Gold Tone® Banjos
An Excellent Value for the Money
I don't normally endorse instruments -- for two reasons. One is that nobody has ever asked me to. The other is that I want to keep these pages as unbiased as possible. So don't consider this an endorsement. Consider it an observation.
Shortly after I started testing old wood rims, I needed a couple of well-made, relatively inexpensive necks to use on my test instruments. I ordered a couple of Gold Tone® necks from Janet Davis, and was quite pleased at the quality. The profile is good, they are slender and easy to play and they look nice. They fret out well. They are quite a good value for the money.
Shortly after I purchased these necks, I went to a jam in Arkansas. One of the fellows there had a Gold Tone® OB-250+. This is a special model made by Gold Tone® for the discriminating banjo player who wants a good instrument but cannot afford one of the big name banjos.
It is basically an upgraded model of the OB-250, which is, itself, a good instrument. The OB-250+ features the JLS tone ring and a three-ply North American Maple rim. Thus, the heart and soul of the banjo is made of high quality materials. I was struck by the volume and tone of this instrument. I asked the fellow who owns it if it had any special modifications, and he replied that it was basically as he got it from the music store.
The rest of the Gold Tone® line is also quite good for the money. If you want an open back banjo, they have a Whyte Laydie model which is quite nice.
They also offer a number of kits for the do-it-yourselfer. The quality of the parts in the kits is quite good. If you have any woodworking skills at all, you should be able to assemble a good banjo from a Gold Tone® kit.
Update -- IBMA 2005
Since my original postings about Gold Tone, I have had the opportunity to actually meet Wayne and Robyn Rogers, the owners of Gold Tone, face to face. These are very nice people. They are dedicated to producing quality, affordable instruments. And they aren't letting any grass grow under their feet.
The instruments they brought with them included a wonderful old time banjo with a spun over rim and dowel rod construction. This is the EC-150. It's a fine banjo, indeed. Bob Carlin was the consultant on this one.
Wayne also has a really beautiful, ornate, gold-plated and engraved model for about a third of what a similar banjo from some other companies would cost. This is the OB-500. His web site states that it costs about half of what a similar banjo would cost, but I think he is just being modest.
He has banjolas, dojos, banjitars and bass banjos as well. He has also brought out a tenor guitar. I hung around in his booth quite a bit. He really has a great value for the money. No wonder so many big name players are using his instruments.
He also has a new banjo mute, which I describe at the banjo mute page.
To get an idea of what he has got, go to the Gold Tone® web site.
Gold Tone® instruments may be purchased from most on-line banjo resellers, including, but not limited to Janet Davis, First Quality Musical Supplies and Jack Hatfield..
To visit the Gold Tone® web site click here.
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©2006 Bill Palmer. All rights reserved. For permission to republish contact Bill Palmer. The opinions expressed on this page are strictly Bill Palmer's. Mastertone, Stelling and the other brand and model names are the property of the manufacturers and other people who own them.