2003 Fender FB-54 Resonator 5-String Banjo

I recently took this nearly-brand-new Fender 5-string in trade. The serial number at the headstock states that it was made in Korea in 2003, though it looks more like it was made in 2015. There's only the most minor of tiny scuffs and a little pitting on the armrest (sweat's to blame!) to tell you its any older than that.

This same basic style of 5-string (all-aluminum rim with integrated flange, turnbuckle-style "coordinator rod" setup, and single-big-bolt neck attachment) has been in production since the late '60s and most of the rim hardware is almost identical to the old stuff. Modern amenities come into play in the well-made, quick-feeling neck with its fancy inlay, the perfectly-functioning truss rod, and fully-geared tuners all-around. I tend to really like the sound of aluminum-rimmed banjos once they're "done-up right," and this one is no exception. Played bluegrass-style, it has a pleasant, poppy, warm, airy/midsy sort of sound. It's nothing special but it does the job well and on a budget.

My work included some cleaning, swapping the adjustment area for the nut of the coordinator rod from behind-the-tailpiece to below-the-tailpiece-hanger (for easier access), adding a new, compensated 5/8" tall bridge, and giving it a fresh setup. It plays like a much-fancier banjo and has perfect, 1/16" action at the 12th fret. It's strung with 9s (banjo "lights") and is fast as heck.

The frosted-top Remo head is a standard 11" diameter.

The new bridge keeps the instrument in tune up the neck. The tailpiece is adjustable.

While guitar-style tuners aren't a wow-factor for the eyes like geared banjo pegs are, they do work just fine. The nut is 1 1/8" in width and the neck profile is a mild D-shape.

I'm always shocked at how many new, budget-friendly instruments feature fancy inlays and bound fretboards. The board is rosewood and the neck is some sort of mahogany. The resonator, likewise, is veneered in mahogany, too.

This has a long, 27 3/8" scale length.

While I mentioned that this style of banjo has been around for a long time, the newer versions of it have much better fit and finish.

Here you can see the integrated rim/flange design.

The adjustable tail allows loop and ball-end stringing.

It comes with a TKL-made (I believe) chip case.