Well, this has taken an interesting turn. I’ve been trying to find a reasonably priced mid-range open-back banjo to use for my initial foray into clawhammer. As described in a different forum post, I decided on a Gold Tone CB-100 with the “natural finish”. My first stop of course was @BanjoBen’s General Store, but while they had the traditional black finish, their distributor was sold of out the natural finish I wanted (although @AdamAsh and @Jake dug deep to find one for me).
My next steps were to contact the two Gold Tone authorized dealers here in the Bay Area. They couldn’t help either.
BUT, I found one online, at, (ahem), the aforementioned Guitar Center. I bought it. I had it delivered to my home, as I didn’t want the local store to attempt any set up. Carefully opening the box (I wanted to be able to quickly return it if the finish was wrong), and it was the proper finish.
I took it straight to my fave store (and Gold Tone dealer), Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto, and they’re setting it up (adjust the action, truss rod, install 5th string “railroad spikes”, lower the nut, etc.). I also got a not-too-expensive hardshell case that fits it perfectly.
So, I guess I should back off my “Banjo Center” quip a bit. Still wouldn’t go there for setup or repairs (glad I have better local alternatives), but they did come through for me with respect to the instrument I wanted.
Can’t wait to pick it up. I’ll post a vid or two soon.
Thanks for reading.