5/26/2016

1970s Japanese-made Aluminum-Rim 5-String Banjo





This is yet another iteration of the "various-brand" low-end Japanese-made 5-string banjo (this one was originally a resonator banjo, like this Tempo) with the ubiquitous aluminum rim and single coordinator-rod setup. It has the same long 26 1/2" scale length, mahogany neck, and (questionable) laminate "rosewood" fretboard that all the rest of these have. The neck has a plate up at the top of it declaring that it's "steel-reinforced," but that simply means a steel bar (non-truss rod) inside.

Aluminum rims often get trashed online (usually by folks who haven't tried awesome old Iidas), but the truth of the matter is that these are decent (and fairly sturdy) student banjos if you're on a really tight budget. Most of them just need a glorified setup (that's what this one was in for) to get them playing decent. This particular banjo has led a rough life and has lost the attachment hardware for its resonator... and even has a nice gash in the head and "grunge" around the rim to testify to its rambling lifestyle.



The compensated 5/8" bridge (brand new) was a thankful addition to get this better in-tune up the neck. After a setup and a light shave of a few frets, I was able to crank the rod back and forth to nail a pretty-much perfect action height (hair over 1/16" at the 12th fret), too. I string these with 9s because I don't trust the necks.


The plastic "tuner ferrules" were replaced with parts-bin metal ones.


A friction 5th peg holds this back but is par for the course with these.








A bit of duct-tape keeps the gash in the head from, hopefully, ripping outright.

Like I said -- my customer's on a budget!


No comments: