Deering Goodtime Banjos


Richard Johnston-

Deering’s Goodtime banjos are about to celebrate their 12th birthday, and like a lot of pre-teens the Goodtimes are stretching out, playing different banjo styles and attracting lots of new friends. What started as two simple 5-string models (one open-back and one with a resonator) is now a whole series of over a dozen different models, in fact there are so many different Deering Goodtime models that they’re almost a banjo company in itself.

The heart of any banjo is the round rim that the neck and all metal parts attach to, as that’s the source of good banjo tone. All Deering Goodtimes share the same high-quality rim of three-ply violin-grade maple. The way these rims are made, with all the grain running horizontally, is also critical. There’s no cheesy multi-ply construction with vertical-grain layers, a Goodtime banjo rim is equal to what you’ll find on new banjos selling for much higher prices.

Deering sticks with maple for just about all the wood parts of every Goodtime model, and that’s a good thing indeed because rock maple is an excellent wood for instrument necks. Goodtime models also have a maple fingerboard, just like on those classic Fender guitars, and an added benefit is that means no tropical hardwoods are needed. On Goodtime models with a resonator, layers of maple veneer are used for the arched back just as on expensive bluegrass banjos.



The metal parts on Goodtime models are of excellent quality, including high-ratio geared tuners, but they’re designed to do their job without adding lots of unnecessary weight. A typical Gibson Mastertone banjo, or the many copies of one, will weigh in at close to 12 lbs while the Goodtime Two (which also has a resonator) weighs barely more than half that. The openback Goodtime, weighing only 4 lbs, is the obvious choice for traveling with a banjo.

We’ve saved the best feature of Deering Goodtime models for last: All Goodtime models are made in Spring Valley, California right alongside the higher Deering banjo models. Deering essentially brought the manufacturing of lower-priced banjos back to the US after decades of that segment of the market being monopolized by imports.

There’s a Deering Goodtime model for just about every playing style that relies on banjo tone. This includes two different guitar banjos (one with a built-in pickup) both concert and tenor scale banjo ukuleles, and two different tenor banjos. Of course the 5-string models outsell everything else: the Goodtime openback banjo and the Goodtime Two, which has a full-sized resonator. For those who like the sound of an openback banjo with a larger 12” head, the new Goodtime Americana delivers that more mellow tone at a bargain price. Deering has even designed an 11 inch banjo head with built-in “Kavanjo” magnetic pickup, and we have a Goodtime with Kavanjo head installed so you can try it out.

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