Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Newbie question - ob vs bg

Can anyone tell me what distinguishes the banjo as a bg vs ob banjo in the Gold Tone brand? For example outside the materials found, what makes these two different:

OB-150RF vs. BG-150F

I originally thought ob would be the open back but in this circumstance it looks like orange blossom.
@Jake or @BanjoBen would you happen to have comparison videos of these two by chance?

From what I can tell, you got it. Looks like their model naming convention incorporates what makes each model unique. OB = Orange Blossom. R = Radiused finger board. F = Flange. BG = Bluegrass.

Maybe someone else can spot other differences.

They look different

:roll_eyes: lol

1 Like

Inlay design perhaps ?

The ‘materials found’ are really what make the difference here. The more expensive model has a radiused fretboard which means the fretboard has a slight curve. This will make playing easier for some. On a guitar, playing barres are easier with a curved board.

However, at least for me, I found the skinny neck of a banjo always pretty easy to barre (I have never played a curved banjo neck) so I don’t know how big a deal that is. It costs more to make a curved neck (just more labor involved).

The big difference is the tone ring. The OB model has a bronze cast ring, like a Gibson Mastertone. The BG model has a hoop which, in Gibson parlance, is known as a sub Mastertone (I have a Gibson hoop Style 11). The tone ring adds a lot of weight but will give you more power and volume, possibly better tone. The tone part is debatable though when you’re talking modern banjos, hoop banjos tend to not use the same quality of materials than tone ring models. But hoop banjos can sound from pretty good to fantastic (just ask Robbie Boone about his style 11). If you plan to do a lot of jamming with loud players, a tone ring banjo might be a better choice though.

(Yay, I got my avatar back. I reduced the size of my pic to 90x90 and it worked.)


Wow! Excellent review!

That makes sense now looking at the price of the individual parts:
Tone rings -
Necks -

One other thing I would point out. If you’ve never had an 11 lb instrument around your neck, you may want to do some testing if you’re thinking about a tone ring banjo (90s Gibson Les Paul standards and customs get up to that weight and are famous for it).

I personally found that my 10 1/2 lb Nechville was too heavy to play standing up and uncomfortable to play even sitting down (I have since changed the ring). Now I’m an old guy with a bad back so if you’re young and healthy, this may not be an issue (yet!)

But be aware, there is a price to pay for all the extra volume and power.