c.1975 Iida Model 227 Resonator 5-String Banjo

Older import banjos (well, and new ones for that matter) aren't usually of any decent quality, but the Japanese-made Iida line from the 70s wasn't bad at all. In 2012 I worked on a fancier model 233 which was essentially a Mastertone copy and I thought that thing was excellent. I picked up this model 227 because of the experience with that 233 as well as a couple others I've serviced for locals. Check out the old Iida catalogs site for reference.

This one features a fully-aluminum pot with integrated archtop-style tonering. Compared to a typical bluegrass style instrument of the same general fashion but with a big brass or steel ring and a multi-ply maple rim, this weighs in far less and is more weather stable: this whole banjo weighs 6lbs 10oz which is about half the weight of many bluegrass banjos. It also has some of that archtop Gibson tone but as with most aluminum rims you get a more distinct airy "pop" to the sound compared to a more fleshed-out, extra-rich sound of "the real thing." It's also more fundamental than extra-overtone in flavor.

This thing is all-original save the replacement 1/2" compensated bridge and new strings. The original synthetic head is in good shape.

There's a "bubble" under the finish at the Iida logo. This mahogany neck is equipped with a truss rod but it's nearly maxed-out. The neck is in good shape and I gave this a light fret level/dress and setup which has delivered action to the standard 1/16" at the 12th fret. I've got it strung with lights (9s) to keep excess tension off.

The inlays are all faux-pearl (plastic) and the board is rosewood but it's actually a laminated rosewood of all things. In a not towards functionality, all 5 pegs on this banjo are 4:1 geared units (thankee Gods).

Simple adjustable tailpiece.

Mahogany resonator and neck. I like the simple styling. So many of the better-grade imports have excess bling that's often not that nice to look at or at the very least very "dated."

Some of the buttons have hairline cracks in them but they work just fine.

One tiny bit of the back purfling is raised for about 2" on the resonator rear. No worries.

The original hard case is in really good shape and has a cute electric-sky-blue interior.

Here's the interior of the rim and you can see the one-piece aluminum construction and simple coordinator rod.


arvindswamy said…
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