1890s A.C. Fairbanks "Special No. 2" Openback 5-String Banjo

A local customer brought this in for work and I happy to get it going. Fairbanks instruments are always fun to work on (just like Vegas) as they're good-quality and non-fussy. This one is in my favorite size and type -- 10" rim, 25 1/2" shorter scale, and nylon/gut-strung. These make great "classical" or "fingerpicked" 5-string that, if you're delicate, also make good frailers.

Work included a new skin head, new bridge, fret level/dress, replacement headstock tuners (parts-bin Champions), fussing with the 70s Grover "Perma-Tension" 5th peg, and the usual setup-side stuff. It's turned-out nice and I think it'll be glad to go back to the carver's workshop it calls home.

I try to use the thinnest skin heads I have on hand to do-up these gut/nylon-strung banjos. It gets them a-ringing!

The neck has overspray on it but it looks good, despite that.

The board is actually stained maple.

The spunover rim has a good, heavy brass hoop covered-over on its top side which creates an integral tonering. I'm assuming that -- and the associated quality hardware -- is what's giving this its nice pop and volume.

Parts-bin Grover Champion friction pegs are a huge improvement over the uke-style pegs that were sinking into the top of the headstock.

The neck looks like cherry, to me.

I've set this up with standard gut/nylon 3/32" action at the 12th fret. It could've gone just a hair lower but the neck has very light backbow beginning at around the 9th fret and down to the rim.

1 comment:

Scott Wallick said...

That's a good looking banjo. The cherry neck is gorgeous!!!