April 21, 2011 by Tim
Last October I did a review of the Gold Tone GU-100 Soprano (REVIEW) and I really did not give it a good review at all. What has happened in the past with other bad reviews is that I get it done and send the e-mail to them so they can read it, and they come back really angry and one said they would sue me if I did not take it down, needless to say I did not and sent the uke back to them the next day. With Gold Tone I sent the review and made sure that they knew up front that I thought it was a bad product and I was not attacking them, but the instrument. A few days later I got an e-mail from them saying that they thought the review was fair and that I did a good job with it, and that they are going to take my suggestions and look into making it a better product. When I went to NAMM this past January I was at their booth and they knew who I was and were still totally awesome about the whole thing and asked if I wanted to review anything else? I knew I was doing banjo uke week so I asked for a banjolele, since it is the banjo uke that all others seem to get compared to. I had it a few weeks later. How cool is that?
Another funny story, I wrote this whole article saying it is a concert banjo uke, it is a soprano, it just looks so much bigger. It fools you, it is shifty like that.
Gold Tone Banjolele
Soprano : 15 Fret
Tuners: Silver Open Geared
Maple & Ebony 3-Leg Bridge
Head Material: Uncoated Plastic
Head Size” 8″
Rim: 6 Layer Maple
Tone ring: Yes
Neck: Mahogany, Ebony Fretboard
String attachment: Wrap Around a post
# of J-Hooks: 16
Finish: Gloss rim and neck, Chrome hardware
Weight: 4 LB
First look: (5) When I think banjo ukulele, this is the one that I see in my head. The 16 j-hooks, shinny head, snowflake inlays, and over all look make it the banjo ukes that all other mass produced banjo ukes are compared to. Just looking at it you know it is a nice instrument.
Fit and Finish: (5) For the price it better be perfect. you pay for this level of instrument. Everything is super nice and well done. From the ball ends on the j-hooks to the snowflake inlays on the fretboard. I love a fretboard with binding and think it is the way to go to make sure there will be nothing sticking out the side of the neck. Every detail is thought of on it. Just so you don’t think I am not looking at is super close, I was a little disappointed that the Gold Tone word mark and little flower thing are just a thin piece of something slid on and not actual inlays.
Sound Type: Loud and super clear. No extra sounds or things rattling from the vibration of the strings. it shows that they have been doing this for a while and know how to get the best sound out of a banjo ukulele.
Intonation: (5) If the intonation is off, it is your own fault for the most part. most banjo ukes are shipped with the bridge laying down and you have to set it up, or find someone to do it for you. This one came setup and ready to play.
Volume: (5) Even though this is not a closed back banjo uke, it is super loud. The tone ring and uncoated head seem to really push that sound out. You could blow some resonator banjo ukes out of the water with this one.
Sustain: (5) It just keeps ringing and ringing forever.
String Height: (Low) When I received this in the mail it said on the box “Expert Setup” and I think the person who did it could not have got the strings any lower. I had Roger look it over and he was surprised on how low the string were. this is like electric guitar low, and it does not buzz at all. I think it is the fact that it has a metal coordinator that lets the person setting it up to get super low action.
Neck Radius Depth: (7/8″) Thick, just like a banjo maker would make it. I think this is a necessary evil since the head is so heavy. You would not want a thin neck if you are grabbing it or holding it from the neck all the time.
Frets: (5) Perfect. Well dressed and low as can be. And as I always say, a bound fret board is the way to my heart.
Tuning: (5) I am always surprised when I tune this banjolele. the tuners move super smooth, almost like they are loose, but they work very well and keep it right in tune. I think they are oiled at some point, there is not resistance.
Comfort: (5) Yes, it weighs 4 LB, she is a heffer in the uke world, but since it has the arm rest I could hold it and also it keeps my arm off of the j-hooks. Since it is heavy I use a Uke Leash to help hold it (But I use both ends to hold it by its j-hooks).
Sound Hole Smell: What sound hole?
As you can tell, I think this banjolele is pretty nifty. It has most of the things that I would want in a banjo ukulele. uncoated head, tone ring, nice hardware, and nice things like inlays and an ebony fretboard. It is a heavy beast and that is to be expected of a banjo uke. Of all the banjo ukes that I received, this one is tops on my list, but it is also about $100 more than the other ones in comparison, so…
When I bring the banjo ukes to the different functions that I go to, mostly uke jams, people gravitate to the Gold Tone every time. It has a magnetism that cannot be denied!
I will have this one at the Mighty MO Ukulele Fest this May if you want to try it out.
Review 4 done, 2 more to go.
All Rating on a scale of 1-5
Click here for an explanation of reviews
|Fit and Finish||5|
|Sound Type||Loud and Clear|
|String Height||Super Low|
|Neck Radius Depth||7/8″|
|Sound Hole Smell||What sound Hole?|
HD Audio Clips:
Places to buy on the web: