c.2010 Recording King RK-R80 5-String Banjo

So, this is another instrument from the Skanktone Collection (my buddy Joe's). He bought this banjo and, seriously, never played it. It's sat in storage and is brand new. The case has a few scuffs but this instrument is brand spankin' new. As the top of the line modern Recording King offering (Chinese-made but high quality) the class of this banjo becomes quite apparent. It reminds me very much of the super-desirable high-end versions of the import Iida and Alvarez banjos of the '70s but several notches better.

The setup out of the case was horrid but some truss adjustments and adjustment at the nut and the bridge and this fella is playing just dandy. It's a straight-up bluegrass instrument, being a pretty direct copy of the Mastertone jos and sporting a 3-ply maple rim with big old flathead tonering. It's loud, proud, but also has a good full sound especially digging in on the low D and G strings. I've got it strung with 9s at the moment but it can definitely use any string you'd like courtesy of the adjustable rod.

Standard 11" head and typical Mastertone-style hardware.

The profuse amount of pearl inlay gives this a fancy-pants look. I love the inclusion of thick creamy-white binding along the headstock and fretboard edges -- it really echoes 1930s styling. The "Recording King" shaped headstock is also a plus in the looks department (I never liked the "fiddle style" headstock Gibson adopted -- sorry, folks). Bone nut.

Planetary (geared) tuners are used throughout and make tuning a breeze. The board is rosewood.

Gotta love that pearl... this whole thing is so cleanly built, too, it's surprising. Well -- maybe not that surprising -- these cost $1400 on the low end from most retailers.

Good, heavy-duty hardware. I didn't bother to take the resonator off since you can see pics of the inside all over the web. That said, it's got the dual coordinator rods and the flathead ring in there. Don't worry!

Nice one-piece mahogany neck and inlaid-ring mahogany resonator. The finish is a cherry-brown all over.

Nice quality planetary tuners!

Yeah, and a "Deluxe" style Recording King hard case (arched), too.