Every instrument starts with an initial inspection for anything that does not hold up to our tight standards. The main interaction that a player has with an instrument is through the neck. This is where the ‘feel’ of the instrument comes from and that is why special attention is critical. Each neck is carefully inspected to ensure there are no bumps or twist and, in this process, it is polished with steel wool and oil-conditioned to provide a consistent feel and finish.
Whether it is a banjo, guitar, or other stringed instrument, the bridge or saddle is essential to transfer the energy from the strings to the body. Making sure that the bridge/saddle is properly fitted to the head or body provides the best volume and tone. In addition to providing the best tone, this allows the instrument to produce the correct note. This is why the intonation is carefully set at the bridge.
How easily an instrument plays is arguably the most important factor in the setup process. Making the instrument play perfectly from the 1st fret to the end of the finger board is no easy task. Without proper clearance the strings will buzz (sounding less than ideal). Neck relief is set so that all of the strings can clear the fret wire without buzzing. Filing the nut slots sets not only the side to side position of the nuts, but also the action over the first fret. Both of these adjustments, combined with appropriate bridge/saddle height, allow the best possible feel, tone and enjoyment.
At this point, the instruments would be ready to ship, but because we care about every musician who plays Gold Tone, we send the instruments through two more inspections. Each instrument is hand tuned and inspected for rattles, fret buzz, and any finish imperfections or flaws. If it passes this stage it is then cleaned and sent to the final inspection stage by Robyn Rogers, cofounder of Gold Tone. It is here, at the end of the line, that she plays through every note on the instrument and does a final fit-and-finish check before it is packaged and shipped.