OK, I´ll talk here about my modest point of view on the banjo market; which are the brands I consider to be the best banjo brands and why. It is a sincere opinion. And I can prove it; I work with both of them only.
I find working with Gold Tone and Deering to be the best option for my business. For mainly a couple of reasons; they work well and develop great instruments, and they are, somehow, compatible. While Deering is the largest US banjo manufacturer (I mean, with an actual factory established in California), Gold Tone is the largest banjo importer.
Deering defends the USA made product (noticed the bald eagle in their logo?). Even though this may result more expensive, the quality cannot be matched, they say. On the other hand, Gold Tone take a more practical approach; they want to get the best instrument for the best price, no matter where it is made.
I wont say which of the 2 banjo brands I sell more (I guess this is a pride matter that only few people mind about). Both philosophies have their pros and cons, and both have their supporters.
My opinion; Deering´s approach is admirable. I wish people would support this approach more in all fields, not only banjo world, but in all economy areas. It would definitely help economies all over our countries (I talk about US and European countries). I sometimes received customers that come from really far away, try a Gold Tone banjo, love it. When they inquire about the particular brand and they find out it is Asia manufacture, they refuse to buy.
But, honestly, these are the least. Most people take the practical side. It sounds good, I like it, I take it. They are being practical, realistic. Gold Tone simply give people what they demand; great value for their instrument. It is not Gold Tone´s evilness; it is reality what leads a business to find the best way to be on the market.
For most brands, it is simply a matter of surviving to manufacture at the lowest cost possible, wherever this is found. If you don´t do it, some other will take your place…and people will still look for the best at the best price.
So, what matters to me after all; I try to have happy both buyers; those wanting an American made banjo, and those looking for the best value for their instrument. My personal choice? I own one of each.