Gear to Skip: 1970s Sekova 5-String Banjo

Local repairs often involve cheap instruments like this one which eat away at my time and patience. On first glance, there's nothing truly wrong about this instrument. When they're fixed-up they sound pretty good for what they are and can play OK. These were made by the scores in both Japan and then Korea and now China and one can find the same general instruments being made straight through into the early 2000s before being replaced by slightly-better variations with plywood rims.

The real problem with them is that they're a nest for setup and structural woes. The necks are often twisted, warped, or their truss rods (if they have functioning ones) make an S-curve out of the fretboard when adjusted. It's almost impossible to get them back to straight and the fret seating is never 100% in the first place, so even if you do they'll still need at the minimum a fret level/dress job if you don't have to glue them down first. After that, setup is problematic because the standard way their coordinator rods are installed is, quite simply, goofy and unreliable. I always have to modify them to get them to function somewhat normally.

The biggest issue, however, is that for a repairman like myself, I feel like helping the customer out -- but doing so costs me money and time far over what I feel comfortable charging for a cheap instrument and the customer will never be quite happy with the product in the end because it wasn't made right in the first place and will continue to be a nuisance.

This general type of banjo can be found at flea markets, yard sales, and antique/thrift stores in abundance. Avoid it. Save a little more and spend it on something more boring and practical.