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Intersection Sessions: Building Banjos At Gold Tone

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

This story was first published in May, 2017.

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