Buying A Banjo On A Budget

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Budgeting is often times a big part of everyday life. Naturally when contemplating a purchase people often seek the best value for the least cost. The Bang to Buck ratio is always a key factor when making purchases, especially when musical instruments are involved.

Wayne Rogers, President and Founder of Gold Tone has been devotedly creating affordable, quality musical instruments since 1992. Wayne’s passion has always been to spread music love. What better way to do so than by ensuring that aspiring musicians have access to affordable stage worthy instruments on a global scale!

Gold Tone AC-Series Banjos

The most affordable banjos Gold Tone offers are the AC-Series banjos. This series includes the AC-1, AC-4, AC-4IT, AC-5, AC-6+, and the AC-Traveler. Starting at $249.99, this series represents the most affordable banjos on the world market to date.

The AC-1 Composite 5-String Openback Banjo is the top seller. This banjo features an 11’’ composite rim, chrome plated hardware, guitar style tuners. In comparison to other banjos available on todays market the most important features the AC-1 sports are a 2-way adjustable truss rod, and an actual fingerboard. This banjo comes in at nearly half the price of other banjos out there that lack these integral features. The AC-1 is great for beginners or the traveling or busking musician. A banjo that preforms well yet does not break the bank. See the AC-1 in action here!

Gold Tone CC-Series “Cripple Creek” Banjos

The CC-Series is probably the most diverse series offered by Gold Tone and is the next build tier above the AC-series. There are so many individual instruments in the CC-Series so we will talk about a few of the best selling ones.

On the more affordable end of the CC spectrum is the CC-50. At a cost of $419.99 the CC-50 still comes in close to $200 cheaper than other banjos on the market that lack features such as fingerboards, tone rings and truss rods. You can listen to the CC-50 here! All maple construction, rosewood fingerboard, satin finish, this banjo has it all and at a very reasonable price.

Another absolute gem created by Gold Tone in collaboration with clawhammer banjoist Bob Carlin is the CC-Carlin12. At $699.99 this model is the cheapest 12’’ rim banjo available on the market. 12’’ rims are often desired by old-time clawhammer banjoists. Until the conception of the CC-Carlin12 the cheapest equivalent cost around $879, almost $200 more than the CC-Carlin12. With all maple construction, 12’’ rim, and rolled brass tone ring this banjo doesn’t leave much to be desired. You can listen to the CC-Carlin12 here!

The CC-100 is another one of Gold Tone’s most popular banjos and follows the same quality trend as the rest of the Cripple Creek series. At $599.99 this banjo still falls in a very affordable range. You can listen to the CC-100 here!

The final CC-Series model we will mention here is the CC-100R. This resonator bluegrass banjo is a great contender for budgeted purchasing coming in at $699.99. You can listen to the CC-100R here! Both the CC-100 and CC-100R come in a an upgraded +model with a dark finish and 3 ply rim vs the standard blonde finish and multiply rim.

The Gold Tone Cripple Creek series includes many other models including tenor, plectrum, and six sting banjitar variations. You can check out the entire line on our website in more detail.

Gold Tone Mastertone Series

Although there are several models between the CC series and this series we will talk a bit about Gold Tone’s premier “Mastertone” line. The Mastertone line represents the highest build tier Gold Tone offers. Prices range from model to model but one thing is for certain. The Gold Tone Mastertone line offers musicians access to professional quality instruments at a very competitive price point when compared to other brands on the market.

The WL-250 is one of our most popular old-time models and at $1099.99 won’t completely break the bank. This banjo sports an 11’’ 3-ply maple rim topped with a White Ladye tone ring and maple neck. This combination makes for a very solid clawhammer tone. You can listen to the WL-250 here!

Another old-time option in this build tier is the OT-800. This model is designed after the legendary Vega Tubaphone banjos of the late 1800’s. Sporting a 3-ply maple rim topped with a pre-war style Tubaphone tone ring this banjo brings a lot of tone to the table. Priced at $1399.99, this banjo is the most affordable Tubaphone banjo on todays market. You can listen to the OT-800 here!

Moving into the Bluegrass spectrum of this series, the OB-150 is one of our top sellers. This banjo has everything a bluegrass banjoist needs, 3-ply maple rim, brass flathead tonering, maple resonator and tone for days. It is important to note that this model also comes in a Wide Neck version and a standard width Radiused Fretboard option.. At $1099.99 this banjo is a seriously affordable professional instrument. You can listen to the OB-150 here!

The big sister to the OB-150 and our next model in the spotlight is the OB-250. Sporting a gloss finish, upgraded tuners, and a bell brass flathead tonering this model offers an amazing tone and playability. At $1499.99 this banjo still falls well within the realm of affordable.

The OB-3 “Twanger” was designed jointly with Banjo Ben Clark after J.D. Crowe’s legendary prewar Gibson RB-3 named “Banger”. Banger not only shaped the Bluegrass genre, but set a tonal standard for prewar banjos. This tone has been sought after by banjoists all over the world. Usually this type of tone is not associated with affordable instruments. Well, no longer will banjoists have to take out a 2nd mortgage on the family farm, pawn the silverware, or sell the milk cow to own a banjo with “that tone”. The Banjo Ben crew explains and demonstrates this model very well so you can listen to the OB-3 Twanger here! You can also watch Gabe Hirshfeld compare an OB-3 to a real deal pre-war Gibson RB-3 here!

Wayne Rogers of Gold Tone has worked with banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck to develop some pretty awesome instruments. The ML-1 “Missing Link” Baritone Banjo has really pushed the banjo a little further into the future. You can listen to the ML-1 here! The most recent and impressive addition to the Mastertone series is the new Béla Fleck “Bluegrass Heart” Signature Model. This model is full of innovation and tone. You can listen to Béla playing the Bluegrass Heart here!

Our mission at Gold Tone is to provide the most bang for your buck. This principle extends from our lowest build tier to our highest professional build tier. No matter which model you choose you can rest assured in the fact that all of our instruments are put through the same setup procedures regardless of build tier. Every single instrument passes through the hands of our in-house skilled luthiers to ensure your banjo is in tip top playing condition prior to shipping.