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Intersection Sessions: Building Banjos At Gold Tone


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Gold Tone founder Wayne Rogers plays one of his banjos. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE.

Twenty-three years ago, Wayne Rogers and Robyn Rogers started making banjos in the back room of their retail music store.

Now the company ships out all kinds of instruments from its Titusville factory, including banjos, guitars, drum heads and mini bass guitars.

Musicians who play Gold Tone instruments include Melissa Etheridge, Bruce Springsteen, Kid Rock, Mumford and Sons, and Bela Fleck. One of the banjos they sell was designed in collaboration with Fleck. And, Rogers says Steve Martin was inspired by the sound of his Bela Fleck model banjo to write one of the songs on a recent album.

Rogers’ office looks onto the factory floor where luthiers work to assemble and tune the banjos, basses ukuleles and guitars. One wall of the office is lined with instruments.

“In the office you can see probably about 50 different instruments,” says Rogers.

“Probably half of those are in early stages of development. Another half are instruments that are samples we’re considering adding as part of the line. We’re always trying to upgrade our instruments,” he said.

“My favorite part of the job is the development and the R&D. So if I can keep on finding those little niches and make sure that my competition doesn’t replicate what I’ve done by staying one step ahead, then we’re going to thrive and hopefully continue to grow.”

Phil Fredericks works on a banjo. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Instruments are manufactured overseas and assembled at the factory in Titusville. Some of the instrument parts are made by Gold Tone on site. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
The luthier's tools. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Gold Tone started out with banjos. The top selling instrument now is a mini bass guitar - called an M-Bass- with rubber strings. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
An M-bass. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Tuning pegs. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Head luthier Nathan Taylor works on a dulciborne. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
A dulciborn dulcimer. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Instrument parts. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Rubber strings for the M-Bass. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

 


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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

A recent transplant to the Sunshine State, Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of ... Read Full Bio »

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