Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Brass or Wood Tone Rings

I would love to hear anybody’s input as to what they do or don’t like concerning brass or wood tone rings. Personal experience with one or both, etc.

Thank You,


I recorded my last lesson with the Gold Tone OB-250LW (stands for Light Weight) that has a machined wood rim/tone ring. I am really impressed with it, especially with it being 4+ pounds lighter than my tone ring banjos:

You can hear it here:

It’s a little different sound than my tone ring banjos, but plenty loud, poppy, and full for me. It’s pretty amazing.

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Wonderful example to show Treblemaker. Amazingly Beautiful.

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My banjo has a wood (I think) rim with tone ring built in (again, I think) and I’m currently borrowing one that appears to be aluminum? Both cheap, the aluminum has better tone in general, but I have to pick near the fretboard when I play above the ninth fret. On mine I can pick wherever. But I think it might be a setup issue. I also have played some nice banjos recently, all with metal tone ring, and they all were way nicer both setup and soundwise. But they were more moolah$€£ :money_mouth_face:

Hey Ben,

Yes, I was actually listening to that lesson side by side with your RK 36 demo.

I was trying to decide which tone I like better, and I really couldn’t come to a conclusion. Call me weird, but the ambient noise was different in the two videos, and I just couldn’t decide. (This, even though they were both recorded in the exact same location).

The reason I’m considering the OB 250 is because I know it’s weight (9.9 lb), will go easier on my shoulder. Did lots of searching on the RK 36, and I couldn’t find it’s weight.

I’m going to order as soon as I come to a decision.

So, my questions are:

  1. What is the weight of the RK 36?
  2. Which tone do you like better between the two?
  3. What are your personal views between mahogany and maple?
  4. Will the store be open on the 31st?

One last thought. When I was watching the lesson with Angels We Have Heard On High, you pretty much stayed in the center of the head with your playing. (If I’m remembering correctly). I say that, cause I was really trying to hear the banjo close to the bridge and close to the neck. I wanted to see if it would get “bright”, Scruggs-like", whatever you may call it, when playing an inch or so from the bridge.

Sorry for the long windedness, and my somewhat unorthodox way of describing things I hear in terms of tone.

I just want to make my decision, and not look back wondering if I chose the wrong one. I can’t begin to say how excited I am about this.

Thank You,


Oops…I had one more question.

For you, what plays better RK 36 or OB 250 and why?

Thank you…much appreciated.

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Remember that if you buy something from me and aren’t satisfied, you can send it back within 72 hours as long as it’s in new condition. All you have to do is cover the shipping to you and back.

The 250 has a bit fatter neck so it’s more to grab onto, which I like, though the slimmer profile of the 36 allows me to do bigger stretchers and thumb-overs.

Decision made. It’s gonna be the 36. Can’t wait.