2013 Gold Tone CC Resonator Tenor Banjo

I can't even remember the last time I worked on a tenor banjo from later than the '70s, but I'm pretty impressed by this Chinese-made Gold Tone offering to the "student market." It has dual coordinator rods, a rugged maple build, a Gibson 22 3/4" scale length and quick neck feel, and an excellent, poppy, airy tone. Most modern banjos in this pay grade don't get that far.

That said, it really did need a good going-through on the setup-side to make it dialed-in. The owner was apparently playing it "Celtic" GDAE-tuned fashion (she's a fiddler), but had simply tuned the normal CGDA strings down. Oops! I swapped those out, tweaked it a bit, and set it up -- and, hey presto! -- it's dishing it out, now. I restrung it with 38w, 28w, 18w, 12 strings and those seem to be hitting a sweet spot.

This has a typical 11" head.

The only issue I have with the overall design are the non-planet tuners. Geared, guitar-style tuners like these sure are functional but they look pretty odd with the Gibson-style "fiddle" headstock shape.

The deco-ish tailpiece design is practical and easy to string, though the non-angled posts that accept the loop/ball-end strings tend to want to pop ball-ends off while stringing-up.