3/04/2018

1970s Iida-style Penco Resonator 5-String Banjo




This banjo seems to be from the "Iida" family of '70s Japanese better-grade instruments which also include the fancy Alvarez models from the time. It's a nicely-done "Masterclone" instrument with a flathead tonering and thick, multi-ply rim. It certainly sounds the business after work was finished on it. I happen to really like these imports as they're still low on the totem pole in the vintage market but perform a heck of a lot better than many new, fairly-expensive import "Masterclone" models.

Work included the minimum to get it going -- a replacement head (I put a Remo Renaissance Elite on there) as the original Remo was split, much fiddling-around with the coordinator rod mounting (someone had monkeyed with it), install of a replacement 5th peg, a replacement compensated bridge, and a good setup. The neck has funk, however, in that the truss rod's nut has a break in it and adjustment could only go so far. There's a hair of relief to the neck overall at pitch, but it still plays fast and quick with 1/16" action at the 12th fret.



The nut is actually bone on this one and the inlay is actual pearl.


It's nice to see a sliding 5th-string capo already installed. I know the old-time crowd knocks these things, but they make life so much easier.







The tuners are the most interesting part -- they're something like 14 or 16:1 ratio and all turn in the same direction to tune-up.

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