Gold Star GF-100JD J.D. Crowe Banjo

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In 1980 Tony Rice, J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson, Bobby Hicks and Todd Phillips went into the studio record a collection of their favorite traditional bluegrass songs. The record was intended to be a one-shot effort, a tribute to traditional bluegrass by five master musicians. The Bluegrass Album, as the LP was called, became an instant classic and over the decades it earned a reputation as one of the best sounding bluegrass records ever made.

goldstarbanjo-9 (1)A huge part of the sound of The Bluegrass Album was J.D. Crowe’s banjo picking. For the session, Crowe borrowed a prewar Gibson RB-3 from Richard Keldsen, the founder of Saga Music. Keldsen’s RB-3 had a no-hole flathead tone ring, a scarce variation of the highly sought after legendary tone ring. The RB-3 had a clear, ringing tone, loads of sustain and a distinct sweetness that pickers have been trying to replicate ever since Crowe laid down his tracks all those years ago.

goldstarbanjo-5Keldsen’s Saga Music makes Gold Star banjos and for the past few years he has been trying to create an affordable version of his RB-3. The new Gold Star GF-100JD is the result of those efforts. (The JD stands for J.D. Crowe and each instrument has a label signed by the banjoist.) Like the vintage banjo that inspired it, the GF-100JD has a mahogany neck and resonator, a 3-ply maple rim and a no-hole cast tone ring. The GF-100JD closely replicated the traditional V-shaped neck, and the deep-arch, tapered-wall resonator of Keldsen’s RB-3. The GF-100JD is a well built banjo that captures much of the feel and tone of the vintage banjo that inspired it.

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