Gold Tone GT-500 Banjitar Banjo (Six String)
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- Remo PTS Banjo Head
- Maple Neck and Body
- Pearloid Buttons on Tuning Machines
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|Item Dimensions||38.5 x 3.75 x 13 in||5 x 19 x 41 in||6 x 20 x 45 in||5 x 19 x 41 in||38 x 12.75 x 3.5 in||45.6 x 17.9 x 6 in|
The GT-500 6-string Banjitar is designed by guitar players at Gold Tone for guitar players. This is the most sought after 6-string banjo in its class. Traditionally styled with a maple rim, maple resonator, and flat top tone ring, the GT-500 utilizes the proven 5-string banjo pot assembly. Coupled with a comfortable 6-string maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, guitar players can achieve the banjo sound with their familiar playing techniques. The unique Gold Tone Sliding Magnetic Pickup (SMP) accentuates the bass response and provides piercing banjo-style treble typically associated with the “banjo” sound. This model has excellent acoustic volume and good sustain. Whether you are new to guitar or are looking for a new sound to add to your current guitar arsenal, the GT-500 may be just what you are looking for!
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Banjos with resonators are generally significantly heavier than guitars, and this one is no exception. However I chose this model because the Gold Tone web site specs stated that its' weight is 9 lbs., somewhat lighter than other comparable models. What a surprise I had when this heavy instrument weighted in at 10 lbs, 9.6 oz., almost 18% overweight, according to a U S Post Office scale. This misrepresentation upset me most about the GT-500. You can take off the maple resonator to play, which reduces the weight significantly, without overly affecting the sound quality.
The big advantage of a 6 string banjo, called a banjitar by Gold Tone, a gitjo by others and whatever else this cool crossover instrument goes by, is that it's tuned like a guitar. Guitar players can just pick it up and play. As a musician who could never master the 4 string banjo this is a great advantage. The disadvantage is that it doesn't sound just like a banjo, especially the low E string, and less so the A string, which sound too "boomy" at times.
The GT-500 comes with a built in built in humbucking (SMP) pick-up, just under and touching the clear banjo drum head, and includes a volume control knob and 1/4" jack, both installed into the steel tone ring. This is very convenient for performing with amplified sound, though the sound that results is somewhat problematic. The bass notes sound even more "boomier" and I can only get acceptable music when I keep the bass controls way down, mid range even and treble high. The Gold Tone regional salesperson I talked to suggested that the best electric sound for this SMP pickup would be from a regular electric guitar amp, however I prefer the sound which results from an acoustic amp.
The standard strings are specified from high E to low E, as .010 .013 .018 (w) .030 .042 .052, and are likely to be basic wound steel. I haven't been able to find a set of strings for sale with these specs except from Gold Tone itself, and they are about double the price of comparable strings. Of course you can use a wide variety of others, the closest being standard electric guitar strings, which have thinner low strings, or "top heavy" which are somewhat closer. I've seen suggestions that using lighter gauge low strings helps with the sounding problem in a 6 string banjo, but I haven't tried it yet.
In short, this banjitar is beautiful, heavy, sweet sounding, but not without "cutting edge" problems...and well worth its' moderate price.
The Gold Tone GT500 is an excellent product for under, well under, a thousand bucks. It's as heavy as a boat anchor so if you are going to want to play it standing up, you will need to buy one of those harnesses because a regular strap will kill your shoulder. I've taken to performing on stage sitting down so I can rest this beast on my lap.
I am very pleased with the GT500 and would recommend it for anybody who, like myself, just strums (I dont finger-pick at all) and wants that banjo sound.
Someone's going to make a proper banjo mic one day and make a fortune.