as fact

i protect your right to play more

 

 

Jun 19, 2024 - 10:16:22 AM

3084 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by KCJones

Thank you for admitting that you're just guessing. To be clear: it's a different neck with a different profile and a different finish. Why give such input when you've never even touched a CC-Carlin? I just don't understand the motivation.

 

I'm always guessing. I guessed because they look very similar beyond the finish.

The other reason for not getting a CC Carlin besides the rim is the price. In the UK it's way too high about £200 more than the Deering. I've not played the Deering either so I'm guessing again. I'm quite happy with all my Asian necks which vary a bit in depth and width and finish. I have listened to to the Americana in videos and I think it's too bright for a 12 incher. The light strings which are needed apparently for a neck without a truss rod don't seem to be a good idea on a 12 incher. It sounds more 11 incher. The CC-Carlin at least sounds like a 12 incher. And a rolled brass tone ring or even just a brass hoop does make quite a difference to multiply rims and even better rims as well.

So I'm sticking with saying get an AC12 and save up for a better 12 incher.

Edited by - GrahamHawker on 06/19/2024 10:19:49

Jun 20, 2024 - 5:23:36 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

17571 posts since 8/30/2006

I'm not sure where this is meant to land, but this side email showed up.  The tone is strangely hostile as if somebody is angry.

Hey Larry,

You're a good guy, I like you. Don't read into this any more than what it is. I don't want to argue and drift on that other thread. You build banjos, I know you know most of this stuff already, and for the life of me I don't understand why you say some of the things you do given your experience.

But it is a fact, not an opinion, that the CC-Carlin and the AC-12 have very different necks.

It is also a fact, not an opinion, that not a single high-end banjo builder uses zero frets and that they're exclusively seen on low-end to mid-range banjos.

It is a fact that more hooks does not automatically mean it's a better banjo.

It is a fact that banjos were made without truss rods for 100 years with minimal issues.

It is a fact that glue and epoxy have worse acoustic properties than hard wood.

These facts are simply not debatable, they're not opinions at all.

Cheers,
-S

the initial discussion started with Carlin and Goodtime Special, not the AC-12 which I feel is a wonderful innovation, I have played one of the AC-1's in my shop, so I have plenty including aluminum to compare with.  The AC necks are specification products made within tolerances

I am not fond of indisputable regimentation like calling banjo parts by the same name instead of stretcher band, tension hoop, etc.

Let's try this, let's discuss this without tangling.  And yes, I am a good guy at twice your age, show more respect for yourself and for me and this special little community, that would help other people who come here for help, not embroiling in personal differences.

I like you, too, perhaps not everything you may say or do. 




Jun 20, 2024 - 8:21:43 AM
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ottawa_adam

Canada

21 posts since 1/20/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

I'm not sure where this is meant to land, but this side email showed up.  The tone is strangely hostile as if somebody is angry.

Hey Larry,

You're a good guy, I like you. Don't read into this any more than what it is. I don't want to argue and drift on that other thread. You build banjos, I know you know most of this stuff already, and for the life of me I don't understand why you say some of the things you do given your experience.

But it is a fact, not an opinion, that the CC-Carlin and the AC-12 have very different necks.

It is also a fact, not an opinion, that not a single high-end banjo builder uses zero frets and that they're exclusively seen on low-end to mid-range banjos.

It is a fact that more hooks does not automatically mean it's a better banjo.

It is a fact that banjos were made without truss rods for 100 years with minimal issues.

It is a fact that glue and epoxy have worse acoustic properties than hard wood.

These facts are simply not debatable, they're not opinions at all.

Cheers,
-S

the initial discussion started with Carlin and Goodtime Special, not the AC-12 which I feel is a wonderful innovation, I have played one of the AC-1's in my shop, so I have plenty including aluminum to compare with.  The AC necks are specification products made within tolerances

I am not fond of indisputable regimentation like calling banjo parts by the same name instead of stretcher band, tension hoop, etc.

Let's try this, let's discuss this without tangling.  And yes, I am a good guy at twice your age, show more respect for yourself and for me and this special little community, that would help other people who come here for help, not embroiling in personal differences.

I like you, too, perhaps not everything you may say or do. 


i was following this thread because I was genuinely interested in hearing the differences of opinion regarding the proposed banjos.

Helix, it's unfortunate that you decided to expose a private email from someone, who was trying to take your disagreement offline.  You are the one who continued the dialogue by bringing that disagreement back to this forum.  To top it off, you're accusing the chap of having a hostile tone, then you demand respect based on your age.

I don't know either of who  but your own behaviour really does have an impact on how you're perceived and contributes to your own feelings of being "hurt".

I see victim mentality has crept into the banjo world too.  Unfortunate that a civil discourse, complete with disagreement, can't be had without name calling and insinuations.

 

Jun 20, 2024 - 8:46:34 AM
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Dean T

USA

127 posts since 4/18/2024

Just one guys experience and opinion. I play with picks, or fingers, but not claw hammer. I’ve owned 3 Gold Tones, 6 Deerings, one Gibson Mastertone, and one parts banjo I built up from my choice of parts. I’ve never played a CC Carlin model, so I can’t comment on that, but I did have an 11” CC model that was ok. But here’s my opinion of the Americana:

In 2017 I bought an Americana on an impulse whim, when Amazon ran a price reduction sale that was too good to be true. It’s the banjo I still play today. Sweetest tone I’ve ever played. I gigged with it for 3 years. It’s light as a feather. It gets slaughtered in an acoustic jam, but with a tighter head and microphone, it works great for grassy tunes, without rattling your teeth and making band (country/gospel, not all bluegrass) mates hate you. With meduium light strings and a looser head, it becomes a sweet plunker for folksy rootsy singer-songwriter cover song cross genre type stuff. The wood is yellowing slightly and nicely, just like an old Telecaster, and the neck, favorite of all I've played, keeps getting better and better with age. As for the tuners, I put good quality gotah planitaries on mine, but don’t really like them. I may put the guitar tuners back on at my next string change. They look dorky, but I like function over tradition. Of all the banjos I’ve owned, it’s the one I would choose as the lifer. It’s getting close to a fret replacement, and I’m prolly going to go with SS, as I won’t be getting rid of this one.

Edited by - Dean T on 06/20/2024 08:59:50

Jun 21, 2024 - 5:52:05 AM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

17571 posts since 8/30/2006

Thank you, Dean. We wish to speak of banjos, that's why we are here. Your opinions mean a great deal to me because you are the first one to mention the SOUND of your banjo. Your gigs vary which is why your performance data is valuable to the tribe.

I am feeling no slings, nor arrows, nor victimization, I simply desire a less opinionated approach. That is a fact, It is my right to express an opinion about that.

I've had unwelcome side email before from the same person, I read no attempt to have discussion, rather just an expression of personal opinions over and over about the un-playability of the Gold Tone Neck Profile.  These are production banjos where "one size fits all."

I've heard that DEERINGS are  CNC cutting relief into the necks of certain models.  Now there is something different and well thought out.  Sometimes innovations need time to show advantages.  I am interested in how Mr. Truinstra feels six months from now with the level of play he demonstrates and the skill with which he presents in front of people, so maybe I'll try some side email later in the year.  

As always, further on up the road. , next time in Wichita, I hope the Little Arkansas is less dry. 


 

Edited by - Helix on 06/21/2024 06:08:33

Jun 21, 2024 - 8:40:57 AM
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6 posts since 10/19/2022

Thanks all for the feedback and input. (Let's kindly keep to the topic at hand.) The comments regarding pot material and neck size are particularly helpful.

I've gone to several instrument shops across the state this past week, playing all the banjos they have for sale. I've also called several more. Unfortunately no one close by has either of these exact models. I was hoping to try them in person and buy from a small local shop, but it appears that's not an option. I've decided to buy both from a major online retailer of various goods (let the reader understand), so I can play them both side-by-side, and then return the one I don't like.

I'll update here with my side-by-side thoughts.

Jun 21, 2024 - 6:27:50 PM

231 posts since 12/9/2018

Carlin hands down for the following reasons.
Truss rod equipped neck allows future adjustment if needed and also approved for medium/ heavy strings.
A separate rosewood fretboard as opposed to just pressing frets into the maple neck of the Goodtime.
Rolled brass tone ring/ 12" pot combo hits a pretty sweet spot tone wise.
Every Goodtime I've laid hands on felt more like a toy than a proper instrument, and it's not just the light weight. They just have a mass produced, cheap "feel" for lack of a better term. The Carlin feels like a more substantial, better built instrument across the board.
And regarding the Carlin neck profile, while it's on the wider side at 1 3/8" it's rather thin front to back compared to other "wide neck" builders like Rickard and Chuck Lee. Far from what I would call chunky or club like. It's very similar in profile and width to the AC12 which is a viable option at less than half the price of the Carlin or Goodtime. With minimal modifications, a Dobson tone ring can be added to the AC12 which makes it punch way above its price range.

Jun 22, 2024 - 9:38:04 AM

172 posts since 11/30/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Brushwood Brewing

Thanks all for the feedback and input. (Let's kindly keep to the topic at hand.) The comments regarding pot material and neck size are particularly helpful.

I've gone to several instrument shops across the state this past week, playing all the banjos they have for sale. I've also called several more. Unfortunately no one close by has either of these exact models. I was hoping to try them in person and buy from a small local shop, but it appears that's not an option. I've decided to buy both from a major online retailer of various goods (let the reader understand), so I can play them both side-by-side, and then return the one I don't like.

I'll update here with my side-by-side thoughts.


This is a smart solution! Let us know which one you decide on.

Jun 28, 2024 - 5:26:47 AM
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22 posts since 4/20/2013

I much prefer high quality guitar tuners with a 12:1 gear ratio over planetary tuners with a 4:1 gear ratio. They make it so much easier to tune. I’ve put excellent 10:1 ratio Rickard cyclonic tuners on several of my banjos. They are so much better than 4:1. But I pay $250 for four of them. Ouch!

Jun 28, 2024 - 9:47:57 AM

Citico

USA

28 posts since 11/7/2006

Since learning clawhammer in 1973, I've lost count of the number of banjos I've owned—perhaps 50 or more. They've mostly been affordable ones, each under $500, spanning new, used, and vintage. As a Gold Tone Dealer, I've experienced most of their models, including the Carlin, and have owned and sold an AC-1, AC-1FL (fretless), and an AC-12. I've also had several Deering Goodtimes. I recommend the Gold Tone AC-1 FL (fretless) for beginners, as playing fretless aids in mastering the fretboard, positioning, and muscle memory—all beneficial skills. This banjo harks back to the low-cost Bakelite or plastic banjos of the '40s to '60s, like Harmony and Silvertone, yet the Gold Tone offers superior tone. Plus, having a fretless banjo is always useful, even when you eventually upgrade to a higher-end instrument.

Choosing your next banjo will be a more challenging decision, involving considerations like budget (above or below $1000, $2500, etc.), the desire for multiple banjos for different styles, and the choice between new, used, or vintage instruments. These are the kinds of decisions that come into play.

Jul 4, 2024 - 8:07:27 AM
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6 posts since 10/19/2022

I've been playing both of them this past week, and am quite surprised at how different they sound from each other.

The Deering Goodtime Americana is pretty similar in sound to my Epiphone MB-100, except much clearer. The notes resonate well. It has that 'traditional' or 'classic' banjo sound. It's very easy to play, I'm assuming largely because of the light strings, but perhaps also because it's most similar to what I have already.

The Gold Tone Cripple Creek Bob Carlin sounds less 'traditional' to me, but playing it reminds me of some professional clawhammer solos I've heard online, where I had always thought, how do they sound like 'that'? It has a deeper resonance. The notes have more of a cluck and pop. Each note stands out more than with the Deering. The wide neck took some getting used to, but I grew to like it; I have large hands so it suits me well.

At first, my wife and I both said it was hard to choose between them, because they sound like two completely different instruments, and it's like comparing apples to oranges. But as time went on, I found myself continuing to reach for the Gold Tone. I felt like if I got kept the Deering long-term, over the years I'd always be wondering if I was missing out on something. If I went with the Gold Tone, though, I'd always be wondering how I can improve to use it to its fullest potential.

So, the Gold Tone Cripple Creek Bob Carlin wins out.

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